As you may or may not know by now, Brian and I are last-minute travelers. Sometimes this works for us, sometimes it doesn't. (Usually it does, other than the part where I stress because I'm a planner!) On two separate weekends we tried to make this trip down to South Carolina but the rain storms moved in and hunkered down right over the entire East Coast. This time, however, we checked the weather at 7pm on Friday night, decided to "weather" the scattered showers, and started packing for a whirlwind trip leaving the next morning. Does it seem like I use the word "whirlwind" to describe most of our vacations? :)
Saturday morning we hit the road nice and early, top down and coffee in hand. It was a *beautiful* day, just perfect for cruising on down the coast. Every once in a while we'd hit a small rain storm, which was exciting, haha. Both Brian and I felt like the coastal towns were fairly mediocre until we hit Litchfield by the Sea, which is about 20 miles south of Myrtle Beach. As soon as we crossed through the state park, all the plants and the housing architecture changed. It was like we hit True South. Hand me a sweet tea in a monogram tumbler, I have some palmetto trees to photograph!
D O W N T O W N
We got into Charleston mid-afternoon and started off by driving around the downtown area. The reason we were in Charleston at all was to see if it would be a good fit for living here someday. Since neither of us had visited before, we needed to know the feel of the place. Get those yay/nay vibes. The downtown was, predictably, full of cars, horse-drawn carriages, and tourists. The roads were narrow and more than once I was glad we had a little buggy to zip in and out of places. But it was never so congested that we couldn't leave. I loved the old city buildings. They were quite charming – better than Old Town Alexandria, in my opinion. I felt a definite FOMO that we had such a short timeline which meant I couldn't explore all the cobblestone alleys and quaint corners of downtown. There is a lot to discover in Charleston and I was already mentally planning a return trip.
Sunday morning we went back to downtown Charleston and explored on foot. The city itself is fairly small, but it has a lot to offer. This was completely providential, but we stumbled upon King Street during the second Sunday of the month, which is the one day each month King Street is closed to traffic and is filled with all sorts of people – street musicians, dog walkers, tourists, college kids, and locals looking for a good brunch spot. In particular, there were lots of talent street musicians, and Brian mentioned that he wished he had cash on him to give to some of the performers. For me, I was looking lustfully at all the expensive and desirable shops. All the people we saw strolling along the street were dressed nicely, in a preppy southern style that I absolutely love. Brian and I did stop in a store at one point so I could find a different shirt because our clothes matched both days. We wore navy on Saturday and lavender on Sunday. It looked very intentional, haha. But never fear, I found a cute rust-colored peplum option.
Brian saw umbrellas on top of a hotel and upon investigation found it was a restaurant open to the public. It was such a fun and unique choice! We had an ocean view on one side of the building and a city view on the other. I even splurged on a higher end glass of wine, which paired quite nicely with my crab meat salad. #sofancy
M O U N T P L E A S A N T
We drove over to Mount Pleasant which is the southern version of Fairfax, VA. It has all the shiny new amenities and cute pockets of shopping and dining options. Both Brian and I loved the neighborhoods. We are such a sucker for that cottage style architecture and the adorable pastel colors. I would love to live in Mount Pleasant. Crime is low and schools are well funded. It comes with a hefty price tag though, and I’m not sure we’d be any better off buying a house here than we would in Fairfax. The jury is still out, but neither of us are quite willing to close the book on it. ;)
M A R I N A S
The next series of stops were the marinas. Specifically the Charleston City Marina and the Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina. One of our considerations is the possibility of living on a Catamaran in a nice marina. It's actually a very appealing idea in the south (less so in DC). But first we needed to see what the various marinas were like. Our definite favorite marina was the largest and nicest one (the harbor resort one). It's a short boat ride across the river from downtown, and it’s right off a golf course on Mount Pleasant. It's also in an upscale gated resort community, which is important to me for safety. We went there a couple different times, both on Saturday and on Sunday, just to see if our feelings changed about it. I would definitely consider this to be a good option for us.
F O L L Y B E A C H
Saturday evening, after a full day of driving all over Charleston and exploring what the city had to offer, it was time for dinner. Our destination: Folly Beach. It had a main strip with a handful of restaurants to choose from, so we found a place to park a few streets away and took in the touristy Center Street. Both Brian and I liked Folly Beach. It was a small beach community that was pretty chill (unlike a larger island we visited earlier that seemed fairly pretentious). After dinner we strolled down to the fishing pier. Even though it was dark, I still wanted a picture of the water directly below us. It was kind of scary holding my phone over the edge of the pier, but I didn’t drop it. :) Success!
H O T E L S H E N A N I G A N S
The trip was not without its excitement. We ended up booking a hotel in the northern end of North Charleston, which is a definite no-go. We were expected to share a floor with people lighting up in one room and prostitution taking place in one or two others. Several odd things transpired: Brian called the police in front of the front desk people to alert them of the drugs but gave them the john's room number, the cleaning crew alerted the girl and the john to get out, a pimp eating a banana strolled up to ask us what the problem was, the receptionist postponed working on our refund in order to check out the girl before the cops arrived, and as I brought the car to the front of the hotel both Brian and I realized the pimp's SUV was parked next to us. Exciting times. Thankfully we found a very nice second option in Mount Pleasant that had a room available even though it was after midnight. Note to self: stay out of North Charleston and stick to all the other awesome areas. ;)
O V E R A L L
Brian and I loved Charleston. It had a much slower pace of life which we are dying for. It's cute, it's warm, it's by the ocean. If we can make this place work financially, it's a definite frontrunner. I might need to go back soon, just to double-check. ;)
Photo from the Charleston Harbor & Resport Marina