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Tips after 20 visits in 22 years

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Atlanta GA
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Tips after 20 visits in 22 years

Hard to believe, but I recounted all of them.

Here's what I've learned over that time frame:

1. The flow of tourists within its confines closely follows the posted reviews of previous travelers. If it's ranked #1 through #5, expect to be sitting outside on a bench or standing in line within the establishment for up to 1 hour.

2. Many great restaurants/options are overlooked which creates a real pleasant opportunity for those not following the pack.

3. City Market, and its seller stalls, was setup for tourists in order to relieve traffic (foot/vehicle) from other parts of town.

4. Some of the very best restaurants are found in hotels. These include:

Charleston Grill (Charleston Place) charlestonplace.com/web/…charleston_grill.jsp

Peninsula Grill (Planters Inn) http://www.peninsulagrill.com/ and

Grill 225 (Market Pavilion Hotel) www.marketpavilion.com/…

Incidentally, they are all located next to the City Market area. I will eat at any of these over Magnolia's, SNOB, Amen, etc any day.

5. Stay off of Bay, Broad, Meeting and King St if possible while walking. Stay on Church, Legare, State, and any other north/south running streets. Meeting and King below Broad are OK.

6. Definitely walk every "Aly" (Alley) between the aforementioned streets. They are quiet, secluded, beautiful, quaint and the reason you came to Charleston. These would include Stolls, Elliott, Unity, etc.

7. Legare St is the best walking street in the area. Magnificent homes and gardens. Quiet, shaded, peaceful, relaxing. It is where the international wealthy tend to have their 2nd or 3rd or 4th home.

I also like Church, King and Meeting below Broad St. Tradd is excellent as well and fewer vehicles traveled than Broad.

8. If you are planning any kind of hardscape or interior renovations; DO NOT begin until you've visited Charleston and walked the streets, took a few house tours and taken lots of pictures for ideas.

9. Charleston is a town of old bricks, old shutters, Pennsylvania bluestone walkways, and many garden delights. Observe the door knockers as the American Eagle means that house supported the separation from the British, and those with a lion’s head, meant they wanted to remain with the Brti's.

10. Walk into the old cemeteries and read tombstones from the early 1700's. The inscriptions and ages at death tell you about the hardships of living back then. The many Captain's and Colonels of the Revolutionary War are to be found as well.

11. Tourists all wear shorts, printed t-shirts, and sandals. If you want to look like one, then dress accordingly.

12. Grab you breakfast and head over to the Water Front Park off of East Bay or South Battery and relax under a shade tree enjoying the cool breeze in the morning. Sure beats sitting on the street waiting to get ham & eggs at Joseph's for 45 minutes.

I suggest Dixie Supply Bakery http://www.dixiecafecharleston.com/ and then park at the Prioleau St Parking deck and walk to the waterfront park. So much better!

13. Make sure to visit the roof top bar at the Market Pavilion Hotel. Great breeze and views at sunset.

14. If you see a long line outside a restaurant, don't assume it's the "best" simply because so many tourists read the same reviews. Avoid Lyman's Seafood, Jestine's, Jospeh's, Magnolia's, SNOB if there's a wait list. Far too many good places to eat to have to wait in line anywhere.

Don't run past Grill 225 at lunch in your race to wait in line at Magnolia's. It's not that good! I seldom find any restaurant that will not take reservations and prefers for you to "wait" on them to be worth anything.

If your budget is an issue, then eat lunch at the nicest places and go very light at dinner.

Ridgewood, New...
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1. Re: Tips after 20 visits in 22 years

As a part time resident for as long as you have been visiting, I agree with you on many points. You are correct that lunch is generally more affordable than dinner, and that the alleys and cemeteries are not to be missed.

I disagree with some of your specific restaurant cautions. You are correct the Hyman's (not Lyman's) Seafood is touristy (I much prefer Hank's). On the other hand, Joseph's is a truly local place, offering good value for money and very tasty food at breakfast and lunch. The wait at Joseph's is never more than a few minutes, although you might see a crowd outside when local people are dashing in from their offices for lunch.

I notice that you didn't mention 82 Queen, which is wonderful spot for lunch where is rarely a line. You also didn't mention Poogan's Porch, which is very touristy and always has a long wait even at lunch.

HUNTSVILLE ALABAMA
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2. Re: Tips after 20 visits in 22 years

thanks for all the tips!!

Atlanta GA
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3. Re: Tips after 20 visits in 22 years

Poogan's Porch is not for me either. Long lines, 100% tourist, just not worth the wait.

Joseph's at peak tourist season is long lines, minimal ambience, crowded, rushed, and the food is good but I'm not waiting 45 minutes for it. That was the actual wait last Monday. To me, not at all worth it.

Hyman's is ridiculous in my opinion. I'm sorry, but with so many very good to excellent restaurants, why sit outside the joint like cattle for food that is average at best.

I would add The Libarary at Vendue Inn. Bad news here. Over-salted food, amateurish service, tiny dining room that has guests of the hotel walking through all the time to exit the hotel. Way over-priced and not at all romantic as suggested.

Here too, a long line for their rooftop bar when the one at Market Pavilion Hotel is wide open.

82 Queen, I have eeaten there in several years but I'll put it back on the list for sure. Fulton Five looked enticing as well.

Charleston, SC
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4. Re: Tips after 20 visits in 22 years

Good job! My favorite tip is Number 8. Really so very true! Everyone would benefit from having a little Charleston in their lives, no matter where they live. Hey, that sounds like a good tag line for the Visitor's Bureau - "put a little Charleston into your life". Do I get royalties?

North Carolina
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5. Re: Tips after 20 visits in 22 years

Good of you to list your tips, jimbobwe ... I will have to disagree with you that Magnolia's and SNOB are not worth the wait. I eat at each of them at least twice on each trip, and have never gotten one bad bite of food. They're terrific, and deserve the excellent reputation that they have! :-)

Charleston, South...
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6. Re: Tips after 20 visits in 22 years

As a resident for 30 years I would say that you are completely wrong on some of your points, but then again, it is only YOUR opinion. Everybody has one and they often vary. Other points are great suggestions, particularly some of the areas to walk and see. I take my own guests to these places.

Hyman's is a tourist trap, I don't care for Poogan's Porch and 82 Queen is not high on my list either. We eat regularly at FIG, SNOB, High Cotton, Basil and now and then at Magnolia's, Blossom, Sermet's and others.

The wait times you list (for restaurants at least) are true for peak tourist times, not so much during other times of the year. If people have the forethought to simply make a reservation (something I always strongly suggest) it eliminates the wait.

The City Market has been there for hundreds of years, originally as a farmer's market and craft market. Over the years it has evolved to more of a tourist geared attraction, but was NOT "set up for tourists" and was also never a slave market, as some people believe. (not that you mentioned that)

Edited: 11 September 2010, 16:40
Atlanta GA
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7. Re: Tips after 20 visits in 22 years

A tad harsh.

I agree with you on Hyman's, Poogan's etc. as stated

The Market has been transformed into a tourist trap. Granted, it didn't start at that way, but for the last 30 or so years, it has been a ...

SNOB and Magnolia's, on two previous trips, we had reservations, but still ended up having to wait over 30 minutes since they book too tightly in order to maximize capacity. Food is very good.

Most people reading TA are tourists, and usually, visiting during "peak" periods.

My thoughts are targeted at them. Sitting on East Bay, in the blazing sun, while great restaurants await them down the street is not very appealing.

Charleston, South...
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8. Re: Tips after 20 visits in 22 years

Didn't mean it to sound harsh, things don't always translate well in the written word.

Charleston
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9. Re: Tips after 20 visits in 22 years

I've been a resident since the day I was born, so approaching 31 years. Everyone is going to have differing opinions on restaurant choices. My favorites are not always the commonly recommended on TripAdvisor, but don't take it personally.

I tend to agree with you on SNOB and Magnolia's. SNOB is too small and Magnolia's is too dated for my taste. I went to 82 Queen for dinner for my junior prom, and since then have been back about 5 or 6 times, not high on my list either.

My favorites are Cypress, Peninsula Grill, and the never-mentioned Il Cortile Re (sp?).

I'll have to try Grill 225, it got a bad rap when it first opened, but some colleagues go regularly on lunches with prospects and rave about it.

Greensboro, North...
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10. Re: Tips after 20 visits in 22 years

You are right about Il Cortile. It is wonderful. We went to FIG last night. It's great too.