Charleston, South Carolina

While staying with my friend in Myrtle Beach, we decided to do a day trip to a city that I’ve heard much of but had never visited: Charleston! A very easy 2-hour drive south, Charleston is a quaint southern town with excellent food, great drinks, and an amazing array of historical architecture.

Driving in, our first hint of the amazing architecture was actually in the form of a bridge.

We started our morning with a brunch at Eli’s Table, where we enjoyed some southern classics: shrimp and grits, fried oysters benedict, strong coffee and strong bloody mary’s. Post-lunch, we walked off some of our calories by wandering the “French Quarter” to see the beautiful architecture. On the way, we passed by the old Charleston slave market – the museum was closed, but it was sobering to see such a prominent slave market featured right in the middle of town.

We then passed by several beautiful parks and buildings on our way to our first stop: the Nathaniel Russell House.

The Nathaniel Russell House is one of many old mansions which have been converted to museums and gardens in the downtown Charleston area – many showcase incredible architecture, interesting southern aristocratic cultural history, and a few are (just now) beginning to highlight more cultural history from the enslaved people who lived and worked on the grounds.

I loved the house and all of its architectural elements – the audio tour was also very well done, describing the various characters within the family and contextualizing a lot of the design choices, such as the colors of the ornate trim in the parlor, the painted (rather than wooden) trim in the front hallways, and the doors painted to look like mahogany (“Painting the door to look like mahogany was more expensive than using real mahogany, so that’s why it was preferred”).

Other interesting elements of the home included the beautiful, unsupported spiral staircase and various homegoods – for example, a cloth-covered chamberpot (…yikes) and a bedding pattern favored by many of the founding fathers in the US.

After the Nathaniel Russell House, we continued our self-guided walking tour through Charleston. We headed further south, hitting the “Battery” (basically the old sea wall of Charleston, where some old artillery is housed), past Rainbow Row (basically a collection of colorfully painted homes – honestly, they were less impressive to me than some of the homes we saw just wandering through Charleston’s streets), and then up to one of my favorite finds: Mrs. Whaley’s Garden.

Apparently, you can enter the bigger garden (in the back of the property) at certain times, but even without doing so we loved seeing it set into an otherwise standard residential plot.

From there, we made our way north, passing some beautiful architecture and parks.

We even passed a bit of the old Charleston city walls!

After that, we went shopping on Charleston’s famous King Street, which is essentially a shopper’s paradise whether you’re looking for designer goods or cheap souvenirs.

From there, we took a much needed break and stopped into the Citrus Club, a swanky beautiful rooftop bar with great views above Charleston. The drinks were great, and the views fantastic.

From there, we headed to our final stop, which was called Basic Kitchen – a farm-to-table restaurant. We grabbed a salad and some cauliflower “wings” before making the drive back up to Myrtle Beach. Overall, a fantastic day in Charleston – and enough to excite me to hopefully head back at some point!

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