Charleston tRAVel Guide: Where to Eat, Stay, & Play

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Hi friends and happy Wanderlust Wednesday!  Is that a thing? If not, I’m making it one ha.  What can I say, I love a little play-on-words action!  A couple weeks ago I was blessed with the opportunity to travel to Charleston, South Carolina for a campaign with Toyota to explore the city and unRAVel tRAVel in a RAV4!  I met my blogging besties there, Cortney and Kelssey, and we had the most amazing weekend.  There is SO much to do in Charleston!  We were there for 4 days but honestly could have used a few more days to fit in all that we wanted to do and see!  From shopping on King Street, to eating your way through the city, to the architecture, history & ghost tours, to spending a day (or two!) at Sullivans Island or Folley Beach; whatever you like to do, you’ll find it in Charleston!

I landed in Greenville/Spartanburg, South Carolina where Cortney picked me up in our snazzy red RAV4 to hit the road for the short three-hour drive to Charleston!  From the start, we experienced nothing but comfort paired with all the functionality we could ever need, which made for a super smooth ride!  Side note, we were almost to Charleston when a severe wave of hunger came over us and we made a quick turn into Chick-fil-A, which was my very first time eating there!  Cortney thought I was cray cray when I asked for ketchup to go with my chicken nuggets, and after realizing how dumb that was, I quickly asked for the “sauce” and all was right in the world!

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MY TRAVEL STYLE

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WHERE TO STAY

FRANCIS MARION HOTEL:  We arrived in Charleston around 3pm and met Kelssey at our hotel, the Francis Marion, which is located right on King Street!  It’s a beautiful historic hotel, filled with classic details and lots of Southern Charm.  The staff were incredibly helpful and friendly and accommodated many of our needs; one being needing portable clothing racks and extra hangers ha!  Hey, that’s what you get when you have three fashion bloggers in one room and the city you’re visiting is our spirit animal – hello pink walls = lots of cute outfits!  Our room had the prettiest blue walls and darling decor.  We had a mini fridge (which was super handy to keep our leftovers in!), a flat screen tv, sitting area (which turned into our wardrobe/closet), and plenty of outlets for our curling irons, wands, iPhones, and MacBooks!  Our room was on the 10th floor and looked right out to King Street with a great view of the city and ocean!  And for all my coffee lovers, our hotel had a Starbucks in it, which was heaven!  We were going, going, going from sun-up to sun-down, so grabbing my breakfast sandwich and cold brew as we headed out in our RAV4 gave me all the fuel I needed for all the exploring we did!

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WHERE TO EAT

492 on KING STREET:  On our first night in Charleston, we met the awesome people of Toyota and the rest of the blogger gang at 492 for cocktail hour, a delicious dinner, and the yummiest dessert!  We sipped on craft cocktails, local beer, and insanely good wine while getting to know one another.  Our menu offered some serious dishes and it was so tough to choose just one, but I opted for the Swordfish fillet and my, oh my, it was the best fish I’ve had in a very long time!  I didn’t think I could fit one more morsel into my body, but of course I made room for a ice cream cookie.  Thank goodness we had lots of walking ahead of us that evening because I needed to burn off my indulgences!

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CRU CAFE:    Talk about a dining experience!  We enjoyed a private dinner on the second floor and it was a quaint and elegant set-up.  We first shared appetizers; such as fried green tomatos with a caramel marmalade, fresh baguettes and brie,  and fried calamari.  Next we feasted on bountiful salads!  I opted for the butter lettuce and vegetable option.  And for the main course I choose stuffed fried chicken, cheesy potatoes, and savory fresh vegetables.  The service was excellent and every dish was a true treat.  I normally eat meals very quickly, but it was refreshing to just sit and enjoy each course and of course, the amazing company!

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MAGNOLIAS:  After hearing such good things about this restaurant, and having Cortney also recommend it, we knew we had to make a trip to Magnolias!  We stopped in for a late lunch and much to our surprise, there wasn’t a wait, which was awesome because we were starving!  We shared homemade bleu cheese kettle chips and tuna deviled eggs and then each dove into our own lunch entrees!  I had a warm ham and swiss wrap and it was delicious!  Kelssey had the crab cake sandwich and Cortney had the BLT; both loved their meals!  I highly recommend this chic restaurant featuring uptown comfort food!

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GENTRY BAR:  For our last night in Charleston, Toyota threw a fabulous private cocktail party at the Gentry Bar and we had such a fun evening!  From wine and local beer, to pimento cheese bread and mini sliders, to Gentry Bourbon tasting; we were treated like gold and it was the best way to end our weekend!  And the icing on the cake?  Meeting JD, the owner of Gentry Bar and Gentry Bourbon, who is also on the Bravo TV show, Southern Charm!  Which happens to be one of Tony and I’s favorite show.  Honestly, I’ve been wanting to visit Charleston for many years and when that show aired, I knew I had to experience this city for myself.  I cannot wait to visit again and will definitely be sure to stop in to the Gentry Bar next time I’m there!

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WHERE TO PLAY

HAUNTED GHOST TOUR:  We went on a haunted ghost tour our first night in Charleston and it was the perfect way to kick off the weekend!  There was so much history and culture packed into the tour, plus being able to see the city up close and personal by walking to the haunted dungeon was pretty awesome!

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OLD SOUTH CARRIAGE TOURS:  On Friday morning we went on a carriage ride tour of historic Charleston and it was SO NEAT!  I love learning about the places I’m visiting, and our tour guide was incredibly knowledgable, funny, and really made the tour that much more fun.  There are a few companies that offer carriage tour rides, but I would highly recommend Old South Carriage Company, as they take extremely good care of their sweet horses (our guy was Luke!) and for those of you who know my passion & heart for animals, this was music to my ears.  This is another way to see the city and to take some amazing photos of the stunning architecture and cityscape!

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EXPLORING RAINBOW ROW:  If there ever was a street I was certain that I needed to live on, it would be Rainbow Row in Charleston!  Pink, Blue, Yellow, Green, Purple, Mint, Orange, Coral, and the list goes on that describes the vibrant and colorful houses you’ll see when visiting Rainbow Row.!  It was the perfect place for us to take the RAV4 and do some exploring while taking some blog photos!  We hired Kim, a super sweet and talented local photographer, to take some photos for us!  Our RAV4 was a bright red, but even on Rainbow Row, it looks a little pink 🙂

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SULLIVAN’S ISLAND:  Before the rain hit us on Saturday, us girls snuck out to Sullivan’s Island early in the morning!  I mean, you can’t go to Charleston and not go to the beach!  It was windy but still so beautiful and it felt good to have salty hair and sandy toes.  I would highly recommend making a day out of Sullivan’s Island; just a short 15-20 minute drive from King Street!

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Photos by Cortney Dryden

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BOONE HALL PLANTATION:  We visited the Boone Hall Plantation and I was blown away by the stunning grounds and the history behind those walls.  We went on a house tour (unfortunately no photos were allowed) and our tour guide had given over 10,00 tours!  As I’m sure you can image, the inside of the house was just as beautiful as the outside.  One of the neat things is that you don’t know which house tour you’re going to get, so each time you visit you’ll see a different part of the house!  There were also live presentations on the Gullah culture through out the day.  I was blown away by how much Gullah has influenced the culture of Charleston!  And can we talk about all that Spanish Moss?  The lane leading up the main house could be straight from a movie!  Oh wait, it literally was.  Allie’s parents’ summer house in The Notebook is the Boone Hall Plantation!

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PINEAPPLE FOUNTAIN & BATTERY PROMENADE:  I wish we had more time to spend walking the Battery area, but we were on a time crunch in-between lunch at Magnolias and needing to head back to the hotel to get ready for our event at the Gentry Bar!  I did take a few photos of the notable pineapple fountain, but because it was a super hot day (and school was out), there were a lot of kids wading in the fountain waters, which meant my photos were not blog worthy!  Next time I visit, I’ll definitely go the Battery in the early morning so I can capture some great photos!

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Where are your favorite places to Eat, Stay, & Play in Charleston?! xoxo

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