One of our FamiLee goals is to take our children to see all the major cities in the South. We are covering some good ground but Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi are still relatively unconquered for us. One of the things that strikes a tourist about the American Southeast is how well-preserved many structures are, largely because the weather is more gentle than, say, Boston where colonial homes have weathered Nor-easter after decades of Nor'easters. The exception to this preservation is the many buildings that suffered fires which were incredibly common--even into this past century.
Our recent visit to Charleston, SC took us on the requisite carriage tour where we learned about the importance of the fire insurance medallion. I'll spare you the history lesson but Baby Girl was fascinated with how volunteer fire squads would totally leave a building to burn to ashes if it didn't have this emblem near the front door, indicating that it wasn't insured. Baby Girl talked about it at length, the whole phenomenon of that, and it gave me hope that maybe our daughter would grow up to understand the travesty of racial profiling, to resist the temptation to judge others' based on their income or insuredness, to be a real pillar of justice. Meanwhile, Little Man was downright indignant that he had missed seeing The Medallion. He was obsessed for the rest of the carriage ride with seeing a bona fide medallion, like it was a gold coin in Mario he kept bypassing, and his life, virtual or otherwise, would perish without.
But we love them and we like to travel with them and explore new terrain with them. Here are some pointers I can offer if you venture with kidlets to Charleston, the belle of South Carolina:
Accommodations: Our favorite lodging situation is always AirBNB, especially as having separate bedrooms is really nice now that our kids are getting older. We stayed on James Island at a fantastic home that I highly recommend. It had 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, games, DVDs, a beautiful fenced backyard with deck + grille, and the host was very cool. Here's a code for $20 off your first AirBnB stay anywhere.
Attractions: Loverpants calls the beach "Nature's Babysitter" because our kids could dig in sand and troll for seashells for almost as long as you could binge-watch a whole season of "Fuller House." Although we were only in the Charleston area for about 48 hours, we made visiting Folly Beach a priority. We walked the boardwalk and hit the beach in the evenings and our last morning there. Even though it was too cold to swim, I recommend bringing the standard beach pail and shovel accoutrements if you're ever near sand and have kids who need to be thoroughly worn out in order to hit the pillow in peace each night.
As mentioned, we took a carriage ride through the Battery district in downtown Charleston. Lovely thing, that. The carriage tourism is highly regulated and I'm told all the companies charge the same and give roughly the same tour depending on what lottery ball the driver draws. This blogger explains the system better than I could. Tours cost $25/adult and $15/child. There are always coupons, if you are inclined.
King St., College of Charleston, and Rainbow Row were all destinations that we tried to check off our list, with intermittent reminders that whining was prohibited in Charleston and that using public restrooms that were not trees was encouraged. Hashtag five year-olds out in the wild.
Food We generally try to bring our breakie with us (instant coffees, bagels, Clif bars) when we travel because waking up hungry and uncaffeinated and tending to the needs of littles who are hangry is not a winning way to start the vacation day. We kept lunch casual in Charleston (may I recommend Freshii on King St.) and had the best sorbet/gelato/coffee at this place down by the water. I'm serious. It was so fresh and so good.
We had two unexpectedly great dinners on Folly Beach. The first was at the 'Wich Doctor who carried Maine Root Beer which was my first sign that this place didn't mess around. Some fusion menu items that you wouldn't expect from a beach cafe, and the sweet potato pizza was just really good. Our second dinner was at Rita's, which looks every bit tourist trap but is actually a good family eatery. Kids' meals were served on frisbees as plates. Hard to beat.
Pizza-holding photo-bombing at 'Wich Doctor
This place was nice, too, and they have a laptop-free policy ;) Please subscribe to our seasonal lovemail if you'd like more updates such as these in our Seeing the South with Kids series.