“Southern Charm”.... Ever heard of the statement? Have you ever wondered what it was, what it means, and where the statement came from? After a little “googling” I learned that it has to do with southerners maintaining charisma, poise and ease no matter the circumstances. Almost a carefree, yet comforting attitude amidst anything. Being originally from New York I naturally didn’t possess this quality, as we tend to be more high strung and ready to flip the table or flip someone the bird when faced with conflict. Over time though, Amy’s southern wit, infectious smile, and chill demeanor has certainly rubbed off on me! I say this kiddingly as we are both very relaxed, but her southern accent is calming to the ears and acoustically pleasing to the soul. This personality quality is likely never more important as I type this from the roof top patio in gorgeous Fort Lauderdale Florida, staring out at the majestic Atlantic ocean… avoiding a nasty hurricane colliding ferociously with our beloved Carolinas! Hey Hurricane Florence, you suck! Our friends and family, however, are holding down the fort with a southern smile, calm attitude, and likely some sort of alcoholic beverage (because the crazies bought up all the water!!). While this is what google calls Southern Charm, it's not the only way to describe it.
Others define southern charm as the historic color and character that are abundantly present in two of our favorite South cities… Charleston South Carolina and Savannah Georgia. Both of these charming cities hug the Atlantic coast and are less than two hours from each other by car! If you are looking to get a full taste of color, character and charisma… y’all pack your bags and join us for our trip to Charleston and Savannah this summer. For this blog post we’ll focus on our first stop, historic Charleston.
One of the great things about these two cities are how close they are in vicinity, yet how different they are in their southern experience. While they have many similarities in things such as rich American histories, horse drawn carriages and documented hauntings, they are both vastly different! We opted to hit these two classy spots on sequential driving order… Charleston first, Savannah second.
Charleston is a place both Amy and I had visited many times, but this was our first together. We had several collaborations during our journey, but really wanted to focus on spending some quality time together in one of the most romantic cities in the south. Being we hit Charleston on what some feel is the last weekend of the summer, Labor day, we experienced some extra bustle in the otherwise perpetually buzzing downtown.
Charleston, hands down, has to be one of the most character rich historic southern towns we’ve ever traveled. Many of the historical buildings, monuments, and architecture dating back to early colonial days. Many of the buildings nearly 200 years old, with fabulous architecture, yet some chic new modern stylings. The buildings and homes pop with pastel colors, similar to what you’d see in popular Caribbean towns but with an American colonial flare. The click clack of horse drawn carriages often echo down the colorful cobblestone streets, lit with gas lanterns, and littered with fabulous shopping and restaurants.
O.K., enough about the look ... lets talk about the FOOD! Amy and I exercise like freaks so we can eat like the traditional gluttonous Americans, but without gaining the dreaded extra pounds. “Southern Eating” is a whole other ball game when it comes to calorific intake, so we had to step up our exercise game when in town. Southern eating like fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, friend chicken n’ waffles, salt on watermelon, and fried okra aren’t exactly in line with a healthy diet… but who the hell cares, it’s delicious!! Incidentally after this trip we made a family decision to switch to a completely whole foods, non-processed diet when not traveling, as our bodies were in “southern eating” shock!
Charleston is known for its many restaurants and bars along it’s two major thoroughfare’s Market and King street! The town was buzzing and restaurants over flowing for the several nights we were in town…. good thing we had reservations. Our first night we were treated by High Cotton, located right on East Bay Street. This was my first, but not last, experience having fried green tomatoes during our trip. When Amy asked “have you had them before” and I said, “no babe, not yet”…. she was nearly appalled! I get this look from her often when she inquires on my experiences with certain southern specialty cuisine. Amy has taught me much about the rules of engagement when it comes to eating “Southern Style” and during our “Southern Charm” tour you can imagine I received a healthy dose of this southern palette. Amy had some shrimp and grits and I had your calorie killer chicken and waffles. Now as a New Yorker I struggle to understand some of the southern food accompaniments. I find them bizarre. Chicken and waffles just seems like something that should be served at two different meals, however, I must say, they are made for each other. The friend chicken and waffle is now in my mind more akin to that of ball and glove or Tom and Jerry… they are made to be on the same plate at the same time. Night two for dinner, was nearly a repeat of night one with Amy going a second round of Shrimp and Grits and I savoring some insane local seafood. In summary the food options in Charleston will leave you more than fulfilled, and if your not careful, over filled!
After some hearty dining, you’ll find a TON to do throughout the city. Many night clubs, musically entertained bars and lounges, and outdoor seating areas offer plenty of social options. Horse drawn carriage rides, haunted ghost tours, naval ship tours, and a famous historic market place are amongst the many other entertainment choices Charleston offers. We highly recommend if you are in town to experience the Charleston Market Place. This half open air and half closed air covered market place boasts product from local artists and vendors at reasonable prices. The city is also famous (as is Savannah) for it’s ghost tours. We highly suggest holding the hand of your closest travel mate and enjoying the teeth chattering, yet charming, ghost tours offered. While nobody is running at you with a chainsaw our hatchet, the ghost tours are just a must if you’re in historic Charleston!
Lastly, one of the greatest features of Charleston is it’s proximity to some great beaches. We hit the most famous beach in the area, Folly Beach located on James Island just a short 20 minutes drive outside of Charleston. The well populated and family friendly beaches offer a great place to stick your toes in the sand while taking a break from the hustle and bustle of downtown Charleston!
All in all Charleston will leave you romantically fulfilled, belly filled, and if you're not careful.... headed home saying y'all and at ease amongst any situation life may throw you.