January 16 2016
Another Christmas Present Trip! After getting us tickets to go to St. Petersburg last year, I think this is becoming tradition. We stayed right outside downtown Charleston, in Mount Pleasant, equidistant from downtown and plantations in the other direction. Sadly, my DSLR was out of commission for this trip…so please excuse the iPhone photos!
Architecture here was beautiful. We spent the better part of one of the days wandering downtown Charleston and Rainbow Row (doable in a day). King Street is the most busy, with half modern shopping and half nightlife/restaurant scenes. Parking is very cheap, running around $1-$3 an hour in a garage, so if you don’t feel like walking, you can simply drive down the street and park somewhere new. We wandered around all the parks (including the famous waterfront park), major harbors, some art galleries, the outdoor city market, and Museum Mile.
One of the days was spent exploring nearby plantations. This was probably my favorite part of the trip- we chose Magnolia Plantations. Admission was somewhat pricey, as we had to buy tickets for ground access and a variety of other choices (we opted for the slave cabin tour, the tram tour, and ground access), totaling around $40 per person. We skipped the Audobon Swamp and House Tour, although I wish we had time to explore more! The grounds are absolutely beautiful, with spanish moss everywhere, white bridges, blooming flowers even in the midst of January- straight out of the (overly romanticized) book Gone with the Wind. It was fascinating to me how the plantations of old spin their stories to include narratives of the oppressed – I was happy to see that a man whose ancestors were enslaved by the Draytons on this plantation now runs the slave cabin tours, to educate tourists about the hidden past. After all, the magnificence of the plantation and grounds, especially in the middle of a swamp, was built on the backs of the enslaved.
We also explored a few forts, as Charleston was an important port during the Civil War. I especially enjoyed Fort Sumter, to which we took a nice (albeit chilly!) ferry ride while our guide gave us the history behind the fort. We even helped the rangers raise the American flag when we arrived in the morning.
And finally, the FOOD. To be honest I became sick of so much hearty and greasy food by day 3, but delicious sampling nevertheless. The food in downtown Charleston was actually pretty expensive for “authentic” southern meals. My favorite was Hominy Grill, right outside the city. Brunch is extremely popular and warrants a reservation (we waited for 1.5 hours for brunch at Poogan’s Porch!) Must try: biscuits and gravy, fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits (had the best at Poogan’s), fried chicken and waffles, pork chops, sweet tea, more biscuits. So dangerous, yet so delicious. This isn’t a food blog– but I do like writing about where I eat so if you’re curious about other places not featured, you can follow my Yelp profile.
AirBnB: $30 per night/pp. Stayed in the spare bedroom in a solar house, and had my own bathroom.
Car Rental: $50/pp. Used secret code to get rid of under 25 fee at Hertz! Insurance covered by Discover Card, so didn’t have to pay for that. Used only 1 tank of gas the entire time.
Attractions: Forts, plantations, museums, cost us money. Art galleries and nature walks were free. Approx $100/pp
Food: Most expensive. A heavy entree was around $25/pp for brunch and dinner. You can easily save money here if you only eat out at the most popular places a few times.