Weekend trip to Charleston Part 1 {with Dad & Brother}

{click on any of the pics to enlarge them}

The weather here right now is similar to Texas weather – cold one day, hot the next. Snowing one day, pouring the next. In other words… a big mystery. When dad and brother decided to come, we started to chat about what to do. Their biggest request was to not just sit around the house. Neither had been to this area of the country and didn’t want to miss seeing some of the things it has to offer. Since we haven’t had a chance to do much, either, we were all in.

My brother had requested a beach – we’re about 3.5 hours to the coast. It’s not exactly swimming weather so we looked for beach locations with other things to do. Which landed us in Charleston!

Charleston is a little over 3 hours from our house and a very easy drive (though a little boring – esp compared to the Myrtle Beach drive). We decided to go for two days and stay overnight there.

Of course, the weather we had Friday in Asheville intensified and it poured most of the day Saturday but it wasn’t so ridiculous that we weren’t able to walk around downtown to many of the shops and the market. The market has historical roots and one of those things you just have to do while in Charleston but let’s be frank – it exists now for the tourists 🙂 Lots of vendors and small shops, lots of people, lots of Charlestony stuff.

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And quirky stuff like this.

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Those are the real deal, too, not chocolate. Though the same booth did have real chocolate for sale, too.

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Indiana Jones style hats must be a hot seller because there were quit a few to be found.

{this is my brother. he’s been watching too much duck dynasty.}

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And of course, the famous sweetgrass baskets are plentiful, though there weren’t as many women there making them while we shopped. We did hit the market near closing time on a rainy Saturday, though.

Right across the street is a candy shop that has freshmade pecan pralines. With samples!

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We wandered for awhile and then had dinner at a spot I had scoped out ahead of time, The Lowcountry Bistro. Charleston and good food go hand in hand so I really don’t think we could go wrong with any choice but we were trying to stay on a budget and didn’t want any surprises after we were seated 🙂

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The menu is very southern, of course.

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Dad and Brother wanted to check out the shrimp and grits so they ordered it as an appetizer:

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Jason went all out and ordered… nachos. Yep, my husband went to Charleston and ordered nachos for his meal. Now to his credit, they weren’t your typical nachos – they had carolina pulled pork and pickled okra – and were actually quite tasty! For just $9 for the huge portion, he was a cheap date that night!

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I had real issues choosing but eventually opted to go against my gut (which was screaming for shrimp and grits!) and instead ordered the crab cakes. Reality is that I can make a pretty darn good shrimp and grits at home but crab is pricey so I don’t make it often. One bite told me that I made a really, really wise decision. The crab cakes came with red rice, collard greens, and bacon remoulade. I was looking forward to the red rice but it was really disappointing – dry and flavorless. The collard greens were tasty, though, and very vinegary.

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My dad ordered a special that night – seared scallops, fingerling potatoes, and a spinach/corn/something medley that had some serious bacon action going on and was therefore ridiculously delicious. Dad is a big scallop fan and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to enjoy some. His was delicious!

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My brother was on a seafood binge for the weekend and chose crab stuffed flounder, which came with white cheddar and country ham grits, roasted asparagus, and pecan brown butter sauce. I kid you not – his plate was CLEAN when he finished his meal. It was that good.

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The service was laid back but adequate, the food was great and well portioned, and the prices were very reasonable. The restaurant is also (like so many in that area) housed in an old building:

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Now, let me just say now that my leg was worn out by now. Since it was raining on and off, I had a hard time finding places outside to stop and rest for a minute. While wandering, we happened into this gorgeous hotel – The Charleston Place Hotel. Dad and I found a seat in the lobby and enjoyed the people watching for awhile. In the center of the gorgeous double staircase there in the lobby is this chandelier. I would LOVE to stay there sometime. Perfect location!

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Later that evening, we went on a nighttime walking tour, which was technically a ghost tour – even though I’m a big baby and don’t typically go near anything remotely supernatural. However, Charleston is a city rich in history, especially tragic history, and these tours are a cool way to see the city after dark, wander through some of the most historic sites, and hear some of the “lesser known” stories of the city’s past.

Our tour was at 8pm that night and only had 12-15 other people in it, which was good. Though it hadn’t rained in awhile, our guide predicted (correctly!) that it was going to rain again while we were out. The four of us had 1 umbrella to share and others in our group were also empty handed. Our tour guide was AWESOME and stopped by his car on our way out for an armful of golf umbrellas for us to borrow. It ended up being torrential rains towards the end and we stayed mostly dry while we passed other tours that weren’t so lucky. He certainly earned his tip that night!

We used Ghosts of the South for the tour. Our guide was knowledgeble, personable, and had the dramatic pauses down pat. The tour lasts 1.5 hours and it involves lots of walking but we covered a lot of ground! The roads in Charleston are old so I was always bringing up the rear, walking carefully and dragging my leg behind me 🙂

Our first stop was St. Philip’s Church, a church that dates back to 1680 and is still active today (this minister finds that so cool!). The church has three cemetaries on it’s property that also date way back.

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We then saw a narrow alleyway/road where they used to do “draws” back in the day. It’s sad to know so many lost their life in a single space (esp since so many were over ridiculous disputes!).

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We hit a few more locations, like this courtyard with a fountain. I’m struggling to remember the details but if I remember right, there was a big flood due to the lack of seawall at the time and quite a few men were found in this area once the water recedes. And of course there are reports of strange happenings in the area… oooohhhh, scary. 🙂

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This building was super cool, and its story had something to do with pirates being held in the basement. But the basement flooded everytime the tide came in. Or something like that. I think it’s cool to think of pirates in Charleston. (a couple doors down from this building is a tavern that was often frequented by pirates and it’s still open today!)

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On the tail end of the tour, we stopped at a park where they used to hang people, an old hotel that was spared in the big fire that wiped out most of the lower downtown area, and a house turned restaurant that is supposed to be super haunted and featured on various ghost hunter shows.

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All in all, the tour was full of wacky history and a great opportunity to visit a lot of historical sites that we couldn’t possibly have visited in the short amount of time we were there.

Part 2 coming up next! {this got too picture heavy for one post!}

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