It’s hard to believe that summer is winding down. Back in May, the hubs and I took a trip to Charleston and loved every minute of it. It was the perfect getaway – we went for 5 days, 4 nights, and explored and ate until our hearts were content. One trick that helped us relax is that we went Monday through Friday. Instead of packing in a rush to get out the door on a Saturday morning after a week of work, we had all weekend to pack. On the back-end, we had the weekend to do laundry, catch-up on stuff around the house, etc.
We stayed at a VRBO property, The Rutledge Avenue Inn and it was the perfect home base for our time in The Holy City. The one-bedroom condo was clean and very spacious, and we enjoyed having coffee and a quick breakfast before we headed out for the day. The Inn is also right across from Hominy Grill (more to come in my restaurant post!), and about a 15 to 20 minute walk to the Historic district. There’s also off-street parking included, which is a big bonus in a city like Charleston where parking can be an extra $20 at a hotel. The owners were super nice and we would absolutely stay here again!
So what did we do? Below is a quick overview of the four tours we did – all very different, but all worth it.
City Walking Tour
A few years ago, on my first trip to Charleston, I did a carriage tour with my mom. We had limited time and it was a great way to see the sights. This time around, the hubs and I did a walking tour and we loved it. We didn’t cover as much ground as you might on a carriage tour, but the walking tour offered some other benefits. First, our tour guide was amazing – Tommy Dew’s Walking Tour (make sure to make advance reservations). And second, on walking tour, you have the opportunity to inside of some of the historic buildings and down side alleys. We were able to go in two churches, and the theater – lots of architectural details that you can’t see if you’re in a carriage. We finished the tour right as the rain started so it was perfect timing!
Later that day, when it was still raining, we set out to find something else to see, the main criteria being that it was inside. The Aiken-Rhett house turned out to be a relatively short walk from our condo so we set out after lunch. It wasn’t something originally on our radar, but the walking tour guide made the suggestion to see as many of the smaller museums as possible to really get a sense of history. And he was right! The tour included an audio guide, which was a great way to see the house. Interestingly, this house has been left largely the way it was when the last owner’s lived here. Unlike The Biltmore, and really most other historic homes I’ve visited, it is not restored to its former glory. Rather, it’s preserved. It was a little creepy, but really fascinating at the same time.
Another day, we headed outside town to visit one of the plantations. There are a few about 20-minutes outside of Charleston and you could spend a full day (or more) visiting all of them. We were trying to squeeze in an afternoon beach visit to Folly Beach so we decide to visit Middleton Place. The gardens are simply amazing and there is so much to see! The original house burned down, but there is still the guest house that you can tour. Given our time crunch, we didn’t do this (it’s also an additional cost), but it has great reviews. The tour we did was great – lots of history and details about the region. We ate at the restaurant on-site for lunch and it was fantastic. The weather was overcast and not too hot, so I finally had some she-crab soup!
You may recognize the below photo from our recent master bathroom update.
Fort Sumter Tour
Finally, we did the Fort Sumter Tour. We were a little iffy on this one, but since neither of us had ever done it, and we both love history, we went for it. We took a nice boat ride over to Fort Sumter, with an audio tour on the boat on the way. The sun came out right around the time we docked at Fort Sumter. Lots of history to see here, and everything was really well-marked. The only downside is that the tour is self-guided and there was no audio tour to purchase. It was a lot reading and waiting for crowds to disperse at the various plaques so you could take your turn to read.
I know it sounds like we did a lot, but it turned out to be the perfect mix of having enough stuff to keep us entertained, but also lots of relaxation time in between. And trust me, we had plenty of time for food and drinks! We also only scratched the surface of all the history that Charleston has to offer. We’ll definitely plan to go back!