Charleston, South Carolina

When I Went: The week of July 4, 2011

Was That the Best Time of Year to Go? This is a wonderful time to go because it is warm but not the scorching 100 degrees you will find later on in the summer. The nights are still cool as well, so eating outside is very enjoyable. The beaches are perfect during this time as well. The temperature during the day is usually in the 90s, so walking around is not as refreshing as being in the ocean, but is doable. Another wonderful time to visit is in the fall. October has the lowest amount of rainfall, and the temperature is in the mid 80s during the day. This makes it perfect for sightseeing — there is lots to see. Another good time of year to go is in the beginning of June for the Spoleto Festival.

Why I Went There: To visit family and enjoy the amazing city and history for the Fourth of July. They have one of the best fireworks shows that you can find over the Ravenal Bridge. The boating and beaching scene is so much fun, and the weather is just perfect around then.

We Stayed Here: I stayed at the Vendue Inn. This place is perfect because of location, location, location! You are directly off of East Bay Street, which boasts some of the best art galleries, restaurants, and bars in the downtown area. You are also staying at one of the only places with a water view in the downtown area. The prices vary depending on the season, but you are seconds away from a wonderful boardwalk and the famous pineapple fountain that represents hospitality.

You Won’t Want to Miss: Do not miss taking the boat out to Fort Sumter. Do not miss the carriage ride around downtown and the haunted ghost tour. Do not miss visiting one of the amazing plantations in the area (Middleton Place, Legare Waring House, Lowndes Grove, or Magnolia Plantation & Gardens). Do not miss the farmers market on Saturday mornings. There are great local artists and food for you to enjoy. Do not miss gallery row off of Broad Street. This is a great place to find some wonderful local artists’ interpretation of the low country. Do not miss the Spoleto Festival in the beginning of June. This is one of the best art festivals in the U.S. Modeled after the festival in Spoleto, Italy, this will blow your socks off with all of the different options for you to take part in — from outdoor Greek revivals to jazz and blues bands playing on the street. And, of course, please take a stroll along the Battery to see Charleston’s oldest and most expensive homes. Then go a bit further and see Rainbow Row.

Eat Here: Carolina’s for their scallops, Hank’s for their shrimp and grits, and McCrady’s for their grouper and extensive wine list (their Willamette selection is to die for, along with their vault ceilings and original brick interior). Stono Ferry Cafe in Johns Island for their live music and view of the Stono River. SNOB (Slightly North of Broad) for their shrimp and grits and other southern fare. Oak Steakhouse for their lobster mac ‘n’ cheese. Pearlz for their oysters and oyster shot. Wild Olive and Fat Hen (both on Johns Island but worth the trip). Lost Dog Cafe for their cool location at Folly Beach. Taco Boy for their fish tacos and sangria margarita. Poe’s for a great beach town restaurant with amazing guacamole and fish tacos. Basil for the best Thai.

Play Here: Vendue for their rooftop bar and wonderful view of downtown Charleston. The Griffon for an English-style pub. Folly Beach for the definition of a surfer town. Sullivans Island for a family-friendly nice beach with lots of good places to eat. Chai’s for a great tapas bar and a swanky scene. Pearlz for a great oyster shot. The Brick for good live music. Golf at Patriots Point for an inexpensive links course on Mount Pleasant. Shop at the Old Slaves quarters, and please bypass all the junk and spend your money on the sweetgrass baskets; make sure to ask about the tradition and history behind it. Shem Creek to enjoy Red’s Ice House. You can sit up in their tree house and enjoy a drink as you watch boats come in from a day out at sea. And go kayaking!

If I Went Again: I would make it out to Kiawah Island to golf Osprey and the Ocean Course. The Ocean Coarse with be in the PGA tour in 2012. This course is remarkable.

How Did You Get There From Dallas? Southwest just started flying to Charleston. There are a lot of direct flights on Delta, U.S. Airways, and American. The flight prices are not cheap, but no flight prices are cheap these days. The flight duration is 2 and ½ hours. Renting a car is a must if you plan on leaving downtown for the beach at any point. If you plan on just staying around the downtown area, there is no need for a car at all. Just bring some good walking shoes. Cobblestone can hurt.

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