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Trip Report

Ohio
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Trip Report

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!

Charleston, South...
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for Charleston, South Carolina, Telluride
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1. Re: Trip Report

SO glad that you had a wonderful visit and that we were able to help with the planning!!

vcv
Tennessee
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2. Re: Trip Report

Great TR. You always find the most interesting places and activities. Glad you had such a good time. By the way, I think the Cypress Gardens park in Florida closed a few years ago--probably for the reasons you found this one not up to expectations. But everything else sounds very worthwhile.

Kiawah Island...
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for Kiawah Island, Charleston
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3. Re: Trip Report

Great report, sounds as if you really used your time as best you could!!! Keep on coming back, we've been doing it for over 25 years (soon to be there permanently!!:-))

Ridgewood, New...
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for Kiawah Island, Charleston
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4. Re: Trip Report

Wonderful report! I especially appreciate details on attractions that are sometimes given scant attention in the forum. Thanks for taking time to share your trip with us.

Charleston
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5. Re: Trip Report

Thanks for the trip report.

I love how you worked within your budget to come up with a workable plan to visit our area.

You definitely covered the area - Folly to Awendaw to Monks Corner!

Greensboro, North...
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for Isle of Palms, Edisto Island, Charleston
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6. Re: Trip Report

That sounds really great. Glad you had such a good time. Y'all move fast!

Cypress Gardens in Florida was a theme park. The SC Cypress Gardens isn't. I don't think they were ever connected.

Ridgewood, New...
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for Kiawah Island, Charleston
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7. Re: Trip Report

Long ago, when I was a little child in Florida, Florida's Cypress Gardens was a beautiful botanical garden that also offered amazing water skiing shows. Over the years the park changed ownership, with the gardens becoming just an afterthought to the waterslides and entertainment rides.

One reason I love the Charleston area is that so many of our natural wonders are being lovely preserved and protected. Charleston's "attractions" are more like those I fondly remember from OLD Florida.

Ohio
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8. Re: Trip Report

Glad you enjoyed the report. It really does have "something for everyone" in the area. I am sure if you love shopping... there's plenty of that too, but not my cup of tea :) I really wasn't sure how well I'd like the area, but ended up loving it. Don't tell the Savannah folks, but... Charleston beats it all to heck! LOL Sorry....

Yes-- it can be done on a budget (of sorts) I do not mind cooking in and we took picnics with us every day (got in the habit of that when traveling across country to national parks) We sat and picniced on the ground at Battery Park, at the bird sanctuary, at cypress gardens, at Middleton... it's actually rather fun to just sit and enjoy the beauty around you and have a picnic.

Renting a house was about $1000 for the week. About the same price as a small condo or hotel on the beach and it gave us a huge master bedroom, living room, kitchen and even a balcony overlooking the marsh. A small back yard with a little reflection pool and gas grill... I love to get a taste of local foods, but... traveling to me is not about the eating, so.... staying somewhere where I can buy groceries and cook doesn't bother me in the least.

As for the Cypress Gardens-- it really is not an amusement park feel at all. Not sure how to describe it. I guess I expected more swamp type feel? Who knows-- it was a rather strange little place, but did not regret going. It just felt sort of "tired" Reminded me of places I visited as a kid. Small butterfly house, small aquarium, a little spot with 3 large gators (think zoo pen) You can walk all the way around the swamp area (which we did) then take the row boat out. It just feels like an attraction that is past it's heyday. There's something charming about that, tho. And the older couple volunteering in the butterfly house were positively darling!

Greensboro, North...
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for Isle of Palms, Edisto Island, Charleston
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9. Re: Trip Report

It was a rice plantation at one time.

I like it a lot. It's especially pretty in summer. Their day lily collection is legendary and the reflection of all those flowers in that black water is stunning. And like you found out, it's a great place for a picnic. As are all the other places you chose. Good job.

Toronto
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10. Re: Trip Report

Excellent Trip Report! Will use for our trip in May. We often travel on a budget too and I actually enjoy cooking some meals (forget the oven - not doing roasts!) and love having picnics in beautiful surroundings.

Thanks for posting.

Ellen