Travel Thursday: Why Charleston, South Carolina is a True Southern Gem

Credit: Explore Charleston

I have done many travel features for Instinct Magazine over the years to varying degrees of fun and success. Charleston, South Carolina might just be my overall favorite as they checked off so many boxes regarding what an experience like this should be and I truly cannot wait for the day that I touch down again in its enchanting area.

Charleston is a city that I fell in love with many years ago thanks to the popular Bravo show Top Chef. Their 14th season was filmed there and I was blown away by its gorgeous architecture and chill atmosphere amid all the competitors battling it out for the coveted crown. It’s a series that you usually tune into for the dynamic personalities and delicious food and yet here I was focused on beauty that surrounded all of the culinary madness.

Credit: Explore Charleston

Before I begin going into my journey down South, I must recommend abiding to the safety protocols regarding whatever state you are traveling to amid the Coronavirus pandemic. Be sure to do your own research to see what you need to do ahead of time to enter and exit accordingly while having a blast in between.

Now back to the good stuff! Charleston, especially if you are heading there from the east coast, is an easy place to get to not to mention its accessible airport that you’ll be in and out of in a jiffy. There’s also a convenient rental car section right outside your terminal in case you are in need of a smooth ride during your time there.

Credit: Explore Charleston

My first stop in Charleston was a beautiful hotel called Emeline, located downtown on Church Street. This was unlike any other hotel I’ve stayed at in terms of how it was presented to me. It’s centered around a fictional woman named Emeline and how she herself would inspire and design it. The end result is a space that is beautifully decorated from its entrance all the way to its lavish and elegant rooms that you will not want to check out of.

Little things when I travel are often the ones that I remember the most and the fact that they had a fancy water fountain which dispensed sparkling water only enhanced what was a memorable stay at this fabulous new property.

Credit: Explore Charleston

The second place I stayed at was a totally different yet equally thrilling vibe. It’s called The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort and yes its just as phenomenal as it sounds. The sprawling hotel is located within a massive property that features stunning ocean views, pools, oceanfront dining rooms and so much more not to mention its steps away from a huge golf course that has hosted some of the biggest names in the sports history over the years.

Everything you could possibly want in a hotel is here. Their spa is a relaxing and wonderful place to be in as you relax while your masseur takes care of every need you have. Delicious food awaits you either at The Jasmine Room or The Ocean Room as you take in everything Sanctuary has to offer. I was blown away the instant I stepped foot into my room as what was located on its outside was something so picturesque, I almost shed a tear. I’m not kidding. Moving on.

Credit: Explore Charleston

Now onto highlighting a part of my travels that is usually the best… the FOOD! Yes, the food in Charleston is like no other as they excel in many different cuisines with each being finger licking good. The first place I stopped at was The Palmetto Café which is located inside a chic shopping center called Belmond Charleston Place. If you are in the mood for the finer things in life, like Smoked Chicken Salad and a Surf n Turf Burger, in an elegant setting then this is the place for you.

Next we got to talk all things barbecue. The ultimate food highlight during my trip to Charleston was at Rodney Scott’s BBQ. I have been a fan of Rodney Scott for years after first seeing him on Top Chef and then later on the Netflix series Chef’s Table.

Credit: Explore Charleston

Rodney was the 2018 recipient of Best Chef: Southeast by the James Beard Award Foundation. As a New York City resident I kind of associate James Beard with places that are a hoity toity, 20 seat capacity, super limited menu kind of deal. His Charleston location is a drive thru (with seating on the outside and inside) that is packed with mouthwatering dishes focused on the best of meat and sides.

What’s even more incredible about Rodney is how humble he remains as his career continues to soar. I was lucky enough to have a conversation with him amid my incredible feast where he is now recognized everywhere he goes including when he travels internationally. I highly recommend stopping by his place during your time in Charleston.

Credit: Explore Charleston

Two other foodie spots worth highlighting are Stella’s and Frannie and the Fox. Stella’s is a great hangout spot in downtown that provides is patrons with scrumptious Greek cuisine that’s so good you feel like you’ve been transported to the Mediterranean. Frannie, on the other hand, is located inside Emeline and serves up Modern American fare that will leave your belly full and satisfied the minute you finish your last bite.

Onto the gay portion of this feature. Charleston is a blue dot in a very red state and is very welcoming to the LGBTQ community as a result. Many of the meals I had while there featured diverse members from our world who spoke nothing but great things about it and how they feel ultimately comfortable being themselves. The city celebrated its first gay pride back in 2010 and will hopefully continue to do so in the years to come as our acceptance grows and grows.

Another space I highly recommend visiting while in Charleston is Middleton Place which is about a 40 minute drive outside downtown Charleston. Here you will get a historical perspective on this city while taking in its breathtaking views that seemingly have no ending. You will also go back in time while there where some of its workers engage with its customers as they partake in candle-dipping and open fire cooking method demonstrations.

Credit: Explore Charleston

There’s also a part of its area that focuses on the African American population which once made up a big portion of Middleton Place. It is an important part of our journey while there as items such as artifacts, personal photos and documents gives each person a vision of what it was like for the enslaved people back then both in their working and personal lives.

This was an unbelievably wonderful place to visit that I have nothing but great things to say about. If you want to know more information about Charleston then please visit here.

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