A Quick Trip to Charleston
As we sat at the corner bistro table on Poogan's Porch, Charleston's spring twilight lay a glow of warmth to my heart and the fresh biscuits, unending delight to my tongue. The yellow Victorian townhouse served some delightfully comforting southern fare with good prices making it a gem among the city's many outstanding restaurants. The crisp and flaky fried chicken marveled all which I had tried previously, its juicy meat transporting me to simpler times. A little bird nearby nearly dove for a taste itself making for some good laughs.
Charleston, S.C. was the welcoming familiarity of home in a city yet to be discovered. I could have spent weeks strolling every cobblestone street perfumed with jasmine blossoms and every inch of white, sandy beach, but with only two days to explore, I found ways to experience both the rich, colonial history and natural charm of this low country beaut. And the best part was the splurge of fun while barely denting the bank account.
I turned onto the bumpy dirt road leading to The Inn at Middleton Place. As I drove past the rustic horse stables and large, moss covered oaks, I knew this was going to be the perfect place to lay my head. I had discovered the inn on a great app called Hotel Tonight. The app lets you search by city for last minute hotel deals. The Inn at Middleton Place also offers military discounts, which I appreciate being married to a Navy medic.
The inn sits on the grounds of a vast colonial plantation along the Ashley River. Tranquility does little to describe the vibe here, for winding along the dirt paths, I was nearly transported through time. The inn itself is reminiscent of a concrete bunker, a staple of ecologically friendly modernity among the timeless historic landmarks. It was designed and built by W.G Clark and Charles Menefee of Charleston in 1987. In an essay Clark wrote, “At the necessary juncture of culture and place, architecture seeks not only the minimal ruin of landscape, but something more difficult: a replacement of what was lost with something that atones for that loss.”
The Inn at Middleton Place does just that. It blends nature and unimposing comfort together in a way that brings attention and appreciation to the beauty of the environment.
The gal at the welcome center was spunky and hospitable. She handed me my old fashioned brass room key and gave me a quick low down on all the expansive plantation had to offer. With the room purchase, we not only received free breakfast and unspoiled natural beauty, but also complimentary tickets to the historic plantation house, stableyards and oldest landscaped garden in America, which can run over $40 per person.
From the inn we walked along a wooded river trail toward the gardens and plantation buildings. Herds of sheep grazed in a wide pasture and the warm spring breeze tousled my hair. After exploring the garden's many avenues and watching alligators sunning themselves on the banks of a pond, we made our way to the house museum for a tour.
Back in 1755 it was referred to as the South flanker and served as a guest house for the Middleton family, available for visitors coming with the tide. Originally the Middleton plantation also included a larger main home and the North flanker, both of which were burned in 1865 by the Union army as they made their way along the river.
The house tour was an experience and vivid history lesson all in one. Through seeing original artifacts and listening to our tour guide's charming voice as she walked us through the Middleton family's exciting lives from our nation's founding to present day, I gained a deeper appreciation for what it took to build these United States.
Downtown Charleston is no exception. The grand, colonial architecture adorned with gas lanterns and colorful window boxes is a step back in time. Brick laden alleyways peppered with palm trees hold charm and sophistication. Shopping along King Street I was enchanted by the many antique shops, colorful galleries and stores. Being in town on the first Friday of the month was a real treat. Numerous art galleries and boutiques throughout the historic downtown welcomed visitors with open doors and expertly plated refreshments such as antipasti and melt-in-your-mouth macarons.
No trip to this coastal wonder can be complete without some fun in the sun. The Charleston area is home to some amazing white sand beaches. South of Charleston sits Kiawah Island, which is constantly ranked among the top beaches in the country. Both romantic and pristine with miles of dunes, it will make for a day not easily forgotten. My husband and I celebrated our engagement there last Fourth of July, and it was spectacular. On this two-day fling, however, I decided to hit up the iconic Folly Beach, which is an easy drive from downtown. It was the perfect decision, for the sand was smooth, the air fresh and the local area adorned with laid back beach shacks just waiting to fill my mouth with fresh seafood.
The two day trip to Charleston was filled with unending culture and charm. Its hearty low country cuisine, rich history and unscathed beauty left me craving more and assured its place among my favorite cities I have visited.