Monday, August 08, 2011

Charleston Cheers Kim is Forty ~ guest post by my friend kim

When it came time to plan a getaway to celebrate my 40th birthday, I was thrilled that my friends stepped up to plan it for me. They chose Charleston, SC which fit my criteria perfectly. My only requests were; not too far a drive, and someplace where I could eat seafood outside by the water.  I also wanted to use a few tips I had learned from my getaways with Kara; I asked that before we left town everyone be given a printed itinerary and reservations so we knew how to pack and would not have to waste time deciding anything once we arrived.  The advance decision-making made for a carefree weekend for all of us.

As soon as we arrived at the Renaissance Hotel we stopped for Happy Hour at the lobby bar.  The hotel staff was very nice and the rooms and beds were comfortable. The best part was the location, we were only a block away from King St which has great shopping, and we were only a few blocks from great places to eat, drink and be merry. Being able to walk to most of our destinations was great. 
HaPpY hOuR!
When we checked in, I had the bellman go ahead of us and put the gift buckets I had put together on the beds so they were waiting for everyone when we got to the room (another idea from Kara’s getaway playbook that I highly recommend).

monogrammed drink cup, note pad, nail file, lip gloss, mints, gum,
eye mask, bling ring & magnet flower
The first night we drove over the bridge and had dinner at Red’s Ice House on Shem’s CreekI got to eat a shrimp po-boy outside on the deck watching as the boaters docked and crowded around the large outdoor bar. Very reasonable prices, great casual atmosphere and good food. It immediately put us all in vacation mode.

The next morning we wandered down the cobblestones of King Street and stopped for breakfast at a bagel place.  Again, reasonable prices and good food.  Then it was time to get down to the water.  We drove over to Folly Beach, which I understand to be one of the more casual of the barrier islands. We chose the public beach at the end of the island.  It was a few dollars to park but they had nice facilities for changing, rinsing off, getting a snack, and renting beach chairs, and there were life guards on duty.  It was high tide and the beach was crowded, but it was a decent beach.  It’s hard not to relax when you are looking out at the ocean and listening to the waves crash onto the shore. When we got hungry, we drove back toward town and ate at Rita’s.  Great casual dinning- we were outside at one of the high-top tables, and I highly recommend the Island Punch if you like tropical drinks. Then we stopped in a few of the beach shops to buy sundresses to wear to dinner before heading back to the hotel.
Island Punch
Kim & the Girls at Rita's
We had drinks in the room while we changed into our new Charleston dresses then walked to Hank’s which is a more upscale seafood restaurant (voted best seafood restaurant 12yrs in a row by Charleston City Paper). After another good meal, we walked to the Market Pavilion Rooftop Bar for a drink (Fodor's Choice 2010).  When we first got there it was crowded but was less so by 10:30.  It is a gorgeous place for a drink- outside, great view of the city, and bar-height tables around a beautiful pool with a DJ.
Market Pavilion Rooftop bar
After a good night’s sleep we took a carriage ride around historic downtown Charleston.  You don’t have control over which area you tour, the city dictates the route based on traffic at the time but well worth it to see all the interesting architecture and learn about the city’s rich history. I suggest getting there early in the summer, the city shuts them all down if the temperatures get too high, for the safety of the horses.  It was extremely hot but we all thought it was worth the sweat. Then we picked up some souvenirs in City Market, which is an open-air shopping strip with independent vendors selling jewelry, art, and other local finds.

For dinner we ate at Cru Cafe, a tiny historic house with a wrap around porch, over-flowing with ambiance and Southern hospitality.  The staff was so incredibly friendly and the food was unique and delicious.  But make sure you get a reservation, there is very limited seating.  After dinner we wandered around the area shops and bars.  Charleston has a very active night-life.  There were pedi-cabs everywhere which looked fun although we always chose to walk off the rich meals instead of hitching a ride.

The next morning we got ready to head home but not before walking to mass at St. John the Baptist Cathedral and then having one last fantastic meal for the road.  We ate brunch at another quaint historic home/restaurant called Poogan’s Porch (named after the family’s dog).  The food was delicious and it was fun to wander through the house looking at all the history hanging on the walls.
Poogan's Porch

We had talked about a going on a boat ride, taking one of the many ghost tours, and visiting Middleton Place for a tour and lunch. So much to do but so little time.  Oh well, all the more reason to plan a return trip!

Happy Birthday Kim! 
Thank you so much for sharing your getaway with us.  Charleston is definitely on my list! 
We loved celebrating with you. 


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