Tea, Grits, and Some Good Ol’ Southern Hospitality

Last weekend I went to Charleston, South Carolina for a mini vacation with my friend, Alanna.  Charleston marks my first time ever going down that south in the States and as you can imagine, the culture down in the Southern States is significantly different from the North.

Here are a few key differences:

(1) Southern Manners. Maybe it was the years of growing tea leaves and drinking tea but everyone I met was so incredibly polite and always remembered their please and thank-yous.  Someone said good morning to me while walking down the street and I didn’t even know how to respond.  I think I gave them a very unattractive, open-mouth shocked look when they said good morning.

(2) Country Music. This.  This is the very very reason why I need to move to the South.  Majority of the stations played country music.  When you’re music surfing in the car, 90% of the stations you land on are honky donky station.

(3) Food.  Good thing Zac Brown Band prepared me for what was to come with southern food with their song Chicken Fried because that’s exactly what it was.  There was loads of deep fried food, sweet tea (yum!), grits, and pie.  And everything was loaded with creamy sauce.  I learned on this trip that I do not like grits and they have now joined green peas and dill pickle chips to my small list of food I dislike.  I don’t see myself adopting the southern diet anytime soon but I definitely would go back again just to sip on some sweet tea by the sea.

During my 3 night stay in Charleston, Alanna and I did your typical Charleston tourist thing including:

Walking Around Downtown.

Charleston has the most charming downtown life.  It’s very French inspired with many of their street names in French and sits right by the water.  At the intersection of Market and Meeting, everyday vendors go and set up shop in an old building and sell their work.  Some of the notable items include hand crafted straw baskets, candles made in recycled wine bottles and beer bottles, paintings, and deep fried peanuts (including the shell and all which you’re suppose to eat).

Along East Bay St is where all the bars and restaurants are located.  Alanna and I tried Amen for dinner after walking by it hungrily.  I definitely recommend Amen.  We also went to Magnolia on the same street another night based on the many, many reviews on Yelp.  Magnolia is a fancy little restaurant that requires reservations well in advance.  They serve typical southern food and seafood but in an upscale manner.  You can serve grits at a nice restaurant and charge an insane amount for it (sarcasm).  Despite the reviews on Yelp, Magnolia was just okay.  I would definitely do Amen over Magnolia.

East Bay is also close to the famous waterfront where you can walk along the water or sit on a swinging bench.

Charleston Waterfront

I would say you’ll need about half a day to a full day walking around downtown.


One of the things I really wanted to do in Charleston was visit one of their many plantations in the Charleston area.  On the advice of a few locals we spoke to, Alanna and I went to Magnolia Plantation.

Magnolia Plantation is one of the plantation still owned by the original family and in this case the Drayton family since 1676.  The plantation was so well kept over the years.  We did a house tour of the Drayton home and then walked around the gardens and trees.  The gardens was absolutely gorgeous and words can’t really describe how beautiful the place was.  I posted some photos here for you to see.  I wish I scheduled my time out in Charleston better because I could have easily spent a day walking around the gardens and trees there.


Charleston has tons of beaches and we lucked out with some great high 70s weather.  Two of the beaches we went to were Folly Beach and Sullivan’s Island.  Folly Beach is more of your typical beach that attracts a good mix of people.  Alanna and I witnessed a wedding that was happening on the beach the day we went.  Sullivan’s Island, on the other hand, seemed more secluded and felt more residential.  Homes surrounding the beach must be in the millions.  They were gorgeous and ridiculously extravagant.

Shem Creek

Someone told us to check out Shem Creek which was near Sullivan’s Island soooo… we did.  I can only describe Shem Creek with a big OH EM GEE.  Whereas Charleston is a charming, Nicholas Sparks-esque city, Shem Creek is everything but! Let me start by saying that Shem Creek is on the top of my favourite things to do in the Charleston region but I don’t think I was quite prepared for what Shem Creek was when I first arrived.  We came on a Sunday night for dinner after being told that they cook what they fish that day.

Shem Creek has a row of pubs and restaurants by this creek.  The night we went, there was a huge oyster fest and everyone was gathered outside shuckling on oysters and listening to a live band cover country songs (or putting a Southern tang on top 40 songs).  The oyster fest started around noon which means that everyone around us had been drinking since noon.  I felt like I walked into the set of Sweet Home Alabama.  I really didn’t know what to do or think about all this.  On top of it all, there was a motor boat going up and down the water which I assumed meant that they were pub-boating from one place to another.  #onlyinthesouth hashtag here?

Shem Creek Oyster Fest

My overall impression of Charleston was great.  I am strongly considering retiring here because I love it so much.  If you ever decide to go visit Charleston, which I strongly suggest you do… my number one advice is to rent a car.  I unfortunately had to learn that Charleston’s public transit sucked after being stranded trying to walk back to the hotel and being stranded.

To see photos of Magnolia and my trip, click here.

2 states down, 48 more to go!

    • Andrea
    • November 29th, 2011

    Thanks for the update on Magnolia 🙂
    I went there with my mama about a decade ago and it was yummy but I will be open to alternatives when I eventually make it back to SC.

  1. Alanna and I really loved Amen.

    • Lindsay
    • December 16th, 2011

    It’s so true! This is so funny to read as someone who has grown up and lived all around the south but is soon to visit San Francisco for the first time! I went to college in South Carolina and every chance I got I was either visiting Charleston or Asheville (NC)!

    If you get another chance to do a weekend trip, I highly recommend Austin, TX.

    • Have you been to Charlotte, NC? I’m visiting in January and would love some recommendations on things to see and do and what to pack.

      Thanks for commenting and let me know if I can provide any info on SF!

    • Lindsay
    • December 24th, 2011

    My cousin lives in Charlotte, I’ll ask her!

  2. Loved the posts I read– good luck on your visits to all the states!! And enjoy SF. (I live in socal, but have 5 grown kids in San Francisco so I come up a lot and love the city…)

    • You are so sweet! I haven’t made my way down to SoCal yet but I’ve got my fingers crossed that I can weasel my way into an invite for a family holiday from my SoCal housemate.

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