A long weekend in Charleston

with 10 Comments

Call us crazy, but our long weekend trip to Charleston was booked eleven months in advance. A rating of the ‘#1 city to visit in the U.S.’ intrigued us enough to learn more about its culture and experience the much talked about southern charm. Did the city live up to the hype? Let’s find out as you read along.

Advance Planning 101

We’ve talked about planning our travels before. Air travel over long weekends in the U.S. calls for advance bookings. Last September, we used miles on United Airlines to book our trip to Croatia. United provided an option to book an open jaw flight anywhere within the U.S. along with this flight booking. We booked an onward flight to Charleston from Boston and grabbed separate return flights on JetBlue when the seats opened up. 

Why Charleston? + Picking a stay (..that went wrong)

With a history that is over three hundred years, Charleston has many layers to it, especially those in relation to the inward movement of migrants who helped build the city and the slavery system that was hugely prevalent here. Many historic mansions are either preserved for their value or have been converted to B&Bs and we picked Cannonboro Inn for a stay. In case you’re wondering why we picked it over an Airbnb:

    • It is close to King’s Street, the downtown area, with easy access to restaurants and bars.
    • They offered hot made to order breakfasts and evening specials. Yes, please!

But hang on..read below before you fall for this attractive photo.

Now here comes the tricky part about being a travel blogger. I don’t recommend this B&B. Why? Two weeks before our intended stay, the innkeeper shared that the inn’s management has changed hands. The promised hot breakfast was reduced to baked items from a local bakery and evening specials were eliminated. As travelers, we were paying a premium for these added benefits, and the inn’s reduced offerings didn’t justify the price we’d decided to pay. To avoid last minute cancellation and re-booking hassles, we stuck to our booking and while the inn was impeccable, our overall impressions remained average.

What to see in Charleston?

Pastel-hued houses, larger than life plantations, historical architecture and age-old oak trees – there’s so much to see and do in Charleston than what meets the eye. We figured that the best way to acquaint ourselves would be to take a walking tour with Charleston Sole. Our guide Fin led us through a historical timeline as walked through the French Quarters of the city and also connected the past with the present in a way that only a passionate Charlestonian could do.

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Cotton plantations have played a significant role in Charleston’s economic progress. Set up by migrating families, these estates have also witnessed a dark side – that of the slavery system. Today, these plantations function as working farms that also welcome visitors for a fee. Picking a plantation for a visit can be a frustrating job. Each one of them looks better than the other! With limited time on hand, we chose to visit Boone Hall Plantation‘ as its Avenue of Oaks seemed too mesmerizing to miss. Other recommendations for plantations include Magnolia and Middleton.

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We learned so much about the history of slavery in the region, their lifestyles. It was a revelation.

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Just like any local would on a warm day, we made our way to a beach one evening. Again, there are endless options here 🙂 We picked Sullivan’s Island (said to be much quieter) over Folly Beach and stayed there until sunset. A pro-tip would be to head there in the late afternoon for easy parking!

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On our drive back, breathtaking shades of red over the Arthur Ravenal Jr. bridge almost prompted us to take a detour. On a whim, we headed to Jeni’s, an ice cream shop on King’s Street only to find the longest queue outside. A platter of their delicious flavors turned out to be our dinner (now we know what the hype was all about). Pouring ourselves glasses of pinot noir back in the comforts of our room with the silence of the evening to give us company, we did agree that Charleston had definitely surpassed our expectations in every way in this short time.

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Bharat
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Bharat, the co-founder of Fun Travelog is based out of Boston, USA. He loves making travel plans with his like-minded wife Supriya, reading, toying with his digital SLR and playing tennis.

10 Responses

  1. Travelling Dany
    | Reply

    The Cannonboro Inn looks so nice! We haven’t been to Charleston yet but we also had no idea there was so much to see! Bucketlisted it!

    • Bharat
      Bharat
      | Reply

      Yay, I am glad this city is on your bucket list now. Cannonboro was nice but would recommend you look around for other B&Bs in the same area! Happy to help further if you ever plan a trip down there!

  2. Pilar
    | Reply

    Wao, I have never been to Charleston but it looks so nice, definitely visiting soon! And Cannonboro Inn looks perfect to stay, loved the decoration! Thanks for sharing!
    xoxo, Pilar
    http://thelifestylehunter.com

    • Bharat
      Bharat
      | Reply

      We would have recommended Cannonboro had it been the older management- as I mentioned in the blog. I would recommend you look at various other B&Bs as the options are endless 🙂

  3. cyril deeming
    | Reply

    Very interesting article. We are in the planning stage of a trip to the USA, so will bookmark this post so that we can refer to it when we choose our itinerary.
    Loved the picture of the Avenue of Oaks at Boone Hall Plantation.

    • Bharat
      Bharat
      | Reply

      Glad it helped Cyril. Charleston is much ignored when someone visits USA, but highly recommend it!

  4. Lois Alter Mark
    | Reply

    Your photos are gorgeous, and make me really want to plan a trip. I had no idea it was called the #1 city to visit in the US. I can see why!

    • Bharat
      Bharat
      | Reply

      Thanks a lot for the appreciation Lois 🙂

      Charleston won’t disappoint you, hope you make it there soon.

  5. Francesca
    | Reply

    What an enjoyable read! I’ve lived in the U.S. my whole life and still haven’t made it to Charleston – but not because I don’t want to. Just hasn’t worked out yet. Sorry about the disappointment with the inn… but seems you still managed to enjoy yourselves. Lastly, I want to visit ALL the plantations! Classic beauties, they are, filled with history and charm.
    Francesca recently posted…Visiting the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, ManitobaMy Profile

    • Bharat
      Bharat
      | Reply

      Thanks for stopping by Francesca. Yes travel disappointments do occur sometimes but the key is not to let that affect that your vacation. Luckily Charleston did not give us a single moment to be disappointed- which is why you should head there soon 🙂

      Happy to help if you have any questions. Cheers!

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