At the suggestion of one of the forum regulars, I'm posting my trip report here in addition to its posting on the Charleston forum as we stayed on IOP. The relaxed pace of combining a beach retreat with exploring the Lowcountry suited us very well. Generally we approach vacation time with a sense of possibility rather than an agenda. Besides my husband loves to driving, and for us crossing the Ravenel Bridge daily in our top-dropped Sebring was a joy for these sunshine-starved Ohioans.
FRIDAY After a key mix-up it was almost 6 by the time we got into our oceanside villa at Port O' Call in Wild Dunes. Headed to the Boathouse at Breach Inlet to enjoy sunset and a drink on rooftop bar and then downstairs for our dinner -- a sushi starter and spicy shrimp and grits for DH and lump crab cakes for me.
SATURDAY Awoke to view of the Atlantic from our bed. Joined locals and visitors flocking to Sea Biscuit Cafe on IOP for an especially satisfying breakfast -- Florentine omelet (from Daily Specials) with crab and grits for DH and crab cake eggs Benedict for me...biscuits came soft, large and cakey. Drove across IOP Connector to downtown Charleston for carriage tour. Such history, such beauty! Light lunch of softshell crab sandwich for DH and fried green tomatoes with apricot marmalade for me on breezy rooftop deck of Charleston Crab before walking through some of City Market and along East Bay to Waterfront Park. Back to the beach with a stop at Piggly-Wiggly on the way. Very casual barbecue dinner (just $7.50 for meat and three sides) at Momma Brown's in Mount Pleasant.
SUNDAY To First Scots Presbyterian where we were most warmly welcomed for Easter worship. Never have I seen so many men in seersucker suits and plaid and dotted bowties! One of the church staff recommended Poogan's Porch for brunch -- half-price mimosa (me) and Bloody Marys (DH) followed by shrimp and grits yet again for DH and fried green tomato eggs Benedict for me. All that glorious food called for a walk up to Visitor's Center and later along Rainbow Row and the Battery with a drive to see the Angel Oak on John's Island in between. Jazz vespers at Circular Congregational Church before supper at Hyman's Seafood, our least pleasing meal of the vacation.
MONDAY Overcast and threat of storms. DH wanted to see the fishing pier at Folly Beach and to visit Beaufort. Most of the day in the car with lunch at Lost Dog Cafe a singular bright spot. In fact, DH declared the shrimp and grits he had there his favorite meal of the vacation. By the time we were back to IOP, it was nearly time for dinner, so we stopped at Long Island Cafe. We both chose delicately fried shrimp (DH's was entree and mine with salad), and I was delighted by my first-ever taste of Hummingbird Cake, two layers of carrot cake full of chopped pecans, crushed pineapple and mashed bananas...filled and frosted with a delicious cream cheese icing.
TUESDAY Possible showers and a good day for Gibbes Museum of Art ( principally American works with a Charleston or Southern connection, an abundance of 18th and 19th century portraits, especially miniatures by Charles Fraser; on second floor a site-specific, large-scale installation exclusively for the Gibbes...pieces are "re-purposed" from the museum's permanent collection of portraits, landscape paintings and archival materials...juxtapose art objects as a way to investigate the role of the museum with regard to race, class and gender relations in Charleston society). Lunch at SNOB...my turn to order shrimp and grits, and this -- a rich veneer of reddish-brown tasso gravy with plump shrimp and creamy grits -- was my favorite meal of our vacation; DH had red bean soup and pan-fried chicken livers and grits. Back to beach. Dinner at Poe's on Sullivan's Island -- softshell crab sandwich for DH and the Annabelle Lee, a crab cake atop a burger, for me.
WEDNESDAY Guided bus tour with Alphonso Brown, who introduces Charleston visitors to all things Gullah. Lunch at Magnolias...drinks at bar (mine included sweet tea vodka) and then to linen-topped table; shared Down South egg roll plus Lowcountry bouillabaise for DH and starter-sized salt & pepper buttermilk fried shrimp served with Jezebel sauce, corn relish and mixed greens for me. Window shopping along King and back to the beach. Dinner at The Wreck Of The Richard & Charlene in Mount Pleasant -- no sign; thank goodness for GPS!
THURSDAY Drove northwest to site of America's oldest landscaped gardens at Middleton Place; took African-American focus tour and garden tour and ate three-course lunch in the restaurant there. Back to beach and then Shem Creek in Mt. Pleasant for sunset and dinner. Red's was too much of a watering hole vibe for us, so we opted instead for R.B's Seafood and concluded our Lowcountry eating extravaganza with more crab cakes for me and a pound of peel & eat shrimp for DH.
Appreciated all the advice on TA forums as I was planning our first time in Charleston/IOP. We'd love to return in April 2010...with IOP as our base again.