Unless I’m going to South Florida, there isn’t anywhere on the East Coast in the beginning of March that is warm enough for me to enjoy the entire week of spring break on the beach. So, where did I go? Charleston. It’s got the beach–for the one day of the week that it might actually be warm–but there is so much more to see besides a spot in the sand. Additionally, it is still considered the “off-season,” so prices for hotels and Airbnb’s haven’t yet sky rocketed to their typical summer prices. So, I took advantage of it, packed a jacket, and spent the break visiting a few of my favorite spots in Charleston.
One of the first stops was Folly Beach; it was a little too cold for a day at the beach, but Folly Beach has much more to see than just sand and sea. It’s a favorite for locals and tourists alike, no matter the season. With one main street, it doesn’t seem like a lot, but looks can be deceiving. Past the stores filled to the brim with “I heart Folly” t-shirts and boogie boards, quaint little restaurants like the “Lost Dog Café,” wait to serve anyone with an appetite, offering amazing eats and an unforgettable atmosphere.
I walked in to the Lost Dog for breakfast, where I was greeted by a cheery, bustling atmosphere and the smell of coffee and . For the young and old, “Lost Dog” is a spot that invites anyone; it is covered with a collection of eclectic dogs photos that have accumulated since the restaurant has been in business. The breakfast menu runs all day, along with a general menu for the rest of the day, and I wasn’t disappointed at all by the huevos rancheros I ordered.
Next stop was the actual beach; on one end of Folly is Morris Island Lighthouse, a small piece of history tucked away from the crowds. It was about a 25-minute bike ride away from the main street with a nice view of all the colorful beach houses along the way. Even though the strong current and the tide made it impossible to go inside of the lighthouse, it was a sight to behold.
Downtown was the third order of business; although there aren’t many places to go without spending a small fortune, nothing beats a day of strolling through the picturesque alleys and charming streets. I stopped by Bitty and Beau’s on Church Street, which has been featured on the news recently, but not because its coffee (which was delicious, in my opinion); this coffee shop, which started its roots in Wilmington, was created specifically with the intention to hire those with disabilities. It was an experience worth much more than the coffee itself, and I plan on stopping by the other shop the next time I am in Wilmington, too.
The streets of downtown were perfect, as they always are this time of year. There were enough people to create a warm atmosphere without being too crowded, the cherry blossoms were blooming, the vendors and restaurants were all in full gear, ready to kick off the start of the upcoming tourist season. Having spent a few years of my childhood in Charleston, I come back amazed every time at how quickly the city has developed; even a few years ago, King Street, one of the main streets downtown, had more empty buildings than actual businesses. Walking down King, I felt like I was in a mini, Southern-Times Square, with all of the traffic rushing by, the fill of pedestrians all on a mission to get to the next store, the mix of city smells. Even with the newness of it all, the charming sense of old Charleston is still etched in to every piece of the city.
Did you think I forgot about food? Never! From the billions of places to choose from, I settled (after a 15-minute debate with friends) on Martha Lou’s Kitchen, a southern soul-food kitchen I hadn’t had the privilege of knowing about until this break. The restaurant was a small pink house, probably the same size of a four bedroom apartment at UNCG’s University Village, with a kitchen on one half and a dining area on the other.
Nothing fancy, Ms. Martha Lou and her daughters running the kitchen know that no frills are needed when you can cook food as good as they have been cooking for the past 30 years. I had the best collard greens, pork chops, mac n’ cheese and corn bread I’ve ever had, all served on a paper plate with a plastic fork. I don’t know how I spent my childhood without knowing such a place existed, but I know I’ll keep going back until my arteries can’t handle it anymore.
Those were only some of the highlights over my spring break in Chucktown, but the week flew by, as breaks usually do. Though the off-season is almost over, keep the City of Lights in mind next time you have a few days to spare–even if you’re a week-on-the-beach person and the weather’s not quite there yet–you’ll find something to keep you entertained for the week, I promise!