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Trip Report A weekend in my favorite city: Charleston

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My family and I just returned from a glorious long weekend in Charleston. And, imagine our surprise when we realized we would be visiting during the sesquicentennial of the Civil War! Here is a brief summary of our travels:

Flight: We flew on US Airways from Buffalo to Charleston. For the first time in memory, there were no hiccups or flight delays.

Hotel: Doubletree - Our favorite hotel in the city for the value and the location. There were four of all traveling (myself, my 7 year old, my mother and my cousin). The room was a bi-level suite with two double beds and a sofa bed which worked out perfect for us. Parking is a bit steep at $20 for valet, but that is standard in Charleston and we needed a car to get to Aiken, SC and to the Isle of Palms.

Restaurants: We thought we were running our of new restaurants to sample, but this fantastic city managed to surprise us!

Husk - A must eat at if you are a proponent of locally sourced food. I had the grass fed beef tenderloin with ramps and creamers and it was divine. The PB&J cake was also a treat. The large chalkboard when you walk in is delightful to see as it lists where all of the ingredients for the day came from.

Jestine's Kitchen - You cannot go wrong with lunch at Jestine's! It was our second visit to Jestine's and I loved my simply grilled chicken sandwich and the okra stew. Their cornbread is the best I've ever had.

Joseph's - Great for breakfast or lunch - Try the cranberry bog wrap if you like feta and cranberries.

Toast - Our only disappointment of the trip, mainly because of the surly wait staff, but we had purchased a $25 gift cert for $4 on restaurant.com and wanted to take advantage of it.

Fleet Landing - Fantastic setting overlooking the Cooper River, and good food too.

Shem Creek Bar & Grill - One of our favorites for its beautiful location on Shem Creek in Mt. Pleasant.

Ft Sumter - A three hour round trip visit to the site of the start of the Civil War. To commemorate the sesquicentennial, there were cannon and musket firings and reenactors dressed like Union soldiers. My daughter enjoyed filling out a booklet to earn a NPS Junior Ranger pin.

Charleston Museum - A museum jam packed with exhibits, from Civil War garb to natural history.

Barrier Island Eco-Tour - My favorite experience in Charleston to date. It consists of a three hour boat tour departing from the Isle of Palms Marina. You travel through the inter-coastal waterway to Capers Island where you spend 1.5 hours exploring Boneyard Beach, so named because of the dead, bleached tree trunks and branches lining the beach. Our guide, Jessen, was very knowledgable and gave us tons of information about local flora and fauna.

Folly Beach - Somehow in crossing from Charleston to Folly Beach, the temp dropped a good 15 degrees and it turned weirdly foggy. We had hoped to see dolphins from the fishing pier like we did in trips past but it was too chilly and windy. We did manage to see someone reel in and throw back a stingray which my daughter was excited about.

Aiken, SC - A 2.5 hour drive from Charleston. We spent the day visiting my great aunt, and wishing we could cross over into Augusta, GA to watch the Master's Tournament. Hopeland Gardens is a beautiful, and free, park to spend an afternoon at if you are ever in the area.

That pretty much sums up our trip! In between our planned activities and all of that eating, we managed to stroll around the historic area, shop at the City Market and on King St., and visit the Farmer's Market on Saturday afternoon. As the title of the post says, it is truly my favorite city in the U.S. and I cannot wait to return. To view some of the pics my this trip, and past trips, visit my website at www.karaleephotography.net and click on The South.

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