Over the (Baby) Moon For Charleston
At this point, I’m nearly 33 weeks pregnant and have just returned from our fabulous babymoon in Charleston, South Carolina. To say I’m over the (baby)moon may be cheesy, but it’s also entirely accurate. I cannot profess lovingly enough the dreaminess of our three-day visit.
When we started talking babymoon, I had a couple of requirements:
Easy travel. For me this meant a direct flight of 3 hours or less. *Compression socks are key when flying this late into pregnancy.
A cozy, quaint destination where we could soak up all the feels.
Mild winter location, as this babymoon fell in January.
Walkable, because I’m still loving our long walks and find it equally as convenient as it is excellent exercise.
Stellar food scene, because a preggo should not be denied!
Charleston delivered on all counts and then some! A quick trip from Houston via United Airlines and we were wheels down and on the road to our first activity in under 3 hours. No amount of research material did justice to the true charm of the city. And the weather… perfection! High 60’s to low 70’s of mostly sunny days and cool, breezy nights requiring a light jacket or thick sweater, made for splendid walks throughout the city. The food scene did not disappoint either. Those long walks were an eagerly anticipated relief to indulging multiple times a day.
I’ll walk you through our 3-day itinerary and have it all mapped out with additional hot spots here.
We arrived around 1pm and breezed through Charleston Airport’s baggage claim and into our rental in under 10 minutes. Since the airport is North of Charleston, I felt this was the perfect time to hit up the Middleton Place Plantation, located about 30 minutes away. Expertly kept grounds set the tone of the entire trip from the grand entrance onward. We were instantly swept away by the view of colossal trees grazed under lazily by plush sheep. We worked up an appetite wandering the lush fields, so we shared a delectable salad of Middleton’s own greens, a cup of crab soup and a skillet of good ole shrimp and grits. The plantation restaurant, filled with natural light and a garden view, is as beautiful as its cuisine is flavorful.
We spent so much time soaking up the sun and serenity at the plantation that we realized we should probably head into the city and check into our hotel, where we had dinner reservations for the evening. Part of the decision to stay at Planters Inn was its designated Babymoon package. One of the city’s more luxurious hotels, exceptionally located in the center of numerous sights, we had the added bonus of a welcome basket filled with local treats. We were also greeted by the friendliest staff as well as a plate of chocolate covered strawberries and a slice of their famous 12-layer coconut cake. That night we dined at the hotel’s prominent Peninsula Grill, voted one of Charlestons’s best restaurants ten years running. I decided on a robust collard green soup to start, followed by the most expertly seared scallops I’ve ever had. Though I’m not sure I am supposed to eat those… it all turned out okay! James went traditional, in the classic setting, with a dirty martini (jealous) to accompany his wedge salad and Oscar-style rib-eye. We opted out of dessert, knowing we had more of their cake waiting for us upstairs.
After a sensational night’s sleep in our four-poster bed, we awoke early and ready for a full day of exploring. I absolutely love to walk, which made Charleston an excellent choice for us. We took to the streets around 8am towards Second State Coffee. My aversion to coffee has eased in my third trimester, allowing me to indulge in slightly caffeinated beverages, like a my favorite - the dirty chai latte. We enjoyed our lattes in house, before continuing on the sightseeing loop I’d mapped out for us.
Something we noticed about Charleston is that not much is open early or late, even on the weekends. Shops often didn’t open until 10am and were closed by 5 or 6pm. Not visiting to shop, this deepened the tranquil, leisurely impression.
Our next stop was Colonial Lake, a small neighborhood pond surrounded by impressive houses and dotted with active runners enjoying the crisp, cool morning. From here, we ventured into the South of Broad neighborhood. Arguably the most famous neighborhood in Charleston and a must-see for anyone visiting. The charisma of the houses so thick you were easily swept away by it. James and I were mesmerized by the area and tickled to play “let’s pretend we live here,” while we discussed what our interiors would look like and how we’d manage the yards.
South of Broad includes a stretch of homes known as Rainbow Row. These homes reminded us so much of Jellybean Row in Newfoundland. Instead of the bold, primary colors of Jellybean, Rainbow Row is painted in pastels. Pink, blue, purple and mint green, ironically matching my backpack. By this point, our coffees could no longer sustain us, so we popped into One Broad Street where our eyes danced over an elaborate display of pastries. James went for a cinnamon roll, while I couldn’t resist the chocolate, rainbow-sprinkled donut. My choice likely inspired by our recent stroll past the colorful homes.
I was still licking chocolate off my face by the time we reached the Pineapple Fountain. This waterfront motif is a celebration of hospitality, symbolized by the pineapple. James and I were curious of the significance of the fruit, which can be found all over the city in logos, apparel and cuisine. We played around with the photo-op and took in the buzzing harbor scene. By this time the city appeared to be waking up, which meant it was the perfect time for the last stop on our walking tour.
The Historic Charleston City Market is listed on every bloggers “must-do” list. To be honest, James and I were not as taken away by the attraction as others seem to be. Located directly across the street from our hotel, we didn’t mind taking the time to browse the multitude of booths. However, nothing stood out as particularly essential. Woven sweetgrass baskets appear to be a commodity, so there were a number of vendors selling those. There were a few local artists displaying their work, which was intriguing. I think the scale of the market was certainly impressive. James and I were most compelled to support a sweet woman selling bagged spice mixes. You could tell she mixed the variety by hand and gave the blends special names, like “Sassy Pants.” For $10, we brought home 3 different medleys and have already used the cajun blackened seasoning on some shrimp!
From the hotel, we grabbed some lighter clothes (as the temperature had risen to about 70) and the car, and made our way across the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge to Sullivan’s Island. Before hitting the beach, we decided to grab lunch at The Obstinate Daughter, a recommendation from the hotel valet. James was particularly taken by this restaurant. Probably because he was able to indulge in their assortment of local oysters. The atmosphere accurately depicts the fresh, local flavors and I thoroughly enjoyed my Moroccan-spiced egg dish.
The water not warm enough to go for a dip deeper than our toes, James and I strolled Sullivan Island Beach hand-in-hand while discussing baby names. We’ve had a name in mind for a while, but it hasn’t completely sunk in for me. We presented the name in sentences to really get a feel for it. While it helped, we’ve agreed to leave the name open to the possibility of changing upon meeting our son. So for now, he remains Baby C.
Romanced by the sights and a bit worn from all the walking, we could have used a nap, but there was one more stop we needed to make first. Since we had the rental, we were able to drive another thirty minutes to take in the magnificence of the Angel Oak Tree. This beautiful giant is estimated to be over 500 years old and spans almost 200 feet. It’s a beloved attraction that might seem intimidating to get to when you pull into the park, but once inside you realize there is plenty of space for everyone. James snapped a picture of me and Baby C in front of the Angel Oak, capturing collectively the significance of both old and new life.
We decided on the drive back to the hotel to make a stop at Sugar Bakeshop. I knew I wanted to stop here at some point and realized it wouldn’t be open on Sunday. The curb appeal is of equal or greater cuteness than the confectionery creations inside. However, once you get a whiff of what’s beyond the stucco, you realize the true reason for the hype. Eyes and nose tantalized, I couldn’t decide between a lemon curd cupcake or the lavender blueberry, so I went for both. Like I said at the beginning, a preggo should not be denied and I most definitely wasn’t! There’s a sweet little patio attached to the bakeshop where we were able to sit and swoon over the dessert. Not wanting to spoil another highly anticipated dinner, I boxed them back up for later.
Finally back at the hotel, it was time for that nap. I love that we were able to see so much yet also get in ample relaxation. Rested and showered, we actually had some time to kill before our dinner reservation. James found a three-story bar with a rooftop, so we decided to take in the downtown Charleston views from above. Henry’s on the Market is a Jazz bar said to the the oldest continuous restaurant in not only Charleston, but South Carolina. Each floor boasts a different vibe. We started off on the rooftop with it’s rocking chairs and picnic tables and then moved into the swanky Whiskey Room to mix it up a little. Then it was time to walk around the corner to Magnolias. Upscale, Southern decadence in a seemingly casual, “homestyle” setting. Don’t be fooled though. If you go for dinner, you’ll want to dress it up a bit. I assume the lunch or brunch service may be more low key, but I was glad we’d put on proper evening attire, even if it clashed with an order of fried green tomatoes and chicken livers. I cannot say I am a fan of the chicken liver, having only taken a small bite at James’s request. However, James highly regarded them. The tomatoes were equally a hit for me as was my order of Beef Stroganoff with homemade noodles. The noodles were more like tiny southern dumplings, thick and almost creamy. Again, we passed on dessert, in favor of the cupcakes we brought back from Sugar and the fresh macaroons our hotel left nightly for us with turndown.
We were fortunate to have almost another full day Sunday, with our flight not departing until 5pm. Again, up early to seize the day after a blissful sleep, we walked 1.5 miles to The Daily for breakfast. Another highly popular and Instagrammable destination, The Daily has a vibrant selection of cold-press juices amidst its menu of quality coffee drinks and breakfast bites. I devoured this gorgeous avocado toast, while James went for something lighter with an egg and vegetable hash.
We went back to Planters to pack and check out of the hotel, but left our bags and car so we could walk to one more spot downtown. Pounce Cat Cafe caught our eyes and our hearts the day before, when we passed all the sweet kitties in the window. We made a reservation (the place surprisingly books up almost every hour) and Sunday morning we got in all the purrs from these rescued, adoption-ready felines. We tried not to play favorites, but Oreo here was hard to resist.
What was intended to be a laid-back stop for a cold one before the airport turned out to be one heck of party, when we stopped at Edmund’s Oast Brewing Co. I added this place to our list because of their dedication to sour beers, our personal favorite. Even though I couldn’t indulge, I knew James would appreciate this spot. We snagged two seats at the bar and had just ordered a snack when our bartender asked if we wanted to break any large bills into singles. Soon after we discovered the reason why. To our surprise, every third Sunday the bar is taken over by The Divas on Tap for a drag show brunch! Our babymoon ended very differently than we’d expected, but truly did not disappoint.
Charleston was the ideal choice for us in celebrating our growing family. I hope you get a chance to visit and experience the quintessential southern charm destination.