Adventures In Charleston, South Carolina

I needed ideas and inspiration. River Road Hauntings was complete, but I didn't want the Haunted Hearts series to end. So where could I take my readers next? The next locale for the series had to be a setting rich in history and potential ghost activity.

Charleston, South Carolina, of course.

Aerial view from the eighth floor of The Francis Marion Hotel looking
south down King Street. © Denise Moncrief
So I asked my wonderful assistant, Katy, if she would join me on my adventure, and off we flew for a very quick three-day weekend. We arrived late on Friday night, exhausted from a multi-leg flight to Charleston. It was the smoothest and easiest airport/flight experience I've ever encountered.

On the flight from Charlotte NC to Charleston.  © Denise Moncrief

Thank goodness for my wonderful assistant. She was up for anything I wanted to do on this trip. And we walked our butts off. In the heavy humidity. And we drank lots of water because it was hotter than Hades. What were we thinking booking our trip for the weekend before July 4th?

We stayed at the Francis Marion Hotel at the corner of King and Calhoun. The hotel was first opened in 1924. Although the furnishing had been modernized, the hotel still felt like an old, elegant hotel.

The lobby of the Francis Marion Hotel. © Denise Moncrief

Our first task on Saturday morning was to find a brunch place. The first restaurant we tried was Virginia's on King. Be aware that Virginia's requires reservations for breakfast, which we didn't have. So onward we trekked north on King and found Callie's Hot Little Biscuit.

Callie's is a very narrow shop front, really narrow, with a kitchen along one wall and a few barstools against a bar along the other wall. Very crowded. Most patrons ordered their biscuits to go, and we did as well. My bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit was the best I've ever had. The biscuits are made fresh and are very light and tasty. I highly recommend Callie's for an on-the-go breakfast.

After we had filled our tummies, we headed south down King Street toward Charleston City Market.

Charleston City Market. © Denise Moncrief

As you might be able to see from the above photo, the market was established in 1807. The building is long and narrow and went on for several city blocks. One building would end, we'd cross a street, and the next building would begin. The market is full of both touristy type items as well as locally made arts, crafts, and jewelry. Katy and I both bought a pair of unusual earrings that could either be worn dangling or nestled in the ridges of the outer ear. We enjoyed our shopping experience so much that we went back on Sunday morning after brunch.

Our next destination was Folly Beach. The popular beach area is located 26 miles south of Charleston. Since we went on a holiday weekend, the main intersection was jammed with both vehicle and pedestrian traffic. It was nearly impossible to find a parking place close to the hub of everything, but we finally found a restaurant a block or two away with parking available for customers only.

My lovely assistant Katy at Washout. © Denise Moncrief
The Washout is an open-air restaurant, and we could imagine the place hopping with bar business at night. Katy ordered a hamburger, and I ordered jerk chicken and tomato pie. I'd never had tomato pie before. Oh, my God, I fell in love.

Jerk chicken, tomato pie, and cole slaw at Washout. © Denise Moncrief

Once again, we had appeased our hunger, so we headed out in search of a parking spot near a beach access and lucked upon a spot right next to the walkway out to the beach.

Folly Beach. © Denise Moncrief

Already tired from a busy day, we headed back to the historic district and decided to drive down the peninsula to gawk at the houses south of Broad. We started at the Battery and worked our way north. This gave us a nice introduction to the walking tour we planned for Sunday morning.

After our gawking, we went back to the Francis Marion for a bit of a rest because we knew we were about to do more walking.

Our next adventure was a guided ghost tour in the French Quarter area of Charleston. I found the tour a bit schmaltzy and the tour guide eccentric (which only added to the fun of the adventure), but despite the somewhat cheesy nature of the tour, the adventure gave me what I craved: inspiration for the new book series. Sadly, I saw no ghosts and captured no apparitions on camera, but I really didn't think that I would.

St. Michaels on Broad. Haunted or not? Our tour guide thought so. © Denise Moncrief
After our walking tour, we searched for a place to eat along King Street and were disappointed to find that most restaurants along King close up around nine on Saturday night. We finally found Mod Pizza. Mod is a build your own pizza joint. I ordered a large--my eyes were bigger than my stomach--with regular pizza sauce, mozzarella, Italian sausage, mushrooms, and roasted garlic. Very tasty. But I couldn't eat it all. I'd recommend getting the smaller size if your appetite isn't that big.

Sausage, mushroom, and garlic pizza from Mod Pizza at
the corner of King and Calhoun. © Denise Moncrief

We slept well that night. The next morning, we took our time getting out the door.

Our first stop was Slightly North of Broad for brunch. I highly, highly recommend SNOB for brunch. I ordered shrimp and grits, and Katy ordered French toast with Red Harbor maple rum syrup and walnut streusel. Both dishes were excellent. We both ordered a Mimosa, which we both enjoyed. Considering the socio-economic history of that part of Charleston, I do think the name of the restaurant was slightly tongue-in-cheek.

Brunch at Slightly North of Broad. © Denise Moncrief

After brunch, we found a parking lot closer to the market and hit it again. Of course, we needed to bring back souvenirs for those that we left back home.

We spent the rest of the morning on a walking tour of the area South of Broad. We parked on East Bay and passed the magnificent Rainbow Row on our way down the peninsula.

Rainbow Row, Charleston, SC. © Denise Moncrief.

The houses in the district were even more beautiful than the pictures I'd been drooling over ever since I started planning this trip. The tour was worth the time spent walking in the heat and humidity to get an up-close view of some of the city's oldest homes.

I'm going to leave a few pictures below from the walking tour.

© Denise Moncrief

© Denise Moncrief

© Denise Moncrief

For our final adventure before we headed toward the airport, we drove out to Sullivan's Island to take a tour of Fort Moultrie. The island is 28 miles east of Charleston over the Arthur Ravenel Bridge. We would have liked to tour Fort Sumter, but the tour would have taken two and a half hours. We didn't have that much time to spare on a short, fast weekend. The tour of Fort Moultrie gave us an insight into the harbor defense of the area throughout the history of Charleston.

We left Charleston knowing that we wanted to return. Even though there was so much we'd left unseen and undone, I considered the trip a success. I boarded the plane home brimming with ideas for the new book series.

So...be on the lookout for the new series. I'm titling it Carolina Hauntings, and I'm excited to begin development of the series premise and the book plots. I'll keep you posted.

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