Gone With the Wind may be to blame, but for me, nothing reminds me of the Old South like Charleston, South Carolina — a city that, until recently, had eluded me. A recent trip taught me how much the city has to offer. With its historic downtown, houses and buildings built in the 1700s, cobblestone streets, palm trees, coastline, delicious food and Southern hospitality, it was hard to leave.
Here are some of my favorite finds:
Husk: Located on Charleston’s historic downtown Queen Street in a beautifully renovated old home, Husk offers ingredient-driven cuisine inspired by the bounty available in local areas. According to our waiter, beef from Texas is the farthest sourced ingredient. Named Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurant of 2011, Husk is the masterpiece of James Beard Award-winning chef Sean Brock. The menu changes daily based on what is fresh and available. A floor-to-ceiling chalkboard in the entry hall lists all local ingredients and where each is from. (76 Queen Street)
The Bar at Husk: Next door to Husk in a freestanding building, The Bar at Husk is the perfect place to wait for a table at the restaurant or to meet for a cozy drink. The wine list is divided by terroir and soil type—limestone, primary rock, clay and volcanic—and the beer list features artisanal and local breweries, such as the Rye Knot Brown Ale from Coast Brewery in North Charleston. The bar’s modern cocktails build on traditional Southern spirits, and of course it has an extensive selection of Bourbon. The two-story building has century-old exposed brick, a first-floor bar and a mix of tables and comfortable couches on the second floor. (76 Queen Street)
Hope and Union Coffee Co.: Located in Charleston’s Elliotborough neighborhood in what was once a residence, this coffee shop serves coffee and espresso drinks made with Chicago-based Intelligentsia beans. With its light and airy peaceful interior, Hope and Union is a great place to study or get some work done. If in need of a treat to go with coffee, I recommend the banana Nutella turnover. (199 St. Phillip Street)
Home to some of the best surfing waves on the East Coast, Folly Beach got its name from some of the original settlers venturing to the New World.
Sugar Bakeshop: Owned by New York City transplants Bill Bowick and David Bouffard, Sugar is perfect for an afternoon sweet fix with delectable treats like pumpkin ginger cupcakes and ginger molasses, butterscotch and oatmeal raisin cookies. (59 1/2 Cannon Street)
Caviar & Bananas Gourmet Market & Cafe: This low-country twist on a New York City style gourmet market offers prepared foods, coffee, some wine and beer, snacks, sweet treats and goodies. For breakfast, the blueberry muffin is impressive, and the Charleston-made Sweeteeth Sea is for Caramel chocolate bar (65 percent dark chocolate filled with rich caramel and finished off with a sprinkling of sea salt) is a must. (Two locations: 51 George Street and 188 Meeting Street)
Coast Brewery: In addition to producing delicious craft brews, this small, family-owned brewery, located in North Charleston, focuses on organic, local and energy efficient whenever possible. A biodiesel-fire kettle is used during the beer-making process and each beer has a list of ingredients highlighting which are organic. Make sure to try the Rye Knot (chocolate rye) Brown Ale. No reservations needed and cash only. (1250 2nd Street N., North Charleston)
Charleston Farmers’ Market: On Saturdays, Marion Square in downtown Charleston is home to the Charleston Farmers’ Market, which offers the freshest local produce and bounty, shrimp, plants, herbs and cut flowers. There is live entertainment for visitors while they peruse vendor tents, nibble on breakfast and lunch offerings and explore arts and crafts from local artisans. (Between King and Meeting Streets at the edge of Calhoun Street)
Blue Turtle Yoga: This yoga studio, which is part of the Eco Fitness Gym next door, offers classes from 60 to 90 minutes long and ranging in type from Flow, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Core Power and Hot Yoga and Jivamukti. Classes are $10. 69B Wentworth Street
Folly Beach: Although home to some of the best surfing waves on the East Coast, Folly Beach got its name from settlers who, coming to the New World on ships from Europe, had not seen land or trees in months until they set eyes on this beach. In Old World English folly means clump of trees or thicket. If surfing isn’t your thing, Folly Beach is also great for fishing, picnicking swimming and biking.
Rainbow Row: Rainbow Row is one of the most famous architectural landmarks in Charleston. The 18th-century commercial buildings that line East Bay Street in downtown were originally built to service Charleston’s bustling wharfs and docks. The colorful buildings, which are now private residences, were the focus on a restoration starting in the 1930s. The name Rainbow Row comes from the street’s 1930s Colonial Caribbean color scheme. (83-107 East Bay Street)