If you know me at all, you know that I have always dreamed of going to Charleston! We planned this trip earlier in March when we decided on a whim to see just how much airline tickets would be to fly to Charleston. Much too our surprise they were SO cheap (thanks COVID). We weighed the pros and cons, researched places to stay, and made sure David could get the time off from work. Everything fell into place SO easily and it felt like it took FOREVER to get here! Last year we spent our first wedding anniversary in Haiti and this year we spent our second anniversary in Charleston, South Carolina. Pinch me, I’m dreaming.
This post is LONG and detailed with a play by play of what we did each day with a *few* photos thrown in, of course! If you want to cut straight to the details about where we stayed, what we did, where we ate, etc. scroll to the very end! Or if a video is more your speed, you can watch that at the end too. It’s basically an television episode, so grab a snack and enjoy!
If you’re up for it, let’s take a stroll down memory lane of the week David and Loren took Charleston, SC!
DAY ONE | travel day.
It started dark and early, as in 4:00am. Our sweet friends picked us up to take us to the airport. Flights were smooth and surprisingly not obnoxious to wear a mask the entire time!
When we got to our little home away from home, we were greeted with a bottle of chilled wine (that neither of us were interested in, but the gesture was thoughtful!) and a sweet card to congratulate us on our 2nd anniversary and welcome us to Charleston! Our VRBO was SO great! Clean, cute, and comfortable. The host was incredibly kind and accommodating – checking in on us throughout the week to make sure we didn’t need anything. It had literally everything we could have forgotten or chosen not to pack readily available for us as well! The Pineapple Passion was located in North Charleston, about 20 minutes from downtown, and housed in a very nice apartment complex. The ONLY downfall we felt it had was the distance from downtown Charleston as that was where we spent majority of our time. Twenty minutes doesn’t seem bad, but it did make us have to plan out our days more. I think our next trip we will probably find something a little closer to downtown. Overall though, 9/10 would recommend!
*this is my excited face because there are palm trees outside our unit*
We arrived in Charleston around 12:30pm and decided to spend the rest of that day getting settled in. We made a quick trip to Trader Joes for some groceries, stopped for lunch at Sesame Burgers, then went back to the apartment where we fought sleep until it was socially acceptable to go to bed. As lame as we felt for spending most of our first day doing nothing exciting, we’re so glad we decided to spend the afternoon and evening in to rest up and get ready for the next day!
DAY TWO | exploring downtown + anniversary session
After getting some much needed sleep, we woke up day two ready to explore downtown Charleston! Again, if you know me you know I have dreamed of going to Charleston for YEARS, so basically I was freaking out the entire time. My poor husband.
There were numerous spots of Charleston that I knew I wanted to find, so we set out on foot to explore the downtown! However, we did not understand just. how. hot. we would become. I made the foolish mistake of commenting “it’s really not that hot out here!” only to be sweating profusely only 20 minutes later. We tried to stay in the shade as much as possible. We thought maybe it would be cooler walking along the ocean side of The Battery, but it really wasn’t. The views though… *insert all the heart eyes*
OF COURSE I was most excited about finding the famous Rainbow Row. I knew it was on East Bay St. but when we somewhat stumbled upon it I about lost it! Those pastel beauties are just SO FUN and even more adorable in person. All of the streets in the downtown area are a dream to walk down, but Rainbow Row might be the happiest street in the entire world.
As fun as it was to explore downtown and see so many places I had been dying to see, we needed a break from the heat. I follow numerous Charleston photographers, Hope Taylor being one of them. In Hope’s “Ultimate Travel Guide To Charleston, SC” she highly recommended Poogan’s Porch. Since we were in the area, we decided to give it a try. Though she recommends Poogan’s for brunch, we decided we were ready for full on lunch (and water, and AC, and maybe some paper towels to plot some of the sweat. It was hot, remember?). Both David and I decided to order the Barbecuban sandwich (sans the bread for myself). Y’all, I cannot even describe how insanely delicious it was!! Both David and I agree that it was probably our favorite meal of the entire trip. If you ever decide to go there, give it try! But make sure you’re really hungry because it is not your average sandwich. It’s straight from heaven.
Right across the street from Poogan’s happened to be the famous pink walls of The Mills House! Another location I was dying to finally see in person, and it did not disappoint! I mean, how can you look at that giant pink building with it’s incredible details and happy little palm trees and NOT feel all kinds of happy!? I dream of staying there one day.
After lunch and soaking in the Mills House, we headed back to the apartment for a much needed shower and freshening up before our anniversary photo session that evening! We met with Laura and Rachel who graciously agreed to swapping photo sessions with us. It has always been my dream to HAVE photos taken in Charleston as well as TAKE photos – dream come true! We started at the Mills House, worked our way through downtown, changed outfits and photographed under the oak trees at White Point Garden, then headed to Folly Beach for sunset! It. Was. A. DREAM. Laura and Rachel are incredibly talented, SO easy to work with, and somehow made our sweaty selves look GOOD! Will share those gorgeous photos in another post, soon!! For now, here’s a behind the scenes sneak peek 😉
DAY THREE | more exploring + more photos
We started the day with a little stroll through the Charleston City Market downtown. There were so many cute little shops, and naturally I found an adorable Charleston latte mug that had to come home with us.
*please note the early morning, pre – sweat to death selfie*
Another restaurant I read was a must visit was Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit. We knew that since they had gluten free biscuits we HAD to give them a try! Luckily, they have a cute little set up in the City Market where we grabbed some brunch before moving on with our day. Their brand is on point, but their gluten biscuit was not so much. It was pretty underwhelming and they didn’t get my order right… But we chalked it up to the fact that we didn’t go to the actual restaurant! I think if we would have gone to the restaurant we would have had a totally different taste experience. I’d still give them a second try at the restaurant – mostly because I think their brand is so cute 🙂
Not long after we booked this vacation for our anniversary, we made a list of places to visit and things we wanted to do. One of those things was to ride bikes around downtown! So we found the Holy Spokes bike rentals and set out to enjoy the ride! We had great expectations of exploring downtown with a nice breeze and the wind in my hair as we so cutely road around town on our mint green bikes. The reality was…. man on bike riding on very bumpy sidewalks, still air, blazing hot. We only lasted about 40 minutes before we returned the bikes lol BUT we did still enjoy the experience!
We biked to The Battery and cruised along the oceanside, stopped for a water break and some shade in the White Point Garden, and saw so many adorable houses along the way. Charleston is every bit as beautiful as photos in person and then some! The streets are quaint with loads of Southern charm. The architecture and history of all the homes and buildings make everything even more intriguing to explore. We found it really interesting to stop and read the plagues that told about when the building was built and the history behind it. I’m 100% confident I could and would live there, if only I could get David on board… I mean just look at this place!!
Once David had reached his limit of discomfort and I was hotter than Haiti (literally, we felt like we were in Haiti again with the heat index being over 105 each day), we decided to go back to the apartment to cool off and rest for a few hours. But first we made a quick pitstop at the cutest Tanger Outlet I have ever been to…
That evening we met back up with Laura and Rachel at the same Mills House location – but this time I got to photograph THEM! Laura and Rachel are a well known mother/daughter photography team that recently moved to Charleston from California after visiting and falling in love. It was honor to be able to shoot some branding photos for them around downtown! Charleston is like a photographer’s playground and I’m pretty sure I could have spent several more hours photographing them downtown, even through the heat. Again, a dream come true for this girl! David of course tagged along and snapped some behind the scenes! And maybe a photo or two of me…
After about an hour of photographing Laura and Rachel, we loaded up and headed back to Folly Beach to meet their families for some sunset family photos. It ended up being such a beautiful evening with a light breeze, so we lingered on the beach until dark.
Sand between the toes and a camera in hand. My happy place. I mean like…. DANG SON!! He is FINE!!
DAY FOUR | beach day and relaxation
With all of our exploring combined with the heat, day four was a much needed day of relaxation by the ocean! We slept in, made breakfast, and had a nice slow morning. We finally ventured out around 2pm to head to the beach! We decided this day to go to a different beach than we had been to the night prior, so we headed to Isle of Palms public beach. It ended up being a beautiful day and we lucked out with a shady spot to hunker down right near the pier!
The photos don’t show it, but this public beach was FULL! Despite the amount of people, it was still pretty relaxing. For me. David does not enjoy sand or laying in the sun… but he handled it like a champ! We had a little reflection time while we lounged around and talked about the past year of marriage – what went well, what we need to continue, what we need to stop/start, how we can meet each other’s needs better, etc. If you’re married and don’t take intentional time to have this kind of conversation at least yearly, I highly recommend it! This day, despite David disliking all things beachy, ended up being one of our favorite days of the trip because of this relationship building conversation and intentional time.
Not pictured – David driving shirtless to the nearest Target to buy a new shirt because the tide suddenly washed up SO high that all of our stuff got soaked, including his shirt. Also, please note: do not put sandy wet items in your washing machine. It will not wash the sand away. Don’t ask how we know.
On the way back we stopped at a restaurant on the water called Saltwater Cowboys. I had heard about this place and how GREAT their Trash Can Nachos were, so we wanted to give it a try! We got there for an early dinner, but the wait time was still 45 minutes to get a table. We wandered around back to see the water while we waited, then found a little seating area away from majority of the people. We lucked out and were able to skip the line and order our nachos since they were an appetizer! And let me tell you, they were DELISH! The atmosphere on the water was fun and the food was great. 10/10 would recommend and fully intend to go back there one day.
DAY FIVE | grump day
Just kidding, kind of. But really we were both kinda grumpy this day 🙂 It may have had to do with being tired, nearing the end of our trip, or maybe the fact that I made David get up at sunrise to take MORE photos. This time, self portraits with a tripod for our Bullard Creative Co website… It wasn’t my best idea for us, but the photos still turned out decent!
After some self portraits and branding photos, we deserved some coffee. Can you even believe I made us wake up before sunrise to take photos AT sunrise, all before we had a single ounce of coffee in our systems!? Never again.
Surprisingly enough, this was our FIRST coffee shop to visit on our trip! Charleston has great food, but coffee shops don’t seem to be their thing. We did however find one near downtown called Mercantile and Mash that gave us some real Onyx vibes. The coffee was not to our beloved Onyx standard, but was still pretty good! We spent about an hour there letting the liquid goodness liven up our souls while we figured out where to get lunch. And of course we had to pick up a new mug, per our tradition!
*our tradition is to try new coffee shops every time we visit somewhere new. We order a vanilla latter every time so we can compare it to Onyx’s vanilla latte. If we like the coffee or the coffeeshop, we buy a mug as a souvenir!*
Neither of us were too hungry yet, so we walked around downtown before it got too hot the rest of the day. Since it was Saturday AND Labor Day weekend, the restaurants and shops were full of people. We ended up settling on a texican restaurant called El Jefe that we stumbled upon and happened to not have a line. It wasn’t necessarily what we were in the mood for, but was still rather tasty! We shared a lunch special of chicken tacos then headed across the street for some ice cream.
I knew that Charleston had a Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream scoop shop and made it a point to go there before we left. If you haven’t ever had Jeni’s before, you’re missing out! I first had Jeni’s deliciousness when visiting my brother in Nashville, and since they don’t have any scoop shops near Arkansas I had to take advantage!
I got the Trio which is a sampler that includes three scoops of your choice! My flavors of choice were: Wildberry Lavender, Gooey Butter Cake, and Cold Brew with Coconut Cream. I rated Wild Berry Lavender a 4/5, Gooey Butter Cake a 4/5, and Cold Brew w/Coconut Cream a 3.5/5. My very favorite being the Gooey Butter Cake. Somehow it was gluten free, and somehow it was absolutely delicious! David got a Green Mint Chip waffle cone and gave it a solid 4/5! Basically, Jeni’s is delicious.
With our bellies full and our bodies tired, we spent the cloudy afternoon back at the apartment watching some good old Netflix. Earlier in the week a local had asked us where we were from and what kind of food we were hoping to eat while we were here. He suggested we try an amazing BBQ place near downtown called Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ. He said their food was amazing, so much so that Netflix did a feature on him and his restaurants on the show Chef’s Table. While we were resting we gave it a watch which worked up our appetites for some good ribs. We figured since this guy was on Netflix, we would probably have to wait a bit, so we headed to the restaurant around 6:30.
We arrived at the restaurant at 6:45 to a long line inside. It was moving fast so we went ahead and ordered some ribs to go. Little did we know just how long we would be waiting… 2.5 hours later, we finally got our ribs. We found out while we were waiting that his Netflix special was released just two days before and they had been slammed ever since. So much so that they had to close early because they were running out of food! Thankfully, we got our ribs, went home, and ate them straight out of the to-go box while standing in the kitchen at almost 9:30pm. I don’t think I would say they were worth waiting 2.5 hours for, but don’t get me wrong they were REAL good!
*when we arrived at 6:45 vs. before we even left after 9:00*
DAY SIX | OUR LAST DAY
Our last day was all about fitting in those last minute things we (I) wanted to do or take photos of before we left the next morning. I found this cute little coffee shop in Mt. Pleasant called Vintage Coffee Cafe that I really wanted to go to, so we set out Sunday morning to make it happen. I had no idea how cute it really would be… Like, I want to LIVE in that coffee shop!!
Around back they had a nice little seating area with an old truck turned into a playground. But what we did not expect to find around the corner was THE CUTEST camper of all time!! Can you even!?
Hang on, its gets better… it’s a CREAMERY!! Tucked back behind Vintage Coffee Cafe were Coastal Crust (pizza) and Coastal Crust Creamery (ice cream) all owned by the same couple. I died a little because how stinking fun would owning these be!? Sign me up. We sat on those cute little yellow benches in front of the camper while we drank our iced coffees and I begged David to buy a white and pink airstream for our camping adventures.
*I mean, when you match the camper you kind of have to take photos with it, right?*
We did a little shopping around Mt. Pleasant and knew we wanted to grab some lunch before heading back to downtown Charleston for the last time to make sure I got my photo taking fill. We found this place on our way back called Dog and Duck that claimed to be a family friendly pub, so we gave it a try. It was SO good! David got their chicken wings with original sauce and I got a cheeseburger with a gluten free bun. SO. GOOD. We both agreed we would go back on our next trip!
We walked off our lunch downtown as I dragged David along for my last opportunity to take photos of the beautiful buildings. Truthfully, I don’t think I could ever get my fill of photographing the beautiful Charleston!
my favorite building. Fiona the Pink Figgy. If you follow our @bullardcreativeco instagram you probably saw David sharing about how I freaked out and made him pull over when I saw the car. I had looked for this car ALL week and finally on our LAST DAY as we were leaving downtown for the very last time, I saw her!! He quickly pulled over in an empty parking spot and told me, “make it quick, we’re parked illegally!” I’m pretty sure this moment was God-ordained.
DAY SEVEN | home bound
We woke up at 3:15am to head to the airport. All flights were on time and we were able to make it back home by 9:30am. Our friends picked us up and we went to breakfast at the Buttered Biscuit to top off the great vacation.
The week was absolutely incredible and EXACTLY what both of us needed! The best part was spending time together. We didn’t feel pressured to do touristy things we didn’t feel like doing. We rested when we wanted. And we enjoyed simply celebrating our second year of marriage.
Charleston, you were a dream.
WATCH OUR VIDEO
WARNING: It is long and quite cheesy. But we made it for ourselves to have as a memory to look back on, so watch at your own risk
These will be broken down into categories and given a 1-5 star rating
Where we stayed:
The Pineapple Passion Rated: 4/5 – ONLY because of distance from majority of what we did
What we did:
The Battery walk Rated: 3/5 – Can’t get down to the water, and is hot! But is a pretty view
Rainbow Row Rated: 4/5 – It’s a MUST but can feel underwhelming because of cars and the amount of people
The Mills House Rated: 4/5 – The best photo op and cutest building!
White Point Garden Rated: 3/5 – The trees are BEAUTIFUL but not a must see
Folly Beach Rated: 4/5 – Less busy and prettier beach. Folly’s atmosphere feels more like Panama City Beach
Charleston City Market Rated: 3.5/5 – If shopping is your thing, this is a fun place to go!
Holy Spokes bike rental Rated: 4/5 – Would have loved it more if it wasn’t so hot!
Tanger Outlet Rated: 4/5 We didn’t spend much time here, so hard to give it a rating
Isle of Palms public beach Rated: 3.5/5 – There was TONS of people, but we did like the close parking and outdoor showers!
Mt. Pleasant area Rated: 4/5 – We enjoyed driving around the area looking at homes. It’s a VERY nice area
Where we ate:
Sesame Burgers Rated: 3.5/5 – David a regular cheeseburger and I got the Memphis burger. Both were good.
Poogan’s Porch Rated: 5/5 – We both got the Barbecuban sandwich and it was AMAZING. Probably our fave meal.
Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit Rated: 3.5/5 – We only visited the market location, but I think the restaurant would be better!
Saltwater Cowboys Rated: 4.5/5 – We only got their Trash Can Nachos, but they were delicious and the atmosphere is fun!
Mercantile and Mash Rated: 3.5/5 – We both got vanilla lattes (David’s iced and mine hot). I liked it a lot!
El Jefe Rated: 3.5/5 – Good tex-mex, but nothing crazy delicious
Jeni’s Splendid ice cream Rated: 5/5 – Everything is tasty. Just go.
Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ Rated: 4.25/5 – We got ribs. I would MAYBE give it a 5* if we didn’t have to wait so long
Vintage Coffee Cafe Rated: 4.25/5 – Coffee was good, atmosphere was better!! Iced vanilla lattes is what we got
Dog and Duck family pub Rated: 5/5 – David got wings, I got a burger. Both of us had GREAT food.
Charleston Rated: 5/5 – take me back!