Town of Charles: Here we go again

Metal Church Street sign stamped into the sidewalk in Charleston, SC

Today the weather was BEAUTIFUL. And it was a walking kind of day. We walked about 5.3 miles, actually. It would have been more but we took advantage of the free and excellent downtown bus service several times. In the morning we left the B&B after pancakes and headed for Waterfront Park. It was almost chilly that early and the wind by the ocean certainly added to the feeling of autumn’s late arrival.

Palmetto fountain in Waterfront Park, Charleston, SC
Modern fountain in Waterfront Park, Charleston, SC

We were simultaneously enjoying the outdoors and killing time until the opening of Robert Lange Studios where we could see a painting by our friend Cassandra Loomis Kim. It was wonderful to see our friend’s work in a group show (her work is “King Grizzly”) away from home, but it was also a really cool gallery in its own right. I’m a particular fan of Nathan Durfee’s work which reminds me a lot of children’s book author/illustrator Dan Santat.

After the gallery we wandered uptown toward the College of Charleston, grabbing an okay lunch at Basic Kitchen before visiting a disappointing triceratops-themed coffee shop. It’s called Tricera Coffee, but it’s really just a sad, slow business with a bunch of triceratops toys in random places around the interior.

My wonderful wife sitting in a banquette at Basic Kitchen
A toy Raphael the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle riding a triceratops toy.

We made up for the disappointment by meandering through Marion Square before grabbing some truly delicious pastries from La Patisserie at Hotel Bennett.

St. Matthew's Lutheran Church in Charleston, SC
A royal chocolate pastry from La Patisserie in Charleston, SC

Here is where we grabbed our first bus to the western end of the old market, after which we walked a short distance to our true caffeine destination: Second State Coffee. This place just straight up delivered. The espresso was delicious, the cappuccino was perfect. I bought a bag of beans to take back to Virginia, it was so good. The barista was terrific and even tipped me off on a different way to try brewing a Chemex (going to look up “double blooming” when I get a chance). Turns out they have a second location now just across the bridge from Charleston, so we’ll likely grab some brew on the way back to NC to get the kids tomorrow.

The afternoon consisted of meandering around a bit more, killing time before our dinner reservation at 5:30 (reminder: we are olds). So we walked by the old Dock Street Theater and the French Huguenot church, hit the market so Valerie could get souvenirs for the kids, and even snagged a little cocktail before din-din. We supped at Poogan’s Smokehouse – part of the same group as Poogan’s Porch where we ate so many years ago. The food was pretty good, but the service left a lot to be desired. The one cocktail I ordered? Truly abysmal.

We didn’t want as early a night as yesterday so we grabbed another bus to head up Meeting Street to Little Palm, quite possibly the coolest bar I’ve visited in a long time. There was a real Miami Beach club vibe in this bar at The Ryder Hotel without feeling kitschy, and the drinks were super inventive. Great staff, great interior, even greater drinks.

Entryway to Little Palm bar in Charleston, SC

We caught one more bus further downtown so we could finish the night with some fantastic frozen treats from Off Track Ice Cream. Bellies full and tiredness setting in to our aging bones, we headed back to the B&B where we’re now recuperating and winding down. We head out after breakfast tomorrow, but it’s been a spectacular return to this old city in The South. There’s a lot of fun to be had and sights to be seen without feeding the Plantation Tourism Complex, and I hope we can make it back sooner than another 10 years.