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Hungry in the Holy City: Charleston Culinary Tours {A Review}

Hungry in the Holy City: Charleston Culinary Tours {A Review} | CosmosMariners.com
{photo via flickr | wording added to original | creative commons}
Within the last decade or so, Charleston has exploded (not literally, thankfully). Not only has my lovely hometown been named the number one travel destination in the world by Conde Nast Traveler Magazine for four years running, the Holy City has also come into its own with new restaurants, multiple James Beard-award winning chefs, and cutting edge menus.

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.

101 Things to Do in Charleston, South Carolina

101 Things to Do in Charleston, South Carolina | CosmosMariners.com

I'm a born and raised Charlestonian. Over the last three decades, I've seen the best and worst that this city can offer. I've explored its tiny alleyways and watched national brands make their home here.

Holiday Inn Charleston Historic Downtown {Charleston, South Carolina}

Holiday Inn Charleston Historic Downtown {Charleston, South Carolina} | CosmosMariners.com

I am a part of the Holiday Inn Influencer program and was provided a two-night stay to help me write this post. As always, all opinions are my own. 

I don't know about you, but I am the world's worst about exploring my hometown. In my case, I live in one of the most visited cities in the South--Charleston, South Carolina--yet, I rarely make it out to see all of the historic homes in the area or take one of the many tours offered. 

I have all of these big ideas on adventuring in my hometown, but I find myself scooting off to other places when I have a free moment. I've consciously worked to change this over the past year, and it's been lots of fun re-discovering the places in my own backyard. 

A Night Out at America's Oldest Theatre: The Dock Street, Charleston, South Carolina

A Night Out at America's Oldest Theatre: The Dock Street Theatre, Charleston, South Carolina | CosmosMariners.com

I'm a Charleston, South Carolina, native. I was born here and (other than my time in elementary school) I was raised here. When people find out that I live in their favorite vacation spot, their reaction is usually something like this:

"Oh, my gosh! I would looooove to live there! It's just so amazing!"

Well, it is amazing. But living here has completely jaded me to the things that draw hundreds of thousands of people here each year.

Others see the historic City Market: I see a traffic jam because hordes of cruise ship passengers can't figure out how to stand on the sidewalk and are clogging up an already very narrow street.

Others see the Battery and Rainbow Row, and I see stinky horse pee (never, ever, ever step in a puddle in Charleston--it's probably not rainwater) and cars driving very, very slowly.

Before you call me Grumps McGee, let me assure you that--on occasion--I put away my surly native hat and put on my happy, I'm-so-glad-I-live-here hat. You know, the one where I forget about all of the horse pee and traffic jams and the overabundance of one way streets on the peninsula.

I got to have one of those moments recently when Landon and I went to the Dock Street Theatre to see a production of The Producers.

A Night Out at America's Oldest Theatre: The Dock Street Theatre, Charleston, South Carolina | CosmosMariners.com

He'd surprised me with season tickets, and I was ready to break them in! I grew up going to school performances at the Dock Street, so the fact that I'm now a season ticket holder makes me feel impossibly fancy and grown-up.

A Night Out at America's Oldest Theatre: The Dock Street Theatre, Charleston, South Carolina | CosmosMariners.com

The Dock Street Theatre is America's oldest theatre and dates back to 1736. It was the first structure in the country to be built solely for theatrical performances, so while it isn't the site of the first play in America, it's a cornerstone in the history of arts and culture in Charleston and beyond.

Sadly, the original structure didn't last long (as they were wont to do back in the day). The city records are a little cloudy about when the original theatre was destroyed, but most think that it was a victim of the 1740 fire that took out a large portion of the city.

The Planter's Hotel was built over the ruins in the early 1800s, and the distinctive balcony and columns were added in 1835. (For those who like a bit of cocktail history, planter's punch was supposedly born at this hotel!)

Sadly, the Civil War caused the hotel to be abandoned, and it rotted for years. In 1935, concerned citizens and the mayor petitioned to have the property restored through the WPA (Works Progress Administration), and the current theatre was built inside what was left of the Planter's Hotel. With DuBose Heyward (author of Porgy, the inspiration behind George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess) as the writer-in-residence, the Dock Street Theatre was breathed back into life for the second time in 1937.

A Night Out at America's Oldest Theatre: The Dock Street Theatre, Charleston, South Carolina | CosmosMariners.com


Even though it's only a few blocks from East Bay and Meeting Streets, the theatre feels tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the usual downtown chaos. The French Quarter, where the theatre's located, is a residential area that's slowly becoming more commercial, so you've got a great mixture of old churches, art galleries, and stately homes surrounding the Dock Street.

A Night Out at America's Oldest Theatre: The Dock Street Theatre, Charleston, South Carolina | CosmosMariners.com

You can find it on the corner of Church Street (so named for the imposing St. Philips just down the way) and Queen Street. You might wonder what's up with the name since the Dock Street Theatre isn't on Dock Street. Well, the answer to that is that it used to be. Queen Street was once called Dock Street!

A Night Out at America's Oldest Theatre: The Dock Street Theatre, Charleston, South Carolina | CosmosMariners.com


One of my favorite parts of going to the Dock Street when I was little was sitting in the balcony seats. The railing is impossibly low for adults, but it's perfect when you're 8! The theatre was built as close as possible to the original 18th century design, so the seats all over the theatre are fairly small and the aisle are quite tight.

A Night Out at America's Oldest Theatre: The Dock Street Theatre, Charleston, South Carolina | CosmosMariners.com


In true Charleston fashion, the Dock Street is supposedly haunted. A young woman named Nettie, who fell from her once predominant position in the town to become a prostitute, is often seen gliding around the theatre in her bright red gown. Strangely, sightings of her only include her body from the knees upwards. I've heard people explain this away by saying that the Planter's Hotel floor (on which she would've walked in life) was a good foot lower than the present day Dock Street Theatre floor--I guess she hasn't gotten the memo that some renovations have occurred in the last century and a half.

When you're in town, check out Charleston Stage's calendar of events for the Dock Street Theatre. For even more suggestions on what to do in my hometown, check out my first-timer's guide to Charleston.

Do you like going to the theatre? What are some of your favorite plays and theatres?
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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.

I imagine that it might be easy to cobble together a few glass aquariums, stock them with snakes you bought online, and charge admission. This is not the approach that the Edisto Serpentarium took, and thank goodness for that.

While admission is higher than you'd expect ($14.95 for adults, $13.95 for seniors, $10.95 for kids 4-12, and free under 3), this mini-zoo is well worth a few hours of your vacation time. As someone who suffers severely from ophidiophobia--the fear of snakes--my recommendation to visit this place does not come lightly.

In fact, the first time that I visited was back when I was still teaching at a homeschool program; the other teacher and I brought our four students to the Serpentarium as a part of their back-to-school fun day. I thought I was going to die when the kids told me where I wanted to go, but I decided to just deal with it for their sakes. They were so excited to go, and I wasn't going to stand in their way! On that trip, more than four years ago, I was blown away at the large collection of snakes, the obvious respect that the owners have for their animals, and the ease of learning about each reptile resident.

Because of that trip, I knew that I wanted to bring my daughter back once she was old enough to interact with the experience. This year, at a lively and inquisitive two years of age, Britton was ready, so the three of us headed out one morning.

As soon as we stepped into the indoor exhibit, Britton (and my husband, who'd also never been) was transfixed. We talk to her a lot about snakes and safety since we live in a part of South Carolina where cottonmouths (water moccasins), timber rattlers (canebrake rattlesnakes), and copperheads are common--so we thought that this would be another way for her to learn more about these creatures while seeing them in a safe environment.

The indoor area has glass exhibits ringing the wall, and you can see and learn about everything from an albino alligator to a python to a pygmy rattlesnake. Each reptile is placed in an exhibit that showcases where you might find the animal in nature, and you can tell that plenty of research has gone into the details.

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


Then, in the middle of the indoor space is a sunken garden, where you can see dozens of constrictors as they swim, crawl up trees, and hide in stumps. Landon and I were amazed at how well they could camouflage themselves: the longer we looked in the garden, the more snakes we saw!

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

We headed outdoors into the swampy South Carolina June morning (we had to visit during a record-setting heat wave) to explore the large exhibits out there. We started with the non-venomous snake area, where the residents were quite active. We spotted several black racers in there, which we've also seen on our property back home.

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

It was almost time for the noon alligator talk, so we found a shady spot where we could safely watch the alligators from a distance. They look large in the water, but they look positively gigantic when they're moving around on the ground!

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

After the alligator talk, we took Britton to the venomous snake exhibit. While these snakes were plentiful in their sunken arena, they were far more languid than their non-venomous counterparts. Since they were just kind of hanging out, we looked at them, got the heebie-jeebies, and headed over to see the turtles. There are some huge alligator turtles near the new king cobra exhibit, and you can buy some turtle feed if you're interested in helping them grow even more.

On the other side of the outdoor area, there are even more turtles, where you can see two examples of the world's largest land turtles: the African Spur-Thigh Tortoises. Right next to them is a whole collection of your favorite hard-shelled reptiles: box turtles, snapping turtles, and terrapins are among the offerings.

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

We completed our visit with the live snake handling demonstration at 1:00 p.m. (there are usually several throughout the day). Here, a herpetologist teaches the audience about six different kinds of snakes while carefully handling each. From the docile and non-venomous rat snake to the terrifying timber rattler, the snakes shown are mostly found around South Carolina, and there is an emphasis on respect and safety throughout.

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

The herpetologist who ran our program was approachable, conversational, and calm, and did a great job at talking to both the parents and the kids in the audience. There was even a photo opp at the end with a ball python!

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

The Serpentarium was opened in 1999 by two local brothers who had a lifelong interest in herpetology. As we walked through the exhibits, I could see that passion in the attention to detail. The next time you're in the area, make sure to block off time to visit: the beach can wait a few hours! It's also a convenient drive from downtown Charleston (about 40 minutes) and would make a great day trip from the city.

Would you be interested in visiting a reptile-focused exhibit like this one? Have you visited Edisto Island?
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Movies Filmed in Charleston, South Carolina (and Where to Go to Relive Your Favorite Scenes)

Movies Filmed in Charleston, South Carolina (and Where to Go to Relive Your Favorite Scenes) | CosmosMariners.com

I've been fascinated with the art of movie making since I was a little kid. So, it's no wonder that I get a little thrill whenever I hear that another movie is being made in my hometown of Charleston, South Carolina.

While most people come to Charleston for the history and Southern charm that the city offers, you might also want to spend some time exploring the more recent history of the city. Here's where you can find the settings of some of your favorite movies that were filmed right here in the Holy City.

Booking.com


North and South miniseries (1985, 1986, and 1994): starring Patrick Swayze and Kirstie Alley
Location: Boone Hall Plantation, Mount Pleasant; Calhoun Mansion, downtown

Patrick Swayze's character lives at Mont Royal Plantation, which is actually Boone Hall Plantation, one of Mount Pleasant's biggest attractions. Remarkably, the plantation and the grounds looks almost exactly the same as it did during all three parts of the mini-series. Yay for historic preservation!

*Fun fact: my dad was an extra in the second episode of the 1985 installment mini-series and can be seen sitting in the back of a wagon pulling a horse. He's got a hat on and is going around the plantation house. 

Movies Filmed in Charleston, South Carolina (and Where to Go to Relive Your Favorite Scenes) | CosmosMariners.com
My dad! (He's the one in the hat.)
You didn't know that your favorite travel blogger was practically film royalty, did you?!

How to relive your favorite scenes: 

  • Visit Boone Hall Plantation on Long Point Road in Mount Pleasant. It's a private residence with an admission fee, but the ticket price is well worth it. Tour the grounds, the slave quarters, and the house, and admire the stunning line of huge oaks leading up to the house.
  • Take a tour of the Calhoun Mansion downtown on 16 Meeting Street. There are two different tour options: a shorter, less expensive one ($16) and a much longer tour of the entire mansion ($75). 

Booking.com

The Notebook (2004): starring Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, Gena Rowlands, James Garner
Location: Boone Hall Plantation, Mount Pleasant; Old Village, Mount Pleasant; the corner of King and Mary Streets, downtown; Cypress Gardens, Moncks Corner

Movies Filmed in Charleston, South Carolina (and Where to Go to Relive Your Favorite Scenes) | CosmosMariners.com
Screenshot from The Notebook that was filmed at Cypress Gardens
The filming of this Nicholas Sparks adaptation took over the Lowcountry for several months and there are very few scenes that weren't filmed in or around Charleston. I was in high school at the time that the movie was being shot, and I begged my sister to accompany me on my quest to find him. Despite being incredibly close to carnival scene set, she insisted that we go home--and Ryan Gosling missed out on his chance of being my +1. (I'm sure he cries himself to sleep at night.)

How to relive your favorite scenes:
  • Visit Boone Hall on Long Point Road in Mount Pleasant. The house stood in as Allie's home in the film, and you can see several exterior shots throughout the movie. 
  • Walk down Pitt Street in Old Village, Mount Pleasant. Remember the scene where Allie and Noah smush ice cream into each other's faces on their date? That's in the middle of the adorable Old Village in Mt. P--just a few minutes drive from downtown Charleston. The inn where Allie goes back to her fiance near the end of the film is also in Old Village--only it's not an inn, but rather a personal residence. 
  • Check out the corner of King and Mary Streets in downtown Charleston. While Noah and Allie decide to dance--and then lay--in the middle of this intersection, I'd recommend checking out this very busy spot from one of the corners. Right near the intersection is the American Theatre, where they go on a double date before the dancing scene takes place. 
  • Rent a boat in Cypress Gardens. This incredible spot is where Noah and Allie go out to see hundreds of swans (picture above). While you won't find swans there normally (at least not in that quantity), you can rent a boat, learn about local species, and traverse the walking trails. 

  

The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000): starring Will Smith, Matt Damon, and Charlize Theron
Location: The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Resort
Movies Filmed in Charleston, South Carolina (and Where to Go to Relive Your Favorite Scenes) | CosmosMariners.com
Screenshot of The Legend of Bagger Vance
Unsurprisingly, this golf-centric movie headed to one of the Charleston area's most popular golf resorts to film scenes. Even though Kiawah boasts 5 different golf courses, the crew decided to build a special par-5 hole; while the hole is still on the resort somewhere, it's unmarked and not on any of the official courses. 

Robert Redford and crew headed all over the South Carolina Lowcountry and the Georgia coast; one of their non-South Carolina scenes took place at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel in Georgia, where Redford repainted the Grand Dining Room. The staff has left it the same color since 2000 as an ode to the director.  

How to relive your favorite scenes:
  • Head just outside of Charleston to Kiawah Island resort. The resort is gated, so you'll need to have reservations at The Sanctuary, a confirmed tee time, or have rented a house to drive through. However, the resort is open to bicyclists if you'd like to explore on two wheels. You can play through the Ocean Course where many of the key scenes were filmed--while you on the property, look for the hidden hole created for the movie!

Booking.com

The Patriot (2000): starring Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Joely Richardson, and Leon Rippy
Location: Cypress Gardens, Moncks Corner; Randolph Hall, College of Charleston; Middleton Place Plantation
Movies Filmed in Charleston, South Carolina (and Where to Go to Relive Your Favorite Scenes) | CosmosMariners.com
Screenshot from The Patriot with Mel Gibson and Joely Richardson in front of 69 Meeting Street
Mel Gibson's character, Benjamin Martin, is based on Francis Marion (or "The Swamp Fox") who served in the American Revolution. Incidentally, the actual Francis Marion is a very distant relative of mine on my mom's side! The Patriot was filmed all over South Carolina, but there were several scenes that took place in Charleston. 

How to relive your favorite scenes: 
  • Walk the College of Charleston campus in downtown. The interior of Randolph Hall (the college's main administrative building) was used for some of the assembly meetings. 
  • Visit the Poyas-Mordecai House at 69 Meeting Street. The exterior of this private home served as Aunt Charlotte's abode (see picture above). 
  • Head to Cypress Gardens. Like the actual Swamp Fox, Gibson and his fellow actors had to endure the mosquitos, alligators, and snakes in the swamp (hence, the nickname). In the film, Cypress Gardens serves at the militia's hidden meeting spot. If Cypress Gardens sounds familiar, it's because you heard it earlier in the list. That's where Allie and Noah had their boat ride in The Notebook
  • Explore Middleton Place Plantation. One of the movie's ball scenes was filmed inside this beautiful home. It's open daily for tours if you want to take a spin around the room as well!
Booking.com

Dear John (2010): starring Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried 
Locations: Isle of Palms, Bowens Island, College of Charleston, and Charleston Air Force Base
Movies Filmed in Charleston, South Carolina (and Where to Go to Relive Your Favorite Scenes) | CosmosMariners.com
Screenshot of Seyfried and Tatum in Dear John at the Isle of Palms Pier. How come there's never a shirtless Channing Tatum when I go visit?

Apparently, it's a requirement that Nicholas Sparks' movies come to Charleston and take over the place for months. While the majority of The Notebook was filmed in this area, the entire Dear John movie was done in and around Charleston. 

How to relive your favorite scenes: 
  • Go to the Isle of Palms pier. For their meetcute, Tatum's character retrieves Seyfried's character's purse...and the romance begins. The pier is a popular spot for sunbathers during the summer, and it's free to walk on it. Don't dive off of it though!
  • Get ready for some seafood on Bowens Island. Far off the beaten path, Bowens Island Restaurant has some of the Charleston area's freshest fish, oysters and shrimp. It's where the main characters go for their first date. It's closed Sundays and Mondays, and only serves dinner Tuesday-Saturday.
  • Head back to the College of Charleston. Randolph Hall (which was also featured in The Patriot) makes another appearance here. Savannah uses it as a backdrop to write her letters to John. 
  • The airlift mission scene was filmed on the Air Force Base here, and even used military aircraft and servicemen and women. Unfortunately, you can't just wander through the Air Force Base to check out the setting, so you'll have to be content watching the movie.


Booking.com


Have you seen any of these movies? Have you ever visited any filming locations?

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


Movies Filmed in Charleston, South Carolina (and Where to Go to Relive Your Favorite Scenes) | CosmosMariners.com

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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.

Where to Stay
When choosing a spot to stay in Kiawah, you'll want to decide if you'd rather have the amenities of a hotel or the comforts of home.

If you go the hotel route inside the gates, Kiawah has exactly one option: The Sanctuary. This gorgeous hotel is within the first gate of the resort and has a highly rated spa, two outdoor pools, an indoor pool, a small shopping area, and an onsite restaurant. I've never stayed there, but I have walked through it multiple times to browse in the shops and smell the very nice (very expensive) air.

There's one additional option if you expand your hotel search to outside of the gates: Andell Inn. It's located inside Freshfields Village, just a short bike ride from the beach. It has its own amenities, so if you want to play golf or tennis at Kiawah, you'll have to book that separately.

If you go the homestay route, you've got plenty of options: you can rent a villa or apartment through Kiawah Resort, or you can rent from a third party. Wyndham Vacation Rentals, Vacation Rentals by Owner (VRBO), Homeaway, and the local real estate companies all offer rental properties within the resort gates.

Vacationing on Kiawah Island, South Carolina: A Complete Guide | CosmosMariners.com
The living area of the house we rented on a recent trip to Kiawah
My family has been to Kiawah multiple times, and we've always gone through a third party for our rentals. When you go this route, make sure to clarify if you'll have access to the neighborhood's pool(s) and amenities: some rentals include this, bike rental vouchers, and/or beach chairs, but it varies by property.

Vacationing on Kiawah Island, South Carolina: A Complete Guide | CosmosMariners.com
Our rental house in 2012--just inside the first gate

Also note: there are actually two gates within the Kiawah Resort. The first one is the one that most people go through: you'll only need to go through this gate if you're staying at the Sanctuary. The second gate marks a more exclusive area of the resort with the gigantic celebrity homes. While you can't drive through either of the gates if you're not staying there, you can freely bicycle anywhere in the resort, no matter where your home away from home is located.

What to Do
Vacationing on Kiawah Island, South Carolina: A Complete Guide | CosmosMariners.com
The Ocean Course

Since Kiawah is a golf resort (and was the location of the 2012 PGA Championship), there are obviously plenty of golf courses to keep you busy during your stay (five, to be exact). It's also a great place to stay if you're into tennis, and it offers two different tennis complexes, private coaching, and group lessons.

However, if you're completely uncoordinated like me and people tend to laugh and point whenever you do anything more rigorous than walk in a straight line, you're probably thinking, "Why in the world would I vacation here? I'll be that pasty weird person in a line-up of fit, tanned people in plaid and polo shirts."

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

I'm happy to tell you that there's much more to Kiawah than just golfing and tennis. There are multiple pools for the different subsections of the property, Heron Park Wildlife Center (where you can get up close and personal with native snake species--yuck), a Junior Naturalist Program, summer movies under the stars, fishing tours, kayaking tours, and 30 miles of bike paths.

Some of my favorite times on Kiawah have been meandering on the bike paths, gawking at the houses that cost more than I'll make in my life combined.

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

To be a resort, there's a surprising amount of wildlife, so have your camera and the ready when you see a gorgeous heron or intimidating gator!

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

And if all of that still seems like too much, there's 10 miles of beach on which to relax and read. (I'll let you guess my favorite things to do on Kiawah!)

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


Where to Eat
Within the gates of Kiawah resort, you've got many, many options on where to dine. The resort has everything from an ice cream shop (Beaches and Cream in the Sanctuary) to make-your-own pizza (The Market at Town Center) to a formal seafood restaurant (The Atlantic Room at the Ocean Course Clubhouse).

Just outside the gates at Freshfields Village, you've got even more options: a cute sandwich shop at the gas station (seriously! There are freshly made paninis and wraps each day at lunch), a local coffee shop, and a hot lunch counter at the Harris Teeter. There's even a Starbucks inside the Harris Teeter if you can't find what you need at the local coffee place.

How to Get There
Head south out of Charleston on Highway 17. Approximately 3 miles past the 526-17 intersection, you'll see a stoplight at Main Road and Highway 17. Turn left onto Main Road. Main Road will cross over 700 and will become Bohicket Road. Continue on this route (State Road S-10-20): it will turn into Betsy Kerrison Parkway. When you reach the roundabout, take the third exit onto Kiawah Island Parkway. Stop at the first gate to get your pass and map.

Know before You Go:

  • Freshfields Village has a grocery store and lots of shopping if you want to find a souvenir.
  • If you're renting a house, and you've forgotten a gallon of milk or some bread, don't go to the convenience stores within the resort. You will pay (no joke) at least twice what the price is at the Harris Teeter grocery store in Freshfields Village, so drive the extra five minutes outside of the resort for your sundries. 
  • There are also several places within the resort that sell Kiawah Resort-branded shirts, polos, tees, and hats. Check the Sanctuary, the golf clubhouses, and the nature center, and the small convenience stores around the resort. 
  • If you're just visiting Kiawah for the day, you can rent bikes in Freshfields Village and tour the resort on your own. It doesn't matter if you're staying at the resort--if you're on a bike, you can skip stopping at both gates! 
  • There's a county-run beach just outside the first gate. If you want to see the unspoiled beaches of Kiawah without renting a house or staying at the Sanctuary, this is a great way to spend the day. 

If you're looking for more awesome vacation and spring break spots along the Southern Atlantic coast, check out my 20 favorite islands in the area (spoiler alert: Kiawah Island is one of them)!

Have you been to Kiawah Island? If so, what did you do or see?

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to book through one of the above links, I will receive a small commission at no charge to you. Other than that, I received no compensation for this post. I just love Kiawah!

A Day Trip to Beaufort, South Carolina

A Day Trip to Beaufort, South Carolina | 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!).

A Day Trip to Beaufort, South Carolina | CosmosMariners.com


The first thing we've got to get out of our way is the pronunciation.

It's Bee-you-fort. Only call it "Bo-fort" (as in the place in North Carolina) if you want to be laughed to the county line.

Got it? Then, you're ready to venture into town.

Beaufort's main attraction is, well, Beaufort. The town has a small historic district, and you'll want to spend the majority of your time wandering around it.

Fun fact: South Carolina was itching to get out of the Union until tensions escalated into shots being fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston. Although Charleston gets all of the credit for being the birthplace of succession, the Ordinance of Succession actually first was signed in a house on 113 Craven Street in Beaufort. The document was then taken to Charleston for dissemination.

A Day Trip to Beaufort, South Carolina | CosmosMariners.com


The historic homes--some of which are notable and some which are just pretty--can easily taken up a few hours of your time. Don't forget to pause at 411 Craven Street, where "The Castle" stands. In addition to serving as a Civil War hospital and morgue, the home is also supposedly haunted by Gauche, a little person who lived there as a jester at some point in Beaufort's very early history. By the 1940s, Gauche was a well-known apparition to the family who lived there, showing up to tea parties with the young daughter and communicating with the parents via tapping. (You can check out more on the legend here, if you're interested).

Even today, there are sightings of a small wisp of a man in the backyard, so stop and say hi. I imagine that Gauche gets lonely after centuries of being dead!

A Day Trip to Beaufort, South Carolina | CosmosMariners.com


You've probably worked up quite an appetite after sightseeing, so head over to the newly renovated waterfront area for lunch. There are several spots near the marina, so you can sit on the back decks and enjoy the coastal breezes.

Don't forget to relax on the swings, too. They're a favorite photo op spot!

A Day Trip to Beaufort, South Carolina | CosmosMariners.com

You can see the historic district on a walking tour (either self-guided or through a local guide) or by a horse and carriage tour. The last time that I visited, I went the horse and carriage route, and it was a lot of fun. There were only 8 people onboard, so it was an intimate tour--we had a great guide which made the experience even better.

And, if you're extra good on the tour, you can line up with the five-year-olds when the tour is over and give the horse a carrot.

A Day Trip to Beaufort, South Carolina | CosmosMariners.com


There are also some adorable shops in the downtown area, including a lollipop shop, a sweet tea bar, and several boutique clothing stores. Don't forget to stop by the Chocolate Tree and sample of few of their delicious treats!

A Day Trip to Beaufort, South Carolina | CosmosMariners.com

Beaufort is also a great day trip from Hilton Head or Savannah. The larger Beaufort area has a military base, and it's close to Parris Island--if you're in the area for boot camp or to visit relatives in the military, make sure to check out the historic area. 

What is your favorite day trip to take? What makes it special?

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?