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Rec's for the wife and I

Houston, Texas...
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Rec's for the wife and I

My wife and I will be in Charleston May 14-17 and are staying in the historic district close to Beaufain and King streets. We are looking for some help on a couple of items.

1. Everyone says to take a carriage tour, are there specific ones? We probably don't need a private one, but whichever is best?

2. What good bars are close to where we are staying that we could have a few drinks at the end of the day and listen to some live music and walk home if possible? (we are 40 year olds so not club music) I have seen Gin Joint, Red Ice House, Blind Tiger, Thoroughbred Ba???

3. What walking tours to take? Is the dungeon tour worth it? We are interested more in historical info than architecture type tours. I don't mind seeing a few old houses, but don't want to spend the whole time just looking at old houses unless something historically important happened at them.

4. We want to go to a beach, but are not big on just laying around, would prefer a place we could rent bikes, do something in the water, or do something at the beach. We have a car so can drive if necessary. What beach/area would be best for us?

5. What plantation would be best to visit? I would prefer one with some history to it. I have seen Drayton, Middleton, and Boone Hall mentioned.

6. Does anyone recommend a kayak tour? Could we combine that with the beach?

7. Restaurants - obviously there are a ton (Fig, Snob, Husk, Hominy Grill, Poogans, Magnolias, Dixie Supply, etc) Which ones would be better for lunch vs. dinner? Also what about breakfast places in our area?? We are not fancy dinner types, but enjoy good low country food.

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Charleston, South...
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1. Re: Rec's for the wife and I

Well that's plenty to respond about, so I'll tackle the restaurants. Snob is nice for lunch since they offer a very good one. Fig I think might not serve lunch, also unsure about Husk. Hominy Grill gets busy during the day at times and only takes reservations for dinner; it's a fairly casual place, more so than the other options. If you don't go directly at lunchtime, you could lunch there without a wait. Magnolia is on the fancy side, and I'd say that's a dinner place.

I personally wasn't thrilled with Poogan's Porch last time I ate there, well over a year ago now. I'm not familiar with Dixie Supply at all.

The Thoroughbred Club is in Charleston Place hotel, and there's also Charleston Grill there which has mellow live jazz every night with a different ensemble. It's a great place for a cocktail and a nibble at the bar.

Charleston, South...
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2. Re: Rec's for the wife and I

If you do not already have dinner reservations in places like FIG, SNOB, Magnolia's, etc ~ you may find that it is too late to get them. These places are VERY busy year round with both locals and tourists and usually have to be booked several weeks in advance FIG does not serve lunch, nor does High Cotton, Peninsula Grill and a number of the others. Magnolia's and SNOB do serve lunch. At Hominy Grill for breakfast and lunch you can be prepared to wait up to an hour at times. Jestine's is a good lunch spot, but again be prepared for a long wait. Eli's Table is very good as is The Macintosh, look into those. The Grocery gets good reviews, have not tried it yet myself. Avoid Hyman's Seafood (tourist trap with frozen, imported seafood, nothing local) Sticky Fingers Barbeque is very mediocre with zippo atmosphere.

I would suggest getting online (opentable.com) immediately and try to get some dinner reservations, check online menus to help you decide where. It may come down to taking which ever place has an opening.

All carriage tours start at the corner of Anson and Market Streets. All the carriages, various companies line up and you just get on one. They are all really pretty much the same. Guides have to take a test on local history to get the job. That said..... some guides have better personalities than others, but it is hard to know that in advance. You will not know where your carriage is going until it is ready to leave. This is b/c the city runs a lottery that determines where each carriage will go as it leaves. This is to prevent having too many carriages all in one area. All carriages are this way.

Bars ~ there will be many bars and restaurants in walking distance. I think Thoroughbred is stuffy, Gin Joint is excellent. There is not a Red's Ice House downtown, only in outlying areas. My personal opinion is that the one in Mt. Pleasant has a meat market/pick up feel to it. I'm sure someone else will disagree.

Regarding beaches.... you would have to drive to one, 25 minutes plus, depending on time of day, traffic, etc. You could take a surf lesson, a stand up paddle board lesson, etc on the Isle of Palms. To my knowledge there is no rental of jet skis and that type of thing. Google stand up paddle board Isle of Palms, you should come up with several companies that offer that and other types of things you may be interested in. www.iopbeachchair.com offers bike rentals, don't know any details, you would have to check with them.

We usually suggest Middleton Place, as it has the most to see and do. The only one with the original house, dating back to 1738 is Drayton Hall and it is my personal favorite. The home is "preserved" not "restored", which means is it not fixed up to look like people still live in it, but is exactly as it once was, not repainted, etc. The main house at Middleton burned, they have another old building that is original that they use in place of the house. Middleton and Drayton are adjacent to one another, you could easily do both. Boone Hall has a house that was built in the 1930's, not historic at all. They do have some remaining original slave cabins tho. www.draytonhall.org www.middletonplace.org

You might enjoy Patriot's Point with lots of military history. www.patriotspoint.org

The Center for Birds of Prey is a wonderful spot. www.thecenterforbirdsofprey.org Also very close to SeeWee restaurant, which has awesome homestyle seafood, desserts, etc. Both are out Hwy 17, north of Mt. Pleasant.

Kayak tours don't really go with the beach, they are usually done in the marsh. More opportunities to see wildlife that way and no waves to turn you over. For kayak tours look at these. I have used both and loved them. Ralph (the first one) if he is available can customize your tour to suit you. The other has pretty much standard tours and you choose one.



Hope all this is helpful.

Edited: 08 May 2014, 20:04
Charleston, South...
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3. Re: Rec's for the wife and I

Leaf Restaurant is close to Beaufain & King, and I think they're still doing lunch. Toast is nearby, good for breakfast or lunch. Dixie Supply is a hole-in-the wall at the corner of Cumberland & State, good grits, good biscuits. Don't be taken in by Sweetwater Cafe on Market St between King & Meeting.

Blind Tiger is great for a late-evening drink in the back courtyard. Sometimes they have music. You'll find complete listings in Charleston City Paper (free weekly) and Post and Courier Scene (weekly supplement to our daily paper). Both are on line.

Take a look at Michael Trouche's tour (can't remember what he calls it, easy to find with Google). He's personable and a good storyteller. Knows plenty about architecture but won't bog you down with it.

I like Magnolia and Middleton. The tram ride around Magnolia is worth the extra money. Skip Boone Hall.

There used to be jet ski rentals at Folly Beach, but I didn't find anything current. This outfit at Isle of Palms might have something for you:


Isle of Palms...
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4. Re: Rec's for the wife and I

Here's link to walking tour listings on the Charleston Visitors Center website. There are also some other walking tours on the site's Special Interest Tours. http://www.charlestoncvb.com/visitors/tripplanner/what_to_see_do~3/tours~32/walking~61/

Charleston, South...
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5. Re: Rec's for the wife and I

I just ran across this. "Barbecue on the Battery" at 5 East Battery, Palmer's Pink House, on Thurs the 15th.

Can't beat the setting, and Jim&Nic's is popular with many people.


6. Re: Rec's for the wife and I

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