A July 2004 trip
to Charleston by SFPhotocraft
Quote: We went to Charleston to visit Aunt Martha Jane and Uncle Bert. It was the kids' first visit to South Carolina. The weather, of course, was hot and very humid. However, the charms of Charleston were alive and well, even in the sticky humidity.
I am a bit of a history nut and Charleston certainly has its share of history. The people of Charleston are proud of their city and they love to share it with a visitor. I never get tired of the stories.
This was our first visit for the 4th of July. It was hot, humid and sticky and maybe not the best time of the year to visit. All of our stamina was short and we pooped out early. The air conditioning in our hotel room felt mighty good at the end of the day.
We spent 4th of July on the Battery. We made a wonderful picnic and spread out our blanket. We could watch fireworks being shot off at several locations. A group of costumed Civil War actors walked around the Battery and kept in period. It was magical to watch the bombs bursting in air, under large oak trees that stood during the Civil War with a backdrop of old mansions. History was alive and well in Charleston.
I also eat my way through Charleston. The low country cooking is unique and delicious. I love the She Crab Soup and the crab dips. People in Charleston know how to eat. I like try my old favorite restaurants on each visit, but I also like to branch out and try a new place or two. I am seldom disappointed. Charleston knows how to eat!
Also things move slowly in Charleston. You will share small streets with horse drawn carriages and tourists who drive slow to look at the wonderful homes. If I lived there the slowness on the streets would drive me crazy!
Hotel | "Holiday Inn Historic District"
When you pull up the hotel, it looks like an average Holiday Inn. It is not fancy, but pretty plain on the outside. It borders the historical district, but is not in the center of it.
However, the lobby is elegant and a step above what the plain outside looks like. It has dark, rich wood and Southern furnishings. The lobby is elegant and sophisticated. The small pool can be seen from the lobby and there is a cozy bar off to one side.
Our room was nice. It was dark and well furnished. We had a half view of the pool, the other half was of the roof below us. The room was an upgrade from a typical Holiday Inn and very comfortable.
The concierge here was outstanding. He was full of knowledge and really loved his city. His desk always had someone at it and he seemed very busy helping the many people who wanted his services. I was surprised to see him working at a Holiday Inn. Our bellman was also very helpful and really took his job serious. These employees went well beyond their call of duty and were assets to this hotel.
We had two problems. The first one was parking. The lot always seemed full and way too small for the hotel. On a Saturday, the lot was full and we were asked to park at the church across the street, but we would have to move our car early Sunday morning. This was annoying, as we had to pay for parking and yet we didn't seem to be getting what we paid for.
The next complaint had to do with the late check-out. We asked the night before about late check-out and were told no problem; all we needed to do was call down to the desk in the morning. However, when we called down we were told no way. The employee at the desk was rude and uncaring. We explained our situation and what we were told and she seemed to care less. She was the opposite end of the spectrum from our bellman or concierge.
I have a hard time deciding if we had a good stay or a bad one. The hotel seemed to try to be a better hotel, yet it did not always get there. The service level was at times above average or well below.
If the price is right, I would book the Holiday Inn again. However, if I could find a similar price, I may prefer to stay closer into the historical area. I also would have liked a larger pool and a hotel with better parking. I guess with the highs and the lows this hotel gets an average mark.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on September 12, 2004
Courtyard Charleston Historic District
125 Calhoun Street
Charleston, South Carolina 29401
843 805 7900
Restaurant | "Vista Riverside Grill"
The complex is a little disappointing. It's a new modern building with little or no charm. There are so many charming and historic places in Charleston, however this is not one of them. It's a steel and glass building with little imagination.
The view from the restaurant isn't pretty. It does have a river view, but the view on this part of the river is of the shipyard and it's very industrial. The view may be considered interesting to some, but surely not pretty.
The Vista claims they offer a full bar, but we ordered cocktails and they were out of most everything we ordered and the poor waitress hadn't heard of half of our cocktails.
I started out with the Charleston She Crab Dip. It came in a gratin pan and had lots of dip and lots of crabmeat. It had tasty toast to go along with the delicious dip. This was worth the trip and the right thing to order.
The rest of our meal was not the same. We had sandwiches and they were only so-so at best. The sandwiches were very plain and drab, both in taste and in appearance.
Our wait staff was young and unenthused. We had to ask for drink refills and we were seldom checked on, even though the place was empty.
I didn't get a good vibe from this place. The service was just okay. The food was average, except for the delicious dip. The view was pretty ugly. The place looked untidy and it was empty. I kind of got the going out of business vibe here.
The only reason I would be back would be for the crab dip.
I get really mad when I go to a great eating city, like Charleston and miss a good meal for an average place. This was one of those misses, and it's hard to do in Charleston.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on September 10, 2004
Vista Riverside Grille
360 Concord Street
Charleston, South Carolina 29401
We went with family who lives in Charleston, and it was easy to see why it's a favorite of the locals. There did not seem to be many tourists here. This seems to be the type of place mostly locals flock.
The restaurant has two areas; the one that you enter is indoors and is nautical themed. They then have a tented area in an outdoor patio. This is where we ate. I actually preferred the outside area as it seemed brighter than the darker upstairs area. However, both areas are inviting.
We had a great waitress. She was the example of southern hospitality. She knew her menu and was full of advice. She also was on top of things, making sure our orders were right and our table was happy. The pace was perfect, never rushed, but we also never had to wait for our cocktails or dinner. It was perfect service.
I ordered the whole works - a lobster tail, a steak, and a crabcake. I chose grits and lima beans for my sides. It was so much food, it was sinful. But oh, so good! It was exactly what I had wanted. Everyone else got local seafood and it was all great.
The kids enjoyed the desserts. Patrick had some chocolate cake that was rich and gooey. I had no room to even look at it.
This was a perfect night. We had family, good conversation, great service, and fine food. I can't think of anything more to make your evening.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on September 11, 2004
549 East Bay St.
Charleston, South Carolina
There was an old house on Queen Street in Charleston. The home was one of the last noncommercial buildings on the street. It had a dog that belonged to nobody, but called the porch home. Finally, the family sold their home to a group who wanted it for a restaurant. They moved, but the little dog stayed. He stayed through the construction and stayed as the new restaurant opened. He became kind of the dog host for the restaurant and became part of the place. The porch, you see belonged to him. Sadly he died, but his spirit lives on. Poogan was his name and today the restaurant bears his name.
The story is a good one. The place is an old house that is now in the center of things. It's all about southern hospitality and good, low-country food.
There are several rooms you can eat in, or you can eat outside on Poogan's famous porch.
This is a good place for down-home, low-country food. I had the She Crab Soup and it was delicious. I also had the Gumbo and it too was worth coming back for. Breana loves the bread here and we all dug into the desserts. I had a piece of real Key Lime Pie and it was outstanding. We left full and very happy.
I like Poogan's a lot. The staff is on top of things and friendly. The food is outstanding and unique to this region of our country. The place is pleasant and who can resist the great story that goes along with this place?!
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 11, 2004
72 Queen Street
Restaurant | "King Street Grille"
When I walked in the place, it looked a bit odd - the whole restaurant is in a large half-circle and is very dark. I had no idea what this building was in another life. It looked like either a movie theater or a parking garage. I had never seen anything like it.
The hostess sat me upstairs. It was just past lunch and the restaurant was very empty. Upstairs was a little strange, as the ceiling is very low and you feel like you would bump your head if you got up too fast.
I have one pet peeve and that is a waiter who feels his or her other duties and cleaning are more important than the customer who is seated in his or her station. This was the case here. It was just after lunch and my waitress was busy with other work. She even made it be known to me that she busy with other things. The service was very inattentive. She was seldom in sight.
I ordered a drink and pulled BBQ sandwich. My lunch came fairly quickly. The sandwich was delicious. It was perfect, tender, juicy, and just a little sweet - even the bread was good. I was in heaven. It came with some cut potatoes that I hardly even noticed. This was exactly the sandwich I had hoped to find.
Okay, so bad service and strange-looking interior aside, they make one darn good pulled-pork sandwich and it made up for everything else.
I will be back. I would maybe ask to be seated downstairs where your head doesn't almost touch the ceiling, and I hope, in the middle of a rush, that the wait staff is looking out for me and not worrying about side work. But I sure would hope for the same delicious BBQ sandwich.
King Street Grille Charleston
224 King Street
Charleston, South Carolina 29401
We have had many tours with Palmetto and when you have your own group you can pick your interests. You can see homes or take a ride on the Battery. The guides are very agreeable and will take your group's interests into consideration. They also will pick you up at your home, hotel, or wherever you request your pick up. I enjoy the private groups as you can ask questions and don't feel like you are in the mix of strangers.
The last time we went down we had a great driver from Georgia. He had one of the best southern accents I have ever heard and each story was like listening to your southern grandfather tell it on the porch of his plantation. We could have listened to him all day.
There is so much to see in Charleston and a carriage ride allows you to see it at a nice pace while feeling the hot sea air. It's enjoyable.
The mules and horses are well taken care of and the guides know their stuff. They are tested and have to know their Charleston history to give tours. We have had a few stories change details over the years, but for the most part they tell the same story.
Charleston would not be Charleston without a carriage ride in my book.
Palmetto Carriage Works
40 N. Market Street
Charleston, South Carolina 29401
Attraction | "The OOPS Company"
The store is full of merchandise and the offerings change on each visit. You can never tell what treasures you will find. However, you will be always sure to find something at a price you can afford.
On this visit they had sturdy men's flip flops for $1 a pair. We had to stock up, these flip flops were too nice to pass up.
Charleston has a way of dressing that is unlike most other American cities. Macho men will wear pink with a pair of plaid pants and show up to dinner in that! It's not my style, but I did find a pink shirt for $10 and wore it to dinner that night. Even if I never wear it again, what is $10.00?
They have kids, men's and woman’s clothing. They also have unique things like picnic goods and some table-top items. You just will never tell what you will find on your visit.
Most of the items are factory mistakes. However, I bought a shirt here and can't for the life of me find what the mistake could be. It's the same with the flip flops; I wear them all the time and they keep on holding up. I can't find the mistake.
This is a must stop for any bargain hunter - it's the ultimate garage sale. I only say oops, if I miss a stop here on my trip.
975 Savannah Hway
Charleston, South Carolina 29407