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Trip Report Long weekend in Charleston, SC

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My husband and I went to Charleston for a long weekend at the end of January as our little winter get away. We had a great time – everything we did I would recommend, which doesn’t happen on most trips.

We flew into Charleston, arriving around 10am on Friday. Picked up the rental car and went to the visitor center at the nearby outlets. Purchased the Heritage Passport, had an early lunch (Jim and Nick’s BBQ – delish!), and headed out to the plantations. We saw Drayton Hall first – the house tours are every ½ hour and it was really interesting. From there, we headed to Middleton Plantation – I recommend doing those two in that order because Middleton is bigger and we were able to stay till we got tired. Really enjoyed seeing the stable area – there were two craftsmen there who talked being a potter and wood worker back in the day. They both knew a lot about the plantation so they were able to answer questions. There was a short garden tour that was interesting, a little less structured than some of the other tours. Beautiful grounds, even in late January! As we walked through the gardens to get back to the car, we saw a hawk in the brush. It had just caught some small rodent – we got to see it play with it a little then eat it. What an amazing thing to see! We then headed to downtown Charleston to check into the hotel (Vendue Inn – loved it). Before dinner, we grabbed a drink at the rooftop bar at the Market Pavilion hotel. It was very nice, with a great view of the city. Drinks are expensive, but you’re paying for the nice setting. For dinner we ate at Slightly North of Broad – yum. My fish was perfectly cooked and the peanut butter pie was delish.

On Saturday we started with breakfast at the hotel (included, try the banana foster French toast). We took our second cup of coffee/tea and our books with us to walk around the waterfront park and sit & read for a bit. A little chilly in January, but lovely place to sit and relax. We then caught the free trolley, getting off at the Charleston Museum for a short walk to the Aiken-Rhett house. The audio tour they give you is great, really enjoyed seeing this house. Then we headed to the Joseph Manigault House. This was probably my least favorite of the sites we saw with the Passport, but I found it interesting to learn about all the things the house has been through – it’s amazing it’s still there and with so much of the original wood and plaster work. We then got back on the trolley and hopped off to have lunch at Poogan’s Porch. Great place for lunch – loved the fried green tomato BLT.

After lunch, we walked to the Nathaniel Russell house for a tour. This was probably my favorite of all of the houses – I love the detail of the painted plaster moldings. We next toured the Edmondston-Alston house. Another beautiful house with an interesting history. While we walked by the Heyward Washington house, we decided we had run out of steam for house tours. Instead, we headed to the market area and took a carriage ride. While I think the carriage ride is a neat thing to do, we didn’t know about the bingo system for what path your tour takes. Once you’re loaded up on the carriage, you pause by the little house where someone from the city uses a bingo machine to determine your path. This is the city’s way of spreading out the carriages. We ended up with our tour going through Charleston College campus and vicinity. It was not the sites I wanted to see, but we probably wouldn’t have seen that part of town otherwise so it wasn’t a complete waste. After the carriage tour, we walked through the market on our way back to the hotel. The market isn’t anything special in my opinion, unless you’re looking to purchase the sweet grass baskets. Before our dinner reservations, we went to the rooftop bar at our hotel (Vendue Inn), and planned to get a drink. This bar is a bit different than the one at the Market Pavilion Hotel – more college age crowd and more of a dive type feel to it. We took one loop through there and decided not to stay (not our scene) and instead walked around town a little more before dinner. For dinner, we had reservations at Blossom. We each ordered entrees that were daily specials and were not disappointed.

On Sunday, we borrowed bikes from our hotel after breakfast so we could see more of the south end of Charleston, checking out the pretty houses. After returning the bikes, we had to figure out what to do before our afternoon flight. Many sites aren’t open on Sunday mornings, so I flipped through one of the visitor guide books. Turns out Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site is open every day 9-5pm. Perfect! We checked out of the hotel, picked up our car, and headed over there. The park is nicely done, with wonderful interpretive signs. We hadn’t learned much about the beginnings of Charleston at that point in our trip, so it was a nice complement to the rest of our activities. They have some animals that were indigenous to the area when it was first settled by the English, a neat reproduction of a 17th century cargo vessel, amongst other things. A lot of the stuff wasn’t necessarily recreations of what used to be there, but things that were typical to the time. Despite that, we found the site to be interesting and worthwhile. Leaving there, we had a late lunch, and headed to the airport to go home. All in all, a wonderful trip.

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