Charleston Travel notes

March 20, 2009

Linda and I spent the nights of March 13, 14 and 15, 2009, at The Market Pavilion Hotel in Charleston. It was friendly and efficient, but staying there could be a problem. We looked out onto a narrow airspace, which was quiet, but without light or views. The two outside streets are full of bars and revelers, particularly on the weekend. The noise could be quite annoying. Our hotel has one of the rowdy bars on its rooftop, which is a bit strange as ragged groups go through the lobby and up the elevator of a hotel which otherwise has a genteel image.  Another particular feature of the hotel is that it doesn’t serve breakfast, but has coffee and pastries out by the elevator of each floor. Those with concierge level privileges can go to the fourth floor lounge for a bigger breakfast, or for the evening wine and cheese.

Charleston has a huge number of hotels, restaurants and bars for a city of its size. It is a tourist attraction, a convention center and has many colleges and military bases around it.

For us the best activity wass just walking around in the old (1700 – 1900) part of town, south of Broad Street. Many houses have been preserved and renovated. The trees and gardens are excellent. There are several old houses open to the public. We were there for the start of the azaleas, but we were told that early April is the best time. Many people take horse drawn carriage rides through the historic district, but they were generally sixteen people in a carriage and we skipped it. 


These azaleas are in the garden of the Two Meeting Street Inn, which looked lovely, although it is on the far side of the historic district from the restaurant and shopping district and could be inconvenient unless you like long walks.


There were a lot of birds in the beautiful old trees.


Just north of the historic district is the Gibbes Art Museum, which is worth a visit. There are an astounding number of art galleries in that area also. Two of the popular tourist attractions are the harbor cruise and the boat trip to Fort Sumter. We didn’t do either cruise because of the foggy weather, but we did see the boat loading at its dock next to the aquarium.

The aquarium was disappointing, but we did enjoy meeting two of its resident frogs.

The Old City Market is four old brick buildings. Two of them have shops and two have stalls where craftspeople and other vendors set up stalls every day. The variety is immense. Most of it is tourist junk, of course, but there are some interesting items too. Makers of traditional sweetwater grass baskets spend the day weaving them at their stands where the baskets are for sale.


The first day we arrived in time for a late lunch of crab cakes at the Charleston Crab House. They were an introduction to local cooking.

The next day we had lunch at Toast: Manhattan clam chowder, a crabcake sandwich and a local Palmetto Pale Ale.

The following two days we had lunch at Magnolia’s and S.N.O.B.. For serious eating we dined at FIG and twice at McCrady’s. There are separate blogposts on these five meals; click on the name to see them.

There was a lot more we could have done, but we had a good relaxing visit. Of course, the surrounding area offers many sights too, but we stayed on foot in central Charleston.

One Response to “Charleston Travel notes”

  1. Bob Scribner Says:

    I enjoy your reports but must say you “missed the boat” in Charleston.
    Charleston Harbor tours does a 3 times daily live narrated “Harbor of History Tour” – as validate by the Historical Society of Charleston. We are the number one rated water tour in Charleston.
    I hope if/when you return you can explore this and report to your readers.
    Thanks for your consideration.

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