Trip to South Carolina including a day in Savannah Georgia. We stayed in a place called Santee and used this as our base and then travelled around the area.
by Muchmor on June 26, 2013
Whilst at the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia we got hungry and found this restaurant just across from the giraffes and zebra. There was quite a long line, but it seems to move relatively quickly. Hey have choices of burgers, hot dogs, chicken strips, salads, chips etc. I had chicken strips and chips and my husband had cheeseburger and fries. We both had a fountain drink and it all cost around $16.The food was remarkably good. My chicken strips were very chunky and made with real chicken breast and were delicious. My husband thought his burger was great too. Considering this is a fast food restaurant it was very well managed and the food very good. Plus you get to look out the window and see animals.
When we visited Savannah it was incredibly hot and we needed to get out of the heat but also have a bite to eat. We stumbled upon this cafe and joined the line to be served. When we arrived the line was just a dozen people and was contained within the building, however during our stay the line got longer and eventually extended to outside. We guessed this must be popular with locals as well as visitors. I had a cold drink and a chocolate brownie and my husband had a coffee and a lemon poppy seed muffin. All very really lovely and clearly home made. This place is so busy, but seems to be well worth it. They do also offer breakfasts, bagels, pastries, soups, salads, Panini’s and sandwiches, so something for everyone. Highly recommended.
by Muchmor on June 24, 2013
Riverbank Zoo is located in Columbia, SC and is easy to find being just off the interstate. It costs $23 each to enter and you are given a map so you know where everything is. We visited on an extremely hot day and found a couple of areas where they spray cold mist, which is very welcoming. There are also several indoor exhibits that also helped. Although this is quite a small zoo, all the animals looked well and only the hyenas looked particularly stressed as they paced up and down the same area. They have tigers, lions, bears, monkeys, elephants, tortoises, lemurs and tons of other animals.There is an aquarium, which has many different fish tanks to explore. There is also a birdhouse where you can see everything from penguins to toucans. One really nice feature this zoo has is that it is very interactive. You can actually feed the giraffes. I paid $2 for a handful of lettuce and you go up a tower and feed them. I actually stroked a giraffe, which I never expected to be able to say. You can also feed some of the farm animals they have such as goats, lamas, cows, chickens etc. Another feeding opportunity is with the lorikeets where you can buy a cup of nectar. I had birds landing on my hand to feed. There are several shows throughout the days such as penguin feeding, gorilla presentations and one we wanted to see, a birds of prey show. We arrived 15 mins early and then a woman came on stage with a large owl and spoke for a minute or two. Another woman then came on with a tiny owl, and a minute later the show was finished. In all it lasted less than five minutes, so a little disappointing. Overall this is one of the better zoos we have visited, so worth a visit if in the area.
We visited the Magnolia Plantation during our South Carolina trip and went with the intention of visiting just the Audubon swamp area. You have to pay $15 each for general admission, which includes the gardens and petting zoo, then an additional $8 for each of the other activities on offer. These include a house tour, nature train, boat tour, slavery tour and the Audubon swamp tour. You can pay for one or two things then go back to the ticket booths and pay for any additional things you want at a later time. We paid just for the swamp, so $23 each in total.The swamp is within the grounds but a 10-minute walk to the entrance. You can also drive to it and park close to the entrance if you wish. We walked. The swamp is an amazing place and although much of it is on a boardwalk, some is on rough ground, so ware footwear to suit. We were told to allow 45 mins to walk the self-guided trail, but actually took 3 hours, as there was so much to see and photograph.After only being in the area for perhaps five minutes we spotted our first gator, almost hidden in the water covered in moss. This was soon followed by many more sightings of both small and very large alligators. We also spotted lots of birds such as egrets, herons, ducks and birds of prey amongst many others. There were also snakes, lizards, insects and plants to see.The trail includes great views over swamp, lakes and woodland and is fantastic. If you love animals and birds then this is most definitely the place to be.My only criticism would be you are not given a map and because some of the trails veer off the main trail, you could easily miss something or go somewhere twice. After our three hours in the swamp we stopped off at the Peacock Café, which offers things such as burgers, hot dogs, salads, chips, drinks etc. The prices are very reasonable and the food is good.We then went back to the ticket booth to get nature train tickets – additional $8 each. The train runs frequently and is a narrated tour of the grounds and takes about 1 hour. It went round the gardens and into the swamp area and the guide points out trees, birds and when he spots an alligator stops so you can take photos. After this we went into the petting zoo, which I suppose is really for kids, but there were plenty of childless adults in there too. There they have goats and deer wandering round that you can pet. I stroked a deer, which was a highlight for me. They also have birds of prey on show as well as rabbits, pigs, reptiles and other small animals. This is a great place to visit if you are in the area
by Muchmor on June 23, 2013
We stayed in Santee and one night did not want too much to eat and couldn’t be bothered to go out for a full meal, so decided to get pizza delivered from the local Pizza Hut. I phoned my order through - medium Hawaiian - and it was taken pleasantly and courteously and was told it would be delivered direct to or room in 15-20 minutes. As promised it arrived about 15 minutes later and a pleasant lady delivered it complete with lots of napkins, three large paper plates, packets of seasoning and a smile. The pizza was really nice and we were very happy with the service.A few nights later we decided once again to have pizza, so I phoned my order through. This time the woman who answered was very abrupt and kept asking me to repeat the hotel name as she had never heard of it. I ended up having to spell it out and then she got it. Next she asked what sort of pizza I wanted and I said Hawaiian. She said they did not do those, so I said ham and pineapple and she said okay.... Really? The rest of the conversation was equally troublesome with me having to repeat the room nuber several times. Eventually she said the order would be delivered at 6:02 pm. Wow, so precise! That was half hour to wait.Well, 6:02 came and went and eventually a knock came at 6:15. This time a young man delivered it but this time we only got the pizza, no plates, napkins or seasoning. Later in the evening at 9:30 the phone rang and it was Pizza Hut asking if we received our order. I said that after four hours did she not think that I would have phoned back to ask where it was by now? She then said "So you haven’t had your order then?" I then explained that yes we had received our order, even though it was 15 minutes later than promised, to which she replied, okay and hung up. So, we had two extremely different experiences with Pizza Hut, one very good and the second pretty bad. Had the last experience been our first, they would not have gotten a second chance.
When we stayed in Santee it became apparent that the restaurant choices were quite limited as it was not a big town and many of the eateries were fast food types which we did not always want. We found out about Clarke’s via the hotel staff and it turned out to be a good choice. They have a good extensive menu with options for steak, fish, pasta, burgers etc. Although this restaurant is more expensive than many of the restaurants in Santee it is well worth it and it is really no more expensive than the likes of Outback Steakhouse type places.The dining room is ornately decorated and servers dressed in shirts and ties. Piano music is piped in and the low lighting with candles on the tables is lovely.We ate here on three occasions and experienced several dishes including the chicken parmesan, which is fabulous, the catfish, again great and the fried chicken which is to die for. We were never disappointed with our meals. Although they offer desserts we were always too full after our meals to consider having one, so we cannot comment on them, but suspect they are as good as the mains. If you are in Santee, Clark’s is the best place to eat by far and we cannot recommend it enough.
This Olive Garden is located in the shopping area outside and opposite the Columbiana Centre Mall. We had never been to an Olive Garden before so wanted to try it out.The menu was quite extensive with lots of options and some specials. I decided on an angel hair pasta with shrimp and tomato sauce and my husband had chicken parmesan. Both meals were very nice and not too huge. You also get unlimited breadsticks with the meal which was a nice touch. Both meals also came with a choice of salad or soup included and we both had the minestrone soup which was incredibly thick and full of pasta and vegetables. Overall a very nice meal and we would definitely return to an Olive Garden when one is available in an area we are visiting.
We went to this mall whilst visiting South Carolina. The whether during our stay was incredibly hot and we needed a day out of the sun and heat, so decided to do some retail therapy. This mall is easy to get to being just off the interstate and has many shops and restaurants surrounding it. It opens at 10am Mon - Sat and 12pm on Sunday. There is ample free parking surrounding the mall.This mall has four key shops: Belk, Dillars, J C Penny and Sears as well as others such as Aldo, Banana Republic, Express, Hollister, Gap, Coach, Sephora, Forever 21, Pandora etc. There are also several eateries such as Bourbon Street Grill, China Express, Auntie Anne’s ext. Very nice clean and bright mall.
We came across this tour boat whilst searching the internet for things to do in Savannah. It got good reviews so we decided to give it a go. When we got to Savannah we found the riverfront walk and searched for the Dolphin Magic booth where they sell tickets. It was quite a way along, but the young girl who was there was very friendly and told us there was a tour available for 1:30 which suited us fine as it gave us a few hours to look round the city before the trip. She told us to come back at around 1:15 and took our money ($30 each) and our names. We did not get tickets or a receipt, which seemed odd, but when I asked for either she seemed flummoxed and implied no one had asked for one before. We said not to bother and returned at the allotted time for the trip. Fortunately she was there and had not done a runner with our money!The boat was moored at the side and we had to wait to be let on board and were then greeted by the captain (a lady) and a guide called Matt. There are toilets and refreshments available on the boat.We set off and Matt pointed out areas of interest as well as wildlife as we came across it. We travelled to a place called Tybee Beach where, as promised we saw dolphins breaching the water. There were three boats in the area including ourselves and the dolphins, probably a dozen in total, were swimming all around us. It was hard to know where to look next as they kept popping up all over the place. We managed to get some great photos and video and it was a truly amazing experience. The boat stayed in this area for about 30 mins until finally we had to return. Once again Matt narrated and told us stories about the area and before we knew it were were back in the harbour. In total we had about 2 hours on the water and it was worth every penny. If you are in Savannah, you absolutely MUST do this tour, you will not regret it.
As we were staying in Santee it made sense to visit the local wildlife refuge. We particularly wanted to drive along the Cuddo East area as it allowed us to drive round the loops as well as stop and walk some of the trails. At the south end is the area known a Alligator Alley, so the idea of seeing wild alligators up close was a real must.We started off in the visitors centre and spoke to a guy who explained the various trails and walks and also told us the auto tour route was closed for maintenance. This was a huge disappointment, but we set out to do the walking trails instead. He gave us a map and some brochures and advised us where to go. We started off at Wright’s Bluff Nature Trail which is through a wooded area and we saw lizards and heard, if not saw many birds. There were several places where you got views across the water or countryside. The trail is about 1 mile and very easy. Next we did Dingle Pond trail which again gave us views over a pond and the lakefront. Lots of ducks and other birds. This trail is about 1 mile and easy.Lastly we went to Pine Island which has a trail going through woodland and swamp areas where the guy told us we might see alligators. This trail is 3.8 miles in length, but you can cut off half off this by cutting across at a certain point. We did the whole trail and saw lots of birds, ducks, lizards ad insects, but no alligators. Although logs, the trail is flat and easy to navigate, if a little hot on a day like we had in the high 90’s!
We came across this tourist option via a brochure in our hotel. It was close to Santee where we were staying and we wanted to visit a swamp in the hope of getting wild alligator photos, so went over one morning. The swamp is managed by the Audubon Society and is quite the gem. When we arrived we parked up under some trees and then went into the centre to pay our admission - $8 per adult. We were given a set of laminated cards which come on a lanyard to hang round your neck and offered a map and information about the trail and what you should look out for at different points. The trail is a boardwalk and was quite slippery in places, so make sure you wear suitable footwear. The walk is 1.75 miles long and very easy and wheelchair accessible. At no point do you go off the boardwalk, so very easy to navigate. It is also flat and involved no effort. Although we were in the middle of a swamp we did not get pestered by bugs as we expected. Also even tough the temperatures were in the high 90’sF under the canopy of the trees it felt considerably cooler. We saw snakes, insects, many birds including two piliated woodpeckers in a mating dance as well as deer and a young fawn, but sadly no alligators. In all we spend about three hours here and really enjoyed it. If you are in the area it really should be a must on your list.
When we were planning our trip to South Carolina we wanted to stay in one central location and be able to travel place to place from it. So we chose Santee and because we often stay at Hampton Inns chose this hotel as our base.We had a king room which had a bed, side tables, chest of drawers with 37" TV on top. A desk with mirror and lamp and a sofa bed. The bathroom was very small but clean with a tub, shower, toilet and vanity. Just outside the bathroom was a fridge with coffee maker above and a microwave.Once again we found that the king bed was equipped with small single pillows, which are really way too small for a king as you need three or four to cover the width of the bed and you head keeps dropping between them, making for an uncomfortable sleep. Otherwise the bed was comfortable and clean. Internet access is complimentary and was an okay speed.We stayed here for 6 nights and got to know some of the staff which were always very pleasant and accommodating. The hotel provides 24/7 coffee and tea and as a Brit I like hot tea with milk. Other than the mornings at breakfast the only milk option was coffee mate which is terrible in tea. However, after I explained this to the evening staff they offered to get me half & half milk every evening for my cup of tea. The hotel also has a small shop where you can buy items such as microwave meals, sweets, chocolate, chips and toiletries etc. The complimentary breakfast is served in the lobby area and offered many choices both hot and cold. The options for hot were changed most morning and things such as bacon, hash browns, ham, scrambled eggs etc were on offer. There was also bagels, bread, toast, waffles, fruit, cereal, oats etc. Drinks included fresh fruit juices, tea and coffee options. It is also worth noting that other than the heavy doors which encourage people to leave them to slam shut loudly the hotel was very quiet. We rarely heard any major noise from our neighbours, so the rooms appear to be well insulated. This is a great location to use to visit places such as Columbia, Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Savannah etc. However, Santee itself is small and has very little to offer.
When we arrived in Santee we needed somewhere to eat and the first place we saw was Shoney’s as it was just across form the hotel. We had never heard of this chain before so thought we would give it a try.Upon entering we were struck by its old fashioned interior. By this I don’t mean fashionably old or in keeping with a theme, just tired and in need of a make over. We were seated at a table and a young server introduced himself then tried to have us commit to menu items we hadn’t even looked at yet. We said we would like to look at the menu and then make up our minds but he kept asking us if we wanted this or that which we found very annoying. In the end he got the message and left us to look at the menu.The menu has quite a few choices and there is also a buffet option. My husband chose fish and chips and I chose chicken pot pie. Even then the server was trying to convert us to the buffet which we did not want. When the food arrived the fish an chips were quite a small portion, but looked okay. My pie was on its own in a dish - very odd not to be served with something else such as vegetables. Both items tasted fine, but I would definitely have liked to have some vegetables and gravy to accompany my pie.When we finished we said we did not want dessert, but again we were told of all the options available and which was the servers favorite. We explained that we really did not want dessert. We were going to order coffee and tea, but by this time just wanted to leave.Although the actual food tasted okay, we would not eat at this chain again.
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