We're heading back to the East coast after last week's venture to San Francisco! Mere, my super sweet and talented sister (in law) is tuning in this week with her favorite travel spot and some tips on where to stay, things to do, places to eat...you're definitely in for a treat! (:
For most people, the first thing that comes to mind when they think “best travel” is some exotic, far-away location—some once-in-a-lifetime adventure. It’s a little different for me. My husband is in the Navy so we’re constantly moving, living, and visiting all over the country (and enjoying it), but when someone asks me about my favorite place to travel, my mind immediately goes to the Lowcountry in South Carolina.
The Lowcountry—steeped in history and saturated with charm—is the land of perfect sunsets and porch swings, salt-water marshes and Southern accents, Live Oaks and lazy beach days, coastline and culinary genius, sun-kissed skin and sweetest tea.
Our family vacations, growing up, were almost all spent in and around the Lowcountry and, as *I* grew, I grew to love all the details characteristic of it. But for the purpose of this travel snapshot, I’ll narrow the information to the Charleston area…and give you the inside scoop to all my favorites.
In my mind there are two main options of where to stay for the Charleston-goer and it depends completely on your personality and the kind of get-away you’re looking for.
If you’re in the mood for a slower-paced weekend away, you would enjoy staying near the beach—Isle of Palms, Wild Dunes, or Sullivans Island—whiling away the day by lying on the beach and getting cleaned up just in time to enjoy an evening of seafood-eating and shag-dancing.
Near the beach, you can go for sunrise jogs and sunset walks, enjoy breakfast at The Sea Biscuit Cafe, sun-bathe or throw a frisbee at the beach, sight-see while buffing up on your SC history at Fort Moultrie and grab a burger and a beer for lunch at Poe’s Tavern on Sullivan’s Island. Several places along the main street of Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island offer live music most evenings during the summer, or, for a quieter evening, you could enjoy some seafood at Long Island Cafe before going to find a breezy boardwalk or porch swing to enjoy the sunset.
If you like to be more in the middle of the action, you would enjoy staying Downtown at one of the many little inns around Market Street or borrow someone’s home for the week/weekend—on VRBO.com—and live like a native Charlestonian.
Staying in Downtown you’ve got tons of shopping options, restaurants and rooftop bars, The Market, Waterfront Park, The Battery, Rainbow Row, and as much history and beautiful architecture as you can absorb…all within walking distance. If you happen to be there on the 2nd Sunday of the month, walk down to King Street where tons of local vendors set up tents out in the street—makes for a fun way to peruse a bunch of local flavor in one relaxing stroll.
Nature Adventures Outfitters is only a short drive from the beach or Downtown and offers kayak and paddleboard rentals or sunset tours on Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant, if you’re looking for a fun activity with built-in, but slightly less fussy sight-seeing,. And while you’re in the Mt Pleasant area, check out Page’s Okra Grill for breakfast or lunch and, for dinner, check out Triangle Char & Bar for a good casual option or Old Village Post House for a dressier option.
In short, the Lowcountry is the PERFECT retreat from busy, everyday life. And it feels like home to me. *Be sure to check out Mere's corner of the world here!
Up next in my travel series is my sweet friend, Alexa of afternoons & coffeespoons. You'll recognize her from my New York & Boston trips with Amber (who is guest post is coming). I'm pumped for you to read her about her trip and tips on traveling to San Francisco. Enjoy! (:
my 25th birthday took me to san francisco. i'd always wanted to take a weekend trip somewhere by myself and i was going to be in long beach for work anyway, so why not? that short flight up the california coastline—my face pressed against the window, humming the graduate soundtrack the whole way—is one of my best memories.
my favorite way to see any place is to walk it, and that's the thing i remember most of that san francisco weekend: the miles and miles i walked and all the quirky, interesting things i saw. because i was traveling alone, my time was entirely my own. it was truly a wandering weekend, and san francisco was a wonderful (albeit hilly!) city for that.
on a recommendation from a friend, i decided to stay in the embarcadero. i liked the idea of staying in a location central to the sights i wanted to see, and i knew i'd enjoy proximity to the ferry plaza farmers market (tuesdays and thursdays from 10:00 am - 2:00 pm / saturdays from 8:00 am - 2:00 pm).
at the market, i loved pourover coffee, the rows of orchids for sale, and yogurt from saint benoit. the ferry building itself is a food emporium (bread, produce, coffee, cheese) open all day. inside the ferry building, i enjoyed the cowgirl creamery cheese and browsing heath ceramics for pretty tableware made just across the bay in sausalito.
no meal stands out to me like breakfast at tartine. go first thing in the morning—lines form early and long, but the wait is worth it. order anything—order several things!—but if they are offering bread pudding, be sure to order that. nearly three years later, i'm still thinking about it. i also loved how neighborhoody the bakery felt—spending a saturday morning here gave me a local perspective.
things to see, places go to, treats to enjoy:
+ explore the mission. the mission is where the san francisco of my dreams really came alive—palm trees, funky murals, gorgeous architecture—and there are lots of fun vintage shops between 22nd and 14th streets. a quick yelp search beforehand will help you see which ones interest you.
+ if you get hungry for lunch in the mission, head west a few blocks to bi-rite market on guerrero an 18th, a cute grocery. pick something up and have a picnic in nearby delores park. you'll want to swing back by bi-rite creamery for ice cream before leaving the neighborhood.
+ explore the castro, an immensely culturally rich neighborhood. many historic protests, marches, and events have taken and continue to take place here.
+ explore north beach, a quaint neighborhood in the middle of the bustling city. use
+ explore the presidio, san fran's equivalent to new york's central park. walk towards the water to crissy field, and your heart just might burst at the sight of the bridge :)
+ i'm not into touristy areas, so i suggest skipping union square, the financial district, and fisherman's wharf.
my visit was short (just two and a half days), so i limited my wanderings to san francisco proper. at the tip top of my list for next time (and there will be a next time): rent a bike and ride across the golden gate into sausalito for the day. i can't wait.