April 6, 2011

Strolling Around Charleston, South Carolina {Naptime on the Road}

Baked Scone

A Chocolate Orange Scone from Baked in Charleston

Every spring I spend about a week in Charleston, South Carolina with my parent’s. I love visiting this gorgeous city and I think my daughter loves it even more. Not only are the rules generally relaxed when we travel, but being here with her grandparents means she is spoiled for at least a week straight. Unfortunately, our visit this year was marked by a full week of bad weather. When our plane touched down the temperature promptly dropped to a very un-springlike 50 degrees and the rain clouds rolled in. Oh well, you win some, you lose some. We made the most of our rain-free moments, strolling around the city and enjoying the beautiful sites. Here is what we liked most:

Previous Charleston Travel Series: 2009 Charleston Travel, 2010 Charleston Travel

Charleston Cooks! A Maverick Kitchen Store: This snappy store was so much fun to browse. I loved the great selection of lowcountry cuisine and southern cookbooks. I even managed to find the elusive balloon whisk I’ve been looking for for over a year!

baked Baked in Charleston: This popular Brooklyn-based bakery opened a southern outpost last year.  We just died for the Dark Chocolate & Orange Scones while my daughter indulged in an impressive Chocolate Cloud Cookie.

Hanks Hank’s Seafood: Full disclosure, my parent’s ate here before I arrived and couldn’t stop talking about it for my entire visit. I trust their opinions and will confidently recommend it to all of you. It sounds amazing!

Peninsula Grill Peninsula Grill: This is the one meal in Charleston that continues to elude me. I can’t wait to finally eat here someday when my husband is able to take the trip down with us. Want to try Peninsula Grill even if you never intend to visit Charleston? Their famous Peninsula Grill Coconut Cakes can be ordered and shipped nationwide. My mother-in-law has one shipped up to Martha’s Vineyard every summer and I can attest it is the BEST coconut cake I’ve ever eaten.

Five Loaves Five Loaves Cafe: This cute little cafe out in Mount Pleasant (a suburb of Charleston) is easily the most underrated restaurant in the city. The menu is always interesting and the staff is lovely. It even is a great place for children!

side street The Battery Walk: I couldn’t get enough of walking around the Battery. Just check out these gorgeous homes…

side street

and side streets…


and wisteria that are so beautiful your heart literally swells at the sight of them…

Goat I also saw this store window, Goat Sheep Cow, and am wondering when it will open, it doesn’t look quite finished inside yet…

macaroon boutique Macaroon Boutique: I was excited to try this pretty little shop with a macaroon tree in the window. The macaroons are only offered in large bags so we bought three – one in each flavor offered – and skipped the football-sized croissants. Unfortunately, our experience was a little marred by the woman behind the counter who scolded my daughter for touching her finger to the glass when she pointed to the pistachio macaroon she wanted to try. Why display cookies in glass cases and expect them to be kept handprint free if you want customers with children to patronize your shop? The coconut macaroons were delicious but take note it is not the most child-friendly environment.

Paolos Paolo’s Gelato: I wrote about this indulgent gelateria a few years ago and here I am talking about it again. If you want true, authentic Italian gelato this is the place to be.

Basil Basil: Around the corner from Paolo’s is the Thai restaurant Basil. I wrote about how much I loved it few years ago when I went for dinner. This year I went for lunch after our trip to the Charleston Symphony Designer Showcase and loved it just as much. We ordered several dishes to split amongst ourselves and not a single drop of food was left. The Chef’s consistency in showcasing perfectly authentic Thai food for over three years and counting is testimony to how terrific this place really is. (Note: I did not take my daughter with me for lunch, it is not an ideal atmosphere for children.)

Cupcake Cupcake: I simply couldn’t leave out my favorite cupcake shop. I write about this place every year because it always deserves a shout out. Every time I go in the flavors that are offered are inventive and exciting. It is especially urgent that you stop by Cupcake if you are traveling through the area with kids. They will LOVE it!

Village Bakery Village Bakery in Old Village Mount Pleasant: This adorable bakery/cafe is one of my favorite new spots in Charleston. Just over the bridge from Charleston proper, Old Village Mount Pleasant is a cozy small-town featuring classic colonial architecture and tons of young parents pushing baby joggers. If I had to live in Charleston this is where I would chose to raise a family. The bakery/cafe is a cozy, quaint affair with a small glass case (handprints welcome) featuring classic baked desserts like magic bars, pecan pie, and iced sugar cookies in the front of the shop. The cafe menu of soups, salads, sandwiches and dinner casseroles is written on the blackboard walls around the room and could make even the fullest person hungry. After rereading the menu twice I am pretty sure I could eat every meal there for days, starting with breakfast, and never have the same thing twice. Their french toast offerings alone were so mouthwatering I tried to order them for lunch (no go – they don’t serve breakfast at 2pm). I also noted the beautiful restaurant called the Old Village Post House located down the street from Village Bakery, I am writing it down to try on our trip next year!

Post House