The girls rolled into town late on Friday, but not too late for Mellow Mushroom, so we grabbed some delicious pizza downtown. Early (by Aly’s standards) Saturday morning, we piled into the minivan and headed to Charleston.
At this point, I must show you a picture of what is a rare sight these days: Aly & Leah genuinely enjoying each other for a fleeting moment.
Of course, it’s related to a game on a device: Alpaca World HD, which got lots of play during the drives of spring break.
We left fairly close to our intended departure time, which was important because we had a reservation for a boat tour of Charleston with Adventure Harbor Tours. Of course, the drive down I-26 popped up all kinds of traffic issues, as it has every time we’ve taken it, so we were getting a bit worried about making it on time.
About an hour out, my phone rang with a Charleston number and it was the tour company calling to say they were canceling today’s tour (sad) because it was too windy, and we’d be soaked/puking. They instead offered to take us out at 10am on Sunday (happy!), which was what we’d wanted in the first place, but they had no tours scheduled since that was Easter.
With the pressure off, we decided to start from the west side of the peninsula and drive all along the water past the row houses, then The Battery, and finally onto East Bay street, where we parked and started wandering around.
It was very windy, but an otherwise delightful day for our first steps in Charleston. We wandered all around the narrow streets, marveling at the tidy (and tiny) gardens, popped into a few galleries, and made our way back to the gorgeous Battery Park.
We had a late lunch (underwhelming), then headed across the bridge to Mount Pleasant, spent a few minutes at Fort Moultrie, and drove along Sullivan’s Island and into Isle of Palms, before heading back to check into our hotel which was near the bridge. It was kind of fun packing the air mattress into a small two-bed room, but we figured it out and made room for everyone and their many bags.
Charleston Harbor Tour
Sunday morning, we crossed over to the marina, parked and headed towards the boat, about 20 minutes early. Our captain (a great guy named Trip) waved us over and said “Good news for you guys, the other 13 people scheduled on yesterday’s tour couldn’t make it, so it’s just you – let’s head out.” He introduced us to his first mate, Marley, and we headed out.
Our tour started crossing over to the Coast Guard station, then along the Battery, before running out to Fort Sullivan, then Fort Moultrie, and along the edge of Sullivan’s Island to Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant, before turning back towards Charleston, seeing the USS Yorktown and the cruise ship terminal, and looping back to where we started.
This boat tour was #1 for all of us on our trip to Charleston, and we can’t recommend it highly enough. We saw dolphins, shipwrecks from the last hurricane, got buzzed by an osprey, and learned tons of things about the history of Charleston, its geography, and the operation of the shipping channel.
From there, we headed towards Folly Beach starved and ready for lunch. Unfortunately, so was everyone else, so we spent about 30 minutes in slow traffic getting onto that island, but we parked and got another underwhelming (lol) lunch, before checking out the beach for a while.
As you can see, the beach is pretty crowded, but very few people were in the water because it was cold. The girls wanted to swim, so we headed back to the hotel for a slightly less cold swim.
Monday morning, we packed up and checked out of the hotel, then set course for Magnolia Plantation. There are several plantations in this same area (Drayton Hall, Ashely Hall, etc), but I chose Magnolia because I had seen a picture from a photographer I follow who had been there a few days earlier and it appeared to be in peak bloom. Most of the area plantations are meticulous European-style gardens, but Magnolia is more wild and we loved it. They had a very random petting zoo, a garden maze, and we walked a lot of the grounds. We also got lunch and took a tram tour, where we saw lovely gardens and many herons and alligators.
This place is also highly recommended. Sans kids, I could easily spend several days here with my camera and tripod, wandering through the woods and discovering tidy ponds, through-canopy views of the Ashley River, and picnicking on the rolling lawns.
Overall, we each loved Charleston and the area, and we’ll definitely be back to explore in more depth. It was a great time of year to visit, because it was not yet very humid, so the mid-80s temps were warm but not oppressively so. And not many bugs yet either.