Billy and I took a trip to Charleston last week and we had such a great time! I had visited the city a few times as a child, but all I really remembered from those trips was that it was hoooooot. My grandmother, though, has always loved Charleston. It’s her spirit city. She used to tell me stories about how she and my grandfather would wander the streets and look at all the beautiful old homes. When my grandparents moved to Sanibel Island, they built a home inspired by the architecture of Charleston. My grandfather, an engineer, even traveled to Sullivan’s Island after Hurricane Hugo to investigate the homes that were still standing to see how they had been made; he infused those structural elements into the Sanibel house.
Sadly, my grandmother sold her beloved Sanibel home after my grandfather died in a tragic accident when I was 13 years old. Walking the streets of Charleston with Billy, I couldn’t help but feel his presence with me. I called Mimi to tell her that I finally understood the spirit of the old Sanibel house, but more importantly, I felt connected to her, to PopPop, and to their collective vision. As I stood in front of those breathtaking old homes, I could imagine her standing where I was, dreaming of building her own magical house. I’m not sure if she knew it at the time, but her little piece of Charleston on Sanibel Island would become the heart — the h(om)e — of our whole family.
We saw so many things on our trip. We strolled down King Street the morning we arrived, delirious from an early flight and a breakfast of eggs, grits, and biscuits, and discovered a hidden graveyard. It was beautiful and haunting and quintessentially Charleston (I’m not entirely sure if a hidden graveyard is quintessentially Charleston, per say, but it sure is in my mind)! There was Spanish moss hanging from the trees and, other than the manicured paths, everything else was allowed to grow wild. We later found out that the cemetery belonged to the oldest Unitarian Church in the south, and that they believe in letting their graveyards return to nature. So beautiful.
Don’t tell New York City, but I loved Charleston — the churches, the history, and the charm stole my heart.
And we haven’t even talked about the food! We were give so many passionate recommendations for restaurants we had to try. Honestly, it was a little overwhelming! There were some hits and some misses, but our three favorite meals were on everyone’s list.
Leon’s Fine Poultry and Oysters
Leon’s was relaxed and fun! I got the fried oyster sandwich and Billy had the fried chicken. Delish. Dessert is soft serve ice cream. Sprinkles are optional.
This old bank building turned seafood mecca has a super cool vibe. I highly recommend the ceviche. Go on a Tuesday so you can order their lobster roll special (sadly we did not go on a Tuesday and I’m still pretty upset about it).
Our last dinner and by far our favorite meal. The service was outstanding and the food was incredible. Their fried green tomatoes were out of this world. And I had to order the pecan pie for dessert after learning that Boone Hall Plantation was at one point the world’s largest producer of pecans. I had to taste that history!
We ate breakfast every morning at Queen Street Grocery, a local shop that served the best egg sandwiches and coffee. It was so nice to have a daily ritual to ground us in a new city.
If you feel the urge to visit Charleston, do it! It’s so charming. You can get almost everywhere on foot, or with a quick Uber ride. You will love exploring all of the hidden and beloved gems of the city. You never know what parts of yourself you might uncover.