Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

I want to go everywhere I haven't been, and back to everywhere I have been.

Friday, June 7, 2019

10 THINGS TO DO IN CHARLESTON, SC



10 Things To Do In Charleston: #3 - Take a harbor cruise | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #Charleston


Have you been saying that you want to get to Charleston someday?
Perhaps I can give you a gentle nudge 
to make that "someday" happen sooner rather than later.

When my sister was deciding where to go for her recent destination birthday celebration,
she couldn't make up her mind between Charleston or Savannah.
I'd been to both, briefly, and love them each for different reasons.
Ultimately, she chose Charleston, 
which seemed to have a more energetic vibe than it's genteel sister, Savannah.
It was a perfect choice for this occasion.


10 Things To Do In Charleston: #6 - Walk the streets in the historic district | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #Charleston



Seven us us descended upon Charleston for three days, 
and could have easily spent several more time eating our way through exploring the city.
If you have the luxury of a longer stay, there is a lot to do just outside the city, as well.
(click here to see what we did a few years ago).


Charleston has an energetic vibe........
 is a foodie's dream destination........
has charming places to stay........
 holds an important place in American history........
 is easily walkable........
 and exudes southern elegance and charm at every corner. 
What's not to like? 

Google a list of top cities to visit in the US, 
and Charleston will be on many of them. 

Travel & Leisure magazine has had it as their #1 choice of  
Top 15 Cities In The US since 2013.
Thrillist ranked it #5 of 25 Best US Cities To Spend a Weekend
(I was horrified to see that I've only been to nine of those 25,
but that's fodder for another blog post.)
Forbes has it on their 2019 list of  
Where To Go Next - 14 Best Places To Travel in The US.

I could go on, but I'd rather get to the point,  
and tell you about 10 fun things to do in Charleston
that may motivate you to finally book that trip.


10 Things To Do In Charleston: #4 - Visit colorful Rainbow Row| Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #Charleston



 1. SHOP AT HISTORIC CHARLESTON CITY MARKET. 


10 Things To Do In Charleston: #1 - Shop at City Market | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #Charleston
The market consists of three of these buildings.

If you know me, then you're probably surprised that I didn't lead off this list with "eat!" Trust me, I'll get to that. But first, my dears, you must work up an appetite by shopping. At the market, you will find local artisans selling their crafts. The most popular item is the sweet grass basket, but brace yourselves - the prices may shock the grits out of you. Ah, but they are beautiful, and truly a most special souvenir. I splurged on a small basket five years ago, and it does still spark joy.  There's lots more besides baskets at the market -- jewelry, artwork, packaged local foods, clothing, home decor......And fear not, if you do get hungry, there are a few food vendors to take the edge off your appetite (might I recommend Callie's Hot Little Biscuits? Scrumptious!).

10 Things To Do In Charleston: #1 - Shop at CIty Market | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #Charleston


10 Things To Do In Charleston: #1 - Shop at CIty Market | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #Charleston


Vendors are sprawled out over several open air buildings, and yes, it can be crowded and hot! There is one air-conditioned section called the Great Hall, where you can cool off and find clean public restrooms. 

The market operates every day of the year (except Christmas) from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m; and the night market is open on Fridays and Saturdays from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.


 2. TAKE A CARRIAGE RIDE. 


10 Things To Do In Charleston: #2 -Take a carraige ride| Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #Charleston


Carriage tours are probably the most iconic of Charleston's tourist activities. Okay, let's just get this out on the table. People have strong feelings one way or the other about mules pulling these carriages. Full disclosure - I did take carriage rides on both of my visits to Charleston, each time with Palmetto Carriage Works (read about my last one, here). They go into great detail about their care of their animals (read about it here). If it concerns you that the animals are being mistreated, that is understandable, so feel free to skip to #3. 

If you are interested in a carriage tour, it's a leisurely way to see and learn a little about Charleston with a knowledgeable (and often, humorous!) guide. In order to control carriage congestion, the city oversees the tour companies. They've divided the historic area into four districts, and you will not know which route your carriage will take until your guide stops at a corner where a city official draws a ping pong ball to determine the route. 
I was fortunate to go on two different routes on both of my tours.

Tours depart near the city market. It is best to make reservations in advance.


 3. CRUISE THROUGH THE HARBOR ON A BOAT TOUR. 


10 Things To Do In Charleston: #3 - Take a harbor cruise | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #Charleston


Harbor tours offer a different perspective of Charleston, and are another comfortable way to learn about the city's history. Okay, by comfortable, I mean that you can sit through this tour, rather than walk, but let's face it.......on a hot day, you'll be dripping with sweat before the boat pulls out of the slip. I forfeited my seat to snag a place to stand in the shade, but there is also an air-conditioned lower level that most of my friends sought out after a while. 

Harbor tours give you the chance to see the city from a distance............

10 Things To Do In Charleston: #3 - Take a harbor cruise | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #Charleston


Take you past Fort Sumter...............

10 ThingsTo  Do In Charleston: #3 - Take a harbor cruise and sail past Ft. Sumter | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #Charleston


Sail past the magnificent waterfront homes of Mount Pleasant.......

Beaches Houses of Mount Pleasant near Charleston, SC | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #Charleston


Advance reservations are recommended, matey!


 4. SEE THE COLORFUL HOMES ON RAINBOW ROW


10 Things To Do In Charleston: #4 - Visit colorful Rainbow Row| Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #Charleston


A fair percentage of Charleston souvenirs feature the image of pastel-colored homes lined up on East Bay Street, ranging from cheesy mementos to exquisite pieces of art. This series of historic homes begs to be captured on film or canvas. As it is one of Charleston's most photographed spots, it's tricky to take a photo without tons of tourists photo-bombing your shots. I was so frustrated, I had to go back a second day to try and get some decent pictures. It wasn't easy. Maybe I should have bought that Rainbow Row mug in hindsight. 

So, how did this row of houses become a rainbow? No one knows for sure. It's been said that it was to brighten up a run-down area in the early 1900's; or that pale colors helped to keep the homes cooler in summer; or that maybe they helped drunken sailors find their way home. Should you be lucky enough to buy one of these historic homes, don't be thinking about painting it greige........City ordinances insure that they will keep their pastel hues forever more.

10 Things To Do In Charleston: #4 - Visit colorful Rainbow Row| Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #Charleston


10 Things To Do In Charleston: #4 - Visit colorful Rainbow Row| Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #Charleston



 5. OGLE THE MANSIONS AT THE BATTERY. 


10 Things To Do In Charleston: #5 - Walk along The Battery and ogle the mansions | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #Charleston


Some of the homes in historic Charleston will take your mint-julep breath away. Stroll along the waterfront on East Bay Street, to East Battery, and then around the bend to South Battery for an up-close-and-personal view of how the upper-crust lives. If this doesn't satiate your mansion appetite, more elegant homes, such as the Calhoun House, can be seen along Meeting Street.  I can't imagine what one does with all of those rooms.  And what happens when you yell "Supper's ready!"  Will anyone hear you? I would like to do some serious porch sittin' on those terraces, though. 

10 Things To Do In Charleston: #5 - Walk along The Battery and ogle the mansions | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #Charleston


Wouldn't you pay to see the insides of those homes? Actually, you can, as tours are offered at some of them. The Roper House (below) can be toured by appointment. The Edmonston Alston House (below) is now a museum, and is open to the public. It's where General Beauregard watched the bombardment of Fort Sumter in 1861, signaling the start of the Civil War.


10 Things To Do In Charleston: #5 - See Roper House | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #Charleston
The Roper House

10 Things To Do In Charleston: #5 - See Edmonston Alston House | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #Charleston
The Edmonston Alston House



 6. WALK  UP AND DOWN THE STREETS OF THE HISTORIC DISTRICT. 


10 Things To Do In Charleston: #6 - Walk the streets in the historic district | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #Charleston


The best way to get a feel for a place is on foot, and the historic district of Charleston is delightfully walk-able. On my recent visit, my travel companions went off to see a plantation I had already been to, so I set off on my own walking tour. I sauntered up and down Meeting Street, Queen Street, King Street, Market Street, The Battery, and East Bay Street. There are galleries, eateries, beautiful homes, shops, pretty porches, garden gates, window boxes, interesting architecture........ Good thing I was alone, because I took pictures practically every five feet!


 
10 Things To Do In Charleston: #6 - Walk the streets in the historic district | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #Charleston



 7. REST YOUR FEET IN A PARK. 


10 Things To Do In Charleston: #7 - Rest your feet in White Point Gardens | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #Charleston
White Point Gardens

Charleston is a city worthy of walking your tootsies off, but thankfully, there are many pretty parks in which to take a rest. If you walk east all the way down Queen Street, or Broad Street, you'll come to Waterfront Park, aptly named for its proximity to Charleston Harbor. You'll know you've arrived when you see the Vendue Fountain spraying jets of water (and undoubtedly, children running under its spray). 

10 Things To Do In Charleston: #7 - Cool off in the fountain at Waterfront Park | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #Charleston
Waterfront Park

The Pineapple Fountain is another iconic landmark in the park. Feel free to hop in and wade around in the lower tier. Or, you can do what I did - park your hiney on a bench and rest your achin' dogs, while eating gelato from Belgian Gelato, just off the park on Vendue.

10 Things To Do In Charleston: #7 - Cool off in the fountain at Waterfront Park | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #Charleston
Waterfront Park

White Point Gardens, found along The Battery on the southern end of the city, is exquisitely filled with old oak trees, and plenty of shaded benches with views of Charleston Harbor. For history buffs, there are Civil War canons and some monuments and statues on display. 


 8. TAKE A WALKING FOOD TOUR.  


10 Things To Do In Charleston: #8 - Go on a walking food tour | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #Charleston


I'm fairly certain our group of seven would agree that the most fun thing we did was take a walking food tour in the historic district. It's a unique way to get a little taste (pun intended) of the city's history, through its food culture. This is the second walking food tour I've done (the first was in Reykjavik, Iceland), and I will try to do it wherever I travel.  We booked Savor The Flavors of Charleston through Bulldog Tours.  Our 2 1/2 hour tour took us to five stops, which were concentrated in a compact area around the City Market.  Our tour started at 10:00 a.m., and there was A LOT of food.........enough for breakfast and lunch........so much, that I couldn't even finish everything! We got to sample several types of biscuits (from Callies - see #1, above), pralines, she-crab soup, red rice, hush puppies, barbecue, and more! The food was delicious, our guide was terrific, and we left with full bellies and a greater appreciation of low-country cuisine, and Charleston's current restaurant scene. I've got six words of advice: Do It! DO It! DO IT!!!

10 Things To Do In Charleston: #8 - Go on a walking food tour | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #Charleston



 9. FIND A FUN PLACE FOR HAPPY HOUR. 


10 Things To Do In Charleston: #9 - Go to happy hour at a trendy wine bar | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #Charleston


Don't go back to your hotel room just yet -- Happy Hour is a great way to soak up the Charleston vibe. There's no lack of places to go for a late-afternoon aperitif, but I can only tell you about the two that we went to.  Blind Tiger, an historic pub and restaurant, was recommended by several people. On a nice day, sitting outside in their pleasing courtyard is a perfect spot for sipping on cocktails.

Just on the outskirts of town (about a 10-minute ride), is a wonderful find.........goat.sheep.cow., north. We found out about it quite by accident, but it was a highlight of our weekend. There are two locations -- one on Church Street, which is a cozy little artisanal cheese shop, and the other, which is a wine bar, on Meeting Street. The latter location is the one you want to go to for happy hour. It's in a section of town that is slowly being revitalized, and is in an uber-chic space that is definitely worth the Uber ride there. This combo wine store/cheese shop has an amazing wine bar, where you can order magnificent cheese and charcuterie boards. Don't miss the "crack" cheese, bread and crudite platter - it truly was addicting. Soups, salads, sandwiches, boards, and sweets are served all day, so you can go for lunch or a light dinner, too. The vibe was industrial chic........they don't have places like this in my neighborhood, that's for sure! I believe there is a courtyard out back, but it was looking like rain the day we were there, so I can't say for sure. 

10 Things To Do In Charleston: #9 - Go to happy hour at a trendy wine bar | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #Charleston



 10. INDULGE IN THE LOCAL CUISINE. 


10 Things To Do In Charleston: #10 - Indulge in the local cuisine | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #Charleston


Charleston's vibrant restaurant scene is a foodie's dream. If you forego sightseeing, and do nothing but dine, you will leave Charleston a happy camper. Take my advice and eat everything - don't hold back! Eat the biscuits. Eat the fried green tomatoes. Eat the shrimp and grits, the she-crab soup, the fried chicken, the sweet tea, the oysters, the pralines, the corn pudding. You can order the Flat Belly Diet book (affiliate link) when you get home. 

10 Things To Do In Charleston: #10 - Indulge in the local cuisine | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #Charleston


Charleston's best kept secret might be R Kitchen (and I might regret telling you about it). Ever since my friends went three years ago, I've been itching to go back to Charleston just to eat there. As the website says, they're not a restaurant, they're a kitchen. Seven of us took up almost half of the interior seating (capacity -16 people). Every night, the chefs cook up a different 5-course menu, and you get what you get (you can note food allergies or dislikes when making reservations, which are a must, and should be made well in advance). The chefs cook in front of you, telling you about the dish, ingredients, techniques, etc. We loved every course they served - it was an outstanding interactive experience! And - the price is right (I think it was about $40 or $50 per person). 

As for more traditional restaurants, we enjoyed 82 Queen (the outdoor patio is gorgeous!), Magnolias, and Poogan's Porch. The rooftop of Charleston Crab House (it's not just crab!) was a nice spot for lunch. Based on samplings on our food tour, I'd also recommend O Bar at the Oyster House (it's not just oysters!), and Swig and Swine (don't bring your vegetarian friends!). Honestly, I think it's pretty hard to go wrong when it comes to Charleston's restaurants. 







 Has Charleston been on your bucket list?
Time to make some plans and check it off!

10 Things To Do In Charleston | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #Charleston







So much to do Charleston, SC! This list of 10 things to do will get you started. | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes




 RESOURCES 


THINGS TO DO:
Charleston City Market
Charleston Harbor Tours
Edmonston Alston House
Palmetto Carriage Works
Rainbow Row
The Roper House


LOCAL CUISINE:
82 Queen
Belgian Gelato
Blind Tiger 
Callie's Hot Little Biscuits
Charleston Crab House 
goat.sheep.cow., north
Magnolias
O Bar at The Oyster House 
Poogan's Porch
R Kitchen  
Savor The Flavors of Charleston Walking Food Tour (Bulldog Tours) 
Swig & Swine


LINKING WITH:


 



10 comments:

  1. Your post brought back such great memories of our vacation to Charleston a few years ago. We stayed in one of the mansions guest house off the back of the house. It use to be a slave quarter back in the day but in recent days converted to a vacation rental. It was a small one bedroom cottage with a pool all to ourselves. It was so fun to walk the streets and know that George Washington and past leaders walked those very same streets. The homes are just so gorgeous. I loved just taking in the homes and gardens. So much history to those home. The sleeping porches on the houses too were so cool. Good eats everywhere and the open market was wild and fun. Hard to believe that city was once under water. We also did a few of the ghost tours. So fun. I need to go back again. After seeing your post it made me want to go back. Thank you. Happy Friday.
    Hugs,
    Kris

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  2. I went to so many of these places when we visited Charleston at Christmas! Circa 1886 was our favorite restaurant for dinner, Hominy Grill for brunch, and 5Church for cocktails (gorgeous). I can't wait to go back and try some of these others!

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  3. OMG, you had my lips salivating. We've been to Charleston once and I would love to go back---and just stay there for a few days, and eating our way through seafood would be wonderful---great tour!

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  4. Thank you for useful tips...

    Have a wonderful weekend

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  5. Hi Amy, I have only been to Charleston once (you're spot-on about the market!). I see now that I must return to do the many other things you suggested. A day isn't enough, I think!

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  6. Charleston is on my bucket list now! The food tour sounds great. I will wait till Fall or Winter to go though....I hear it can be brutal there in the summer!

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  7. Lots of good things to see and do :)

    All the best Jan

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  8. This looks like such a nice place to travel and visit. I hope to visit someday. I enjoyed looking at the photos and all the great ideas listed.

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  9. What a wonderful place. I would love to wander around there for house! Lots of great photos and information, too!

    My Corner of the World

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  10. Your pictures are gorgeous! It looks like you had an incredible time...how could you not?!! I have only been there once but need to go back again and enjoy more of those amazing restaurants...and happy hour! Thanks for linking up to Take Me Away...always great to have you! Happy 4th!
    Shelley

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