It is no secret that my husband and I love to travel, so we decided to go on a trip for our first anniversary to South Carolina. Last year for our honeymoon, we went to the mountains in North Carolina. We enjoy the peacefulness of the mountains, the hiking trails that lead to waterfalls, and the beautiful landscape, but we chose the east coast of South Carolina for a totally different experience this year! It did not disappoint! We stayed at a Wyndham Resort in Santee, South Carolina which was about an hour and a half from the Charleston area and Myrtle Beach.
I researched attractions, all the beaches, fun activities, and must-see places before we went on our trip. I’m not a big beach fan, so I had to spend extra time researching beaches that would be more interesting for us to visit. I made a little itinerary before we left just to give me an idea of the places that were in close proximity to each other. I knew that we weren’t going to stick to it because the goal of the trip was for it to be relaxing and fun for us. I had so much in mind for us to do, but with our resort being far off from the main attractions and places, it made it difficult for us to get around to doing EVERYTHING! We would’ve needed two weeks with the list I made, haha! I had to prioritize what I wanted to do and see; Brad is easy-going thankfully, so he went with whatever was on my list.
I’m going to share with y’all the places we visited, give a description and review about it, and any recommendations/tips as well as the places that were on my list that I WISH I could’ve gone to!
Sunday: Non-Stop Travel Day
This was our travel day and anniversary. We live in Louisiana, so we decided to take a scenic route on the way there. We stopped in Florida to rest for the night after traveling all day until 11 p.m.
Monday: Savannah, GA & Folly Beach, SC
We continued traveling to South Carolina. At about lunch time, we made a stop in Savannah, Georgia which I highly recommend! I would love to go back to this cute but large historic town for a whole week. The entire town had so much character, and I “ooed” and “awed” at the landscaping and architecture. The live oaks going over the brick-paved roads made Savannah seem like it was out of a fairytale.
We ate at Crystal Beer Parlor, and no, we didn’t buy alcohol there even though beer is in the name. I had the best shrimp and grits I have ever eaten in my life at this place. Even though it seemed a little weird to step into a “beer parlor” to me, the food was spectacular. Despite what some would think, it was a family-friendly environment. The bar was separated from the main eating area like most other restaurants, and there is a unique history to the once grocery store turned restaurant.
On the way to check in to our resort, we stopped at Folly Beach in South Carolina at 3:30 p.m. Finding a parking spot was somewhat troublesome because we had to park on the side streets or find a very small public parking lot. If you want to make a day out of visiting this beach, get here early for the sake of parking! There were many shops, boutiques, and restaurants on the walk to the beach which made it seem like the Hannah Montana beach town to me (if y’all know what I’m referring to…internet high five to you if you got this reference!) Brad and I grabbed an ice cream cone from Dolce Banana Shop to make the walk cooler for us. Folly Beach is known for its shells, and y’all, once we started walking along the shoreline, I could SEE AND HEAR why! Every time the tide would pull out, there would be thousands of shells scattered across the sand making a tinkling sound as they hit each other. The beach was a little crowded to me, but finding interesting and colorful shells was worth it. Brad even enjoyed discovering them. We actually brought home the majority of our shell finds from this beach. We sat on our beach towels just listening to the waves and the music of the sea shells hitting against each other for awhile, and then, we left to pick up quick Chinese food and check in to our room! FYI: Most of the Charleston attractions and shops are closed on Monday! If you are planning on going to Charleston, make sure that you don’t go on Monday. I was surprised by how much of the downtown area was not open for business.
Tuesday: Bull’s Island
Bull’s Island was my favorite place that we visited, and we made an entire day out of it! It is located around Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina and is a one-of-a-kind place that is a must-see in my opinion. I recommend making reservations ahead of time. It costs $40.00 per adult to board a ferry that takes you to the island, and we were super grateful that they opened up more ferry rides on this day! They typically only offer a ride there at 9 am and again at 12:30. Then, they pick everyone up at exactly 4:00 p.m. There was actually a waiting list until they opened up more spots, and we squeezed in for a 10:15 am ride. You don’t pay online, so be prepared to pay before you board the ferry boat. You can bring a bike onto the boat that way you don’t have to hike the trails and get where you’d like to go a little faster. When you make reservations, you will also be given a list of items to bring, what to expect, and what to wear. After bringing everything recommended on the list, I still think you need to bring more! We brought one backpack, four water bottles, bread and tuna for sandwiches, two beach towels, fruit cups, and water shoes. I brought a book with me too in case I wanted to read, a hat, swimsuit cover-up, sunscreen, lip balm SPF 30, sunglasses, germ-x, facial wipes, band-aids, OFF bug spray (REQUIREMENT Y’ALL), and wore tennis shoes, a Magellan button-up shirt, swimsuit underneath, and Nike shorts there. I wish I would’ve brought napkins, an insulated lunch bag so I could’ve premade sandwiches and kept them cold instead of eating tuna sandwiches (ew), and flip-flops! . On the ferry ride, the men that ran the ferry were extremely knowledgeable and intelligent about the marine life and ecosystems as well as the history of the island. Every question that was asked was answered quickly and factually. They informed us that as we would walk the trail to the beach, we would see each type of ecosystem. On one side of the trail there was nothing but freshwater and cattails, and directly across on the other side of the trail, there was saltwater and marsh grass. Brad and I didn’t walk any other trails on the island because of the high heat index that day, but the walk to the beach was nice. There wasn’t much wildlife to see out on the trails as a result of the heat too. The walk to get to the other side of the island where the beach is located is a 1.5 mile hike, so it’s a good idea to wear tennis shoes on the way there. However, me and Brad walked the beach after the trail ended approximately 5 miles to get to Boneyard Beach, and at this point, I changed into my water shoes. It was a TERRIBLE idea. I ended up getting blisters on the tops of my toes from where a thread was running across and rubbed my toes the wrong way. By the time I realized I was getting blisters, it was too late! I wish I would have walked the beach barefooted or with flip-flops in the packed down sand by the water. Most people go to Bull’s Island for Boneyard Beach if they know about it. It’s one of those places that they don’t even tell you about on the ferry ride-it’s kind of like an incentive for those who took their time researching and looking up information! It takes you longer to walk towards it, but y’all, it is unbelievably beautiful. There was hardly anyone there at all, so it felt like it was secluded just for us. This beach is completely uncommercialized meaning that nothing has been moved, nothing has been messed with, and it is left as-is. There are no shops, no boardwalks, no restaurants like all the other beaches-it is in its own category. Fortunately, you can take shells and objects home. The reason it is called Boneyard Beach is because of the dead trees that sit along the sand, bleached white, and roots exposed.
There is driftwood scattered around the beach, and sea turtles lay their eggs in the dunes. I found where some had hatched out closer to the beach than normal!
Because this beach is more secluded, there is a higher chance of finding more unique shells and objects. Brad and I adored this place and the natural beauty of it. Make sure that if you decide to go that you go as early as you can to get on the ferry because it does take about an hour and a half to walk to Boneyard Beach non-stop, and of course, once you get there you will want to take a million pictures like I did and eat your lunch/snack!
Also, don’t plan on any activities after this trip except eating somewhere. You will be tired once you walk back and the ferry picks you up. We ate at the Rusty Rudder on the way back from Bull’s Island to our resort, and the food was spectacular but pricey. Their Seafood Mac-N-Cheese was to die for! I guess I’m really good at ordering food because it was the best mac-n-cheese I’ve ever eaten! Y’all, you have to get it if you aren’t allergic to seafood because it is so original with a special sauce on top of crunchy pieces of shrimp and crab. I’m drooling just thinking about it.
After traveling and spending the day before hiking and walking the beach, we decided to stay around Santee. We biked to McDonald’s for breakfast which was an epic fail with all the hills, haha. Then, we went to Santee State Park where we sat on a blanket under the trees and ate PB & J sandwiches.
We hiked a trail that led us to a pond formed by a sinkhole caused by limestone, and on the little hike, we saw a baby deer, a creepy lizard, and a blue heron.
Brad drove about 30 minutes to the Santee Wildlife Refuge where we saw another deer and a raccoon. There are normally alligators that sit out in the middle of the road, but we didn’t see a single one. It took about 45 minutes to drive slowly through the refuge. I loved looking through the trees trying to find animals and studying all the swampy areas for the alligators. For some reason, they were hiding that day. I still found it enjoyable and relaxing. Plus, there was no hiking involved and it was optional. It reminded me of Cade’s Cove in Tennessee if any of y’all have ever been there! We stopped at a little ice cream shop that literally serves like fifty flavors of ice cream, and we thought we were in heaven. Then, we watched a movie at our resort and headed to the nicest restaurant in town, Clark’s Restaurant. The restaurant has been a family business for years, and when I say they perfected their biscuits recipe, THEY PERFECTED THEIR BISCUITS RECIPE. I don’t think those biscuits could get any better, and I’m not one that eats bread at restaurants! I could’ve eaten just the biscuits and been full! I ordered a steak with potatoes, and unlike most restaurants, my steak was not overly seasoned and didn’t have too much salt. I could taste the meat and the seasonings complemented it. The patio area was nicely decorated, and I had to take a picture! I’m sure it is a great place to eat brunch or breakfast too in the cooler months outside on their patio.
By the time we arrived in Downtown Charleston, it was lunch time, so we ate at Kitchen 208. I ordered their Cobblestone Sandwich, and Brad ordered a salad. He isn’t much of a salad person to begin with, but he claims the salad wasn’t great. The dressing was too strong, and I agreed. However, my sandwich was awesome, and the fruit was a refreshing side. This restaurant is perfect for a lighter lunch especially on hot days. We strolled around town and made our way to Battery Park. We noticed that the downtown area subtly changed from shops and boutiques to old homes. The old homes and the beautiful window boxes make the town so charming. I was nosey, and I would peer into the alley ways full of gorgeous landscaping! Every inch of the town was put together.
Battery Park was shady with humongous live oak trees and breezy since it was next to the water. There were a few artillery war pieces scattered around the park, and a gazebo in the middle.
We walked from this park to Waterfront Park next which is known for the large pineapple fountain. When you visit it, you are supposed to place your feet in it (at least that’s what I heard). I took advantage of the opportunity. There was also another fountain for children to run around and play. There were many families at both fountains because the pineapple fountain is large enough for kids to swim.
After this, we walked around aimlessly just admiring the scenery. If there was a shop we wanted to visit to get relief from the heat, we wouldn’t think twice about it. I actually went into a Kate Spade store for the first time, and I freaked out. I didn’t buy much from around town, but if you love boutique type clothes and name brands, save your money because Charleston has a wonderful shopping atmosphere! If you haven’t noticed yet, a lot of walking is involved, so I recommend wearing comfortable shoes or sandals.
Brad and I started on the Notebook movie “mission” after I grabbed a tea from Starbucks. On the way to our first Notebook stop, we came across the Charleston City Market. We walked through the whole market, and I didn’t know if there was going to be an end. It was full of unique products, gifts, and hand-made items, and of course, food and drink. Brad bought a black tea lemonade at a lemonade booth, and oh my word, that lemonade was unbelievable. They squeezed it right in front of you. The market was fun to look through although it was a tad crowded. The plus side of this long stretch of buildings is that there are segments air conditioned or with fans. With a heat index of over 100 degrees that day, the coolness was appreciated.
We walked for about a mile beyond the market to the American Theatre where Allie and Noah from the Notebook had their first date at the movies. You should watch the Notebook before going to Charleston, and if you are bringing someone that has never seen it, FORCE them to watch it! Haha!
Not far from this place is Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Shop. Brad ordered a waffle cone with the ice cream flavor “cream puff” and claims it’s his favorite ice cream now. In front of this store is where Allie pushed her ice cream cone on Noah’s nose and kissed it all off of him. I was going to do this to Brad, buuuuut…I’m too clumsy to make a movie scene like that one look cute (LOL). High Cotton is another place to see that was part of the movie as it is where Noah saw Allie with her fiancé.
When we were done going to our Notebook movie scenes, we walked back to the car, and drove to see Angel Oak Tree about thirty minutes away from Charleston. Angel Oak Tree is a true gem. It is estimated to be about 500 years old which is dated back to just a few years after Christopher Columbus founded America. Crazy, right? Our ag teaching hearts were happy to see this tree in real life.
I changed at a gas station before our cruise since our resort was far out of Charleston. I know, I’m so classy. Anyways, I made reservations for the cruise online two weeks in advance. Every day was full except for Thursday, so I jumped on it when I saw that there were some spots open. We went on the Blues & BBQ Cruise on the Carolina Queen. There were three decks on the ship, and I have to say that my favorite deck was the top one. I could hear the music, feel the breeze and keep cool, and see all the sights in Charleston Harbor. The cruise lasted from 7-9 p.m. The Coast Guard was conducting a training during some of the cruise which was interesting to witness.
After the cruise, I was feeling a bit spontaneous because Brad told me he had never walked the beach at night. I looked up the nearest beach, and it happened to be Sullivan’s Island. We parked our car a few blocks from the beach, and we followed the light from the lighthouse plus our iPhone GPS if we’re being completely honest. The lighthouse was sitting right next to the beach. I had never seen a lighthouse before, so I was practically jumping up and down. The moon and the lighthouse worked together to provide just enough light for us to be able to see without any flashlights. It was breathtakingly beautiful to see the lighthouse, moon, stars, and water reflecting them all work in unison.
What made it even more perfect, is that there was only one person we could barely see walking the beach.
So my advice to you is to walk the Sullivan’s Island beach at night. You’ll be blown away.
We needed to rest up before a full day of traveling on Saturday, so we watched about five movies that we chose from the DVD collection at our resort, made smores by the pool, and swam. Then, we packed to head home! I didn’t want to leave.
More Places on My Wish List:
-Myrtle Beach-I chose other beaches ahead of Myrtle Beach because Brad and I both don’t like crowded areas very much, and Myrtle Beach is the most crowded of them all. Therefore, it fell down on my priority list. It was also farther out of the way for us to visit. I still would like to go just to say I’ve been, and I would love to see the fireworks. There are also many restaurants, shops, and attractions surrounding the area.
-Charleston Tea Plantation-This is the only tea plantation in the United States, and it is free to visit. You can try all the different teas they make here and take a trolley ride. It was next on my priority list, but we just couldn’t swing it!
-Cypress Gardens-Unfortunately, Cypress Gardens was closed and under construction due to flooding a couple years ago. It will be opening again at the end of summer 2018. I seriously want to take a trip back to South Carolina just to visit this place. It is known for the iconic swan Notebook movie scene which is my favorite scene in the movie. You can rent canoes and kayaks too.
-Boone Hall Plantation-This place is on my wish list because once again, another piece of the Notebook movie was filmed here! Haha! I’m not big into visiting plantation homes, but to me, this one looks more unique than the rest I’m used to seeing in Louisiana.
-Huntington Beach State Park-It’s a laid-back, uncrowded beach with hiking trails, picnic areas, and more. The Marshwalk isn’t far from this park where there are plenty of restaurants!
-Of course, more days in Charleston to explore!
Keep on being adventurous, y’all!