I have wanted to visit Charleston ever since I read Gone with the Wind at age 12. I almost went on multiple occasions and last month I was finally able to check it off my to-do list. It was definitely worth the wait and as lovely as everyone says it is. Charleston is so clean and picturesque, it feels more like Disney World than a city. Everyone dressed the part too. Women wore pastels, Lilly Pulitzer dresses and navy stripes. No black suits for the men, it was all khakis, blues and coral pink. There are countless hat stores. I packed Lucas well and his outfits were a hit. He’s also a true gentleman who took his hat off with both hands whenever we were indoors.
The historic district is easy to navigate and there is a free transit system to make it even easier. There was more shopping than I expected, countless art galleries and multiple city tour options (day/night, walking/horse drawn carriage/pedicab). It didn’t make sense to go on a tour with Lucas but we saw/heard enough tours to learn fun tidbits about the city – I’m sure residents know them all by heart.
I was most surprised and impressed by the homemade crafts that were sold at street corners and in the markets. Beautiful baskets and flowers made of sweet grass. Since they are handcrafted, we didn’t want to offend anyone by taking pictures and ran out of time to pay for one (it was a whirlwind 2 day trip). I did buy a rose made by a high school student for his basketball team to keep in our travel journal. From young kids to elderly men and women, we saw a variety of black crafters and I am fascinated by the history because I’ve never seen anything like it before. When we go back I will definitely buy a basket to bring home.
Aiken-Rhett House: I have been to many historic homes and this was the first preserved house I’ve visited. Unlike other homes that are restored and decorated to the period, this house has almost no furnishings. It remains in its natural, worn condition and I found it to be eerily beautiful. Instead of feeling like a glamorous museum exhibit, I felt like I was walking through history. It’s a self guided tour with an iPod and honestly, not my favorite way to do a tour but the house itself made up for it.
Nathaniel Russell House: On the other end of the spectrum the Nathaniel Russell house is being restored in great detail and at great expense. They offered individual guided tours and our tour guide was great. The staircase and round rooms are architectural marvels and lovely to see in person.
Rainbow Row: Take a walk down Bay Street and you’ll find the Time Square of Charleston. You will know when you get there because everyone is taking pictures. The iconic colorful row houses are beautiful and popular. It has to be a pain to live there but it is a lot of fun to explore.
South Carolina Aquarium: Lucas loves fish and were were all excited to take him to an aquarium. Ironically, Lucas’ favorite thing was the bald eagle (and Grandma bought him a stuffed buddy to take home with him). They have a real-life mermaid that was fun to see as an adult but mind-blowing for any child – especially girls. If I had seen this as a kid I would have absolutely had different career goals. There is a huge fish tank and I was so excited when the sea turtle swam up to us at the glass – they are as cute in person as they are in Finding Nemo.
The Markets & Waterfront: It’s fun to see attractions that we also have in Detroit. The City Market is the talk of the town and very similar to Eastern Market. Unlike Eastern Market you can shop in the sheds at night and enjoy a lively late night scene. Since we were there on Saturday we were also able to enjoy the farmers market at Marion Square which is similar to the farmers markets in various suburbs. It was fun to walk along the water and on the dock. We saw the cruise ship we considered taking for our honeymoon and had a nice reminder of our newlywed days.
Lucas wouldn’t hold still for my Easter family photoshoot but he looks awfully handsome (and not blurry) in this shot.