If you’re married with kids like me, you know it can be challenging to travel alone with your spouse, so it’s easy to just throw in the towel and vow to travel later–say, during retirement. But for the past few years, my husband Jake and I have committed to carving out more time to travel, and it has been worth the extra planning and organizing. We love spending time with our kids, obviously, but we also know that the key to a happy marriage is quality time alone. And what is good for our marriage is good for our entire family.
Last month, we celebrated our ninth wedding anniversary and decided to take a trip to the Charleston area, which is less than a five-hour drive from our house. (And, let’s be honest, a five-hour drive is a lot more enjoyable when you’re not breaking up sibling squabbles in the back seat!)
When deciding where to stay, we originally wanted a downtown hotel. But considering our budget and the fact that it was a holiday weekend, Heather suggested Wild Dunes, which is about a half-hour away from Charleston. I’m so glad she made this suggestion, though, because we got the best of both worlds: a beachfront hotel with the convenience of a short drive to the city!
We left on a Friday afternoon and arrived on the Isle of Palms around 9:30. We stayed at the Boardwalk Inn at the resort, which is about 150 yards from the beach and complete with a great restaurant on site as well several others close by. The resort offers a huge selection of outdoor activities such as several pools, kayak rentals, tennis, golf, and bike rentals to name a few. (Next time we visit, I’m making plans to spend a day at the spa!)
When we dropped our bags, we found a bottle of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries waiting for us in our beautiful, deluxe guest room (a touch Heather was no doubt responsible before. Thanks, Heather!). The trip was already off to a great start! Unfortunately, soon after we kicked off our shoes, my mom (and babysitter extraordinaire) texted us and said she wasn’t feeling well. Knowing we might have to cut our trip short, we quickly made a plan for the following day.
On Saturday morning, we headed down to Coastal Provisions, the restaurant on site, for some coffee and a light breakfast. We planned a pretty active morning, so we wanted something light and ordered two Greek yogurts with house-made pecan granola, berries, and wagram apiary honey.
Next, we headed to the Wild Dunes bike shop and rented two beach bikes. Biking was the best way to take-in our surroundings and see the beautiful homes on the property. And, despite, the chilly weather, we even rode on the beach for a hot second before deciding to hoof it. (Beach biking is hard!)
After about two hours, we returned our bikes and headed to Hudson’s Market, a cute little grocery and café located right around the corner from the Inn. There, we bought snacks and souvenirs (and some beer and wine) and walked back to our room for showers before heading into Charleston for the afternoon. (Fun fact: Hudson’s Market will deliver groceries to your room. Simply fill out the online form and you’ll have groceries waiting for you upon your arrival!)
On our way into the city, we noticed Ft. Sumter–a sea fort outside of Charleston that was the site of two major Civil War battles–and made plans to visit the next day. We parked in one of the city’s many public-parking decks and immediately looked for the closest lunch spot we could find–those snacks were wearing off!
We stopped at Sweetwater Café, which definitely hit the spot. It’s a simple little diner on Market Street with a wide variety of options. I love it when we just happen upon great places like this–we were so hungry we didn’t even check a Yelp review before grabbing a seat! Jake had the French Toast and I had a bowl of She Crab Soup and side salad. Both were delicious! (Tip: City Lights Coffee is right next door, and if you’re looking for something more than a standard cup of Joe, Sweetwater will let you carry in something from next door.)
While in Charleston, we window shopped on King Street, browsed the booths in the Charleston City Market, and made a pit stop at The Griffon, a popular dive-bar near Waterfront Park. We walked around the city a little longer before our hunger got the best of us. We stopped at Stars on King Street and had a delicious meal! I definitely recommend it for anyone who loves a good steak.
We ended our day in Charleston with some donuts at Glazed Gourmet Donuts. I had the Bacon Maple and … I can’t remember what Jake had because I was too busy devouring mine!
Unfortunately, our trip did get cut short, and we had to drive back a day earlier than planned, but we definitely got what we came for: some one-on-one time exploring Charleston and the Isle of Palms. We will definitely be going back soon!