Weekend Road Trip to Charleston
Have you ever wondered what kinds of things there are to do in the Lowcountry? Come along with me on a quick weekend road trip to Charleston, South Carolina. I went looking for food and adventure, and thankfully, I found both.
Check, Check and Recheck the Weather Forecast
As usual, when planning a trip of any kind, I always check the weather forecast. I designed this trip rather quickly, and upon my first check, the weather looked beautiful for the end of March. We’re talking 60s-70s degree weather and lots of sun. Perfect for strolling through the beautiful streets of downtown Charleston, right? Well, not so fast!
Unfortunately, as I planned to hit the road for a light three-hour road trip, there was a storm brewing that would leave me ill-packed and under dressed for most of my itinerary. And me being stubborn me, I had already packed, so I refused to re-check the forecast and crossed my fingers that the weather would cooperate and allow me to dress as planned. No luck for me this time! As I made my way onto the highway, headed for US-17, the skies rained down, and I instantly felt that there would be troubles with my wardrobe. For the duration of my trip, severe storms, flooding, and tornado threats collided with a fast-moving cold front and wreaked havoc for anyone brave enough to face it. There was no turning back for me.
History and Food? Yes, Please!
For my first full day in Charleston, I decided to book a food and history tour. You’d have a hard time getting me to turn down a half-day tour that includes learning about some of the most iconic places in the US regarding slavery and a meal prepared by my very own personal chef. Undiscovered Charleston creates a beautiful and intimate experience for “foodies, wine enthusiasts, history fans, visitors, low country locals, merriment seekers and all who have ever wanted a personal chef for a day.” The day started with a morning meetup at the famous Pineapple Fountain; Chef Forrest Parker greeted a group of approximately 8-10 to begin our half-day food, wine, and history tour. It was a brisk morning, and the wind whisked away. There I stood, in a linen midi-length shirt dress, a tan hat, and leopard print wedges. Everyone else wore jeans, scarves, and puff vests. It’s okay, go ahead and laugh. Apparently, they all did a “recheck” on the forecast before leaving their homes. Luckily the sun was out and created sweet hot spots for me along the route. It was actually a bearable and beautiful two-hour walk.
Chef Forrest (Gump) Parker is very knowledgeable, he’s funny, moves things along at a decent pace, and he’s an excellent cook! His knowledge of Charleston, coupled with an exquisite three-course meal, makes for a fantastic experience. I love how he adds a bit of humor to the history tour but makes sure to note the importance of learning about the unpleasant parts of Charleston’s history, such as the historic Old Slave Mart Museum where enslaved Africans passed through on their journey through the United States.
After the history tour, Chef Forrest took us to Bistro A Vin, where we tried different wine pairings as he led a cooking demonstration of three Lowcountry classic dishes, such as Chicken & Sausage Piriou with Carolina Gold Rice; Shrimp and Grits, and a Chilled Pea Soup with She Crab that was out of this world!
It was the perfect way to spend half of my first day in Charleston, discovering new flavors, learning and exploring the history of the city and its culinary influences.
Kayaking...A near-death experience
Always seeking new adventures, I decided to book a paddle boarding tour along the marsh with Charleston Outdoor Adventures. Unfortunately, the weather was not ideal when I arrived, and the water was a bit too choppy for paddle boarding. I decided to return later in the day to try out kayaking instead, which nearly promised a chance to see river dolphins. After a quick lesson near the dock, we were all set to head out. Initially, I felt pretty confident and maneuvered the kayak like a veteran while listening to our guide explain a bit about the history of the marsh and its ecosystem. We even had oysters straight from the swamp, and then it happened; I nearly lost my life. A few of the kayaks got a little too close, and in my attempt to create some space, I failed to maintain my center of gravity and capsized my kayak. I ended up in freezing waters, trying my best to hold on to the edge of my kayak while waiting for the guide to make his way over to rescue me. Thankfully I made it back inside my kayak, but unfortunately, there was at least another hour left of the tour.
We made our way over to where the dolphins were having fun harassing a few pelicans waiting for fishermen to toss out their scraps. Our guide explained that the dolphins were sisters. They stayed close to each other while checking us out, so majestic, intelligent, and hilarious. The pelicans finally gave up and left the docks, and we, too, turned back to wrap up the tour. I was delighted to make it to shore and headed straight for my car so that I could crank the heat up and finally get some warmth and relief from the shivering that had become painful at this point. After escaping hypothermia, I sat in my hotel bed, reflecting on the day and how I could’ve lost my life. Nevertheless, I’m so happy that I was able to experience something new and different and that I didn’t hesitate to pivot and try kayaking. I am also thankful that I survived.
I live in North Florida, so Charleston is roughly a three-and-a-half-hour drive for me. There’s so much that I wasn’t able to experience due to the storm, but I left with memories that will last a lifetime, several first-time experiences, and a new sense of respect and gratitude for my ancestors. I’ve found my new getaway location, and I look forward to discovering more of the Lowcountry next time I visit.
Everything In Between...
Lodging: Hilton Garden Inn Charleston/Mt. Pleasant
Self-Love/Self-Care: Rest & Relaxation; Late night dessert at Carmella’s
Hotel - https://tinyurl.com/3cnwjc72
Food and History Tour - https://tinyurl.com/mhjbvnhv
Carmella’s - https://carmellasdessertbar.com/
Kayaking - https://www.charlestonoutdooradventures.com/