When planning our vacation this summer, Mr. Q and I had several criteria: we wanted to visit a city we hadn't been to together before, I wanted to enjoy time at the beach, and Mr. Q needed it to be within a half day's drive. Charleston, South Carolina was the perfect spot to meet all of our criteria, and after reading several online travel guides (this one from Cosmos Mariners was probably the most helpful) and becoming a TripAdvisor addict, I couldn't wait for our trip to begin. Even though we live in the South, there's a huge cultural difference between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Lowcountry!
We opted to stay in the town of Mount Pleasant, which is just over the beautiful Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge from Charleston - and by staying out of the city we saved about $100 per night! Mount Pleasant is a suburban area with plenty of grocery stores and restaurants, and it's right between Charleston and Sullivan's Island.
On our first full day in Charleston, we decided to explore the city. After a visit to the South Carolina Aquarium (more on that destination next week!), we headed down Calhoun Street to pay our respects at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church, which was the site of the tragic shooting last month. There were many church groups visiting as well as individuals and families leaving flowers (both real and woven from sweetgrass, a Gullah tradition) and signing the banner and wooden sign in front of the church. We had already begun planning our trip when the shooting occurred, and it was important to us to show the church some love while we were in Charleston.
We reached the historic Charleston City Market and walked through the many shops and kiosks that line the halls in the main building and several brick outbuildings, with vendors selling everything from pottery and sweetgrass baskets to Vera Bradley purses and Stetson hats. The market was much less crowded than, say, the Pike Place Market in Seattle, but much busier than our farmer's market stalls in Roanoke!
After lunch at a health-food and smoothie bar called Whisk, we kept walking south to the Four Corners of Law at the intersection of Meeting and Broad Streets, so named because the buildings on each corner represent federal, state, local and ecclesiastical law. Behind the Charleston County Courthouse is a beautiful garden that we had to check out!
The walk down Meeting Street from the City Market to the Battery and White Point Gardens took us into the French Quarter neighborhood and past some of the most beautiful Georgian buildings I've ever seen, dating back to the Colonial period and many painted bright candy colors.
In the French Quarter, many of the houses don't face the street! Instead, they face beautiful gardens and the porches have doors onto the street. We learned that this style of home is known as a "single house" because they are one room wide, and that when families left their porch door open it meant they were ready to welcome visitors.
We reached the Battery and White Point Gardens, and spent some much-needed time relaxing on a park bench beside a Union Army cannon and looking out into Charleston Harbor, where the Ashley and Cooper Rivers empty into the Atlantic Ocean. We could see Fort Sumter and Castle Pinckney in the distance and watched some folks who were having a sailboat race.
Walking back along the waterfront on East Bay Street, we passed The Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon and the most photographed buildings in Charleston, Rainbow Row.
It's a good thing Mr. Q enjoys photography because I demanded an outfit
picture in front of this fountain! I paired my Papermoon blouse from Stitchfix
with khaki shorts, my Old Navy bucket bag (similar) and BareTraps sandals
(similar) and it was the perfect travel outfit for the hot, humid day.
Our final stop on our tour of Charleston was the Waterfront Park, which is beautifully landscaped with plenty of palmetto trees and includes two fountains - one for kids to play in and this lovely pineapple! We found a swing to relax in while we watched stormclouds roll over the harbor. We had definitely fallen in love with the Holy City and were already planning our next visit.
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