Slowing Down and Spending Time in Lowcountry | Charleston South Carolina

Charleston South Carolina Lowcountry Laurie Williams Jeremy Williams Red Hawk Coaching Survive Scale Soar Vacation

The official date for our 20th Anniversary is May 25th, and with scheduling around work and family, we headed off early to Charleston, South Carolina to celebrate. Why Charleston? No particular reason other than we heard it was a cool place to visit, and it didn't hurt to hear that they have great food. If you're looking for ideas for your next travel vacation, I highly recommend considering Charleston, South Carolina.

Before I share our experiences and recommendations, I would like to give a special thanks to Toni Vanschoyck, a podcast guest on my Survive Scale Soar podcast and co-founder of Monat, and Stephanie Cribbs, coaching client and mega producing real estate agent with Keller Williams The Woodlands & Magnolia, for the great recommendations. It's always great to get these recommendations because it adds to the experience (Be sure to see my other travel posts at the end of this blog post.). 

The place that we would call home for the next few days was the Hotel Bennett located on King Street next to Marion Square and across the street from St. Matthew's Lutheran Church. I will warn you now, it is not inexpensive to stay here, and it was our 20th Anniversary so we booked it. The attention to detail and service was impeccable, and when we checked in, knowing it was our Anniversary, provided us with oomplimentary champagne. While they also featured an exclusive club level experience and fine dining, we opted to forgo this for experiencing what Charelston had to offer. We did frequent the Fiat Lux bar on the rooftop deck that overlooked the city, and I would highly recommend their signature drink Ryes & Shine which was a concoction of Bulleit Rye Whiskey, apricot liqueur, peppercorn infusion, lemon, and ginger beer. My other recommendation if you stay at the Hotel Bennett, or near the Hotel Bennett, is to have breakfast at La Patisserie Charleston. Every morning for us started out with a fresh ham and cheese croissant and coffee. Again, I highly recommend this hotel. It is in a great location to walk to everything. We did rent a car for a day with the help of the amazing concierge staff to travel to the plantations (much cheaper than Uber or a private driver). Note: The concierge connected us with Go Rentals. They brought the car to the hotel, and we were able to leave it with the valet upon return. So simple and so fast.

A picture from the rooftop at Hotel Bennet over looking Marion Square and the city beyond. 

Our first night we had dinner at Burwell's Stone Fire Grill located on Market Street. It was about a 20 minute walk from our hotel, and in moving from CST to EST we were late by nearly an hour. The restaurant was very kind, and they saved a special seat in the restaurant specifically for those celebrating an Anniversary. The staff and service was amazing, and several including the owner stopped by our table to wish us a Happy Anniversary. The food was also amazing. We both had salads to start, and my Caesar salad had the most amazing slices of parmesan coating the top. We both had 10 oz filets. Laurie's presentation included sweet potato, seasonal squash, and Red Eye gravy, while I had truffle & parmesan mashed potatoes, asparagus, and a shallot & mushroom glace.

Day 2, after sleeping off dinner from the night before and starting with our morning ham and cheese croissant, we made the walk to Palmetto Carriage located on Anson. The tour was an hour long through historical parts of Charleston. Not only did we learn a lot about the history, we also learned a lot about the care of the horses. If you like history, I recommend checking it out.

Our tour guide and horse, Abe, leading the way.

After our carriage tour, we visited the Charleston City Market, a local open air market on Market Street featuring local artisans, and then made our way out to see the Pineapple Fountain at Joe Riley Waterfront Park.

We then wandered the streets of Charleston stumbling upon Rainbow Row on East Bay Street, several churches and cemetaries, a monument dedicated to George Washington, a cobbled stone road, two grave sites of individuals that signed the US Constitution and more. There are so many hidden treasures in this city tucked in alley ways, and it will require another trip and more exploration. Everything here can be done on foot, and just make sure you've got a great pair of walking shoes. 

Rainbow Row on East Bay Street.

The Circular Congregational Church United Church of Christ on Meeting Street.

Burial site of John Rutledge at St. Philip's Church on Church Street. Rutledege was one of the signers of the U.S. Constitution.

Also found in the cemetary at St. Philip's Church on Church Street is another signer of the U.S. Constitution; Major General Charles Cotesworth Pinckney.

The monument found at Washington Square Park. The monument in the center of the park is a memorial to the Washington Light Infantry.

Trinity United Methodist Church on Meeting Street was built in 1791.

Laurie standing on Chalmers Street in the French Quarter of Charleston.

Citadel Square Baptist Church on Meeting Street across from Marion Square.

This is the building known as "the cradle of jazz", and it is also the place where the Charleston dance originated; read up on the Jenkins Orphanage Band.

The former home of The Citadel, and also known as the most haunted hotel in Charleston; the Embassy Suites by Hilton Charleston Historic District. This is right next door to the Hotel Bennett.

The former Citadel.

More about The Citadel.

One of our last stops of the day was a walk through the nearby historic neighborhood to see the home of Patricia Altshul behind the hit reality show Southern Charm.

After a long day of walking throughout Charleston, it was time to refuel with some fried seafood. Our stop, Hyman's Seafood established in 1890. They do not take reservations, and the popularity of this place means you're going to wait to get in. The walls throughout are adorned with photos of the rich and famous that have been to the restaurant. We saw a signed plate next to our table showing that Limp Bizkit was at the restaurant only a few days earlier. Laurie actually set at the table with a placard showing that Neil Diamond had sat at our table. The food was amazing, and you will definitely want to walk it off as there is a lot of fried food. We started off with complimentary hush puppies and an appetizer of fried green tomatoes sourced locally in a bed of cheese grits and some type of amazing gravy. Laurie had fried catfish, a crab cake, and okra. I had a Chilean Seabass croquette, shrimp-n-grits, and collard greens. They offered dessert, and I could not eat one more bite even with half my plate still to be consumed. 

Fried catfish, a crab cake, and fried okra at Hyman's Seafood.

Chilean Seabass Croquette, shrimp-n-grits, and collard greens at Hyman's Seafood on Meeting Street in Charleston, South Carolina.

And here too sat the great Neil Diamond.

On our last full day in Charleston, we took a day trip out to see Magnolia Plantation and Middleton Place. You will want to rent a car for the day as the cost for Uber is extremely high, and you risk not getting a ride back. Also arranged transportation takes away the freedom to come and go as pleased, and having a car we were able to go to two separate sites. Our first stop was Magnolia Plantation. Magnolia Plantation and Gardens was founded in 1676 by the Drayton family. It is the oldest public tourist site in the Lowcountry, and the oldest public gardens in America. Magnolia Plantation has survived the centuries and wistnessed the history of the unfolding of our country including the American Revolution through the Civil War and beyond. They have many tours to choose from, and we only did the Audubon Swamp Garden.

The Audubon Swamp Garden is about a mile and a half walk through the swamps teaming with wildlife including the American alligator. We also had the opportunity to see nesting egrets and herons.

The Audubon Swamp Garden at Magnolia Plantation.

The drive into Magnolia Plantation was absolutely beautiful. The large oaks stretched across the road all the way back to the home.

After a quick hike through the swamps, we headed a few miles up the road to Middleton Place. Middleton Place recorded first residents in 1705 and was aquired by Henry Middleton through his his marriage to Mary Williams in 1741. The property was held in the family for four generations stretching over 300 years. Henry was the second president of the First Continental Congress, and he was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. In 1972, Middleton Place was declared a National Historic Landmark. You can spend hours walking the expansive property and gardens. It is highly recommended to have lunch on site as the meal is a true experience of Lowcountry fare. 

At the end of the path, you will find the ruins of the original home at Middleton Place and the North Flanker.

Laurie and Jeremy Williams standing beneath the Middleton Oak over 1,000 years old at a circumference of over 37 feet. The Middleton Oak was named a "Constitution Bicentennial Tree" in 1989.

The Middleton Oak that is over 1,000 years old. It's truly massive.

The live oak trees throughout the property will be some of the largest oak trees you've ever seen. The limb on this live oak is gigantic.

My last picture of a live oak tree...I promise. These trees are impressive.

Laurie and Jeremy Williams on the trail that leads around Mill Pond at Middleton Place.

Laurie and Jeremy Williams standing in front of the House Museum and South Flanker at MIddleton Place.

A 5 - 6 ft. American alligator sunning on the bank of Mill Pond at Middleton Place. There were serveral alligators on the property and in the adjoining Ashley River.

The Mill at Middleton Place built a decade before the Civil War was located next to the flooded rice field along the Ashley River.

The gardens at Middleton Place cover many acres. The Camellia Allees; a classic garden design creating an alley with trees and shrubs. The only thing I could think walking through this portion of the garden was that it would be a kid's dream for a game of hide-n-seek. You can get lost in this garden. 

Middleton Place should be a "must do" when you visit Charleston. Give yourself the time to enjoy the property. There are many guided tours, presentations, etc. We chose to tour at our own leisure. When you purchase your tickets, they provide a numbered map and key explaining the significance of each location.

Since we had a car, when we drove back into Charleston, we took a trip across Cooper River on the Ravenel Bridge. It is an amazing bridge, and it gives you views of Patriots Point and historic Charleston. 

The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge spans the Cooper River in South Carolina and connects Charleston to Mount Pleasant. 

After a day of touring plantations, we worked up our hunger for a great steak dinner. We headed to Halls Chophouse on King Street only a couple of blocks from Hotel Bennett. This swanky, old school steak house is the real deal. The service was amazing, and the owner stopped by to wish us a Happy Anniversary. They provided us complimentary champagne and a giant slice of cheesecake. Laurie and I both had filets along with their signature side dishes of loaded mashed potatoes and pancetta-roasted brussels sprouts. The evening was filled with music played by a 3-piece band. I will go on the record to say it was the best steak I've ever had. You definitely want to get reservations well in advance of your trip otherwise you won't be eating here. (As for reservations at any of the restaurants in Charleston, you want to do this well in advance of your trip. Food is a thing in Charleston.)

My beautiful wife of nearly 20 years at Halls Chophouse in Charleston, South Carolina.

All good things come to an end, and it was time to head back home to Houston. If only we had a couple more days...that is what everyone will think after spending a little time in Charleston. Why share our experiences? Just as those that shared their experiences, it gives a little glimpse and ideas on how you too may create experiences and memories through travel. As a small business coach, one of the things I emphasize is taking time out to refresh, collect your thoughts, and to enjoy time with family, and one of those ways is by traveling. 

Have you been to Charleston? What were some of the experiences you had there that I did not share? I would love to hear from you so I can start planning my next trip.

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