The Big Charleston Recap

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Happy Monday! I’m back with a long recap about my solo trip to Charleston (I was there Wednesday through Friday of last week) and have so much to share, so get ready for a lengthy post!

I booked my trip in the beginning of September. I’d been wanting to go to Charleston for ages, and I’d managed to find a JetBlue flight that was only $130 out of DCA (I frequently see even lower fares on JetBlue’s site, so check often!), so I decided to bite the bullet. While the Wednesday through Friday ticket fare was cheap, it meant it would be harder to find someone else to travel with, as not everyone has the same amount of vacation days left over, etc (our calendar at work is July 1-June 30, so I’m just at the beginning of my “year,” whereas most people are reaching the end). However, I decided right away that this would be a solo trip for me. Traveling by yourself is something you’re told you’re “supposed” to do in your 20s, and while that was a motivator for me, I also knew being alone (especially in a small, safe, relatively nearby city) wouldn’t be a huge deal to me. I do a ton of stuff alone in DC, so I wasn’t super worried about it feeling that different.

Even the Charleston airport was adorable with stickers and themed candy!
Even the Charleston airport was adorable with stickers and themed candy!

I left DCA around 8:30 am on Wednesday morning and was on the ground in Charleston by 9:50. I had started typing in Uber pricing to my Airbnb while in the gate at DCA, and it was looking close to $20 to go about 20 minutes, which didn’t seem ideal (I was expecting it to be like $9!). I thankfully thought to quickly look up public transportation options and found out about a bus that took only 20 minutes to go from the airport to downtown and cost $3.50. While I did miss the 10 am bus by only a few minutes and had to wait for the 11:00, I was totally fine just sitting in the airport with my book and didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything because my flight was originally due in at 10:30 anyway.

Earlier in the week, I had decided that because my Airbnb wouldn’t allow me to check in until 5 pm, I would just pack super light and spend most of Wednesday wandering around the city. Armed with my trusty NorthFace backpack (with this fold-up Everlane tote inside for souvenirs) and a crossbody, I was all set. Honestly, there are so many students in Charleston that walking around the city with a backpack actually made me blend in, haha. It definitely wouldn’t be ideal in a jam-packed city like New York, but walking around with “luggage” wasn’t a huge issue. Armed with recs from Katie and Heather in addition to some things I’d googled on my own, I was ready to set out and explore!

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My first stop after getting off the bus was Hominy Grill, which I’d recently read about on Lauren’s blog and knew I had to try. Like Lauren, I ordered the fried green tomato BLT (with pimento cheese, YUM), a sweet tea, and a side of mac and cheese (eating healthy wasn’t my forte on this trip, and I’m 100 percent ok with that…when in the South, you have to try a bit of everything!). I scarfed down my meal and then began walking around King Street, stopping in a bunch of places like Skinny Dip (the cutest store ever with a patio on top–I got a drink that was a mix of frose and frozen red wine, yum!), Candy Shop Vintage, Sugar Bakeshop, and the Darling Oyster Bar. Eventually, it was past 5 and I took an Uber to my Airbnb to rest/nap (it was like 85 degrees in Charleston, and I was sweaty and exhausted!).

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After resting, changing, and briefly talking to my host (I was staying in a guest room in a couple’s home–they’re about my age and the guy is a student at the med school in Charleston), I set out to grab a cheap, quick, and healthy (finally!) dinner at a Mediterranean place downtown. While eating there, I got a call from the leader of the ghost tour I’d signed up for several weeks ago asking me where I was (it was 7:50, and the tour was supposed to start at 8:30 per the company’s reminder email). Well, it turned out that they’d recently changed the tour times for fall and I was the only person on the list they’d forgotten to call and correct. Since my schedule was so open they just moved me to the tour on Thursday night, but the experience was a little frustrating since I’d already Ubered all the way downtown and would have to go back to the Airbnb. I ended up grabbing a beer and catching part of the Caps game (so many DC sports fans in Charleston!) at a bar before calling it a night.

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On Thursday, I got an early start and grabbed breakfast at a cute place near my Airbnb before taking a bus (which was free!) down to the City Market area. I arrived a few minutes before the market opened and spent a long time walking around, trying mini biscuits from Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit (so good), and then taking a long walk nearby. I stopped by some of the cutest houses, worked my way down to Rainbow Row and the Battery (love all the old, historic homes, especially because I live in a historic property in DC!), and the Waterfront to see the famous Pineapple Fountain and relax on a bench before working my way up to King Street. I grabbed a late lunch at an Italian place that served salad, pasta, and garlic bread for only $12 (all of which was delish) and then stopped to charge my phone for a bit (ugh, but so necessary when by yourself) before grabbing ice cream at Jeni’s (yes, we have it right nearby in DC, but it’s so good–and no line here!).

I then window shopped for a bit (I didn’t want to buy a ton on this trip because I was already spending a lot on food/drinks/the Airbnb) and popped back into Skinny Dip for a watermelon beer on the patio.

I then made my way to Candlefish where I picked up a cute candle and matches and talked with the cashier a bit–turns out she’s also from my hometown, went to my high school, and is in school at CofC! She gave me some dinner suggestions, but I opted to wander a bit before deciding on Miller’s All Day–and I’m so glad I did.

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Not only is the aesthetic in the restaurant adorable (they have fun blue chairs, a midcentury-themed lounge, and cool signs) but also the happy hour was super cheap (my amazing cocktail was only $4) and the bartender was the nicest woman ever. She, another local girl who was also dining at the bar alone, and I talked for over an hour about everything from travel to DC to dating to apartment hunting, and it was so much fun! I definitely am a big talker and was going a little crazy eating most of my meals in silence up until then! That dinner went so long that I only had about 30 minutes to kill until it was time for the ghost tour. Everyone else in the group was super friendly, the guide was great, and the tour was creepy at the right times but also full of historical information. I was honestly wiped out by the time it was over (and had walked about 18,000 steps that day), so I booked it back to the Airbnb and promptly showered, set my alarm for 4 am, and got ready for my 6 am flight back to DC.

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While the trip was short, almost everyone I met was super friendly and approachable, the city was easy to navigate, and I didn’t feel too too lonely minus wanting someone to talk to during meals. (My phone was also dying a ton and I had to charge it frequently which meant that I didn’t even really look at it while I was eating!). The experience of staying in an Airbnb with a couple was a little weird just because I never even met the girl (she was in the kitchen at one point when I walked out of my room into the bathroom, but she was getting ready to leave for work and I had just woken up), but the couple seemed normal enough and the room was large and clean. I’d just expected it to be a much more social experience than it was, but I also made a point to be gone the whole day because it was a little further away, so I was also fine just doing my own thing. I don’t think I’m in love with Charleston the way some people are (spending all day outside in 85 degree heat is brutal, even coming from DC!), but I did find it very charming and would definitely go back…who’s in?!

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