Vacation in Isle of Palms, SC

This past week Paul and I spent our vacation in Isle of Palms, South Carolina, which is a barrier island outside of Charleston. I adore the beach and wish I could spend more time there. As it is I’m lucky if I get one week a year visiting one. Paul doesn’t care about going to the beach at all, so I try to find places where there is also something else for us to do. I had never been to Charleston before, so I thought this would be a good location as I could go to the beach, but we could also do some sightseeing in Charleston as well. It was about a 9 and half hour drive down, which included a half hour stop for lunch. Not the closest place, but not a horrible drive especially once you get past DC.

We rented a condo in the Wild Dunes resort, which from what I can tell takes up close to half the island. There are lots of different condo complexes as well as single family homes. We stayed in a complex called Port O Call, which was at the far side of the resort so it did feel like it took forever to actually get out of Wild Dunes and get anywhere, but it also meant that things were nice and secluded and quiet. The condo was great with a nice screened in porch that opened out right across from the pool for the condos and was mere steps from the beach. I don’t think I’ve ever stayed somewhere that was as close to the beach as this place.

The beach was great. It was still before we were really in high beach season, but even then I don’t imagine the beach there would get super crowded because it’s essentially private for the people staying there. This is what I’m used to from spending 25 years going to the beach in Amelia Island, Florida where my grandmother lived. In fact my husband and I both said that Isle of Palms reminded us of Amelia Island in a lot of ways. They obviously have the same sort of vegetation growing as even the smell driving through the resort reminded me of driving through my grandmother’s neighborhood. It’s much nicer than going somewhere like Ocean City where obviously most people in Baltimore vacation at the beach where it is wall to wall people. The beach was also great for taking nice long walks as it went on for miles and miles. I like nothing more than a nice long walk on the beach, so this was perfect for me. Paul stepped out on the beach for about five minutes on our last day there. As long as he has an internet connection he’s happy. I guess his vacation was the much nicer location of sitting out on the screened in porch instead of his normal basement.

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Unfortunately I didn’t get to enjoy the beach as much as I would have liked. Despite going to the beach a full month before the start of hurricane season we were cursed with lousy weather the last half of the week from what eventually became tropical storm Ana. It was too windy on Wednesday to sit out on the beach without getting blasted by sand. I did go for a walk, but even that was unpleasant at times. You had to be walking in the water. Thursday it was cold, windy, and rainy most of the day. I did again get out for a walk where I only get sprinkled on a little. Friday because I’m an idiot who refused to miss out on my beach walk especially on the last day, I went out and got poured on for most of the walk which was particularly miserable when the rain was driving into my face the entire walk back. Most of Friday though turned out to be fairly nice and I got to sit on the beach for several hours in the morning. I do feel like I got cheated out of half of my beach time though.

I have also never been to a beach where I found so many sand dollars. I found more sand dollars on this vacation than I have in the rest of my life combined. Now I just need to figure out what I want to do with them all.

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Tuesday we went sightseeing in Charleston. We went out to Fort Sumter in the morning. You have to take a ferry to get out there. I can’t say much for the fort itself. I’ve been to any number of forts built in this era at this point and there’s just not really anything different about them. I don’t know that I need to go out of my way to see any more of them. The ferry ride was nice though and the park ranger that gave us a talk on the ride over was insanely good at his job and was very informative and entertaining at the same time.

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After the tour we walked over to a restaurant I wanted to eat lunch at that was a couple miles way, so we got to wander around Charleston a little bit on foot. We did a lot more of that while trying to get the visitor’s center and going the wrong way after lunch. We took a carriage ride tour, which gave us a nice bit of history about the town. We didn’t tour inside any of the houses, but we saw plenty of them from the outside.

One thing you hear about Charleston is how great the food is. My original plan as such was that we would go into Charleston for a nice dinner at least one night while we were there. However, I didn’t think to try and book anywhere ahead of time and by the time we got down there are the highest rated places were booked up, and it didn’t seem worth it to by-pass all the restaurants that were much closer to us for only moderately rated food. So mostly we went into Mount Pleasant, which is just over the bridge from Isle of Palms.

There aren’t a whole lot of restaurant options on Isle of Palms itself and most of the ones there seem more like beach bar type places. We did eat on the island the first night we got there at a place called Acme Low Country. We luckily managed to snag a spot in the bar to eat at since the hostess told us we would have to wait an hour for a table. The food was actually really good. We did have a lot of good food on the trip, but this was probably one of my favorite meals.

We wound up eating at some sports bar in Mount Pleasant one night as the restaurant Paul picked out had no one there while the other two restaurants in the shopping center across from it had lots of cars parked in front of them. The food was just ok, so maybe we should have stuck with the original plan. Who knows.

The day we went into Charleston we ate lunch at Hominy, which was really good. It’s essentially all the low country food you think of when eating in the South. They even gave you boiled peanuts to start your meal, which is a gross Southern thing I don’t understand even having spent much of my childhood there but I appreciated the sentiment.

We ate at the restaurant at the marina on Isle of Palms, the Morgan Creek Grill, one night. It had a great view and we got a beautiful view of the sunset over the water. The food was just middling though, and it took us forever to get service. Despite at least three servers walking by our table we eventually had to flag down the hostess to get her to get us a server before someone decided to actually stop and wait on our table.

One night we ate a restaurant in Mount Pleasant called Crave. The food was excellent, and the proportions were insane. We both had enough food that we took home leftovers and ate them for dinner the next night as well. Our final night we also ate in Mount Pleasant at a restaurant called Page’s Okra Grill. It was extremely popular. It seemed like everyone who lived in Mount Pleasant was there waiting for a table. The food was pretty good though not the best we had on the trip.

Aside from the weather all in all it was a very enjoyable trip. Other than going to see family I generally try and go to new locations for vacations, but I can definitely see returning there again in the future if I want nothing but a beach vacation.

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