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Midweek Getaway: Hilton Head Island and Charleston South Carolina

Those of you dear ones who are friends with me here, saw a sneak peek of my recent getaway in South Carolina. Our friends go to Hilton Head Island annually and for several years have invited us every time they go to come down to enjoy the island with them, but our schedules have never allowed for it. This year the invite came during our busy season wind-down period and the idea of being in a different environment (other than our home office and busy city), the sight of different scenery, and the word relaxation captivated us. So we accepted the invitation for a four day getaway from the midweek to the weekend with one request - that they take us to Charleston since we had never been there and it was on our list of places to visit.

We arrived in Hilton Head late on Wednesday night which made getting up very early to make the 2.5-hour drive to Charleston for breakfast a little challenging as we had rest on the brain. When we arrived, a glimpse of the city once again revived our excitement to explore it. But before doing the carriage ride, we tried our first restaurant there where I had grits and shrimp for the first time. Regrettably, it was not very good. They say it was because the place did not know how to make them properly, but for now, my view is tainted on this dish...not sure if I'll try it again. We then walked through the market square to get on our carriage ride tour. After our carriage tour, we made a stop at Belgian Gelato to refresh ourselves (from the hot sun and humidity) which by the way, was the best tasting Gelato I've ever had, so that made up for the grits for sure. I had the salted caramel and pistachio in a chocolate-coated waffle cone with whipped cream on the inside. Unbelievably divine. We mozied on out as if on clouds savoring every lick of it, slowly making our way to the waterfront park adjacent to the Gelato parlor to sit and enjoy the cool canopy shade of this incredible forest-like park. As we slowly regained foot traction after indulging on those creamy cones, we started our walk exploring Charleston, including the famous Rainbow Row street. 

Being drawn to historical architecture, lush gardens, and courtyards - I found that I enjoyed our foot tour much better. The evergreen neighborhoods filled with federal-style inspired homes with vine covered facades, their grandeur, and lush courtyards graced with stately window boxes spilling with vines and flowers throughout the neighborhoods just made me oh, so relaxed. I would have to say that the southern charm of Charleston was hands down one of the best parts of our short getaway. After a good 5 hours or more of walking, we completely burned off that gelato and were ready for dinner. We couldn't have picked a better dinner spot to end our long day of exploring than the lovely Magnolias for an amazing dinner experience.

Since our main goal for going to Hilton Head Island was to relax from our hectic and sometimes overwhelming life schedule, we spent the next day hanging on the beach taking in the therapeutic ocean sound, the oceanic breeze and even got to see the shrimp fishing boat afar casting their nets and pulling in shrimp. When we arrived back to the house, our friends barbecued and we spent the rest of the night watching a couple of favorite movies we rented from red box while all cozied up on the couches wine-ing, and munching on fresh guac I made with chips, barbecued corn on the cob and cheese and crackers. Just a plethora of goodies. It was the perfect amount of time for us to catch our breath for a moment. Hilton Head Island is definitely a town for laying low if that's what you want or Charleston for architectural southern charm and culinary exploration experience. So yes, it's a nice place to go for a quick reprieve if you're looking to getaway in between big vacations.

My only suggestions are:

1. Don't go during the summer season, unless you're a sun worshiper and don't mind extreme heat and humidity (I'm talking 110 degrees with 90+ humidity). The best time to go is early Spring or Fall.

2. Also, don't waste money on the carriage ride tours (unless you just want to experience a carriage ride if you've never done one), you're better off doing the foot tour option as you will get to see the better side of town at your leisure.

3. Had we stayed longer, we would have loved to have visited Savannah and especially Tybee. If you're into the southern charm, you'd definitely love those places.

4. As I've mentioned, Magnolias restaurant is a must experience. Highly recommended. You never know, you might run into Oprah there. But if you're in the mood for a hip urban rooftop vibe with a view of the entire city, go to The Vendue. If we were to go back to Charleston, it's one of the places we would stay at. The decor is exquisite.

5. Other food places on my list that I didn't get to try, but would definitely want to give it a go are these below:

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