First of all, thanks to all of you who helped with my planning to your area of the country. You were all very sweet and helpful.
In all honesty, we decided on a visit to Charleston for a week because we were looking for something different than our usual week long spring trip to Florida. Opting to NOT stay on the beach somewhere was a leap, but it ended up being a great decision. At first blush, the Charleston area seems to be a little pricey. Made me hesitant, but… with a little planning, it worked out very well.
Now, for the trip—we opted to rent a house on James Island about 2 miles from Folly Beach and 7 miles from Charleston. This worked out really well for us. Made a good place to be in order to reach all the different places we wanted to see.
We started off with a jaunt to the lighthouse at Folly Beach early evening. Very pretty and graced with dolphins playing in the water very close to the beach. Nice start to the vacation.
Our first full day, we headed to Middleton Place. http://www.middletonplace.org/ Thanks to all of you who recommended it. It was not even on my list of plantation choices. $25 each to just get into the grounds seemed a bit much for me, but… I have to say I did not regret spending it in the least. It is obvious that keeping up the grounds requires a lot of $$ and man power. Absolutely beautiful place. The camellias were past peak, but still tons of them in bloom. The azaleas were just beginning… tulips and many other flowers in bloom that I cannot list. The whole plantation was just gorgeous and immaculate. The stable area and people dressed in costume and explaining the arts of pottery, wood carving, etc were an added bonus. To top off the day, we got to see lambs…. One which was only 3 days old. Now THAT made the admission price even more worth it. Overall, I would definitely agree that it’s a must see place in the area.
Day 2 we headed to Patriots Point. http://www.patriotspoint.org/ One of our favorite places! If you enjoy history, it is an absolute must see! We loved being able to wander thru the entire air craft carrier and submarine. We spent hours there… $5 to park and $18 each to get in. Definitely worth the cost.
Day 3 we headed to Cypress Gardens http://www.cypressgardens.info/ This was the closest to be being a disappointment the entire trip. $10 each to get in… We expected more. Not sure what, but… less interesting than we expected. Has the feel of an “old” attraction. The butterfly house is quite small, but the people working inside were SO kind and knowlegable… it made the butterfly house a good experience. Not to mention the resident duck who you are instructed NOT to touch but he insists on pecking your ankles and untying your shoes! LOL Small aquarium there also. What made the visit worthwhile was the opportunity to take a row boat on your own (no additional cost) for 45 minutes thru the cypress swamp. We REALLY enjoyed that. Lots of turtles and gators out there… In short, it was not what we expected, it’s a bit “tired” but a pleasant experience nonetheless and glad we went.
Day 4 we headed to the Birds of Prey sanctuary. http://www.thecenterforbirdsofprey.org/ We LOVED this place! $12 each to get in. Each morning, they do a tour, then a demonstration with 4 different birds. A tour and demonstration again in the afternoon. They are only open Thurs thru Sat. We took the tour (very informative) and then watched the demonstrations. An owl, hawk, kite and falcon were part of the morning demonstrations. Lasted about an hour. Quite fascinating. We spend the next couple of hours grabbing a picnic lunch, then wandering the grounds. They have 15 different species of owls and numerous other birds of prey that have been rescued. Got to see a baby owl only 2 weeks old. All of the volunteers there are passionate and wonderful to listen to. Watched some of the birds being trained, then sat down for the afternoon demonstrations. One bird was all that we got to see since a local red tailed hawk came for a visit and tried to attack the trained bird. A demonstration of a different sort! We spent several hours there and enjoyed it immensely. All the proceeds go to helping the rescued birds which I really appreciated. Definitely recommend a visit there.
Days 5 and 6 we spent in the old town of Charleston. We did A LOT of walking! One day was spent exploring the French Quarter area, the other the areas south of Broad. Not quite sure how to describe Charleston. It is just amazing to see SO many historic buildings in one place and all are just in pristine condition. It was a photographers joy. Waterfront Park was beautiful as was Battery Park. Day and evening, everything was just beautiful.
We never did make it out to Fort Sumter, although we did tour Fort Moultrie. Small, but interesting. Also made a trip over to see the Angel oak tree. Quite a sight!
We only ate dinner out twice. Once at the Hominy Grill. Quaint little place and the food was very good. The other was SeeWee Restaurant (very near the Birds of Prey) Also a unique little place and the food quite good. Thanks to those who recommended those dining places. At the SeeWee Restaurant, I ordered the low country shrimp and grits. REALLY good food! We thought the prices quite reasonable-- $15 each for the entrée and 3 sides. My husband ordered the fried shrimp (he is leery of foods he does not recognize, so he missed out on the shrimp and grits) Fried shrimp was “fine” He’s had better and also worse. Sides were mediocre aside from the macaroni and cheese which he described as the best he’d ever had.
All in all, we had a wonderful time in your area. Never did make it to the beach aside from the light house visit and didn’t miss the beach in the least. Mid 70’s and sunny every day was a great improvement over the weather here in Ohio. Just lovely—the whole place was just absolutely lovely and would highly recommend the area for anyone interested in great food, history, beautiful scenery… it’s really a great blend of so many things. Loved it!