Charleston Getaway

Charleston, South Carolina has been voted America’s #1 Small City for 6 years and for good reason.  They have something for everyone: tons of historical homes and sites, great shopping, delectable food and some of the friendliest people I have ever met.  I recently spent a long weekend there and feel like I barely scratched the surface of what the city has to offer.

My mom and I stayed at The Best Western in Mt. Pleasant as it saved us quite a bit of money staying there instead of downtown and liked the central location.  It’s a decent hotel for the price and only about a 5-7 minute Uber ride to downtown Charleston.  They have a continental breakfast, but Charleston has so many yummy places to eat, so we generally just grabbed yogurt and juice to tide us over.

We arrived on Friday afternoon.  We had originally planned on taking a Harbor Tour Friday night, but the tour was cancelled, so instead we took the Water Taxi from Mount Pleasant to Downtown Charleston and explored the area a bit.  We have supper at Bacco in Mt. Pleasant and it was absolutely amazing.  The pasta is fresh and homemade.  Their salty bread pairs well with the olive oil.  I still have cravings for their tomato-basil sauce.  After dinner, it was time to get some rest.

Saturday morning, we had breakfast at Virginia’s on King.  If you go there, you must get a biscuit and some jam.  After breakfast, we wandered over to the Aiken-Rhett House.  It was raining, so we didn’t look at the outside much, but we did do a self-guided tour of the inside.  I highly recommend visiting this house, as it’s a piece of history that shouldn’t be missed.  After the Aiken-Rhett House, we walked by Marion Square, through the Historic District, by the Old City Jail, past lots of historic churches, and stopped at the Nathaniel Russell House.  I highly recommend visiting both the Aiken-Rhett House and the Nathaniel Russell House so you can compare and contrast the two.  We then walked by Washington Square and visited the Old Slave Mart Museum.  This is another must see while in the city.  The museum tells the story of slavery in Charleston and is housed where slaves were once bought and sold.  It’s very informative and tells the heart wrenching stories of the hundreds of thousands of slaves who arrived in Charleston.  After the museum, we decided to head back to the hotel and have a pizza and movie night.  The rain and wind really wore us out.

Sunday was my favorite day.  We took an Uber to Isle of Palms, had breakfast at Acme Cantina and relaxed on the beach all day.  We rented chairs for $10 each and it was totally worth it.  After returning our chairs, we had a couple cocktails at some of the bars near the beach.  I highly recommend stopping at Papi’s Taqueria and trying their nachos.

Monday, we visited Boone Hall Plantation, finally went on our Harbor Tour, ate amazing Greek food at Stella’s and finished our day with a Spirits of Magnolia Cemetery Tour.  A plantation visit is a must while in Charleston and there’s a few to pick from.  We went with Boone Hall Plantation because it was closer to our hotel and looked beautiful.  Definitely take a guided tour of the house and walk through Slave Street.  If you have more time, there are a few other tours and a performance to attend as well.  The Harbor Tour is also a must.  It’s a great way to see Fort Sumter, all the coastal sites in Charleston and dolphins playing in the waves.  The Cemetery Tour was one of my favorite parts of our trip.  It was very informative and only slightly creepy as it took place at night.

On our final day, we had fantastic pizza for lunch at Monza, saw a few sites we missed due to the rain on Saturday and visited The Historic Charleston Market.  It was the perfect ending to our trip.  My biggest advice for visiting Charleston is to just go with the flow.  The weather changes constantly, so have some sort of backup plan or indoor activities planned in case of rain.  The more flexible you are, the more fun you’ll have.  I highly recommend visiting Charleston at least once in your life!

 

Backstreet’s Back Alright!

This past weekend, I finally got to cross a concert off of my bucket list, The Backstreet Boys!  I have been waiting to see them for over 20 years!  They played at the Xcel Energy Center which is a fabulous place for a concert.  The acoustics are decent, the chairs are comfy and they have lots of food and beverage vendors.

My concert companion and I stayed at The DoubleTree by Hilton St. Paul East.  If you are looking to save a little cash, this hotel is a great option.  We not only saved a couple hundred dollars staying there instead of downtown St Paul, we also saved on parking and transportation.  The hotel rented a bus (free of charge!) to take all of us eager Backstreet Boys fans to the Xcel Energy Center and back.  It was nice to not have to worry about ordering an Uber or hailing a cab.

In my opinion, a weekend in Minneapolis/St. Paul is not complete without a trip to Pizza Luce, which is exactly what we did on Friday night.  We used the hotel’s complimentary shuttle service and indulged in microbrews, artichoke dip and delicious pizza.  Make sure to try the Garlic Mashed Potato Pizza.  It’s not on the menu anymore, but they will make it for you if you ask.

Saturday morning we ate breakfast at The Little Oven in St. Paul.  It was only about 5 minutes from our hotel and was quite tasty and very reasonably priced.  We then did a little shopping at the Maplewood Mall.  If you are traveling with children, this is a great place to go.  They have lots of great stores and tons of activities to keep the whole family entertained.

Later that evening, we took our air conditioned free shuttle bus to the Xcel Energy Center.  We had some time to kill before the concert, so we decided to grab a bite to eat at Patrick McGovern’s Pub.  The whole place was filled with Backstreet Boy’s fans and they catered to us by cranking the 90s jams.  The food was decent and the service was fantastic.

At 9pm, the Backstreet Boys finally took the stage and put on an amazing 2 hour show.  At least one Backstreet Boy was always on stage (a couple even changed on stage haha) and they sang their beautiful hearts out and made many 90s girl’s and boy’s dreams come true.

Gift Travel

Experiences Over Things

Why give the gift of travel over things?

It seems we all have a lot of stuff these days and that’s all it really is, stuff.  Stuff that fills our shelves and closets.  Stuff that needs to be dusted and cleaned.  Stuff that we look at once and then put away and forget about.  Many of us have so much stuff that we have to buy stuff to put our other stuff in.

Giving the gift of an experience doesn’t take up room in a closet, but it can fill a heart.  Experiences such as travel create a lifetime of memories that can never be discarded.  Travel is a gift that keeps on giving from the moment you tell the traveler and for years after.  Gifting travel can be a great opportunity to bond with your loved ones.  Imagine surprising your partner with a trip to paradise or telling your children they’re going to Disney World!  What about telling your best friend you’re taking them to Vegas?  Picture the look on your mom’s face when you say, “Hey Mom, we’re going to Paris!”.  These are just a few of the reasons why you should give the gift of an experiences over things.

Happy Holidays Everyone!!!

-Katie’s Travel Agency