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Farm to Table Tour in Charleston SC Historic District: Best Food Tour in Charleston?

Farm to Table Tour in Charleston SC Historic District: Best Food Tour in Charleston? | CosmosMariners.com

As a native of Charleston, South Carolina, there's not much that I haven't had the chance to experience. But, every once in a while, I stumble upon a new and exciting way to explore my hometown.

Recently, I had the opportunity to take a farm to table tour in Charleston, and I came away with a new appreciation for the delicious food that this region offers and the talented people who make those meals happen at every step.

Hungry in the Holy City: Upper King Street Culinary Tour in Charleston, SC {A Review}

Hungry in the Holy City: Upper King Street Culinary Tour in Charleston, SC {A Review} | CosmosMariners.com

If you're interest in culinary travel, you need to add the Upper King Street Culinary Tour to your next trip to Charleston, South Carolina.

Even as a born and raised Charlestonian, it's tough for me to keep up with what's new and exciting on the culinary scene since there are SO many new restaurants that have opened recently. I decided to partner with Charleston Culinary Tours and play tourist for a day to see what new eats and treats were hiding downtown.

So, was the tour worth it? Could even a local learn a culinary trick or two?

Yes, and yes.

I went on the Upper King Culinary Tour, which promised a visit to 3 or 4 restaurants on the historic peninsula. The exact restaurants that each tour visits aren't revealed until the start of your tour since the locations change daily based on availability and each restaurant's schedule. For our tour, we visited four places: HōM, R, Lana, and Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, none of which I'd visited before (or even heard of before the tour!).

How to Spend a Weekend on Seabrook Island, South Carolina

How to Spend a Weekend on Seabrook Island, South Carolina | CosmosMariners.com

It's almost here.

The time when my baby sister decides to be all grown up and get married. I know that she's an adult--she's gainfully employed and has a dog and a house and all that--but there's something so finite about her leaving her bachelorette days behind to move in with my soon-to-be brother-in-law.

Cruisin' down South Carolina's Highway 17: A Road Trip Itinerary

Cruisin' down South Carolina's Highway 17: A Road Trip Itinerary | CosmosMariners.com
The open road (and the beach) awaits!
As you cross over the North Carolina-South Carolina border on Highway 17, there's not much to indicate why this stretch of highway is worth of a dedicated road trip: there are lots of pines as far as you can see and a few ponds here and there.

If you stick with the road for a bit longer, you'll soon be treated to an overview of everything that coastal South Carolina has to offer. Instead of bisecting the state on the much bigger and busier I-95 (which runs through the Midlands portion of South Carolina), you'll be able to see some of the most picturesque parts of my home state. With an average speed limit of 55, South Carolina's Highway 17 allows you to meander through North Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Beach, pass through the Hammock Coast, drive through Charleston, and linger along the marshlands near Beaufort.

Greenville's Great Outdoors: 6 Places to Experience the Natural Beauty of Upstate South Carolina

Greenville's Great Outdoors: 6 Places to Experience the Natural Beauty of Upstate South Carolina | CosmosMariners.com

Downtown Greenville, South Carolina, has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years, and has quickly become the it place for businesses and new residents in upstate SC. While the downtown is well worth a day or two of your visit to this corner of my home state, don't overlook the natural resources of Greenville County while you're there!

In less than thirty minutes, visitors to Greenville can leave the shops and restaurants of downtown behind and be surrounded by the natural beauty of the rolling foothills. Just a little further down the road, and you'll be in the mountains with spectacular views, waterfalls, and hiking trails.

Cool and Cultured: What to Do when You Visit Greenville, South Carolina

Cool and Cultured: What to Do when You Visit Greenville, South Carolina | CosmosMariners.com

Of the cities in South Carolina, Greenville is one of my favorites (second only to Charleston, of course). For a smaller city, it packs in a little bit for everyone: nature trails, museums, great restaurants, and excellent theatre.

Basically, if you haven't been to this corner of Upstate South Carolina, you're missing out. Here are my favorite fun things to do when I visit Greenville, South Carolina.

Small Town America Restored: 24 Hours in Travelers Rest, South Carolina

Small Town America Restored: 24 Hours in Travelers Rest, South Carolina | CosmosMariners.com

Too often, you read articles about the death of small town America, the influx of big city residents, and the decline of the traditional main street.

This is not one of those articles.

Travelers Rest, population 4500, is only a few miles from Greenville, South Carolina. Up until a few years ago, it was just a pass-through between the industry of Greenville and the idyllic retreats of the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains. The story of Travelers Rest is like many across the country: a town grew up around the railroad, but when the railroad business left, so did the residents.

Did You Feel a Chill?: Favorite Haunted Places around the World

Did You Feel a Chill?: Favorite Haunted Places around the World. | CosmosMariners.com

On vacation, most kids collect postcards or sweatshirts. I collected (and still do!) books on local haunted spots. At seven, I visited my grandma in Myrtle Beach and found a copy of Nancy Rhyne's Coastal Ghosts--and an obsession was born.  My bookshelf now struggles under the weight of all of my ghost story books, but I'm still on the lookout for more!

Despite the fact that I may be the biggest chicken alive, I love the thrill of reading a ghost story or going on a ghost tour. There's so much history, intrigue, and underbelly-of-the-city activity wrapped up in all of them that keeps me going back for more.

Since Halloween is right around the corner, I thought it would be fun to round up a few of my favorite haunted spots and share them alongside some other bloggers' favorites.

Location: St. Francis Inn, St. Augustine, Florida

Did You Feel a Chill?: Favorite Haunted Places around the World. | CosmosMariners.com

As I was carrying my bags up to my room earlier this year, another guest greeted me in the hallway and said, "You know this place is haunted, right?" He then proceeded to tell me that during his last stay, he and his wife had listened to the sound of little girls laughing in the hallway outside their room all night.

Goodbye, good night's sleep!

I later found out that the St. Francis Inn is a hotbed of activity. One of the desk managers told us that she often sees things moving out of the corner of her eye, that televisions turn on without anyone being in the room, and something keeps opening and closing the doors of the washer and dryer.

Given that the inn has been in existence since 1791, it's no wonder that a few residents might have wanted to stick around the property. I may or may not have slept fitfully during my entire three night stay! It's tough to try and rest while you're simultaneously keeping an ear out for spirits.

Location: Old Sheldon Church, Yemassee, South Carolina

Did You Feel a Chill?: Favorite Haunted Places around the World. | CosmosMariners.com

This gorgeous shell of a church is hidden away off of Highway 17 between Charleston and Hilton Head, but it is well worth a quick detour. During the day, it's awe inspiring to walk between the large columns and imagine what the place looked like before it was burned.

At night, however, you might just run into one of the spirits that prowl this area. There's supposedly a woman who's looking for her baby: she's buried on the property in the small graveyard.

One of my sister's former co-workers, a normally unshakeable police officer, had a hobby of going out on paranormal investigations around Charleston. When he visited the Old Sheldon Church, he and his team distinctly heard a female voice wailing in the dark. The ruins aren't close to any other houses or buildings, so they weren't sure what they were hearing!

(For an easy day trip to this and two other spooky ruins in the South Carolina Lowcountry, check out this post.)

Location: Portland Underground, Oregon
Contributed by: Angie Golish, My So Called Chaos

Did You Feel a Chill?: Favorite Haunted Places around the World. | CosmosMariners.com
{photo via}

In it's heyday, the Portland Underground was a hotbed of horrors and illegal activity.  It was home to prostitutes, the homeless, and criminals-both on the run and in current crime. These catacombs became known as the Shanghai Tunnels due to the amount of shanghaiing that occurred at that time, which the law tried to combat by hanging signs encouraging sailors and individuals to call home.  The vast majority of sailors, ranch hands, hard-workers-and even children-were kidnapped, dragged through the tunnels, and sold to sea-captains to work on boats or be sold along the voyage.

These days, the tunnels are shut down, but you can purchase a tour and learn the history for yourself as you're led through the various abandoned rooms and vaults hiding beneath a very active city.  The host will tell you about the various ghosts that are said to haunt the tombs, which are still partially furnished and still contain some items that were left behind by prostitutes, thieves, and children that passed through. They even offer a reward for anyone who is able to capture a spirit on camera.  

Unfortunately we didn't see one first hand, but this tour was definitely worth it because the history is rich and the atmosphere is very eerie!

Location: Port Arthur, Tasmania, Australia
Contributed by: Shandos Cleaver, Travelnuity

Did You Feel a Chill?: Favorite Haunted Places around the World. | CosmosMariners.com
{photo via Thomas Huxley on Flickr | Creative Commons License}

When I was in high school, I visited Port Arthur in Tasmania, Australia with my parents. Port Arthur is an old convict prison, where the worst-of-the-worst prisoners in Australia were sent. Now, I’ve never believed in ghosts (and am these days happy to take my dog to the local park at night, situated in an old cemetery), but it was different that bright summer day at Port Arthur…

I entered a room in one of the old, still-intact buildings and started to read the information plaque on the wall. But then I sensed something… I felt chilled, and was certain there was someone else in the room. I looked around the room, but there was no one there. And then I started to read about the supposed hauntings that had taken place in that very room over the years. I quickly hurried away to find my family, and quickly head back out into the bright sunshine outside.

Is it worth visiting? Yes, it’s a fascinating place, with beautiful old buildings, many just ruined shells. But I would advise you to stay away from the nighttime ghost tours!

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Location: Crescent Hotel, Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Contributed by: Kayla Miller, The Felicity Jar

Did You Feel a Chill?: Favorite Haunted Places around the World. | CosmosMariners.com
{photo via}

The Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, is said to be the most haunted hotel in America. It got this way due to several deaths there over the course of its 100+ year existence, including the deaths of many cancer patients hoping to be healed when it served as Dr. Baker’s hoax hospital. 

The Crescent is nothing short of creepy, and the best part is that there are nightly tours of both the hotel and the extra disturbing morgue. We took the tour for the first time in 2014, and while it was full of interesting tales of the ghostly residents, it was also very history-heavy, which was great for my lovely companion, who is much less ghost story inclined than I am. 

Because the hotel is still in operation, you can do one better than the tour and stay in the hotel overnight. We were not brave enough to do this, but you can choose to stay in the rooms said to be most haunted if you’re up for it!  


And just for kicks and giggles, you can also check out the scariest destinations in the world, as suggested by Travel Observers blog. 

Are you ready to visit all of these places? What haunted spots have you visited? Do you have any ghost tour recommendations?

This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase through one of the above links, I will receive a small commission at no additional charge to you. 

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Edisto Island Serpentarium, South Carolina

Edisto Serpentarium, Edisto Island, South Carolina | CosmosMariners.com

Just after I'd gotten back from St. Augustine, Florida, I repacked my suitcase and headed to Edisto Island, South Carolina, for a week with my husband and his side of the family. It's a tradition to spend a week at the beach there, relaxing and catching up with everyone. While Edisto has a fairly quiet beach and beautiful sunsets, there are some hidden surprises tucked amongst the huge live oak trees--one of which is the Edisto Serpentarium.

Unlike other beach locales (I'm looking at you, Myrtle Beach), Edisto Island is completely devoid of Ripley's Believe or Not museums, Medieval Times restaurants, and neon lights. The fact that there's a reptile exhibit at all on this out-of-the-way stretch of Carolina coast is surprising on its own. But what's even more unexpected is how well done the Serpentarium is.

Vacationing on Kiawah Island, South Carolina: A Complete Guide

Vacationing on Kiawah Island, South Carolina: A Complete Guide | CosmosMariners.com

Just outside of Charleston, South Carolina, is a long, winding two lane road flanked by centuries-old live oaks. While the drive down State Road S-10-20 (Bohicket Road and then Betsy Kerrison Parkway) is destination enough, the golf and resort community at the end of it will make the trip even sweeter.

The road ends in a roundabout. Take the first road to your right, and you'll go to Seabrook Island. The second road leads to Freshfields Village, a shopping and dining area that services the area. We're headed to Kiawah, so we're going to take the last exit off of the roundabout, skirting Freshfields Village, and continuing on Kiawah Island Parkway further into the marsh.

If you're headed to Kiawah Island as a part of your visit to Charleston, you won't be disappointed. Here's everything you need to know about vacationing on Kiawah!

A Day Trip to Beaufort, South Carolina: What to See and Do

A Day Trip to Beaufort, South Carolina: What to See and Do | CosmosMariners.com

Head out of Charleston south on Highway 17, and then hang a left onto 21. You'll think you're headed into a swamp never to be found again--but you're actually on the way to one of coastal South Carolina's cutest towns: Beaufort.

It's proximity to Charleston makes it an excellent day trip from the Holy City, and Beaufort's small town charm is the perfect antidote to Charleston's high-falutin' ways (and, as a native, I mean that in the best way possible!).

3 Spooky Ruins in the South Carolina Lowcountry: A Road Trip Itinerary

3 Spooky Ruins in the South Carolina Lowcountry: A Road Trip Itinerary | CosmosMariners.com

In complete and utter opposition to my high brow love of literature, ballet, modern art, and artsy-fartsy independent movies is my devotion to creepy ghost stories--the weirder the better.

I love them so much that I wrote my graduate thesis on the modern Gothic novel, which is basically the closest I could get to actually spending a year of my life reading spooky stories.

So, it's no wonder that ghost tours are always on the agenda whenever I go to a new place. And if I can find a good ruin, I'm pretty much set for life.

Since Charleston has gone through a revitalization over the last few years, there are fewer and fewer awesome ruins to ramble around as they're all restored now.

But, fear not, visitors to the South Carolina Lowcountry--there are still three amazing places where you can see some bonafide ruins. And they're all open to the public, so you don't have to worry about getting arrested for trespassing. Plus, they're also free, which makes them even better.

I can't promise that these sights will include the fog and creepy characters from the best scary movies, but you might get lucky!

While the loop isn't too far from Charleston, you'll definitely want to allot an entire day to do this road trip. There are plenty of roadside eateries along the way so support local businesses and grab something along the way.

3 Spooky Ruins in the South Carolina Lowcountry: A Road Trip Itinerary | CosmosMariners.com

Pon Pon Chapel of Ease, Adams Run

3 Spooky Ruins in the South Carolina Lowcountry: A Road Trip Itinerary | CosmosMariners.com

We start our road trip by going way off the beaten path. Head out of Charleston going south on Highway 17, then hang a right onto Highway 64. You'll blast through the metropolis of Round-O, South Carolina (population: 1 animal feed store). Turn right onto Jacksonboro Road, and just as you're thinking that I've lured you down here to murder you like in a bad horror movie, you'll see Parkers Ferry Road--turn right on it (it's a dirt road), and the chapel is down on your left.

Poor Pon Pon (also written as Pon-Pon). A wooden church was built here in the early 1700s, and was replaced by a brick version seventy years later. When the brick church burnt down in 1801, the congregation built another brick church in its place--only to have that second brick structure burn down again in 1832. (Blame all of those drafty rooms and uncovered candles.) As you can imagine, the congregation admitted defeat and left the ruins as they were, though they did continue to use the graveyard for new burials, which is kind of strange.

The straw that broke the back of Pon Pon wasn't a straw at all, but rather something much more powerful--a hurricane took down all but one and a half of the remaining walls in the 1950s.

There aren't any ghost stories associated with this place (at least that I know of), but the solitude of the chapel and the stunning brick ruins create the perfect atmosphere for an overactive imagination to hear things.

Old Sheldon Church, Yemassee

3 Spooky Ruins in the South Carolina Lowcountry: A Road Trip Itinerary | CosmosMariners.com

Of the three places on this road trip, Old Sheldon Church is probably the best recognized due to its proximity to Highway 17.

To get to Old Sheldon Church once you leave Pon Pon, you'll want to retrace your steps until you get back on Highway 17. Head south again--when you see the turnoff to Beaufort, you know you're getting very close. Stay on 17 until you see Old Sheldon Church Road on your right (it will be the next road after the 21/17 interchange). Turn there and head down the road just a mile or so. The ruins will be on your right, and a parking area is across the road on your left.

3 Spooky Ruins in the South Carolina Lowcountry: A Road Trip Itinerary | CosmosMariners.com
Thanks to my sister, who let me use this picture of Old Sheldon Church!

As soon as you get out of your car, you'll feel the stillness of this place. Even when there are other people around (and there often are--this will be the busiest of the three stops), people talk in hushed voices as they walk around the church's ruins.

Some say that you can hear a woman crying at night for her infant child. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, just being out here in the middle of the forest by yourself at night would be enough to scare the pants off of you.

St. Helena Chapel of Ease, Land's End Road, St. Helena's Island

3 Spooky Ruins in the South Carolina Lowcountry: A Road Trip Itinerary | CosmosMariners.com

Tucked away on a lonely stretch of land past Beaufort, St. Helena's Island really can feel like the end of the world on a cold, quiet day.

From Old Sheldon Church, head back towards Highway 17, and then head north on 17 until you reach the intersection of 17 and 21. Take 21 all the way through Beaufort. After you pass Beaufort, turn right onto State Road S-7-45 (also known as Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard). The road will fork; bear to the right onto Land's End Road. The chapel ruins will be on your left almost immediately past the fork in the road.

Wander the ruins, which are interesting unto themselves since they're made of coquina (an oyster mortar) and see the shattered mausoleum door in the graveyard.

3 Spooky Ruins in the South Carolina Lowcountry: A Road Trip Itinerary | CosmosMariners.com
I was pretty sure that something was going to crawl out of the mausoleum and grab me with its nasty hand.

While the ruins themselves aren't haunted, the road is. The Land's End light shows up down Land's End road, and most people think its an oncoming car until they realize that there's only one light. As it gets closer, the light grows in size and will actually pass by any cars waiting on the side of the road. Unlike the other two spots on this road trip, the Land's End light is consistent--no one knows if it shows up every night, but rumor has it that, if you wait long enough, you'll see it.

But what is it--ghost or some sort of lightning ball? Legend has it that it's the spirt of a runaway slave or a Private stationed at a nearby fort who died after a scuffle. Some people have reported an electric shock when the light passes near them, which has led some to believe the light is actually St. Elmo's fire or another natural phenomenon.

A word of warning: if you go out to see the light, don't attempt to drive through it or chase after it. Land's End road is a tight two lane road through a residential area.

Do you like going to ruins? Do you love or hate ghost stories?

SeeWee Restaurant

Who doesn't love a little roadside diner?

I certainly do. 

To me, traveling means trying to understand the region, the people, the culture of wherever you're visiting. And that means bypassing the chains and sampling some of the area's restaurants. If the locals are eating somewhere, that's where I want to be as well.

South Carolina's Own UFO Welcome Center

Nope, you didn't read that wrong. Today, I'm telling you about the intergalatic space center right here in South Carolina.

How have I not heard of this prestigious place? you might ask yourself as you imagine something along the lines of the SETI Institute or the Aricebo radio telescope.

Well, there's a reason why you haven't heard of it. And it's because the Bowman UFO Welcome Center is anything but prestigious.

In reality, the UFO Center in Bowman, South Carolina (which is a little town located about halfway between Charleston and Columbia) is one man's folly and one of those really random things you come across in small towns every once in a while.

Hampton Plantation: Southern History and Literature in McClellanville, South Carolina

Hampton Plantation, McClellanville, South Carolina | CosmosMariners.com

When people come to Charleston, most of them stick to the downtown/ beaches/ Ashley River plantation circuit. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that--in fact, I'd highly recommend doing just that if it's your first trip here. 

But if you've got a little extra time or you feel like exploring a little further afield than most, there are plenty of amazing things to do in the Charleston area that are a bit off the beaten track. Hampton Plantation in McClellanville, South Carolina, is one of them. 

Things to Do in Edisto Island, South Carolina, Besides Going to the Beach

What to Do on Edisto Island, South Carolina, Besides Going to the Beach | CosmosMariners.com

I'm all for laying out and soaking up some sun on the beach, but there are times when I want to do something other than read another paperback and get burnt. (I'm one of those annoying people who can't ever be happy unless I'm doing something.)

While Edisto Beach is known for its family friendly beaches and rows of quiet cottages, there's a lot more to do in this, my favorite of all the South Carolina beach towns, than just watch the waves roll in.

Here's are some of my favorite things to do in Edisto Island when I'm not feeling like going to the beach. Have fun!

Edisto Presbyterian Church: Live Oaks, Southern History, and the Ghost of Julia Legare

There are a lot of weird things about me: I constantly have cold feet (literally) even in the middle of the summer, I sleep like a mummy (with my hands crossed over my chest and my ankles crossed), and I have to take Little Debbie Nutty Bars, Twix, and Oreos apart before I eat them.

But one of the oddest things about me is that I like traipsing around graveyards. 

Perhaps this makes me morbid. Or maybe I've just read too many Gothic novels.

I know some people find them creepy (and you'd never see me exploring at night!), but they can be super interesting. I love reading the tombstones of the people buried there--it's crazy to think that, at the end of our lives, everything that we were and wanted to be gets summed up in a few words. 

Here in the South, we've got some particularly beautiful graveyards that are filled with old oaks trees, winding vines, and benches hidden in quiet corners. 

Edisto Presbyterian Church: Live Oaks, Southern History, and the Ghost of Julia Legare | CosmosMariners.com

The Sea Cow Eatery (Edisto Beach, SC)

In my opinion, any beach eatery worth eating at should be laid back and a little funky and have simple but delicious fare.

After all, no one packs heels to go to on a beach vacation.

Kayaking with Dolphins

Edisto Island dolphins
Landon and I got a pair of kayaks about three years ago as a way to explore the waters around Charleston. We had to hang them up (literally and figuratively) when I got pregnant because I could barely walk, much less paddle then.

And it goes without saying that kayaking isn't exactly conducive to having a young baby. 

Those poor kayaks haven't gotten out of the garage much in the last year and a half, so Landon and I were excited to take them to Edisto last week.

Edisto Island 2014

What a week. It was filled with sand, sun, family, and bike rides.

It was basically the quintessential family beach vacation, and it was awesome!

Even with a house filled with nine adults and three kids under the age of three, there weren't any spats. The kids loved playing with one another, and I loved hanging out with Landon's parents, siblings, and their spouses.

Landon's parents have rented a beach house most of the summers since Landon and I started dating (for the second time) back in 2009, and we always had a blast. (See my posts from 2012 here and here. I didn't do any posts from last year, as I was 6 week postpartum and basically out of it.) 

But having the babies (well, two toddlers and a baby) there this year made everything that much more fun. 

So, how do you have a great summer beach vacation?