If you remove the oppressive humidity from the memory of this trip, it might be one of my favorites of the summer. Alas, you cannot have southern beaches in the summer without humidity and sky-high temperatures, so we spent a good deal of time ducking from one air-conditioned building to the next, but it was still a good time.
My husband had not yet been to Savannah or Charleston and as many of my childhood beach memories revolve around those two places, it was time to visit. The two cities are so iconically southern, and I was excited to spend some time in areas with such rich culture.
- Olde Pink House – Savannah. Eat there for lunch for a good value, and get the she-crab soup.
- Foxy Loxy Cafe – Savannah. Cozy and unique! Get the chorizo tacos and a horchata latte.
- Cypress – Charleston. Upscale, but not unreasonable. This was our splurge meal, and it was some of the best fish we’ve ever had. I loved my wreckfish; my husband loved the salmon wellington, but we’re pretty sure anything would be amazing here.
- Fourth of July Firework Evening Paddle with Charleston Outdoor Adventures. Would do this all over again and would paddle with this company in a heartbeat. Fun, friendly, knowledgeable!
- The Battery – Charleston. A perfect place to walk, relax, and take in some refreshing ocean air.
- Blue Bicycle Books – Charleston. If you’re a book lover, this is the place for you. Lots and lots of books, especially by local Southern authors.
- Aloft Charleston Airport. We made this reservation via Hotel Tonight, and we were very happy with it! We had planned to stay downtown, but ended up being glad that we chose a place just a little ways outside of the city, especially on a night known for fireworks. Very quiet, and very modern. It’s easy enough to drive into the city from Aloft, and parking in Charleston is very reasonable.
We started our trip at The Olde Pink House in Savannah for a southern seaside-town meal. I chose this lunch location because many reviewers claimed it had the best she-crab soup in town, and that, to me, is the epitome of Savannah.
The Pink House’s she-crab soup was a perfect balance of crab and creaminess. My husband enjoyed his salmon cake sandwich, too. I also loved the cheese sticks they served as appetizers. If we had been hungrier, we would have tried some of the other delicious-sounding items on the menu, especially the inventive and fun southern sushi (rolled with shrimp and grits), but we’ll have to save that for another time. I might also add that if you’re on a budget, stopping into the Pink House for lunch is far more reasonable than going for dinner.
After our lunch, we walked along River Street which looks along the Savannah River.
We also walked to the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. Opened in 1839, the church burnt down in 1898 but was quickly rebuilt, and retains much of its old look. The architecture is beautiful, and the inside of it is spectacular. Stained glass windows line the interior, and I enjoyed looking at those.
That evening, we went to The Distillery, where I had the craft beer bratwurst. Most of The Distillery’s menu revolves around alcohol-inspired dishes, and both my husband and I loved what we had. I also tried some Chattanooga Whiskey, which was smooth with a hint of smokey flavor. The Chattanooga Whiskey Company started after I left Chattanooga, and I had been wanting to try their spirits, so it was quite serendipitous that this place had some. To complete our meal, we also tried their deep fried Moonpie, which was incredible.
The next morning, we made a stop at the Foxy Loxy Cafe, which serves Mexican food and coffee. I would never have guessed a coffee and tacos place would be a good combination, but it works very well. We shared a chorizo taco and a horchata latte. I’m not sure why I haven’t seen such a thing as a horchata latte before, but it’s no surprise that the creamy, spicy flavor of horchata pairs well with coffee. And the chorizo taco was simple but satisfying.
After our mid-morning snack, we made our way to Charleston. Once there, we started at the City Market and walked around the many shops and booths in the area. The market is a part-open-air, part-enclosed building that straddles the middle of Market Street, so you have the whole market to walk through, as well as shops and restuarants on both sides of Market Street. We enjoyed the shady, and occasionally air-conditioned stroll through the local offerings of art, food, and other items. Hunger snuck up on us again, since we hadn’t officially had lunch, and we stopped in Kaminsky’s, where we shared a large piece of key lime pie, which was a refreshing break from the heat. You’ve also got to love vacation — where pie counts as lunch!
Charleston is well known for its quaint, historic, brightly colored houses with overflowing window boxes. Even if you don’t do anything else, walking around the residential parts of Charleston is a treat.
Our walk eventually led us to Battery Park and to the end of the peninsula overlooking the water. The Battery features cannons and other Civil War history from when it was a front line to the southern war effort. From it, you can see Fort Sumpter.
While we encountered high temperatures for most of our trip, any time we were near the water the air was breezy and pleasant. Thunderstorms threatened several times during our trip, but most of it held off and we had beautiful blue skies like this one most of the time.
That evening, we ate at Cypress, a classy restaurant specializing in local cuisine, mainly seafood.
I had the wreckfish, which was perfectly seared and melted in my mouth (pictured above), and my husband had salmon wellington which he greatly enjoyed. We also had an appetizer of their cured meats, which they make in-house and have won quite a few awards for. The meats were full of flavor with unique and complex elements, and we enjoyed reading the chart to see if we could detect the flavors they contained.
Before our lovely meal, we had been checking around into several kayaking opportunities. As it was the Fourth of July, most expeditions were booked. As we were leaving Cypress, my husband got a call from one company he had tried, which was offering a twilight fireworks paddle, and they said that they had two spots open! The group was leaving in half an hour from James Island, but we were in downtown Charleston, a twenty-minute drive away. So, we raced back to our car, and zoomed off to make it in time for the kayaking trip.
Though it turned out to be the highlight of our whole vacation, it was quite comical for me. I was wearing a sundress, which was appopriate attire for our evening meal, but less so for a kayak. All our clothes were at our hotel, and there was no time to go back and change. I could swear that the guide who led our quick demo in how to paddle a kayak was looking straight at me when she asked if anyone in the group had been kayaking before. (I have, many times. Just never in a dress.) Attempting to climb into the kayak while standing next to the breezy backwater and wearing a dress was quite a sight, and I had to do some skilled folding and tucking to ensure that the dress didn’t show me off during our ride.
However, once I got into the kayak, we had a great time. (I did get pretty soaked…but oh, well.) They provided us all with glow sticks for our lifevests and our boats so that we could see once the sun went down, and we made a very festive party. Watching the fireworks show on Folly Creek from a kayak was such a fun and unique way to spend the Fourth of July, and I’m sure we’ll always think of that memory fondly. If you’re ever in Charleston and you need a good adventuring company, Charleston Outdoor Adventures, the company that led our paddle, is excellent.
The next morning we slept in, after our late night fun, and did brunch at Poogan’s Porch.
Needing to walk off our huge meal, we went to waterfront park to take in a few more ocean views and enjoy the nice breeze.
Afterward, we went to Blue Bicycle Books, where I perused the shelves for a bit. Blue Bicycle hosts all kinds of excellent author and writing events, making me wish we lived closer to Charleston. Nothing was happening while we were there, but I hope to make it to YALLFest some time. (Their last event featured Veronica Roth, Kami Garcia, James Dashner, Rainbow Rowell, etc.) After Blue Bicycle, we also stopped in for some caffeine at Kudu Coffee before we finally hit the road back home.
Our final view of the city:
We’ll miss you, Savannah and Charleston!