Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Charleston, South Carolina: If You Haven't Been There, Then Go; If You Have Been There, It's Time To Go Back...And Other Obnoxiously Long Titles

In a nutshell: I love Charleston, South Carolina.

But let me elaborate.

I first visited the city in the summer of 2000 with the Mrs, her family as well as some of our college friends. I don't think her folks knew what they were in for: several college kids, newly minted at the  acceptable drinking age with a bevy of drinking games and fresh, thirsty livers on hand. They never even saw us coming. But I digress from late college drunken fun...we all have our stories.

What I loved about Charleston on that first trip was the beaches. If you don't know me, I am not a beach person, now we're acquainted. But the beaches in Charleston are not like those in Jersey, Maryland, Florida or California. They are not ripe with fat slobs in bathing suits. There aren't hoards of meatheads kicking sand in your face as they do their best impression of the professional athletes they'll never be. There's none of that, not in Charleston. The beaches are pristine, relatively empty and the water is near bathtub warm come late summer. What's not to love? I admittedly have always been fortunate enough to stay at the nicer spots like Wild Dunes and Kiawah, but I have visited other beaches, and haven't seen anything remotely close to something like a Pacific or Mission Beach in San Diego or Avalon, New Jersey.

Secondly, Charleston is tremendously family friendly. Aside from the beaches, there is a ton to do. Charleston is rife with history. You can enjoy a tour of the beautiful plantation grounds that are nearby. You can take a historical tour of the city via horse drawn carriage. You can take a ferry out to Fort Sumter where the first acts of the civil war took place. You can walk what was the old slave market and is now a tourist catch-all filled with tchotchke, snacks and the famous (albeit crazily overpriced) sweetgrass bowls. At this point I am sure that you are saying "no kid wants to do any of this!" Geez, sorry for trying to fill your kids with culture. But seriously, if this doesn't float your boat there is also the aquarium. There is the Children's Museum of the Low Country, the Charleston Fire Museum and James Island County Park. Trust me there is plenty to do.

Beyond that there are also a ton of great restaurants to fill your bellys and wet your beaks. Whether you are downtown, in Mount Pleasant, Kiawah, James Island, West Ashley or wherever. Everything is relatively close. If you want pizza and beer, there is Mellow Mushroom. If you want casual southern and cocktails, there is Hominy Grill. If you want beer and wings, there is Wild Wings. If you want modern southern brunch, there is Husk. If you want fresh farm to table, there is The Grocery. If you want legit lobster rolls, there is Pearlz. If you want beach dining, head to The Ocean Course on Kiawah (The Ryder Cup Bar is my favorite spot, but I have heard the far fancier Atlantic Room is good too). If you want rustic with a touch of class, head to The Fat Hen on James Island. If you want good BBQ, Fiery Ron's in West Ashley is your spot. If you want to watch a movie and grab a beer, hit up The Terrace Theaters on James Island. I think you get the idea. You won't starve. You will not die of thirst. You will be entertained. You will be well taken care of. 

My mom moved to Charleston three years ago and now that we have finally relocated back to the east coast, I couldn't be happier with her decision. It's a four hour drive from Raleigh (maybe 5 if you need to stop and grab a sit down lunch). Since she has moved there we have been there six or seven times. I'm not tired of it by any means, neither are the boys. The Mrs has a special feeling for Charleston too, as it reminds her of all the family vacations she took there as a kid. There is so much to see and do there, even just a walk down the streets as a family are enjoyable. The city itself is unbelievably beautiful: the Battery, Rainbow Row, King Street, Church Street, Queen Street, Meeting Street...the list goes on. The people are genuinely friendly, albeit slower than molasses. Sometimes we need to slow down, right? As long as it's not nap time and I have a twenty minute drive back to the house and my kid's eyes are rolling back into their heads. In which case, get out of my way.

I am becoming more and more in love with the idea that the boys will have a place like Charleston to call their family vacation spot. I am hopeful that their memories of it will give them the same smiles that I see on the Mrs. Then perhaps they'll share the same joys with the families they create, or become a part of. Yup, I'm getting all mushy now. Stupid feelings.


  1. Great post and awesome photos!!

  2. Thanks. We should try to plan a trip back to Charleston next year and get everyone else to come too.