Charleston, S.C.

At almost 36 years old, I don’t really feel “old” until I count the number of years since some event took place. For instance, until we moved to Raleigh and visited Chapel Hill with the kids, undergrad days didn’t really feel that far gone. Or when my little nephew presented me with his driving permit reminding me that he hasn’t been little in many many years. Another such incident that recently reminded me of my fleeting youth was planning a road trip to Charleston. In the back of my head, I truly believed that the last trip was not too long ago. Until of course when I did the math and it turns out that “not too long ago” translated to almost two decades. Let me pause as I apply some anti wrinkle cream!

Charleston, S.C. is under five hours from Raleigh and when we arrived, it looked even more beautiful than what I remembered. It definitely has the Savannah and New Orleans vibe when it comes to architecture and walkability. In other words, one can just wander around and eat delicious foods all day!

Given that it was only a two night stay, we decided to go a bit fancy and stay at The Spectator hotel in the historic district. The location is perfect and its art deco style is very inviting and refreshing. A personal butler and an awesome staff didn’t hurt either! During our stay, we explored the City Market, Waterfront Park, Hazel Parker playground, Rainbow Row, White Point Garden, the various eateries, a horse carriage ride, and the SC aquarium. Fort Sumter, were the American Civil War began in 1861, was the one thing we ended up having to save for the next trip!

One thing that our trip made very clear in case I had any doubts before, is that humidity is my least favorite weather condition!

Charleston is a city filled with history which exudes from every street corner. We loved experiencing it with our kids who couldn’t get enough of the colorful buildings, fountains, and parks. For once, we came back from this vacation feeling refreshed rather than tired. I always like to ask what Asha and Arjun’s favorite part of the trip was. In their words – playing in the fountain, the horse carriage, and watching Lucky Charms [commercial] on TV. There you have it folks!

And now, for some pictures…

*** Here is the lobby of the Spectator hotel, The infused water was aptly renamed by Arjun as “salad water”. It was very colorful indeed and delicious!

*** With kids, we always end up spending more time inside the hotel room than we otherwise wood. So it always helps when the place is nice. Arjun and Asha would have been content had we just let them jump on the bed the entire time. It’s also very adorable to see them seek out nooks and corners and start playing some kind of game. The in-room breakfast was great since we could just role out of bed and eat instead of having to look half-way presentable for a lobby service. Not pictured here was an in-room Nespresso machine. Devang and I collectively agreed why it’s best not to own one of these. Between the two of us we were going through about 6 – 8 cups of coffee drinks per day!

*** We took two strollers with us (a single which converts to a double if need be, and a double) since we knew we were going to walk around a lot. Charleston has many cobblestone streets but usually they also have a smoother side walk alongside which is made out of slate. As such, there are still plenty of cracks and things to navigate but as long as you aren’t trying to speed through the city, it is a non issue. I took the sling with me and used it to carry Ajay once when Asha and Arjun wanted to walk instead of sit in a stroller. But it was so humid for the sling; the kid and I were both soaked in sweat in no time! We also took a personal carriage ride. If you happen to take one too, make sure to book one earlier than 5:00pm if you want to ride through the neighborhoods; otherwise you will only get a stroll through the city since past 5:15pm horse carriages are not allowed in neighborhoods by city ordinance. While on our walks, the beautiful pastel colored buildings and the lush yards and gardens were my favorite part!

*** We had pizza for snack at Pizzeria Di Giovanni by the City Market. With one slice as big as a normal pizza (it was very strange) we realized quickly it wasn’t just a snack. But given how much pizza we eat, our kids were pro at navigating the super long slices. Another remarkable place to grab lunch or dinner was Slightly North of Broad or commonly known as S.N.OB. The place has a lot of charm and the food is incredible. CO, which is a chain, and is coming to Raleigh in the near future, serves Southeast Asian food and was surprisingly delicious and unfussy! One of the nights we took the shortest commute to the hotel bar downstairs and hung out with the kids. Arjun felt like a very big boy drinking orange juice at the bar.

*** On the last day we visited the SC Aquarium which is a cool spot for kids and adults alike. They have a hurricane stimulator which the kids couldn’t wait to get into, until of course it turned on and then they ran out crying. Devang and I stepped in instead and experienced almost 80 miles per hour winds and it was crazy cool! The aquarium is right next to Fort Sumter National Park, making it two-for-one car ride! From there, we drove home, and thanks to my very expert navigation skills we drove down the breathtaking Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge even though we didn’t have to!

Thanks for a good time Charleston. I’ll try not to wait another 20 years before I revisit!

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Chika Gujarathi is a freelance writer and a mother of three from Raleigh, NC. She writes for national and local publications about lifestyle, travel, books, and of course, motherhood! Her most current project involves illustrating and publishing a children’s Hindi book. When not adventuring with her family in the minivan, you can find her riding the streets of Raleigh on her beloved bike Linus.

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