In my last post, I shared the highlights of our first two days in lovely Charleston, South Carolina. After two great days exploring the city, it was finally time for the main event: Eclipse Day had arrived!
We had specifically chosen to come to Charleston as it was on the path of the “totality,” the moment during a solar eclipse when the moon completely covers the sun and it’s safe to take off your eclipse viewing glasses. So, we wanted to choose a spot where we’d have few obstructions of our view and could get a clear shot at the sky.
An obvious answer quickly emerged: the beach!
We headed down to Folly Beach to witness the eclipse and had an absolutely phenomenal beach day. Two main things contributed to this success: first, we’d made an advance reservation with the Folly Beach Chair Company for beach chairs, umbrellas, and a large cooler full of ice. This allowed us to simply arrive at the beach with a light beach bag, not needing to haul in a ton of supplies, and still get to enjoy a great set-up.
Our items were ready and waiting for us when we arrived around 9:30am, and the staff members from the chair company were friendly and helpful. I would highly recommend this service to anyone wanting a great beach day down at Folly!
Secondly, I had also placed an online order before we even left Austin at Caviar & Bananas, a high-end grocery store and deli in Downtown Charleston. Before we left Downtown for the beach, we swung by the store to pick up a ready-made picnic that we could take with us and store in our rented beach cooler, so that we didn’t have to worry about finding food and drinks at the beach either.
We ordered the pimento cheese plate, a pickled vegetable plate, a turkey-brie-apricot-jam sandwich, a Cuban sandwich, Zapp’s Voodoo chips, Tate’s chocolate chip cookies, and plenty of waters and drinks. Everything was delicious and ready and waiting for us at our pickup time of 8:45am. We were able to just grab our goodies and go!
That pre-planning made for an easy and carefree beach day, and I have to say that Folly was a really great beach as well! Smooth, soft sand with no sudden drop-offs in the water, gentle rolling waves that weren’t too forceful, and plenty of space to spread out in.
Once it got to be time for the eclipse, we walked along the beach north about 6-8 blocks to make sure we were firmly in the path of the totality (as Folly Beach was right on the edge). There, we laid back and watched as the moon made its grand parade and transformed the entire area into the colors of sunrise in every direction. We were able to see the coronal ring clearly as well, though the clouds prevented us from seeing other nearby stars as you usually can during totality.
After the Eclipse show had passed, we headed back to the hotel to clean up for dinner. We had a reservation at Fig, one of Charleston’s highest-rated restaurants. Unfortunately, this ended up being a bit of a letdown. While the food was good (if perhaps slightly over-salted) the service was abysmal…you’d expect better servers at your local Chili’s than we got at this high-end, white-tablecloth establishment. Given the absolute treasure trove of great restaurants we found in Charleston, I’d really have to recommend skipping this one. The food was simply not special enough to make up for the lackluster wait staff.
The next day, our final day in Charleston, we started out with a stroll around the College of Charleston, where it just so happened to be the first day of fall classes. The excitement from the students was palpable, and we enjoyed exploring the campus area while popping into cute shops and art galleries along the way.
For lunch, we met our friends at Husk, Charleston’s most famous and award-winning restaurant, for a tasty lunch that started with some great cocktails. I tried the Dragoon’s Punch (a brandy and rum punch in traditional Southern style) and the Turn the Page (vodka, hibiscus tea, vanilla, and mandarin orange.) Overall, I was very impressed with Husk’s bar program, as well as the great food that was soon to come.
Food-wise, we started with the pimento cheese toasts, the “Glazed Pig’s Ear Lettuce Wraps, with Sweet Vinegar Marinated Cucumber, Red Onion and Benne,” and the heirloom tomato salad. The pig’s ear appetizer was the real standout, and I was tempted to just order another round for my main course.
For our main courses, I went for the shrimp and grits, while the hubby enjoyed their country fried steak with potato hash. Both dishes were good, but having just recently had the most amazing grits of my life at Underbelly in Houston (which you would know if you’re following me on Instagram!), these weren’t quite up to the level of that most recent stellar grits experience.
After lunch, we headed across the beautiful Ravenel bridge (photo up top!) to Patriot’s Point, a museum housing the USS Yorktown and many other now-decommissioned navy vessels. There, we had the opportunity to walk through may different areas of the aircraft carrier, including the kitchens, engine room, bridge, and the flight deck.
On the flight deck, there were roughly 20 different types of aircraft that have launched from various Naval carriers over the years. Some models even allowed you to climb inside to sit into the cockpit, or behind a gunner station. Beyond the Yorktown, Patriot’s Point is also the site of the USS Liffey and the USS Clamagore Submarine (which was the hubby’s favorite, but which I found somewhat claustrophobic!)
We ended up spending about 2.5 hours at the museum, but honestly could have spent a lot more. Had we known the extent of all there was to see and do at Patriot’s Point, I think we could have easily spent twice that amount of time there. One tip though: don’t go on a hot day if you can avoid it…there’s not any air conditioning in the bowels of the ships and it can get quite toasty.
Finally, we had one last stop to make before we headed back to the Charleston airport. Each evening when we’d walked along King Street to return to our hotel we were surprised and a bit curious to note the very long lines forming outside one particular establishment…only it wasn’t a restaurant…and it wasn’t a bar…it was an ice cream shop!
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams offered unique yet Southern-ish flavors like “Sweet Cream Biscuits and Peach Jam” and “Sweet Potato with Torched Marshmallows”. I tried a scoop of the Brambleberry Crisp, while the hubby grabbed a waffle cone of Salted Caramel. It was the perfect treat after spending the afternoon walking around Patriot’s Point, and a great conclusion to our trip to Charleston.
Have you been to Charleston? What did you think? What are your favorite hotels/restaurants/things to do there? Tell me in the comments.