Fall in Charleston, SC ~ Road Trip Series

I’m going back to dignity and grace. I’m going back to Charleston, where I belong. ~ Rhett Butler, Gone with the Wind

Staying on the outskirts of Charleston’s downtown left an impression not unlike the scenes from Gone With the Wind.  Though the story was set in Georgia, Charleston is the historical destination along South Carolina’s coast where the Civil War began.*

The grounds surrounding The Inn at Middleton Place survived the battle, and just down the road, the sprawling Magnolia Plantation and Gardens could have been a setting from the period drama. Here, the Plantation House, “the core of which was built prior to the Revolutionary War near Summerville, South Carolina and floated down the Ashley River to Magnolia after the Civil War, is the third to grace the site in more than three centuries of Drayton family occupation.” With its wide porches fringed with flowering hanging pot plants, and an outlook over palatial gardens, it’s not hard to imagine how the likes of Scarlett O’Hara managed to navigate their way around with those voluminous skirts.

South Carolina’s low country provides a low-key, old world existence to those who live here. If you want to taste it, it helps to slow down, turn off the main highways, and you can step into a unique way of life. ~ Andrew Zimmern, host of Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel

This isn’t to say that Charleston’s downtown should be overlooked. Located along the shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean, its streets are decorated with palmetto trees. It’s an area infiltrated by a growing epicurean scene, despite being filled with rows of brand name stores interspersed with pricey plus star hotels. For the architecture buff, the residential area that abuts downtown is defined by gorgeous well-preserved homes in Georgian and Federal style. With some dating from the 18th C, their colourful exteriors, shutters, planter boxes, and ‘secret’ gardens are well worth a lengthy leisurely walk, even if its under the rain.

Here’s a tip: if you’re hankering for a piece of something sweet and buttery, head into the Peninsula Grill at the Planter’s Inn for their coconut cake. The hotel’s restaurant is so used to tourists stepping in to order a piece of Chef Carter’s multilayered cream sponge based on his grandmother’s recipe, that they have slices wrapped ready-to-go.

Lovers of history and southern elegance could find no better place than Charleston to spend a weekend or an extended vacation. This city truly has something for everyone. ~ L. Woodrow Ross, Anderson Independent Mail

*DeltaSky Magazine

The Inn at Middleton Place

The Inn at Middleton Place

Overlooking the marsh from the Inn at Middleton Place

Overlooking the marsh from the Inn at Middleton Place

DSC_0565PSPlantation House

Magnolia Gardens

Magnolia Gardens

March areas like this one used to provide the Plantation's source of wealth - rice culture.

March areas like this one used to provide the Plantation’s source of wealth – rice culture.

Plantation House at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

Plantation House at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

Spanish moss at Magnolia Gardens

Spanish moss at Magnolia Gardens

Charleston's downtown

Charleston’s downtown

Downtown piazzas

Downtown piazzas

Historic Homes

Historic Homes

DSC_0582PSDSC_0591PSThat coconut cake

That coconut cake

Road Trip Series, Part 3 ~ Charleston, SC Part 1

Staying at the Inn at Middleton Place meant being steps away from an otherworld – Middleton Gardens. No amount of research could have prepared me for how I’d feel when, after walking along a dirt path lined with trees and unruly vegetation, I’d stumble upon an exquisitely beautiful, painterly scene of manicured green. I felt like a kid in a storybook: lost in a rain storm, trying to find my way through the thick of trees in a strange place, and suddenly discovering a magical land.

Beauty aside, Middleton Gardens are layered with history. Having survived the American Revolution and the Civil War, the Middleton family owned the land from 1741 to 1865. Henry Middleton – a President of the First Continental Congress, lived here, as did Arthur Middleton – a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and Henry Middleton – Governor of South Carolina and later Minister to Russia.

The images below are of Middleton Gardens, interspersed with a handful of insightful quotes by some of Charleston’s biggest fans. I hope they give you a sense of place. Enjoy!

Spanish Moss

Spanish Moss

Lovers of history and southern elegance could find no better place than Charleston to spend a weekend or an extended vacation. This city truly has something for everyone. ~ L. Woodrow Ross, Anderson Independent Mail

Ashley River and marshes

Ashley River and marshes

Water. The river. The marsh around the river. The tidal creeks. The dock over the river. It’s where I grew up, it’s home. ~ Chisholm Seabrook, CACVB Marketing Manager

DSC_0341PSAt the time of the American Revolution, Charleston stood as one of the young nation’s largest, wealthiest, and most dynamic communities, a city some called Little London. Plenty of cities have since surpassed Charleston in population, but this sultry and gracious metropolis at the confluence of the Cooper and Ashley rivers remains unparalleled in charm. ~ Patricia Schultz, 1,000 Places to See Before You Die

DSC_0343PSIn Middleton Gardens…

DSC_0346PSCharleston has a landscape that encourages intimacy and partisanship. I have heard it said that an inoculation to the sights and smells of the Carolina Lowcountry is an almost irreversible antidote to the charms of other landscapes, other alien geographies. You can be moved profoundly by other vistas, by other oceans, by soaring mountain ranges, but you can never be seduced. You can even forsake the Lowcountry, renounce it for other climates, but you can never completely escape the sensuous, semitropical pull of Charleston and her marshes. ~ Pat Conroy, The Lords of Discipline

DSC_0417PSDSC_0371PSDSC_0365PSSiren of the South: history buffs, foodies and fishermen all love the Lowcountry. ~ Jane O’Boyle, Yachting

At the Stableyards - water buffalo, horses, ducks..

At the Stableyards – water buffalo, horses, ducks..

I cherish the ability to see beauty each and every day. Whether its the smile on a person walking by, a blooming confederate jasmine or a heron standing gracefully in marsh grass as its finally turns green for the summer, Charleston is a bountiful feast for the eyes—and the soul! ~ Catherine Dority, CACVB Community Relations DirectorDSC_0403PSI’ve been all over the world and Charleston is the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen. ~Stephen Colbert, Emmy Award-winning comedy writer and best-selling author

DSC_0414PS

What I cherish most about Charleston is its resilience.  After a fire, an earthquake, a hurricane, and two wars (let’s not forget the pirates!), Charleston continues to thrive in new and interesting ways.  We are fortunate to live and work in such a great city!   ~Angelique Butler, CACVB Inquiry Service Manager

DSC_0440PS

A Nod to Thanksgiving ~ Charleston, SC

Grateful for travel; thankful to be able to share my words and images.

I’m so appreciative of the lovely readers who share in this wanderlust.

In unison with the words of Susan Sontag, “Travel becomes a strategy for accumulating photographs,” I am sharing one of my recent favourites.

Taken at the Magnolia Plantation (1676) in Charleston, SC, the moss riddled swamp seemed to me at once dramatic, cinematic, and magically peaceful.

NB Definitely click on it to enlarge and see the details.

Morning Musings ~ Charleston, SC

Curled wisps of Spanish moss, draped over the branches of statuesque cypress, swaying back and forth; the wind in the willows. Inhaling the heady scent of jasmine mixed with freshly cut grass; stopping to linger for a full embrace.

An abundance of glistening green surrounding me – the leaves of palms, camellia and azalea bushes awake, washed, and polished by the rain’s droplets. A herd of sheep grazing on the manicured lawns of the gardens at Middleton Place; their bleats at a minimum during the breakfast hour, looking up at times to pose for a photograph.

At the backdrop: a plush of green and brown marsh grasses stretching to infinity, meeting with the grey cloud cover at a line of the horizon.

This is the Charleston I was greeted with in the morning, and it is the image I leave with of this charming historic city.

In the Mill, looking over the gardens of Middleton Place

Sheep in the gardens; marsh in the far distance

Camellia flower

Spanish moss over willow oaks