In February of 2017, my friend Jen and I flew to Charleston, SC for a combined birthday trip for the two of us. We went for a long weekend and spent time in both Charleston and Savannah.
- Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit
- Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q
- Mellow Mushroom
- Fiddler’s Crab House
- Caviar & Bananas
- Brown Dog Deli
- Sticky Fingers Smokehouse
- Middleton Place Restaurant
- The Rise Coffee Bar
- Caviar & Bananas
- Savannah Bee Company
- Black Dog
- Magnolia Plantation
- Wormsloe State Historic Site
- Tybee Island
- Rainbow Row
- Waterfront Park
- East Battery
- White Point Gardens
- Nathaniel Russell House
- Boone Hall
- Folly Beach
- Drayton Hall
- Middleton Place
- King Charles Inn
We traveled February 8-11th. We were able to get a flight from Harrisburg, PA at 6:15 which was ideal. We flew into DC and then got a connecting flight to Charleston. We got in a bit before noon and picked up our rental car.
We had some ideas of what we wanted to do prior to getting to SC so our first stop off the plane was the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. This is the one you’ve probably seen pictures of on Instagram or Pinterest with the white bridges over the water. It was founded in 1676 by the Drayton family and has a lot of history relating to both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. It’s about $20 per adult for admission and then there’s additional add on tours you can pick. We just chose the regular admission and still got to see quite a lot.
We grabbed a quick bite at Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q after the plantation. Then we checked into our hotel, King Charles Inn.. The hotel was close to everything downtown and made it very convenient to walk to things and they had free parking. There were also enough spaces that we never had to park off site. My all time favorite thing about the hotel was their hot tea and cookies they served around 8 PM each night. And the cookies were warm. Who doesn’t love warm cookies?
A few blocks from the hotel were places to eat and a bunch of shops, so we ventured over by Savannah Bee Company and popped in and then stopped at Lululemon before going to dinner at Mellow Mushroom. I’d only been to Mellow Mushroom once before when I was on a work trip in Albany, GA and it was great so we decided to stop at this one and enjoy some pizza. The pizza was great and we were were stuffed so we decided to head back to the hotel.
On the way back, we stopped at the cutest little store called Candlefish and I wanted to buy everything. All the maps, candles, and cards. I especially wanted to buy this USA Map print (above) by the company 42 Pressed but I didn’t think it was going to travel well back to PA. After checking out the shop, we headed back to the hotel and hit the sheets since we were Savannah bound the next day.
Before getting to Charleston, we didn’t really plan on traveling down to Savannah, Georgia on Friday but since we were so close, we figured, why the heck not!
The first thing on the agenda was to get breakfast before heading out. We walked down to this place called Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit. It’s in the back of where they have the market so we kind of got lost getting there. They have biscuits with anything you could really ask for on them. I got bacon, egg, and cheese and I really could have eaten 12 of them. It was kind of messy, but the good kind of messy where you just want more.
Next on the agenda was to get coffee. Jen’s not a coffee drinker – she prefers tea. She obliged my coffee addiction and we walked over to this place called The Rise coffee bar for a latte.
With coffee in hand and biscuits inhaled, we headed to Savannah. The drive there was about two hours or so. It wasn’t bad. There wasn’t much to see on the way there – mostly just trees. So make sure you have a good playlist or book ready or some fun people in the car you can chat with. Or maybe you just like trees… and will look out the windows the whole time. You do you.
Once we got into downtown Savannah, we ran into a parade and sat and watched it. Because we had no choice. We were the third car in the line that got stopped and we ended up watching the Georgia Day Parade through the city. There were lots of students and lots of historical costumes. After the parade passed through (about 25 minutes later), we continued heading toward the Wormsloe State Historic Site on the south side of the city.
Since it was the same day as the Georgia Day Parade, we had the opportunity to encounter reenactments at the historic site. There was an ink calligraphy stop, axe throwing, revolutionary war gun firing, and cooking with a witch cauldron (JK I think it was just a big kettle).
We walked back the paths of Wormsloe to where the original house once stood. I’m not sure what my expectations were coming here, but I kind of thought the house would still be there. I hadn’t realized it would just be some stones leftover with trails. I was a little disappointed, but only because I didn’t really do my research first, and because we had gone to Magnolia the day prior. Wormsloe is an enjoyable time; just prep yourself that it’s not a plantation and more like a nature walk among the trees.
After exploring Wormsloe, we drove into Savannah proper and ended up on the North side of town in the historic district. We parked on Bay street and ventured to find a late lunch. We visited Savannah Bee company again as well as the Black Dog and some other shops. We ended up stopping to eat at Fiddler’s Crab House. We sat outside on the deck upstairs which was quite chilly. I had gator bites and a Caesar salad which were both pretty good. The building itself is a converted cotton warehouse so the brick and stone speak to my history loving heart.
After lunch we walked around for a bit and then stopped for my favorite type of snack – Starbucks and a pink cake batter cake pop before we made our way to Tybee Island. The drive out to Tybee Island was gorgeous. It started to rain on our way home so we each took turns staying in the car while the other ran out to the beach to take pictures. After visiting the beach we headed back to the hotel through an awful storm just in time for the warm cookies.
We woke up around 8 and headed down to the market to grab breakfast and coffee. I had a wrap and a latte from Caviar & Bananas and Jen had another one of Callie’s Hot Little Biscuits (I told you they were delicious.)
Today was our day to explore downtown so from the market, we headed over to the French Quarter and then Waterfront Park. This particular morning was extremely foggy so from Waterfront Park, all you could see was fog which was both awesome and eerie.
We cut back in from the park as we headed south to check out the infamous Rainbow Row. The houses there really are beautifully colored and have an awesome contrast against each other. We continued walking south and looked at the enormous houses along East Battery. We made our way through the White Point Gardens and then up to the Nathaniel Russell House.
The tour of the Nathaniel Russell House gave me a glimpse into what the structure experienced during it’s 200 years standing. Since this specific home is working on being preserved, they have worked to have paint colors, furniture, and decor specific to the period of the early 1800s reintroduced to the house. Our tour guide was magnificent and the home itself is stunning. They also have a gift shop you can stop at on the way out for touristy but still fun souvenirs.
We headed north after our tour and were on the search for lunch. We ended up at the Brown Dog Deli. It’s not a big deli, but has seating and a large and very unique menu. I ended up getting the Turkey in the Straw sandwich. It has strawberries, smoked turkey, brie, bacon, arugula, strawberry basil cream cheese, onion, balsamic reduction, and pita. This was seriously the best sandwich I’ve ever had. It was sweet and savory. The flavors worked so well together and it was just remarkable. Definitely check out this place if you’re in the area.
From lunch we walked back up by Waterfront Park which now had no fog so we got to take some pictures and then back through the French Quarter to the hotel. We hopped in the car and decided to venture to Boone Hall which is in Mount Pleasant. It’s about a 20-25 minute drive from downtown Charleston.
Boone Hall was originally founded in 1681 by John Boone. The house that is currently on the land is not the original home. The current home was built in 1936. There’s a 30 minute tour you can take of the downstairs and the tour guides are hilarious and knowledgeable. The land was actually in a few scenes of the Notebook (Google it).
There are nine slave cabins you can explore while at Boone Hall. The first one is the Praise House. The slaves would gather here to worship. It was a small little cabin but sitting inside it, you could feel the history coming from the walls and all the stories the foundation had to tell. There were some other structures there that they were renovating so we didn’t get to see much aside from the gardens and the first floor of the house.
For dinner we drove back into Charleston and went to Sticky Fingers Smokehouse for dinner. The inside was all brick and had these cool brick arches in the building. I couldn’t figure out what the building was originally built for, but it was neat inside. The food was really good and the pecan pie I had for dessert was even better.
For breakfast Sunday morning, we walked over to Kitchen 208. I got the Cobblestone sandwich, a side of grits and fruit. It was all delicious. It was nice enough that we could sit outside. Since we were near the shops, we saw quite a few people on their way to and from yoga as well as going to and from church. Sitting outside was a great spot for people watching (one of my favorite hobbies).
After breakfast, we drove out to Folly beach. It was pretty foggy when we got there but so peaceful. We drove around for a bit and then got back in the car and went up toward the airport to Drayton Hall.
Drayton Hall is very different than any of the other plantations we visited. It was built around 1738 and is being preserved in it’s most recent condition. This means there’s not any furniture, paintings, decor, or anything in the house.
It is very different than the Nathaniel Russell house which looks almost new with 1800s period pieces. Drayton however is empty, has chipping paint, and you have to be careful with the weigh distribution on the staircases, but it was my absolute favorite of the trip so far. They are renovating the gift shop and education center so there will be so much more you can do and explore if you visit over the next few months.
After Drayton Hall, we went up the road to Middleton Place. Before going to Charleston, I didn’t realize Drayton Hall, Middleton Place, and Magnolia plantation are literally all on the same road as neighbors and their “backyards” go up to the Ashley River. Middleton Place is about 100 acres and has 65 acres of gardens. The gardens here are absolutely magnificent. When comparing them to something like Longwood Gardens, these are just as awesome and seemingly more unique. They have ponds, fountains, statues, annuals, shrubs and trees. There are walkways throughout and one connects to another. With every turn, you happen upon an entirely new garden.
There’s also a restaurant at Middleton Place and it is incredible. I had some low-country shrimp and grits and a salad for lunch. They were both delightful. After lunch we were walking the property and came across a baby alligator sunning itself on the lawn. We said “see ya later, alligator” and made a quick detour to avoid any of his or her bigger family members. We walked through the various gardens for about an hour and a half and then headed back to the car.
We didn’t go on the house tour but I’m sure it would have been a great experience. We stopped at Starbucks and got our daily caffeine and cake pops and then headed to the airport.
- Hotel – The King Charles Inn was excellent and affordable. It was close to everything and had free parking.
- Historic Sites -They are all incredibly different. Don’t go in with any expectations. Each have their own special something to offer.
- Gardens – The garden at Middleton Place was spectacular. If you have any interest in gardening, put this on your list.
- Getting around – We rented a car and I’m so glad we did. I like to go at my own pace so waiting for an Uber to take us around wouldn’t have been my preference. We also went to Savannah for a day, so without a rental we wouldn’t have been able to do that.
- Making Plans – Look at where things are ahead of time. Magnolia Plantation, Middleton Place, and Drayton Hall are all extremely close to each other and the airport in North Charleston. You can plan ahead and put them either before or after a flight day.
- What we missed – If we had more time, I probably would have gone to the Aiken Rhett House as well as the Calhoun Mansion. I really don’t feel like I missed anything as we got to do a whole lot in our 4 days but those are two other things I may have added in with another day.
- Sweetgrass Baskets – At the market they have baskets that are expensive as souvenirs. Ask yourself if you really want to spend that much on a mini basket before purchasing.