When I studied abroad in the south of France during my junior year of college, I discovered a joy that surfaced in my soul when traveling to a new destination. The anticipation beforehand, the adventure during, and the memories shared afterward ignited some dormant part of my heart that grew me in ways I could hardly put into words. And once that part of me woke up, it never really went back to sleep. I’m sure many of you can relate.
After hopping around Europe for four months, I returned home with a hopeful desire that I could see more of my own country because – holy cow – the United States is HUGE and there was so much of it I hadn’t seen. But since there’s that hugeness factor, traveling in the U.S. takes more time (if you want to drive) and more money (if you want to fly).
So, although I knew moving to a new place would come with many challenges, I was also super excited to move to the south. Oh, the places Nate and I could go! We would be within closer driving distance to so many amazing cities, including Charleston, South Carolina.
Now, Nate already knew he loved Charleston. He tagged along with two friends on a day trip in 2012 when he was working and living in Florence, SC, for a semester. I remember him texting photos to me of the College of Charleston’s campus, and all I could think was, “I need to see this place.” Little did I know at the time that Nate and I would eventually get married, move to North Carolina, and decide to visit this lovely historical destination for our first anniversary.
As the oldest city in South Carolina, Charleston is full of character and overflowing with history. Its cobblestone streets and well-preserved architecture exude charm, and its proximity to the ocean provides gorgeous views of the bay.
We arrived on Friday afternoon,
We had the whole afternoon ahead of us, so we braved the heat and made our way downtown to roam around The College of Charleston’s gorgeous campus. The whole time, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would have been like to go to school there. These students had consistent warm weather, beaches a mere 15 minutes away, rich history and Spanish moss around every corner… I may or may not have looked at their list of graduate programs. A girl can dream, right?
After a couple miles of exploring and sweating through our clothes (yay summer in the south!), we decided to head back to the house to rest before dinner.
You’re probably wondering how on earth Nate and I decided where to eat in one of America’s best food cities. Well, thanks to a few trusty friends, we didn’t have to do any research! All we had to do was pull up Google Maps, plug in a recommended restaurant name, park the car and wait for a table to open up.
For dinner on Friday, we went to a classic part of downtown on East Bay Street to find a place called Minero. According to their website, they are a “casual Mexican eatery,” although I would add “tasty” somewhere in there. The atmosphere was very cool with low light glowing on brick walls that contrasted beautifully with the elegant ceiling. I was definitely feelin’ it.
There was a bit of a wait, so we decided to check out the surrounding area until they texted us (!! I love that restaurants are starting to do this) to tell us our table was ready. I loved walking the streets at dusk. We made our way toward the pier and looked out over the bay as the sun set over the city. Thank you, God, for the golden hour.
Our meal at Minero was delicious and not your typical tacos and enchiladas. First and foremost, we got margaritas, because, well, of course we did. I ordered a wonderful Mexican stew while Nate enjoyed their Torta del Dia, and we both devoured some chips and unique salsas. Two thumbs up, Minero.
Saturday started out in the best way:
with BRUNCH! I am a huge fan of brunch, and just breakfast food in general – so much so that I wish I had a stomach of steel like Ron Swanson and could eat my week’s worth of calories of all things breakfast in one sitting. But alas, it cannot be so.
Nate and I moseyed our way over to Hominy Grill for some downright good ol’ Low Country cookin’. This place was also recommended to us by friends, and we were not disappointed (although, I can’t deny that the lady painted on the side of the building creeped me out a little bit). This place had beer mimosas! Nate had one of those to accompany the restaurant’s classic “Charleston Nasty Biscuit,” while I enjoyed a traditional mimosa with my yummy pancakes.
The rest of our day consisted of gawking at beautiful homes, roaming in and out of fancy stores, watching a few plays of the Penn State game at a rooftop bar, making friends with Loretta the cat (pictured below), and just simply soaking in all that lovely southern charm.
We were almost ready to head back to our Airbnb when we stumbled across the cutest little shop dedicated completely to honey and all things bees. The Savannah Bee Company is located all over the south and sells their product all over the country, but I had never heard of it before. And I had also never in my life done a *honey tasting,* but by golly, I have now, and YUM – it was so fun. We even took home a couple souvenirs!
The last major event of the day was dinner, and I was really looking forward to this one. When three out of three friends recommend a place to you, you don’t ignore them. We made reservations at The Grocery a few days before as our celebratory anniversary dinner. According to their website, their menu is based on seasonal ingredients available from local and regional farmers and fishermen that the chef knows and has worked with for many years, which means their menu changes often. You never really know what you’re going to get!
Compared to the three other places we ate on our trip, The Grocery was definitely a little more swanky/pricey, but the food was excellent, the service was wonderful, and they even gave us two glasses of champagne on the house to celebrate our anniversary! Due to the super-cool atmosphere of the restaurant, the lighting was not ideal for photos, so I apologize that you don’t get to see our beautiful dishes. I guess that means you’ll just have to go and see for yourself. :)
After dinner, we still had room for dessert, so we walked a block over to get ice cream from Jeni’s (conclusion: lavender ice cream tastes like Froot Loops, but in a good way). ‘Twas a Saturday in Charleston well-spent.
Our trip concluded on Sunday
with a walk along the shore of Sullivan’s Island with everyone and their dogs. Literally, I’ve never seen so many dogs in one place. But it sure made for an entertaining stroll. The water moved warmly over our toes when the tide came near, and the ocean breeze coaxed us down the coast and back before we made our way back to the car.
Our time in Charleston was so sweet, and I am very grateful such a city exists. For a place that has seen and experienced much of our country’s history, as well as its own recent tragedies, the city’s vitality and beauty are undeniable. I look forward to the next time I have a chance to walk those cobblestone streets.