Sunshine & Sustainable Living

Charleston, SC | Jan 2018

This past weekend, Mark and I took a trip to Charleston with a good friend of ours- Gordon, who had applied to a trade school there and wanted to visit. Yes. A weekend trip with 13 hour drives each way was long, but so worth it. I am so excited to share with you all a few things that made our traveling fun, easier, and cheaper – and share pictures from a few of the cool places we visited!

Charleston, SC

We left early early Friday morning and drove all day. Leaving early was good because we were able to get to Charleston at a decent time and grab dinner at a delicious Indian restaurant.

We stopped once for coffee on the drive down. We had packed lots of healthy snacks for the drive to tide us over (and save money). I knew that our Airbnb would have a fridge, so I packed a cooler knowing that I could refrigerate perishables when we got to our destination. For breakfast, bread with nut butter, fruit and or energy bites/ granola bars made great options. For lunch/dinner we had lots of veggies with hummus and sandwiches along with more fresh fruit. For snacks we had trail mix, dried fruit, fruit, and fat balls/ granola bars. This saved us lots of money and we definitely ate much healthier than if we had stopped at McDonalds for each meal.

Charleston, SC

The Indian restaurant was named Nirlep and was definitely a mom-and-pop sorta place. All the employees were Indian and the decorations were nothing short of traditional. They had gluten free options (hurray!) and the food, once it was served, was delicious. I ordered Baingan Bharta – which is a heavily spiced, mashed eggplant dish with chopped peppers and tomatoes. Gordon and Mark ordered curries. The services was a bit slow and they had some form of Indian YouTube playing on a television which was weird, but the food was authentic and most certainly fresh. They’d get an 8/10 on my scale.

Charleston, SC

We got to our Airbnb which was just outside the city pretty late. Gordon had booked the house himself and booked for 3. We ended up with a guest bedroom for oursleves along with a sofa bed in the living room. We had access to all the normal things- kitchen, bathroom, tv, wifi… but the dude that owned the house hung around sometimes. He was super nice and gave great recommendations for things to do in the city (he had also climbed kilimanjaro the previous year!), but it was a bit weird at times having him drinking beer in his kitchen while we crashed in the living room watching Ace Ventura (we were really tired…). Tip here – if you want to avoid this slightly awkward situation, make sure you book “entire place” on Its pretty self explanatory, but if you choose “private room” or “shared room” you will likely have at least some shared space.

The next morning we got up bright and early to hit a coffee shop before dropping Gordon off for his school visit. One nearby that looked cool (based on google searches) was called “The Daily”. This coffee shop had a variety of quality espresso drinks along with smoothies, pastries, and brunch fare (such as trendy breakfast bowls and avo toast). I grabbed a cappuccino and ordered it with oat milk. I typically order it with almond, but seeing this other dairy free option grabbed my curiosity. I was so impressed. The espresso was (dare I say) perfect – not too bright, but not too bitter. The oat milk also foamed so well! This is a huge problem that I often have with almond milk – it not foaming well, but this stuff was foamy, creamy, and super mild in taste. Mark and Gordon ordered huge muffins along with their coffee. All the pastries at “The Daily” were fresh from a local bakery and looked fantastic. We got our drinks and snacks to go, but I did notice that all the lovely food being served to the hipsters on their macs and dads with their daughters, was served on beautiful, handmade, ceramic dishes. Finally, the prices were very reasonable. I don’t think anyone expects quality coffee shops to be cheep (if you want cheep coffee go to dunkin). So for the quality of food they served and espresso that I enjoyed, I was happy to pay what I did. My one complaint is that they charged extra for the non-dairy milk – which is normal, but I am extra appreciative of coffee shops that don’t do this and can provide those with dairy intolerances one less inconvenience to their day. So… “The Daily” gets a 9.5/10 on my scale – would 100% go back!

Charleston, SC Charleston, SC

After dropping Gordon off, Mark and I explored a few places in the city. I won’t go into details on all of them, but I have included links and some pictures, along with ratings for each place.

  1. Rainbow Row – really cool row of old buildings that are all different colors. It was nice to see, but rather anti-climactic. Luckily it was right near the water and we were able to walk along the coast for a while – which was beautiful, and a nice way to start the morning. 8/10 – not overly exciting, but worth going to because it is beautiful and relaxing.Charleston, SC
  2. The Charleston City Market – This was another google find. It seemed cool – ya know, I like local markets and stuff. There were some cool vendors, but it was pretty touristy. We didn’t spend long there before we moved on to other shops outside of the market. 5/10 not really worth my time.
  3. Blue Bicycle Books – I loved this book store! There was a nice mix of used books, new & trendy books, and straight out antique books. It was quiet and well organized inside. I could have easily spent hours in here. I didn’t buy anything because the books that I was interested were pretty expensive (if I had seen something that I was dying to have, I might have purchased it anyways to support the local business). 9/10 – worth stopping by!Charleston, SC
  4. Mac & Murphy – super cute stationary shop. In our time of digital everything, it is so fun to see a store dedicated to beautiful paper good. They had everything from notebook and calendars, to postcards and pens. For those interested in these sorts of things, I would definitely recommend stopping by! 8.5/10
Around lunch time we picked Gordon up from the school (which he loved!) and headed out in search of a place to eat lunch. My find was Huriyali – a small, teal colored restaurant and juice bar with a health food section in the building and beautiful cafe garden behind. We ate outside on little tables surrounded by greenery. Gordon and Mark both ordered wraps – which they really enjoyed. I ordered a spicy curry bowl – which had curry-coated chicken, served over turmeric rice and fresh greens, topped with a delicious, green, chimichurri sauce. Also it was served in a coconut bowl and all of their disposable materials (plastic cups primarily) were compostable! This place had super innovative and delicious food. I would for sure go back. 9.8/10 (.2 points off for being a bit pricy – though I loved supporting the effort towards organic ingredients and green materials).
Charleston, SC Charleston, SC
After lunch we hit Folly Island. This was a bit of a drive out of the city, but well worth it. Our time of the beach was so relaxing. With nothing blocking the wind, it did get a bit chilly so we ended up walking around the city section of Folly Island a bit to warm up. On the beach there were surfers – which was really cool to see (though I felt freezing just looking at them) and in the town there were fun surf shops and seafood restaurants. It was much more touristy than we would have liked, but sitting next to the ocean in January was well worth the drive out.
Charleston, SC Charleston, SC
Before dinner, we relaxed back at the Airbnb. I pulled out my laptop to do some work while Gordon watched  “scrubs” and Mark took a nap. It was about 5 in the afternoon and we all were totally beat. Instead of going to another cool local restaurant as we had planned, we hit a chick-fil-a down the road. No shame. As always, I was so impressed by how friendly the workers were, and how accommodating they were to me eating gluten free. I ordered a big southwest salad, they guys ordered chicken sandwiches and we enjoyed the simplicity of fast food.
The next day we woke up bright and early and headed home. Around 8 we hit a Starbucks and around 3pm we were in West Virginia and decided to take a break. We pulled off and took a short hike to the New River Gorge National River where we got a beautiful view of the bridge and time to stretch our legs.
Charleston, SC Charleston, SC
And that concludes our Charleston trip. It was my first time in the city and I really loved it – the artisan culture was thriving, people were very friendly, and the city was clean and colorful. I would for sure recommend planning a trip- and with my recommendations, I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I did.

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