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Charleston, Life, Travel

Charleston Superlatives – Best of Charleston

February 9, 2016
Charleston Superlatives Best of Charleston

I only have three weeks left in Charleston. I repeat. Three weeks left in Charleston. This is crazy to me. I love this beautiful city so much and there are so many wonderful things about it, that I don’t know if I can ever give it justice. I thought a fun way to try and honor Charleston a little would be by sharing my favorite things about Charleston. My Charleston Superlatives if you will.

It’s hard to pick favorites, but I managed to narrow down my top picks for a lot of categories. If you’ve read my blog often, it should be no surprise that most of my picks center around food. It’s my thing and I love to find the best and most delicious food.

I’m also featuring a few of my favorite Charleston events, business and locations. Really this is a quick list of all of the things I’m going to miss and places I’ll go back to anytime we visit.

Best Restaurant

Choosing a best restaurant is hard for me. I have a lot of favorites and most of the time it just depends on my mood and how much money I want to spend. If money isn’t something I have to think about, I’d pick FIG every time. FIG blows me away anytime I eat there and I also adore the atmosphere. It’s top notch.

Honorable Mention: Xiao Bao Biscuit

Best Burger

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Husk is an incredible restaurant, but if you haven’t been to their bar next door for a burger and some bourbon, you’re missing out. The Husk burger is insane; it’s two thin patties that are ground with bacon and then topped with cheese, a delicious sauce, pickles and the softest burger bun. This burger is so good and is also one of the best food deals in Charleston.

Best Rooftop

I feel fancy when I’m drinking on a rooftop bar and I feel real fancy when I’m drinking on Stars rooftop bar. I love the atmosphere at Stars and it doesn’t hurt that they have a lot of tap wine options at the bar.

Best Dive Bar

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The Griffon will always hold a special place in my heart. I love dive bars and The Griffon is my favorite of all the dive bars. This little hole-in-the-wall with a million dollar bills stapled to its walls is one of my favorite spots for a cheap beer and good pub food.

Best Food Truck

This was a really hard category for me to pick, but I’m going to have to give it up to Short Grain for my favorite food truck in Charleston. I am just so into all of their different Asian bowl variations. Everything I’ve ordered from Short Grain has been incredibly flavorful, spicy and delicious. I was also a huge fan of the ramen pop-up series they put on at The Daily.

Honorable Mention: Roti Rolls

Best BBQ

Swig and Swine is my favorite BBQ in town. I order the pulled pork plate with mac and cheese and collards. It’s wonderful. I also love the selection of BBQ sauces. I’m not a sauce purist, so I mix it up between the South Carolina (mustard), North Carolina (vinegar), and tomato based sauces.

While I love Swig and Swine, I can’t lie – I’m really excited for Lewis Barbecue to open. Charleston is missing awesome Texas BBQ and brisket, so this will be a good void to fill.

Best Wings

Home Team BBQ delivers with their wings. These delicious morsels of meat are awesome: perfectly smoked, tender, and they come with a side of Alabama white sauce.

Best Sushi

Shi Ki Sushi

Shi-Ki is my favorite hidden gem sushi spot in Charleston. It’s unassuming and in a little strip mall downtown, but it has the best sushi in Charleston. There’s nothing too fancy at Shi Ki, but know anytime you go you’ll get quality fish and impeccably made rolls.

Best Place for an Oyster Shot

If you’re visiting Charleston, chances are I’m taking you by Pearlz for an oyster shot. Similar to a tiny Bloody Mary (plus an oyster), you either love or hate these things. I fall into the love camp.

Best Brewery

Coast brews my favorite beer in Charleston. I love the Hop Art, Kolsch and all of their rotating drafts. The brewery itself is also an awesome place to go have a tasting with a group of friends.

Best Place for Happy Hour

Watching the sunset and dolphins swim along Shem Creek is my favorite place for happy hour. Whether I’m at Red’s, Tavern and Table, or Vickery’s you can’t beat beautiful sunsets over the water.

Best Brunch

The Mac Attack from The Macintosh

The Mac Attack from The Macintosh is a game changer. It made up of pork belly, bone marrow bread pudding and a poached egg. It’s awesome. That and a carafe of mimosas and you’re all set for a Sunday Funday.

Best Fries

The Macintosh wins again with french fries. These wonderful fried potato goodies come thin cut and topped with pecorino truffle.

Best Coffee Shop

City Lights isn’t trendy or fancy, but they offer great service and serve up some great caffeine. It’s one of my favorite places to swing by on a weekend morning for a coffee and a quiche.

Best Bakery

Brown's Court Bakery in Charleston

I’ve had the best croissant, best cookie, best sourdough, and best brownie from Brown’s Court Bakery. I love when I’m eating at another restaurant and find out they source their bread from Brown’s Court. Any time you hear that you know you’re in for a treat.

Best Pizza

It’s worth it to make the drive to North Charleston for EVO, my favorite pizza in the area. EVO’s pizza is awesome; it’s baked in a wood-fire oven and they always have a bunch of fun and seasonal pizza selections.

Best Deli

I order the Honey Slide from Mozzo and don’t get it twisted. I’ve veered from this order before, but I always come back to it. Mozzo has about a million lunch options on their menu, but I love this sandwich. Adam is a Fusion kind of guy. You’re sure to find your favorite lunch meal at Mozzo.

Best Place to Buy Gifts

Candlefish is my favorite place to shop for gifts in Charleston. They carry a million different types of candles, but also lots of other products like paper goods, accessories, books, and art. It would be near impossible to walk out of Candlefish without a fun, unique gift for someone in your life.

Best Weekly Outdoor Event

I love strolling through the Farmer’s Market at Marion Square on Saturdays. It’s a great place to stock up on fruit and veggies, sample the food trucks, and check out local artisan goods.

Best Street

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It’s so hard to pick a favorite! I love strolling through all of the downtown streets South of Broad, but Legare is one of my favorites to get lost on.

Best Park

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I’m probably a little partial to White Point Gardens because it’s where Adam proposed, but I just love this park at the end of the peninsula. Look in one direction and you see views of the harbor and the other way you’re faced with gorgeous Lowcountry homes. Every view is a win-win.

Best Place to Take a Walk

Pitt Street Bridge Mount Pleasant

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The old Pitt Street Bridge in Mount Pleasant is one of my favorite places to take a walk, especially around sunset.

Best Art Gallery

I always like to pop in Robert Lange Studios during art hops. The art gallery is in a beautiful space and always features unique and interesting artists.

Best Doctor

I love my doctor, so if you’re looking for a primary care physician, check out Kay Durst at Durst Family Medicine.

Best Museum

You really can’t visit Charleston (or live here) without spending some time at the Old Slave Mart Museum. Visiting this museum is an integral part to understanding Charleston’s history.

Best Drive

I love living and working downtown, but sometimes I actually miss my old drive. This is only because my drive to downtown from James Island is one of the prettiest drives in the area. I loved driving over the James Island Connector and seeing the marsh and sailboats each and every morning.

Best Outdoor Event

Spoleto Finale at Middleton Place

The Spoleto Finale at Middleton Place was one of the most magical events I’ve attended in Charleston. The finale concludes the two-week long Spoleto festival with a big concert and picnic at the plantation. Unlike most every other Charleston event, you can bring your own food and drinks to the party.

Honorable Mention: Wine and Food Festival Tasting Tent

Best Place to Buy Beer

Tucked away in a tiny storefront a few blocks from our apartment is Charleston Beer Exchange, my favorite place to buy beer. The store is tiny, but they’re able to squeeze in a massive selection of beer. The employees are always helpful and great at helping me find exactly what I want or suggesting something new.

Best Island

Picking favorites can be so hard sometimes. If you had asked me my favorite island/beach when I moved here, I would have chosen Folly Beach without a doubt. Nowadays, I’m feeling Sullivan’s Island for beach days and post-beach drinks.

Have you been to Charleston? What’s your favorite thing about The Holy City?

Charleston, Travel

Botany Bay on Edisto Island

September 10, 2015

Botany Bay has been on my to-do list for awhile. I’ve seen so many gorgeous pictures and have heard so many great stories from people who had been, that I knew I had to go. Adam and I finally checked one off of our bucket list and traveled south to Edisto Island this past weekend.

Botany Bay is a wildlife preserve on Edisto Island about an hour south of downtown Charleston. The 4,600-acre preserve was opened to the public in 2008. The undisturbed property is home to a wide range of habitats, including forests, salt marshes, hammock islands, dikes, and tidal creeks. This preserve creates an abundance of riches for wildlife. Located on the island you can find tern, loggerhead sea turtles, fiddler crabs, wild turkeys, deer, egrets, and much more.

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The entire property is beautiful. During a tour, you can drive through areas where the plantation home used to sit, enjoy beautiful marsh views, be surrounded by huge oak trees – both dead and alive, fish, hunt, kayak – really the outdoor exploration feels limitless.

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It’s really easy to feel like you’ve stepped back in time while on the preserve. It’s truly incredible to see the wildlife in its natural, undisturbed habitat. I lost track of how many times I remarked on how “cool” or “awesome” everything was. Clearly, I need to improve my vocabulary. 😉

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For me, the true gem of the trip was to see the undeveloped beachfront. Erosion on the beach has created a tree “boneyard” that lines the sand. It’s really incredible to see these dead trees along the water – I’ve never seen a coastline like it.

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There are also thousands upon thousands of shells on the beach. It’s illegal to take anything from the beach, so there are all of these incredibly large, undisturbed seashells, oyster shells and sand dollars.

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Throughout the shore, there are lots of huge shells used as decoration on the trees. I loved seeing the creativity in the designs. I guess if you can’t take the shells, you might as well play around with them a little.

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Adam was a great model throughout the day. If this was a fashion blog, I’d let you know that he’s wearing Banana Republic shorts and a H&M t-shirt. So stylish. 😉

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If you live anywhere near the Charleston area, heck – even if you don’t, get yourself to Botany Bay for a day trip. It was awesome, gorgeous, relaxing, different, beautiful, unexpected, and educational. I think that about wraps it up.

If you visit – go before dusk and not on Tuesdays – they’re closed! Also, no taking anything from the beach or you’ll face a very hefty fine.

For more info on Botany Bay and the preserve’s history visit SCIWAY.

Charleston

Volunteer with Reading Partners in Charleston

August 27, 2015

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Charleston friends, Reading Partners is making a big push in the Charleston area to increase from 740 volunteers to over 900 this school year. If you’ve been considering volunteering your time, I encourage you to check out Reading Partners. I volunteered with the organization last school year and over the summer and it has been a great experience. I’ve been able to work one-on-one with a couple awesome students.

Charleston Reading Partners volunteers are matched with a student for the full school year (or the duration of volunteer availability). You have a weekly tutor session in a one-on-one setting with that student. During each session the student will read to you, you’ll work on comprehension skills, a fun reading-related game might be played, and you’ll also read to the student. There’s also a program coordinator at each school, so if you have any questions or need help with your student the support is available immediately.

Here’s some of the latest impact Reading Partners has made in the Charleston area:

  • 77% of students increased their rates of literacy learning. On average, students more than doubled their rate of learning for every month enrolled in Reading Partners.
  • 8 out of 10 emerging readers mastered key foundational literacy skills
  • 67% of students narrowed their literacy gap with peers who read at grade level
  • 98% of students who were rated by their classroom teachers as having low to very low confidence increased their confidence by year’s end
  • 100% of principals responding reported improved reading progress school-wide
  • 94% of volunteers responding were satisfied with their experience with Reading Partners

And good news if you aren’t in Charleston; Reading Partners is nationwide. Check out their website for other locations they serve.

Charleston

Seven Things I Love About Charleston

August 24, 2015

Last week marked my seven year anniversary of living in Charleston. Seven years ago I loaded up my Chevy Lumina and made my way to the Lowcountry without a job and without much money. Seven years later I somehow ended up with a great job, a handsome husband, and a bunch of great friends. In honor of the big seven, I’m sharing seven of my favorite things about this beautiful city.

The People

One time I was walking from my office to the parking garage and it was pouring rain. It was a wild Charleston summer storm. These popups happen all of the time and I don’t always have an umbrella. This was one of those times. Along the way I had a man stop me and give me his umbrella. It was one of those moments that I love to remember. I don’t think there are too many places where a stranger will just give you their umbrella.

Beyond the general public being polite and friendly, I’ve made some of the best friends in Charleston. It’s hard to find good friendships after school and I really value and respect the those that have grown over the last seven years. I’m lucky.

The Food

We’re spoiled with a lot of things in Charleston, but the food scene has to be one of the biggest. I’m sure I take all of the restaurants and bars for granted here – there are just so many! Even after seven years there are still a handful of restaurants I haven’t made my way to yet. Charleston has a great mix of classic Southern restaurants as well as new up-and-coming trendier places to eat. There’s never a lack of something delicious. Some of my favorites include: The Macintosh, FIG, Two Boroughs Larder, Minero, Husk, Tavern and Table, and Xiao Bao Biscuit.

The Weather

Who needs seasons? I prefer warm weather year round. We get a little bit of winter, but for the most part, it’s heat, heat, heat. Humidity and I are BFF at this point.

The Water

Whether is the Atlantic, Ashley, Cooper, or any inlet, I love being surrounded by water. I don’t need to necessarily go to the beach every weekend, but there’s something so calming about seeing the water on your walk or drive to work.

The Creativity

Creativity, inspiration, spirit… whatever you want to call it – Charleston has it. I’m continuously inspired by the people, the architecture, the landscape. There’s something so infectious about living in a city where people are doing new and exciting things. It makes me want to get off my butt and do something that inspires me.

Downtown

I’ve worked downtown since I moved to Charleston and moved downtown about 5 years ago, yet I’m still finding new hidden gems. I love walking around and getting lost in alleys downtown. Each building, each street, each neighborhood has such a unique vibe. I love that you can walk almost anywhere downtown, that all of your favorite restaurants are right next door to each other, that there are waterfront parks around several bends. You can be walking down a street with multi-million dollar homes and then drop in a dive bar and grab a draft around the corner. Downtown Charleston continues to grow and develop and I’ve loved having the opportunity to watch it change yet still stay uniquely Charleston.

Adam

I can’t make a list about what I love in Charleston without including my number one. Adam and I are both from Kentucky (our high schools played each other!), but we met in Charleston. I don’t even want to think about my life without him if I didn’t make the trek down to this little city post-college.

Can you tell that I really, really love this city?

What’s your favorite thing about where you live?

Charleston, Food, Restaurants

Healthy Charleston Food Finds

July 9, 2015
We’re running up on t-minus two weeks until our big family vacation, which for me means cutting back on some of my higher calorie food favorites. My food weakness is tied around anything greasy and salty. I’m not big on sweets, but I love, love, love salty. Because life is all about balance, I know I need to slow my roll on some of these heavy, not healthy meals. Especially before I’m going to be in a bikini for a week.
Luckily, there’s a lot of delicious and healthy food in Charleston. Here are some of my favorite healthy food options and restaurants in the Holy City.
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Acorn Bowl from Dellz Uptown
acorn squash, asparagus, mushrooms, tomatoes, quinoa, peppers and onions, sprouts served with a side salad and avocado

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Salad from Bon Banh Mi
chopped romaine lettuce, purple cabbage, tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, daikon, scallions, toasted peanuts, mint, cilantro, holy basil, crispy shallots

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Image via Verde

Pretty much anything from Verde

Three Vegetable Dinner from Fast and French
three steamed vegetables, choice of seasoning and mushrooms broiled in garlic butter

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Shredded Kale Salad from The Park Cafe
with dates, almonds, and citrus

Prohibition Salad from Caviar and Bananas
lemon poached shrimp, roasted carrots, radishes, grape tomatoes, roasted macadamia nuts, mixed greens, green goddess dressing

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Vietnamese Chicken Salad from CO
cabbage, red onion, shredded chicken, pickled carrots, cilantro, crispy onions, prawn krupuk, sweet lime dressing

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Image via Butcher and Bee 

Mezze Plate from Butcher and Bee

Eggplant Fritters Salad from Five Loaves
artisan greens, grilled asparagus, goat cheese, eggplant

Jerk Chicken Salad from Fuel
grilled chicken, marinated tomatoes, carrots and lardons over butter lettuce with a creamy buttermilk peppercorn dressing

What are your favorite healthy food finds in Charleston or your city?

Charleston

Charleston Strong

June 23, 2015
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I’ve been working to try and figure out how to write a post the last couple days, but I’m really not sure what to say. I keep reading these beautiful articles about the shooting in Charleston and I just think there’s no way I could even begin to express myself as eloquently as the writers. But at the same time, I want to remember this moment. As horrible and heartbreaking it has been, I think it’s important to remember what I’m feeling and thinking and create my own account of Charleston’s response.

A big reason I keep this blog is for archiving. I enjoy looking back to see how I celebrated birthdays, recaps on weddings, and even just rereading some of my favorite random things. But I think it’s also crucial for me to remember and journal the sad times, the hard times. So I apologize if this post is a little all over the place – I’m just typing out what I’m thinking, not necessarily polishing this for anything special.

When the shooting in Charleston happened last Wednesday night, I didn’t think it could get any worse. The shock of the moment was overwhelming. Nine people were shot and killed during a bible study where they welcomed a stranger with open arms. Nine people were killed. Surely, this feeling of despair and anger was the worst we would feel during this tragedy.

Then they announced the victims names. And then it was worse. Putting a name, a family, a character to these victims was the most tragic part for me. Knowing how well-loved they were, their interests, and the family they left behind was the most heartbreaking. Knowing how deep and wide their connections and relationships were in Charleston, knowing that I had lived next door to one of the women for two years. Putting a name and face to these beautiful people made the pain so much worse.

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But there has also been beauty. Charleston’s response was honestly something I expected. When the shooting first happened I had family and friends sending me messages to stay safe. I never felt unsafe. I know this city, I love this city and I’m not surprised that we responded with love and unity. The kind, compassionate responses that have come from this senseless, ignorant, bigoted tragedy are completely Charleston. I knew this city was a special place when I moved here seven years ago, I’m so grateful that it continues to awe and inspire me.

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There’s still so much progress that needs to happen for real, educational change to happen, but I think our city’s reaction to this nightmare has been a positive step in the right direction.

If you are in South Carolina, this link is an easy way to contact your state legislator and ask them to vote for removing the Confederate flag from the Statehouse.

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Charleston

How to Support the Charleston Emanuel AME Church

June 19, 2015
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For donations:
Restaurants/Events:
FRIDAY
  • Party at the Point
    • Organizers will be collecting donations
SATURDAY
  • Charleston Sports Pub
    • Donating 10% of all sales
    • Hosting a vollypong tournament at 1 pm
      • $10 per team with 100% of the proceeds be donated
  • DELUGE
    • Saturday’s DELUGE water festival at the Grove at Patriots Point will donate a portion of proceeds to the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund
  • John Lewis Barbecue
    • Saturday’s Pop-Up BBQ at Revelry Brewing will donate a portion of El Sancho sandwich sales to the fund
MULTIPLE DAYS
Many thanks to Holy City Sinner for the information
 
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To learn more about the victims.

Charleston

Charleston

June 18, 2015
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The post that published this morning was written and scheduled a few days ago. Right now it feels stupid to write or think about anything that’s not related to the tragedy that happened in Charleston last night.

I don’t even know what to say. I don’t know how to translate my anger, frustration, and utter sadness. Please, if anything – send your thoughts and prayers to Charleston and the victims.

Charleston

Spoleto Finale at Middleton Place

June 8, 2015

We had such a wonderful weekend, I’m so sad that it’s over. I was absolutely terrible about taking pictures the first couple days, but then I went overboard on Sunday.

Friday night, Adam and I just hung out at home – cooked dinner, watched The Wire, and went to bed early. It was glorious to wake up early on Saturday feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day.

I had a hair appointment scheduled downtown Saturday – the weather was perfect so I just decided to walk to it instead of drive. I was about 10 minutes from my appointment when the salon called to reschedule. Bummer. Although, it ended up being a good thing as it opened up my whole afternoon. I dropped Adam off to play golf at Wild Dunes and then met up with friends on Sullivans. I can never complain about a beach day.

Once I hit peak vitamin D levels, I trolled around Target and Town Center until Adam was finished golfing. From there, we ran home, cleaned up, and went over to our friends for a cookout. It was a great night – the weather was perfect (somehow, knock on wood, it hasn’t gotten too hot here yet), the food was delicious, and the company was perfect.

Our big weekend plans revolved around the Spoleto Finale at Middleton Place on Sunday. Spoleto is a two-week long arts festival that culminates in a huge picnic and concert. The finale is a big annual event that I’ve always heard good things about. Attending it was on my Summertime bucket list and I’m so glad we went.

The finale was awesome. Middleton Place is absolutely gorgeous. One of the big perks of the event is that you can also take self-guided tours around the plantation. I’m embarrassed it took me so long to make it to Middleton Place – the grounds are breathtaking. I loved walking around and enjoying the bands playing in the background.

I would be remiss to not point out the dark history of Middleton Place. I understand it hasn’t always been sunshine and beautiful fields. These type of situations present themselves often in Charleston. Instead of feigning ignorance, I like to learn more about the actual history of the plantations and other historical sites. The Post and Courier has a good article if you are interested in learning more about slaves at Middleton Place and Charleston in general.

Another huge perk to the event is that you can bring in your own picnic – food and drink. It was so nice to just set up shop with our friends and have a big communal potluck.

The big act of the finale was St. Paul and the Broken Bones. They were great – perfect for a big outdoor event. It was so nice sprawling out on picnic blankets, watching the stars and listening to great music with friends. It was definitely one of the top events I’ve attended in Charleston.

Also, the night ended with an awe-worthy fireworks show. A+, Spoleto. A+.

All the pictures I couldn’t stop snapping:

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Prosecco and fried chicken – perfect picnic pairing

 

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#SQUAD

 

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Charleston

Charleston Summertime Bucket List

May 22, 2015

Yesterday the temperature hit the 90s in Charleston. It might not be summer based on the calendar yet, but it’s summer in the air. After reading Jillian and Biana’s summertime bucket list, I was inspired to create my own Charleston version. Here are five things on my radar this summer.

+ Spoleto Finale at Middleton Place

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image via SpoletoUSA

The Spoleto finale is a huge music-filled picnic out at Middleton Place that wraps up the Spoleto festival with a big bang. I’m embarrassed that I’ve lived in Charleston for six Spoleto seasons and I’ve yet to make it to the big finale party at Middleton Place. That is going to change this year.

+ Visit Botany Bay

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image via SCIWAY

Botany Bay is a state preserve on Edisto Island. Some of the most beautiful sunset and sunrise photos that I’ve seen have been taken on Botany Bay. There are laws in place so that you cannot pick shells or take anything from the area – helping keep the natural beauty of the preserve.

+ Camp on Capers Island

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image via Donnie Bagwell

Good old-fashioned beach camping. Capers is about 15 miles north of Charleston and is accessible only by boat. I haven’t been beach camping since we took our trip to Shackleford Banks and I’m ready for another adventure.

+ Kayak Shem Creek

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image via Coastal Expeditions

I’ve gone paddleboarding up and down Shem Creek, but I’ve never rented a kayak from that area. I love that little creek – it’s perfect for people watching, dolphin watching, and getting a little crazy and popping out into the harbor.

+ Picnic at the Angel Oak

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image via Dunes Properties

The Angel Oak is a huge oak tree that is over 1,500 years old. Reportedly, it’s the oldest thing in the US east of the Rockies. I’d love to spend an afternoon having a nice, little picnic at that beautiful piece of nature.

What’s on your summertime bucket list? Should I add anything for Charleston/The Lowcountry?