Another Charleston Trip Report

Old Apr 17th, 2005, 06:11 PM
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Another Charleston Trip Report

It seems like everyone has been going to Charleston lately, but I thought I would post this report anyway, since we did a few things I haven't read about in some of the other reports. Just for a little background, I (mid-30's) went on this trip with my parents (early 60's), while my poor husband had to stay home, because his school district had missed too many days for snow and had to use spring break to make up some of those days. Our trip was from April 3-April 7.

We left home a little after 1pm on Sunday, April 3. It was a gorgeous day and as we crossed into the TN mountains, we could see snow on the tops. When we grew close to the TN/NC border, there was nearly 3 inches of snow on the ground. My father is a picture taking maniac, so we had to stop at a scenic overlook so that he could take some shots of the snow covered mountains. People were having snowball fights and building snowmen! It was so bizarre, because it was April and a little further down the mountain, you didn't even need a coat outside!

After a stop for gas and a stop in Columbia for dinner, we arrived in Charleston around 9pm. We were staying at the Andrew Pinckney Inn. We had reserved one of their townhouse suites and it was perfect for our group of three adults. It would also work well for a family with one or two children. The suites are two stories. Downstairs is a half bath, a microwave and refrigerator, an armoire with TV, and a sofa with a pullout queen bed. Upstairs is the main bedroom, a full bath, a whirlpool tub, and another TV. The decor is lovely, the room was very clean, and the staff was friendly and efficient. My only minor complaint was in regard to the "deluxe" continental breakfast included in the price of the room. Breakfast ran from 7-10 and it didn't seem to matter how early we got there, things always looked picked over. The worst part was that some days there would be no plates, other days no silverware or no milk. The lady who seemed to be in charge of the breakfast ran her legs off trying to keep up with the demand. I think the hotel was so fully booked that it was impossible for the breakfast to run efficiently.

On the first day in Charleston, we purchased Charleston Heritage Passports from the Visitor's Center. These little tickets were a great value. For one price (I think it was $50), you get into 9 area attractions, including Drayton Hall, Middleton Place, the Gibbes Museum of Art, the Charleston Museum, the Aiken-Rhett House, the Edmonston-Alston House, the Joseph Manigault House, the Heyward-Washington House, and the Nathaniel Russell House. The Passports are good for one year and are transferrable.

On Monday we toured the Aiken-Rhett House, which was very interesting because it is being preserved, rather than restored. We went from the Aiken-Rhett house to the Joseph Manigault House, which was a nice contrast, because it has been restored and uses live guides (the Aiken-Rhett house has a narrative tape with headset). After the Manigault House, we were ready for lunch, so we headed over to 39 Rue de Jean. We had a wonderful lunch out on the patio. Mom had a huge, flavorful burger, Dad had bouillabaise, which he said was delicious, and I had the omelette with fine herbs and frites, which was excellent. With a good lunch in our stomachs, we were ready to tackle another historic home. The Edmonston-Alston House was a very good tour, because so much of what is in the house is authentic. The guide here was very good, also.

After our third tour of the day, we headed back to the hotel. Mom realized that she had forgotten to pack a few things, so I drove her over to Mount Pleasant to search for a Walmart/Target type store. We had a lovely tour of Mount Pleasant, while Dad made dinner reservations and went for a long walk.

Dinner was at Blossom Cafe. Mom had salmon, I had BBQ Grouper, and Dad had herb roasted chicken. We enjoyed dinner very much. The service and atmosphere were excellent and the food was very good. We were too full for dessert right after dinner, so we went for a walk, which ended up (an hour later) at Kaminsky's, where we did have dessert...a very delicious dessert, I might add! Dad and I both had a slice of their coconut-raspberry cake. This was one of the best cakes I've eaten, very light and tender. Mom had the Snickers cake and she said it was good. After dessert, we headed back to the Andrew Pinckney to get a good night's sleep.

Day Two
Today was plantation day. We set out for Drayton Hall first. I absolutely love this place. It has not been updated or improved since it was built, which was in 1738. It has only been painted three times! The guides here are just fabulous. You don't even notice the fact that the house is not furnished. If you can only tour one plantation, this is one you need to see!

After our tour of Drayton Hall, we headed up the road to Middleton Place. Our Heritage Passport only included admission to the gardens, and we chose not to add anything else, since the house was not original to the grounds and we were becoming a little house saturated anyway. The gardens, however, were STUNNING! It was a gorgeous day and the dogwoods and azaleas were in full bloom. It took us nearly two hours to walk the entire garden area and each turn led to another breathhtaking view. My dad's camera was clicking away!

When we returned to Charleston proper, we all split up and went our separate ways to do a little shopping. If I had a little more money, I would still be on King St.! King St. has such a great mix of upscale chains and unique local shops. It is a shopping lover's paradise!

We met back at the hotel to change for dinner. Dinner was at Anson. Although Mom and Dad were somewhat disappointed because their first entree selections were not available, Mom and I were very pleased with the whole crispy flounder in an apricot-shallot sauce. Dad had some sort of red snapper, which he liked, but he was not crazy about what it was served with. The day ended with dessert at Kaminsky's....coconut pie!

Day Three
This was military day. After a wonderful (and huge!) breakfast at the Hominy Grill, we spent the rest of the morning doing more shopping on our own. I prowled the shops on Market and headed back over to King St. We met up around noon and headed over to Patriot's Point. We toured the Yorktown and some of the other boats, before hunger claimed us and we went in search of food. The Boulevard Diner does not look like much from the road (a converted Dairy Queen), but this was possibly the best meal of the whole trip. I had a fabulous spinach salad with carrots, cucumbers, apples, and a warm buttermilk dressing with bacon and shallots. Perched on top of this goodness, were five of the best oysters I've ever put in my mouth. Ok..I'm drooling on my keyboard, just remembering!

After lunch, we went to Fort Moultrie, and then stopped by the beach for a little while. We headed back over to Charleston for dinner, which was at 39 Rue de Jean. Our meals were great, but the service was a little off. It is also a very loud restaurant at night.

The next day, we packed up and headed home, with a stop in Columbia to check out the USC campus for my brother, who is considering it for his doctorate.

I can't wait to go back. This was my second trip in 3 months and I'm trying to persuade my husband to go in late June for our anniversary. Charleston is a gorgeous city with a small town feel and very friendly natives. If there is anyone reading this who has never been, GO! NOW!

Sorry if this was too long!
BetsyinKY is offline  
Old Apr 17th, 2005, 06:57 PM
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Very nice report Betsy, and not too long at all! Sounds like a great trip and makes me wistful to go back soon, so many more things to see! Charleston is the seemingly perfect town in many ways, not the least being as you said, a shoppers paradise. Soo many stores, soo little time Thanks for posting!
ellen_griswold is offline  
Old Apr 18th, 2005, 06:53 AM
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Betsy, thanks for your great report. You can't go to Charleston too many times!
Old Apr 18th, 2005, 10:57 AM
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Great trip report; thanks!

I had almost forgotten about the whole flounder at Anson. It's been too many years since I've had it.

Blvd Diner is cool! Just down the road, it's fancier sister restaurant, The Mustard Seed, is great too.
beach_dweller is offline  
Old Apr 18th, 2005, 04:19 PM
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Thanks for the compliments! I love writing trip reports, because it lets me relive the trip.

Beachdweller-Some friends here at home had told us about the Mustard Seed and we read in a travel book that the Boulevard Diner was owned by the same folks, which is what convinced us to try it. I can't wait to go back and try the Mustard Seed now! My June trip is looking like a go!
BetsyinKY is offline  
Old Apr 18th, 2005, 05:04 PM
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Hi BetsyinKY, it does seem like so many have gone to Charleston lately. And I agree with you, what a beautiful city.

I so enjoyed your trip report. You are lucky to be so much closer to Charleston then I am. It is a beautiful city to visit with fantastic restaurants as you know. I guess we were there at the same time, I wonder if we passed each other? Best wishes.
LoveItaly is offline  
Old May 18th, 2005, 08:09 PM
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I live in Charleston and it's wonderful ~ like being on vacation all the time. (Except I have to get up and go to work every morning. LOL)

A few suggestions for your next trip:

--- The Karpeles Manuscript Museum. In a not-too-nice part of town, but a real gem. Exhibits change regularly.

--- Charleston Battery soccer game Really cool stadium, and the Three Lions Pub is great. (Riverdogs baseball or Stingrays hockey is fun, too.)

--- Don't forget a stop at The Charleston Visitor's Center; the film on Charleston is excellent.

--- And my personal favorite: The Charleston Tea Plantation (opening for tours in August 2005) Visit a real tea plantation and see where the only tea grown in America is grown. Way cool.

--- Jilda's, on Coleman Boulevard in Mt. Pleasant, just over the bridge, is a very nice little place for lunch.

--- If you have a car, drive up Highway 52 North to Moncks Corner and visit Cypress Gardens. It's beautiful. Take a canoe ride through the tannin-stained blackwater swamp. Mel Gibson's "The Patriot" was filmed there.

--- Another hidden gem in Moncks Corner is Mepkin Abbey. Lovely place for a stroll, and they have the coolest gift shop.

Enjoy! We love visitors in Charleston, the most beautiful city in the South!!
TeaLoverDenise is offline  
Old Jun 19th, 2005, 04:44 AM
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