Friday, August 28, 2015

Featured Friday: A Charleston, SC Travel Guide

I am SO SO SO excited to introduce you to today's Featured Friday guest author, my best best friend, Emily!! I'm sure you've realized that Emily is mentioned quite often on Wonderfully Wolf as she is such a huge part of my life! For the past three years, we have practically been attached at the hip and there is no one else I would want to be my person! Emily has the sweetest heart and knows how to have the best time in every situation. She is also a die-hard Charleston lover. Seriously, she has been about a million times and loves to talk about it! So, trust every word and recommend she gives and enjoy your last chance to celebrate this sweet summer

Summer is on its way out, and cooler weather is right around the corner. Let’s not run to Starbucks for our PSL’s just yet, because it is only right to give summertime the proper goodbye it so deserves.

What better way to kiss the heat goodbye than by planning a last hoorah mini-vaca to my favorite place on the planet: Charleston, SC.

I cannot think of a more perfect time to plan your stay in the Holy City than for the upcoming weekend of Labor Day. (In the south, this holiday is when we say au revoir to our white pants until the spring.) Labor Day gives travelers that extra day to drag out their vacation - whether that means hitting the beach one more time, stuffing your face a little extra, or seeing that sight you just couldn’t squeeze into the 2 day weekend.

At this point, and if you have never been to Charleston before, you might be asking “So, why Charleston?” and my answer to you is “Umm… why not?” Seriously though, it’s perfect. Charleston is like stepping into a historical time warp with its cobblestone streets, original architecture, plantation homes, and horse drawn carriages on every corner. Not to mention, if you have a man, drag him along, because Charleston has been voted the country’s most romantic city.

Rainbow Row

I’m going to give you a few of my favorites about Charleston. I have lost count on how many times I have visited this beautiful place. From family vacations, to my bachelorette party, anniversary trips, and “just because” weekends, Charleston has become so near and dear to my heart. Over the years I have learned what sights are worth seeing, where you should visit, the best places to shop, and of course, where you should be eating! With that, let’s get started!

My Charleston Bachelorette Party
First, let’s book those hotels!
If there are still openings in any of the Bed and Breakfast’s in the city, I would most definitely say try those first! I have personally stayed at 21 East Battery Bed and Breakfast as well as The Battery Carriage House. I cannot say enough wonderful things about these two B&B. They will dote on you hand and foot, they will take the time to get to know you, help you make reservations at restaurants, and not to mention the homes are historical and each beautifully unique.

The Mills House hotel is one I am absolutely longing to stay in. Once again, these rooms book up pretty quickly so hop on it if you’re interested! The hotel is a bit pricier, but oh my goodness is it worth it (or so I’ve heard). For my history bluffs, Robert E. Lee actually gave a speech to the troops on the balcony of this hotel. Also, it’s pink, so how could you not love that?

Mills House
If you’re booking on a budget, I would suggest the Holiday Inn Charleston Historic Downtown. It’s still a short walk from anything you could want to do or see downtown and the hotel is immaculate. The only downside is there are not any historical references or ties to this particular hotel. I have personally stayed there and have recommended it to just about anyone who asks for hotel references.

Plan your itinerary:
Carriage tours – yes my fellow animal advocates, they treat the horses with incredible love and respect. They have great facilities (I asked) and are like royalty to the city of Charleston. I have only used one particular tour company, though, so I am unable to speak for others. Here is the tour company that I recommend. 

Shopping on King Street – because you have to, there’s no option. From Kate Spade, to boutiques, LOFT, and Louis Vuitton, shopping on King Street is an absolute must when visiting Charleston. I’ll leave it at that and let you experience the luxury for yourself. Only downside, everyone in Charleston shops on King Street so the small sidewalks get fairly tight (My tip: don’t text and walk, you’ll run into people or light poles.)

Visit the market – it was originally the place where slaves were auctioned and sold in Charleston (from all over the South, actually) and has now been transformed into an outdoor market where tourists can come and purchase Charleston-y souvenirs. My favorite finds there: hand-weaved basket, painted Charleston artwork, and praline pecans. Also, there’s always a fresh lemonade stand, grab a cup and you will thank me later.

Waterfront Park – do you know all of those cliché pictures people take in front of the pineapple fountain? Yeah, I’m guilty, too. It’s gorgeous, and so relaxing (minus the screaming kids who are ALWAYS playing in the fountains). I enjoy Waterfront Park the most at night. After you’re stuffed with crab or shrimp and grits, take a walk to the waterfront and sit on the swings with your man (or your gelato that you grabbed on the way).

Plantation homes – who doesn’t love visiting grand homes (and pretending they live there)? Charleston is notorious for their beautiful plantation homes and I highly suggest you visit one while you’re there. I have visited quite a few and I have found to have 2 favorites.

Magnolia Plantation & Gardens – the gardens are absolutely breathtaking and this time of year is the perfect time to go. Not too hot to stroll and the flowers are still in bloom!

Boone Hall Plantation – I may be biased because I am a Nicholas Sparks girl, but Boone Hall is my #1 because it was Allie’s parents’ summer home in The Notebook. It is also the spot where Blake Lively said her vows (let me hear you Gossip Girls). Take a ride on the “bus” tour (more like open air caravan), and hear the history of the grounds and all of the yummy things they still grow there. During the fall, they have a corn maze and pumpkin patch! 

Haunted ghost tour – not only is Charleston gorgeous by day but it is haunted by night. One of the America’s most haunted cities, these tours will not only teach you about the history of Charleston but give you an inside look on what, or who, still lurks around from years past (cue creepy music). I have been on probably, not even joking, 15 haunted tours in Charleston and the best company I have found is Bulldog Tours. Ladies, don’t wear your heels from dinner. Go back to the hotel and change into something comfortable because you will be walking for up to 90 minutes! 

Most importantly: Where to dine?
High Cotton – it is now my most loved restaurant in the city. I spent my one-year anniversary at High Cotton and they most certainly did not disappoint. This is definitely a high-class restaurant with an even higher-class menu (is that even a word?). We enjoyed ahi tuna steak topped with a sweet potato hash. I can’t. I just can’t. Even my husband Kurt, who is SO picky, and very leary of the word “hash”, was a member of the clean plate club that night. Of course, we had to get dessert and I chose crème brulee. To. Die. For. Dress: semi-formal

Hymans Seafood – best shrimp n grits in town, hands down. Their hush puppies (more like hush dogs) are also some of the best around. Almost every celebrity who visits Charleston has enjoyed a meal at Hyman’s. The restaurant even honors them by placing a plaque on the table they sat at so you can see who previously sat at your table! Dress: casual

Poogan’s Porch – you can’t do Charleston without doing brunch at Poogan’s. This restaurant used to be a residence, which is now haunted (you’ll learn that on your ghost tour). The restaurant serves brunch only on Saturday and Sunday but serves lunch and dinner throughout the week. I am a personal fan of their brunch. I would highly recommend the cinnamon French toast or crab cake benedict! Dress: casual

Poogan's Porch
Charleston has brought me so much happiness. Memories with my family as we spent summer vacations there, trips with girlfriends that brought so many laughs, and my very first anniversary with my precious husband. I know without a doubt that when you visit, the city will take you in with open arms, as it has with me every time. It will show off to you its beautiful southern charm and hospitality. The suggestions I give in this post only scratch the surface of what Charleston, SC has to offer its guests. Enjoy your Labor Day weekend and give Charleston a big hug from me when you visit! When you go, because I just know you will, tag Wonderfully Wolf in your photos – we would love to see the memories that you made :)

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