Why South Carolina?
When I decided to start the Monthly Escapes series, I had two goals in mind:
- Hold myself accountable to traveling as much as possible even if it’s not as easy to do from the U.S.
- Show you guys that it’s possible to make travel a priority in your life when you’re flexible with the dates and destinations in order to make a trip affordable. I’m leading by example! Or at least trying too
So, why South Carolina? Well, because I found cheap airfare on theflightdeal.com (only $78 round trip!), my best friend lives there so that meant getting to see her and free accommodations, and as if all that were not motivation enough, I had never been to South Carolina. Essentially, I had no reason not to go, so off I went! First to Columbia, South Carolina’s capital city and then to Charleston, the state’s most famous port city.
The decision was that simple. I went to the most affordable place on the most affordable days to travel (Tuesday/Wednesday).
Where I Stayed
Normally, this section will feature whatever hotel, bed and breakfast, Airbnb rental etc. that I use during my Monthly Escape, but this month I got lucky and just stayed with my beloved BFF.
What I Ate
People told me that food in the South was delicious, but my god I was not prepared for just how delicious it would be. I was really impressed with the foodie scene in both Columbia and Charleston. The chefs there are truly inventive if you know where to go, and it definitely helped that I happened to be visiting during restaurant week.
These are the best restaurants and cafes that I visited in both Columbia and Charleston.
The Wired Goat Café- Columbia
This café is new to downtown Columbia, but with its freshly made breakfast sandwiches, unique coffee offerings (French toast or Canadian bacon latte, anyone?) and its cool warehouse vibe, I’m sure they’ll be successful. The Wired Goat Café is a great place to start your day before heading deeper into downtown to explore the area.
The Southern Belly- Columbia
When multiple locals tell you to eat somewhere, you eat there, and that’s exactly why I went to The Southern Belly. The place only serves barbecue sandwiches, but in South Carolina aka the birthplace of barbecue, what more do you really need? The pulled pork sandwich I had there was one of the best things I ate all week. The Southern Belly is not to be missed.
Cellar On Greene- Columbia
I absolutely loved this cozy little restaurant in the Five Points area of Columbia. Not only was the food incredibly tasty (I had the best ahi tuna nachos an seared pound cake dessert of my life there), but the Cellar On Greene also sells a truly unique and wide variety of wines from all around the world, including countries that I didn’t even know produced wine. You can enjoy a glass of wine there or bring a whole bottle home. Either way, you should check out my favorite dinner spot in Columbia and try some new wines while you’re at it.
Lowcountry Bistro- Charleston
The brunch that my BFF and I had at the Lowcountry Bistro goes down in history as the best breakfast I have ever had, and I say that with not a single hint of exaggeration. We both ordered a thin, moist and perfectly dense sweet potato waffle with bacon bits topped with well-seasoned, juicy chicken, pecan butter and a bourbon reduction sauce instead of maple syrup. We were immediately transported to heaven with that sweet and salty meal. I would go back to Charleston just to eat that plate of chicken and waffles again. Oh, and the $12 bottomless mimosas definitely helped us enjoy the meal too.
Other places worth checking out: Publico and Drip in Columbia and Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ in Charleston
What I Did
I did a ton of fun things while visiting South Carolina, and I’ll be writing more specific posts about them soon. In the meantime here are the highlights:
South Carolina State Museum
As a fan of unintimidating and interactive, kid-friendly museums, I really enjoyed my trip the South Carolina State Museum. This four-floor museum is not only one of the biggest in the Southeast, but it’s also the only museum in the U.S. that has all four principles of museums under one roof: art, history, science/technology and natural history.
The South Carolina State House
I’ve lived in four U.S. states, but going to the South Carolina State House was my first time ever visiting a capitol building. Besides getting a tour of the gorgeous and almost regal looking building, I also got to sit in the House and Senate chambers and watch the members of South Carolina’s government at work. It was an interesting sneak peek into what a typical day is like for State Senators and House Representatives.
Riverbanks Zoo and Garden
No matter how old you get, the zoo is always a fascinating place to visit. What makes Riverbanks a step up from the typical zoo, though, are their botanical gardens and the interactive nature of some of the attractions. At Riverbanks you don’t only get to see the animals, but you can even pet, play with and feed some of them. It made my day getting to hang out with Bruce the giraffe and feed him some lettuce and kale.
Columbia Food Tours
I’m pretty sure I mentioned a thing or two about my love of the food in South Carolina, but just in case allow me to reiterate how amazing it was. I did most of my culinary exploring on my own, but the Columbia Food Tour was the absolute best way to get an even better sampling of the local cuisine. We made six stops on the tour and at each one were served incredibly tasty drinks and/or food. Keep your eyes open for a more detailed post about this foodie’s dream experience coming soon.
I’ve visited several plantations in the South recently and have found that most of them focused on the history of the families that lived there and owned the land while completely glossing over a key part of that history: the slaves. I was pleasantly surprised to see that wasn’t the case at all with the McLeod Plantation, and that’s what I appreciated most about my visit there. The visit and accompanying tour stayed true to the stories of all the people who lived and died there. Whether you’ve visited other plantations before or not, I would highly recommend visiting this one.
This post is just an overview of the awesome week I spent in South Carolina. Keep on the lookout for more detailed posts coming soon!