In late October John and I headed south to Charleston, South Carolina for four days to celebrate my birthday. We’d never been to Charleston and had been hearing nothing but good things for years. I couldn’t wait to go!
Normally John and I pack our vacations with tons to do, see, and experience. Go, go, go, go, go. But on this trip we promised ourselves we wouldn’t plan anything in advance and we’d just go with the flow. It was so hard! We’re such planners and researchers, I felt like we were going to miss out on something for sure. But we really did need this type of vacation; when we got home I felt truly rested and recharged.
We went right from the airport to our hotel to drop off our bags. We stayed at the Restoration on King Hotel and, oh my god, was this the most amazing hotel we’ve ever stayed at.
I”ll be honest, I wanted to go to Charleston just to stay at this hotel. I had read reviews online and seen the pictures and all I wanted for my birthday trip was to stay here. It was basically a mini apartment; fully outfitted with a huge kitchen, laundry, living room, separate bedroom, etc. But it was the gorgeous exposed brick and upscale modern decor that made me fall in love with the whole place.
I loved every second of staying here and would come back again in a heartbeat.
Also, did I mention that breakfast was delivered to our room each morning in a picnic basket?
After we got settled at the hotel, we headed out to get a late lunch at Hominy Grill. It was about a mile walk from the hotel and a gorgeous day outside. I was already totally in vacation mode.
After lunch we walked back and vegged in our room for the rest of the afternoon. Since it was Sunday we watched the Patriots. We also took advantage of the wine and cheese hour at the hotel. But mostly we just relaxed, read, watched football, and chilled out. Exactly what we needed.
At dinner time we walked down to Slightly North of Broad (SNOB, hah).
The food was perfection – I got the beet salad and fish. The service was truly excellent too. Overall a very charming restaurant, slightly fancy but without pretension at all, with a wonderful atmosphere. I would come to learn quickly that this is Charleston’s deal.
As we walked back to the hotel I checked my Yelp bookmarks to see what else was open downtown at that hour. I had bookmarked Kaminsky’s months ago after reading somewhere that they make the best pie in Charleston. We decided to stop in for dessert and we had what was likely the most unexpectedly awesome food moment of the trip. Kaminsky’s is a bar. A dive bar. But sure enough, there is a full dessert case of pie up front. We walked in and were told there was a wait for tables. The 10 grimy bar tables in Kaminsky’s were packed, and there was a line of folks waiting outside. We were offered seats at the bar if we didn’t want to wait. We had come that far, why not? We sidled up to the bar and ordered – Toll House Chocolate Chip Pie for me, Coconut Cream Pie for John. While we waited for our pie we chatted with the bartenders and other folks at the bar. Everyone was super friendly and cool. Our pie arrived and it literally was the best pie ever. We knew then that this place was the real deal – awesome pie, awesome people, awesome awesome.
We walked by Charleston City Market on the way back to the hotel. The vendors were all gone at night but we stopped by the next day to check it out.
City Market is an open air building with all kinds of local vendors. Touristy but really cool.
On Monday morning we were up bright and early to do some touristing. We had heard about Patriot’s Point and the Maritime Museum across the harbor.
Any kind of naval history is totally up John’s alley so we walked down to the waterfront and took the Charleston Water Taxi over.
John was a happy dude and we got an awesome view of the USS Yorktown from the harbor.
Patriot’s Point and the Maritime Museum has a ton to see! I didn’t realize until we actually got there and talked to the woman at the admissions booth.
Our first stop was the USS Clamagore, the only preserved Guppy III submarine in the US.
John went ahead and toured the entire sub but I only briefly checked it out. I am way too claustrophobic for such tiny underwater quarters!
After touring the sub we headed to the USS Laffey, a destroyer class ship that was present on D-Day in Normandy and in Okinawa almost a year later.
In Okinawa, Laffey withstood an air attack from roughly 50 Japanese planes and was struck by six kamikaze crashes. Afterward it was aptly nicknamed “The Ship That Would Not Die.”
It was extremely impressive, an amazing ship.
Lastly, we toured the USS Yorktown, a World War II aircraft carrier.
Inside the Yorktown we toured the impressive and austere Medal of Honor Museum.
We also toured each level including the living quarters,
the torpedo preparation room, and the engine room.
We also checked out all of the aircrafts on display on the the flight deck.
We also got a great show just below in the harbor from all the dolphins!
After about 3+ hours at Patriot’s Point we headed back downtown via the water taxi (so convenient!) and grabbed some lunch at Husk.
At Husk we had the most amazing chicken wings I have ever had. They were slathered in a mustard sauce that was to die for. They were served with an extra dish for bones and a warm towel to wipe down with afterward. They were delicious but messy as heck. I also had a pulled pork sandwich as well which was yummy.
After lunch we walked around downtown and decided to check out the Nathanial Russel House tour.
The house is a 200 year old neoclassical antebellum home with exquisite architectural details and furnishings. I couldn’t take pictures inside but the whole house was stunning.
After the tour we walked around some more downtown, enjoying the gorgeous buildings and lovely weather.
We walked back at the hotel to hang out for the rest of the afternoon. Lounging on the couch wouldn’t be complete without a few episodes of Barefoot Contessa, right?
At dinner time we headed to FIG (Food Is Good), just a short walk from the hotel.
We started with a fabulous cheese plate – so many great cheeses on here!
I got the chicken for dinner and the chocolate torte for dessert. We walked home stuffed, obviously, but super happy.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of my Charleston trip recap!