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3 May, 2010

Charleston, SC—Travelogue

Comments : 7 Posted in : Travel, Travel Guide for Charleston - SC on by : The Gourmez

Ben and I took a trip to Charleston a weekend ago, as we’d both heard great things about it many times over: great food, great buildings, great location on the water, great cultural gem of the US. In retrospect, our expectations were a bit too high, especially with only a weekend to experience the city, but it’s definitely a pretty town of the South.

Charleston’s about four hours from Durham, and you can’t get there on the main highways without passing by South of the Border, a run-down tourist trap that covers a large swath of land right past the border between North and South Carolina.


I found that I, in fact, could not pass it by, at least not with all the picture-worthy opportunities it afforded.

Perhaps the strangest thing about South of the Border is Pedro’s Reality Ride.



Apparently, it involves a huge statue of a one-eyed man in a sombrero and a bunch of picnic benches. Pedro’s idea of reality is a bit dreary.

Our hotel in Charleston, the Courtyard Marriot on the Water, was nice and I certainly couldn’t complain about the view.

It was about 2–3 miles from the historic district, and Ben and I walked over to check it out the first night. We passed many lovely sites.

One of several small church graveyards.

Entrance to the College of Charleston.

Market Hall, the beginning of Charleston’s row of covered market stalls. The Daughters of the Confederacy have a museum inside.

First carriage tour sighting. They are all over the place in the historic district.

My dinner, consisting of Lowcountry Chicken and Grits. This was topped with a spicy dijon sauce and served over the cheese grits, spinach, and blue crab.

Saint Philip’s Church, the prettiest church in the town, if I do say so myself (and I do).

The French Huguenot Church, also quite lovely.

This is the Old Slave Mart Museum, the location of one of Charleston’s old private slave markets. We went inside, and it is a teeny museum mainly composed of reading text on the walls. I’d pass it up if I were you, but still interesting to be standing in the same spot as people who were to be sold to others like cattle.

These next few pictures are from the Waterfront Park and Pier, which provide a lovely view of the Cooper River and the Arthur Ravenel Bridge, and also the USS Yorktown across the way.

Not sure what this island was other than not being Fort Sumter.

Me on the pier. The Custom House is behind me to the right.

Ben looking pretty darn good on the pier as well.

This is one of several cobblestone roads in the area. What is it about cobblestones that seem romantic?

This is Rainbow Row, a couple of blocks of pastel-painted houses.

And a random inviting alcove on our walk back to the hotel.

On our second day, we did the required carriage tour and I thought the tour itself was great, but I’m not sure I appreciate the novelty of it being a horse-drawn carriage. I think I’d have to try out a personal, two-person carriage to get the full effect. This is basically what ours was like, but with two more rows of people.

The next several pictures were all from the carriage ride. First up, the Old Power Magazine, with another old building behind it that shows the rows of orange earthquake bolts that were used to tighten up the walls of the surviving buildings after Charleston’s huge earthquake in the late 1800s.

This is an example of an insurance marker. They were displayed on insured houses so that the correct company could be identified before the firefighters were allowed to proceed with putting out a fire.

One of many gorgeous gardens in the area.

This is an original gate dating back from slavery day—the house is still owned by the family of plantation owners from then. The spikes were to protect from possible slave revolts.

Another fabulous garden.

One of the many mansions near the water dating back centuries.

I think this was my favorite.

After the carriage ride, we decided to head further into downtown Charleston to search for a record store. This driveway caught my eye. Portal to a fantasy world? I think so.

A lovely, church with a gothic feel. I realize it’s probably not actually gothic, but hey, I can pretend.

This, I still don’t know what to make of. It’s the front of a house that was just randomly standing in a shipyard.

We went back to the Waterfront Park for a while, where I decided that pictures in pineapple fountains were necessary.

This is the pier from the luxurious seat of a swing, the best way to avoid the biting gnats.

Ben, less enjoying the swing than enjoying not having gnats attack him. He’s a bug magnet.

And here, Ben decides he is one with the sad otters in front of a store.

What you’ve all been waiting for: pictures of our dinner at S.N.O.B., one of the historic district’s many fine restaurants.

Stuffed Squash Blossoms:

Quail with many good things I can’t remember.

Shrimp and grits that were pretty darn good but I’ve had better in Durham.

Dessert of a chocolate pudding cake, strawberries, and a divine caramel ice cream.

End Day 2. On Sunday, we just packed up and headed off, but made a point to drive over the Ravenel Bridge and get some more pictures of the USS Yorktown.

Goodbye, Charleston! You are awfully pretty, but I think you would be better enjoyed with either a plantation or marshland visit. The historic district was great, but only good for an afternoon, really, unless you are planning to visit all the museums. I would have liked to do a house tour, but it just didn’t happen. Oh well.

One last picture of the Charleston Harbor.

As always, we have plenty more pictures over at our photo website.

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7s COMMENTS

7 thoughts on : Charleston, SC—Travelogue

  • May 3, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    Looks like a nice trip. I’ve been to Charleston a few times and really like it. I did a plantation tour at Middleton Place and definitely recommend it if you go to Charleston again. Did you guys by any chance eat at the Hominy Grill? I love their shrimp & grits.

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  • May 3, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    We did not go to the Hominy Grill. The restaurants we ended up at were Tommy Condons (eh, okay Irish pub), Charleston Beerworks (pretty good), S.N.O.B also known as Slightly North of Broad (Charleston’s 2006 best restaurant–great), and Social Winebar and Restaurant (nice atmosphere, affordable flights). I think a plantation tour will definitely be on the agenda if we are in the area again. We wanted to focus on the city since we only had the weekend, but in retrospect, the city didn’t hold our attention quite long enough itself. As a relaxing end to a day in the outdoors, I think it’d be great.

  • matimus
    May 3, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Great pictures!

    I’ve been to Charleston a few times, and have always found it to be a beautiful and relaxing city. I would recommend going on a walking tour. I’ve been on two – one a basic historical tour, and the other a ghost tour – and enjoyed them both quite a bit. Great stories, history, and opportunity to see the sites.

    Your trip sounds very similar to one we took soon after moving to Durham, right down to the obligatory stop at South of the Border.

  • May 4, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Yeah, I debated doing the carriage tour versus a walking tour and was originally veering toward a walking tour, but was convinced to do a carriage tour instead by others.

  • mom
    May 10, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    Pics were great! You guys always look like you’re having so much fun together, and that “warms the cockels of a mother’s heart!!” Glad you get to get around and see the sights. I miss doing all of that.

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