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Category: Fun

An Insider’s Guide to Spoleto: One of The Country’s Top Performing Arts Festivals

Spoleto

Photo Credit: Instagram User @spoletofestivalusa

Each spring, thousands visit the city of Charleston to partake in the Spoleto Festival USA, one of America’s biggest performing arts festivals. For 17 days and nights, this festival delights the Holy City with the best artistic performances with more than 150 performers from around the world.

Opera, theater, dance, jazz—the Spoleto Festival USA has it all, and the lineup is more diverse than ever in its 41st year. From highly-anticipated fan favorites to up-and-coming productions, this year promises to be even better than the last, which is incredible, considering that last year’s sales were record-breaking.

If you plan to attend this year’s festivities, then understanding the full vision of the event is essential. Spoleto’s rich history and dedication to the arts are inspiring and allow you to fully appreciate the talented performances that come to town every year.

In this insider’s guide, we will give you the scoop on the history of the Spoleto Festival USA and highlight some of the must-see premieres this year. Whether you are a Charleston local or an out-of-town attendee, consider this your go-to guide for festival this year.

The History of Spoleto Festival USA

Since 1977, the Spoleto Festival USA has been captivating audiences in Charleston and enriching an already vibrant community. First founded by Pulitzer-winning composer Gian Carlo Menotti, the three-week event was originally intended to be an American counterpart to the Festival of Two Worlds in the small town of Spoleto, Italy.

SpoletoWhy Charleston?

The founders wanted a city that would mimic the small-town charm of Spoleto, Italy, while also providing enough theaters and accommodations to host the festival. They found their ideal location in Charleston, a city that is known for its picturesque neighborhoods and historic charm.

The Holy City’s abundance of churches, theaters, and early dedication to the performing arts made it the perfect setting for the festival. In addition, the city’s vibrant community and small-town atmosphere were similar to the small Italian town, which further cemented the founder’s decision to make Charleston the home of the festival.

The Mission of the Spoleto Festival

Since its beginning in 1977, the Spoleto Festival has been committed to showcasing only the best artistic performances and supporting young artists, helping them foster their passion for the arts in all forms. It also brings a significant impact on Charleston’s economy and regularly invests in both local businesses and the community.

Dedication to Young Artists

Spoleto has supported young artists since its inception and encourages them to pair up with more experienced performers so that they can learn new skills. The festival offers many exciting opportunities for blossoming artists to advance their careers, including auditioning for the seat in the Spoleto Festival Orchestra or the Westminster Choir.

Giving Back to the Local Community

Spoleto’s mission also gives back to the city that it has called home for over 40 years. Though the event brings international fame and economic success, the festival also directly invests in the local community.

Spoleto has not only played a key role in preserving historical landmarks, such as the Dock Street Theatre and the Middleton-Pinckney House, but it also continues to educate the local community through programs that help inspire a deeper appreciation for the performing arts.  Most notably, their Open Stage Door program distributes complimentary tickets to community-based organizations so that they may be part of the Spoleto experience.

Spoleto

photo courtesy of instagram user @spoletofestivalusa

Historical Charleston Theatres, Churches, and Event Spaces

Charleston boasts many elegant theatres and churches that serve as the venues for the 17-day festival. These prominent event spaces not only provide the lowcountry with a place to view world-class performances but, also offer a glimpse into the history of Charleston.

Here is a list of beloved Spoleto venues and some notable performances taking place around town.

Charleston Gaillard Center

The recently renovated Charleston Gaillard Center will once again host Spoleto’s featured opera this year, an extravagant production of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. Dates for the performance are May 26 and June 1, 4, 8.

The Gaillard Center will also present the Westminster Choir, Charleston Symphony Orchestra Chorus, and the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra’s performance of Mozart’s Great Mass.

Last, don’t miss a special, one-night-only performance by American roots musician Rhiannon Giddens on June 9th at Gaillard Center!

Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul

Conducted by Joe Miller, the Westminster Choir performs at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul. This fan favorite is considered one of the most-loved traditions of the festival.

College of Charleston Cistern Yard

Performances at the College of Charleston Cistern Yard this year include Terrance Blanchard, featuring the E-Collective, on June 3rd for a one-night only performance. Multi-Grammy winner Terry Blanchard and the E-Collective create a perfect ensemble that combines jazz, funk, rock, R&B, and blues music.

Spoleto

Photo Credit: Instagram User @spoletofestivalusa

College of Charleston Sottile Theatre

Israeli dance company L-E-V, is set to perform OCD Love at the College of Charleston Sottile Theatre on June 2, 3, and 4. Led by choreographers Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar, the production explores love through the lens of obsessive compulsive disorders.

Monchichi, the duet that blends hip-hop with contemporary dance, will also be performing at Sottile Theatre on May 26-28.

Dock Street Theatre

The historic Dock Street Theatre will host the Druid production of Waiting for Godot, which begins on May 25. It will also host the American premiere of Antonio Vivaldi’s opera Farnace, which begins May 27.

Spoleto

photo courtesy of instagram user @spoletofestivalusa

Notable Premieres and Fan Favorites

From the very beginning, Spoleto has encouraged artists from all backgrounds and ages to participate and explore their creativity to its fullest. As a result, each year brings a remarkably diverse lineup that relies on both traditional and contemporary performances to delight audiences.

Notable Premieres

Those who attend Spoleto regularly will recognize a few reoccurring performances, but there is always excitement surrounding new premieres. If you are attending the event this year, here are the anticipated performances premiering at Spoleto:

Ayodele Casel

New York tapper Ayodele Casel’s world premiere, While I Have the Floor, explores identity, language, communication, and artistic legacy. Casel will also be participating in the popular “Conversations With” program, an intimate conversation with participating artists who open up about their creative processes and the experience at Spoleto.

Cinema and Sound

Fans will welcome back acclaimed pianist Stephen Prutsman, who performs the original scores for the world premiere of Cinema and Sound. The program blends silent film and a live soundtrack for a particularly innovative performance at the Woolfe Street Playhouse.

Farnace

The U.S. premiere of Antonio Vivaldi’s most popular 18th-century opera, Farnace, is a highly-anticipated performance this year. Produced by Garry Hynes, the mythical Roman war drama will star Anthony Roth Costanzo, a legendary countertenor.

Quartett

An opera full of dark comedy and seduction, the U.S. premiere of Royal Opera House’s Quartett will be sure to captivate audiences. Composed by Luca Francesconi, conducted by John Kennedy, and directed by John Fulljames, you won’t want to miss this performance at the Memminger Auditorium.

Fan Favorites

Over the years, many regular attendees of Spoleto have their favorites events that they look forward to attending every year. Last year’s Porgy and Bess was an enormous hit in Charleston and was a signature performance of the 40th anniversary of Spoleto.

Performances aside, there are also activities and events that Spoleto fans love to attend. Here are other favorites that will please all ages and backgrounds:

Conversations With

The “Conversation With” program gives audiences a chance to hear from the visiting artists and get an inside glimpse into their creative thought processes. The artists will be interviewed by CBS correspondent Martha Teichner, and each presentation lasts for approximately an hour. Fans will get to hear from their favorite artists, including director Garry Hynes and pianist Stephen Prutsman.

The sessions are free as long as attendees register in advance.

Master Classes

Fans of Spoleto not only get to watch artistic performances, but they can join in themselves.  With the “Master Classes” program, the performing artists teach both experienced and beginners dancers the art of their craft.

This year’s classes are being led by Company Wang Ramirez, L-E-V, Company Class with Gallim Dance, and Hillel Kogan. Get tickets while you can!

Jazz Talks

Held in the Simons Center Recital Hall at College of Charleston, Jazz Talks gives audiences the chance to listen to an intimate conversation between notable jazz musicians. This year’s discussions will include the following:

Fud at 100: A Centennial Celebration:  Charleston mayor John Tecklenburg discusses the legacy of his great-uncle Joseph “Fud” Livingston alongside historian Karen Chandler and music critic Larry Blumenfeld on May 28.

Trumpeting Truth – A Conversation with Terence Blanchard: Larry Blumenfeld will return to discuss arts, advocacy, and social justice issues with Grammy-winning trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard.

These events are free if you register in advance.

Spoleto Finale at Middleton Place

Of course, no one should miss Spoleto’s grand finale across the Ashley River at the historic Middleton Place. Attendants will get access to the full lineup of local and regional bands, headlined by breakout band The Revivalists. Additionally, ticket holders will also get to explore the beautiful gardens and refined lodgings of one of Charleston’s treasured National Historic Landmarks.

Spoleto

The Piccolo Spoleto Festival

Charleston’s existing dedication to the performing arts is one of the reasons why Spoleto Festival USA founders chose the city to host this yearly event. It isn’t surprising, then, that the Piccolo Spoleto was created to offer even more cultural opportunities.

What Is Piccolo Spoleto?

In 1979, Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. launched the Piccolo Spoleto Festival to highlight Charleston’s local performing artists. While the main venues feature artists on a national and international level, this series gives attention to regional, less known artists. Plus, most of the events are free and family-friendly!

The festival runs concurrently with its parent event, which means that everyone can easily fit some of these popular Piccolo events into their schedule.

Piccolo Fringe

Are you in the mood for some improv? This comedy extravaganza is held each year at Theatre 99 on Meeting Street and features top comedic artists with original performances. Although most Piccolo events are family-friendly, this one is more suited toward adults.

Piccolo Fiction Spotlight

Are you a fan of the written word? The Piccolo Fiction Spotlight invites South Carolina writers to submit their brief short stories for a chance to be published in the Charleston City Paper, broadcast on S.C. Public Radio, and be read in the historic Charleston Music Hall.

The Spotlight Concert Series

The 13-performance program features classical arrangements by The Charleston Renaissance Ensemble, Chamber Music Charleston, and the Charleston Piano Trio with violist Miles Hoffman.

The Sundown Poetry Series

One of the oldest Piccolo Festival series, the Sundown Poetry Series offers local and regional poets the opportunity to gather for free evening readings. After the readings, many authors stay for a Q & A sessions to discuss their work. This event traditionally takes place at Dock Street Courtyard on Church Street.

Ready for Spoleto Festival USA?

If you happen to be in Charleston during the festival, then you should definitely explore some of the amazing artistic performances happening in the Holy City this spring. With over 160 ticketed events, there is something for everyone at Spoleto to enjoy.

Dog-friendly Charleston: Where to eat and drink with your pups

In search of dog-friendly Charleston? Dining in the culinary haven of Charleston is always a treat, but it’s even sweeter when you can bring your furry best friend along.  We’ve found that there are several places particularly cool with pet customers, with some even providing water bowls so your pooch can stay hydrated in the Lowcountry heat.

Dog friendly Charleston Fuel @fuelcharleston

Chilling on the Patio at Fuel, Image Courtesy of Instagram User @fuelcharleston

Here are just a few of the spots we love the most — because they love the furry company we keep.

Downtown:

Fuel, 211 Rutledge Avenue

Formerly a gas station, Fuel is a fun spot for Caribbean-fused cuisine and comes complete with an outdoor bar, where pets and customers delightfully mingle.

Taco Boy, 217 Huger Street

An off-the-beaten-path local favorite, Taco Boy boasts delicious tacos, frozen screwdrivers, and a massive patio perfect for drinking in the sun with your pooch.

Kudu, 4 Vanderhorst Street

Kudu is known for its killer coffee and craft beer, and it’s particularly loved for its patio, where college kids, young, artsy professionals and more spend afternoons socializing or reading alone — with a pup in tow.

Mt Pleasant:

Two Blokes Brewery, 547 Long Point Road

Relatively new to the beer scene, Two Blokes Brewing serves not only well-crafted local brews, but on  the weekend it’s wild with both kids and dogs — so if you’re looking for a family friendly spot to consume an adult bev, this is a great spot.

Triangle Char & Bar, 1440 Ben Sawyer Blvd.

You may have to wait for a seat at brunch at Triangle, but at least your pooch can sit with you on the restaurant’s sun-blessed patio.

Dog friendly Charleston Poes Tavern @poestavern

Image Courtesy of Instagram User @poestavern

Sullivans Island:

Dunleavey’s Pub, 2213 Middle Street

What’s better than an Irish pub in a beach town? Not much. There are so many reasons to love this family-owned traditional pub, but great burgers, cool pints of Guinness, and dog-friendly outdoor seating top the list.

Poe’s Tavern, 2210 Middle Street

You may think an Edgar Allen Poe-themed bar and grill sounds a bit dark, but the lively, fun atmosphere of Poe’s Tavern will quickly change your mind. Nothing better than taking your four-legged kiddo for a walk on the beach and then heading to Poe’s for delicious fish tacos or one of their gourmet chicken sandwiches. Well-behaved dogs are regularly resting on the patio.

Folly Beach:

Lost Dog Cafe, 106 W Huron Avenue

Most Charlestonians don’t need a list of dog-friendly places to know about Lost Dog — this place was literally made for dogs. Well, the menu is very much for humans (and it’s all delicious) but you’ll see about a dozen dogs here on any given day — and more during Sunday brunch, which is basically our idea of heaven.

Jack of Cups, 34 Center Street

Also on Folly, Jack of Cups serves up Asian-infused food that’s so good you’ll leave satisfied and somewhat speechless. Their beer selection is top notch and ever-changing, and their backyard, as well as their front patio, complete with water bowls, are the reasons why you should bring your pups along.

Dog friendly Charleston The Barrel @thebarrelcharleston

Photo Courtesy of Instagram User @thebarrelcharleston

James Island:

The Barrel, 1859 Folly Road

If Lost Dog is first on everyone’s dog-friendly list, the Barrel is either tied or a close second. This is a great little spot for excellent craft beer pours, but the backyard is where it’s at. Unleashed dogs run free here, and there’s even a small pen for your tinier pups.

Bohemian Bull, 1531 Folly Road

Not far from the Barrel, the Bohemian Bull offers great food and cocktails but with a cool, outdoor, bohemian vibe where four-legged friends are always welcome.

West Ashley:

Home Team BBQ, 1205 Ashley River Road

The wings alone are reason enough to visit Home Team today and often, but nothing’s better than happy hour wings on the patio as you sneak a pork rind to your furry best friend.

Tin Roof, 1117 Magnolia Road

Tin Roof has always been dog-friendly, but it’s become increasingly so of late, with the back patio open for business with a back bar, so you can have a High Life while living the high life with your unleashed pups. Just don’t forget to clean up after them.
Where is your favorite spot to dine in dog-friendly Charleston?

 

The Distinct and Captivating Beaches of Charleston

The Distinct and Captivating Beaches of Charleston

Charleston, South Carolina is one of the hottest vacation destinations in the country right now. It offers a rich background of American history, world-class dining, and unmatched beauty. While it is tempting to plan a vacation just in the historic downtown, you’re really missing out on a big part of Charleston’s culture if you skip the beach.

You can’t beat restorative time on the beach. Bring a kite or a Frisbee to toss around while you soak up the South Carolina sun. Enjoy the sweet briny waters and the distinct charms of all of the local beaches to really take in the coastal cultures surrounding Charleston and connect to the unique personality of every beach retreat. (more…)

Visiting Dewees Island

Dewees Island - the beach @dunesproperties

Photo credit: Instagram user @dunesproperties (that’s us!)

Dewees Island is a hidden gem located about 11 miles north of Charleston, where some people live and where others, including our fellow Charlestonians, love to visit. And simply put, it is where peace and solitude reign supreme.

On this small, secluded barrier island, there are no paved roads, no cars, no restaurants, and most importantly, no stress. Technology, computer screens, and phones can be ignored for the duration of your stay in favor of outdoor fun and relaxation. It is two-and-a-half miles of pure nature: beaches, dunes, an undisturbed maritime forest — a private paradise.

The homeowners of Dewees, ever aware of the conservation needs and uniqueness of the island, strive to leave the tiniest of footprints. The island is truly among the last of untouched places around, where all is unspoiled by the developed world. Since the island is full of Lowcountry wildlife, and it is not uncommon to share your visit with dolphins, turtles, eagles, and an enormous variety of sea and marsh birds.

Dewees Island morning on the ferry @reggiefairchild

Early morning on the Dewees Island ferry Photo credit: Instagram user @reggiefairchild

The ferry
The island is accessible via a ferry that leaves from 43 41st Street on the Isle of Palms. The ride lasts around 20 minutes, and you must be preregistered with Dewees Island Rentals or personally know a current Dewees owner in order to board.  There are two boats- one smaller and faster, and one a bit larger for holding more people, luggage, groceries, and other deliveries. They decide which one to take based on the number of folks signed up to ride and the amount of stuff that’s going over. The ferry is often escorted by dolphins or a variety of seafaring birds and offers curious views all around. Even if you didn’t have the beauty and adventure of the island waiting for you, the ferry ride alone would be worth it. Be sure to call 30 minutes before leaving the island to make sure you get a spot on a returning boat.

Where to stay
Huyler House includes suites that are available for lot owners to stay on the island and homeowners to use for overflow house guests however, you do not have to know a Dewees owner to enjoy all Huyler has to offer. You can rent one of the suites, or choose from a variety of other homes from Dewees Rentals. The amenities are amazing: swimming pool, two tennis courts, billiards table, foosball table, shuffleboard table, screened picnic area with a grill, and wifi in the Great Room and suites.

Dewees Island Turtle and Shell @judyondewees

Photo credit: Instagram user @judyondewees

Wildlife
Dewees is a wildlife preserve, so as we said before, you’ll encounter a variety of living creatures. Our resident Dewees Island expert, Judy Fairchild, is a naturalist who loves to show and tell all about Dewees Island, and especially the  wildlife. A short cart ride around the island with Judy feels like a master class. It’s not uncommon to see a few baby raccoons, a basking alligator, or perhaps even an otter or bald eagle on a quick jaunt.  While it is truly a thrill to be close to so much undisturbed nature, but there are some critters – like mosquitoes – you’ll want to prepare for in advance. Make sure you pack your bug spray. And, although this should go without saying, don’t feed the wildlife – including those pesky mosquitoes!

Getting around
Once you step off the ferry and onto the tranquil island, don’t be surprised if you feel a weight lifted off your shoulders as your troubles subside. The roads are made of dirt and your only vehicles are your feet, a bike, or a golf cart. If you’re renting through Dewees Rentals, you’ll find a cart clearly marked for you when you exit the ferry.  If you’re visiting friends, do what I do, and hitch a ride on one of their carts and then rely on your own two feet to get you around while exploring  We think the best way to travel the length of the island is by foot on the sandy beach! The paths are clearly marked and the beachwalks extend through the maritime forest all the way to the sand.

Dewees Island Map

homes are beige, lots are blue.

Eating
There are no restaurants or grocery stores on the island, so if you’re going for longer than an afternoon, you’ll want to prepare and package your food in advance. Or, you can catch your dinner!

What to do
Fishing spots abound at Dewees, and there’s even a crabbing dock — but only take what you can eat in a single meal. Remember, conservation is key on Dewees. Other fun outdoor activities include kayaking, golfing, birding, beach walking, swimming, biking and golf carting. Lounging around with a good book is always a good idea, and you’ll find more one perfect spot on Dewees Island.

Dewees Island - the impoundment @deweesrealestate

View over the impoundment Photo credit: Instagram user @deweesrealestate

At every turn, there’s a breathtaking marsh or beach view and there are unparalleled sunrises on the beach and sunsets on the marsh. Views over the Impoundment, the old diked wetlands that can be flooded or drained as necessary, are amazingly serene. The shores are pristine, expansive, and gloriously empty, allowing Dewees to offer an almost private experience unlike any other on the Charleston Coast.

Check out what is currently on the market on Dewees Island or contact Judy Fairchild to talk about making the Dewees dream a reality for you and your family.

Where to go for live music on Sullivans and IOP

Looking to hear great live music at the beach?  Downtown Charleston may be known for its many venues and bars with music spilling onto King and Market streets, but the islands of the Lowcountry know how to put on a good show, too. From dirty blues at Sullivan’s Island Home Team BBQ to legendary rock shows at the Windjammer on the Isle of Palms, there are several sweet spots nearby — both new and old — with plenty of music you can kick back and sip a beer to. Here are just a few of our favorite venues for live music on Sullivan’s and IOP.

live music at the beach

Photo from @hometeambbq

On Sullivan’s:

Dunleavy’s Pub | 2213 Middle Street

If you love a good, old-fashioned pub, you’ll love Dunleavy’s, where Guinness lovers have cheers’d their beers for over 20 years. Outside are picnic tables for pints in the sunshine, while inside you can enjoy some of the best Irish folk music in Charleston from well-loved local artists like Carroll Brown.

High Thyme | 2213 Middle Street

At High Thyme, Southern seafood fare is always the catch of the day, but you’ll also love all the live music this restaurant/venue has on the menu. Local Celtic folk favorites the Hungry Monks play here on the reg, as do guys like Moon Dog, Carroll Brown (you really can’t get enough of Carroll!), and the Reckoning, the latter of which is a lovely, local Grateful Dead strings cover band.

Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ | 2209 Middle Street

Known for their BBQ and arguably more so for their wings (best in town, y’all), Home Team has more than good grub — it puts on great live music, too, particularly blues, folk, Americana, and country artists.

live music at the beach

Photo from @windjammeriop

On the IOP:

The Windjammer | 1008 Ocean Blvd.

Even most new islanders know about the Windjammer — a Charleston, not just an IOP, institution for over 40 years. Legends like Hootie & the Blowfish, the Blue Dogs,  Drivin’ N Cryin’, and Southern Culture on the Skids have performed here for decades, both inside and out — the back features a deck majestically overlooking the beach action and the sea. Inside you’ll find the main stage and an open-air bar perfect for ocean breezes that constantly remind you that life is good.

The Dinghy | 8 J C Long Blvd.

The Dinghy is relatively new to the island, having come on board the scene only three or so years ago. Locals love it for the live music you can consistently catch nightly here. Artists are local and much loved by the regulars, making this special spot a lively, neighborly kind of place. Oh, and FYI their Dirty Elvis Fries are a dream.

Morgan Creek Grill | 80 41st Ave.

Situated on the water with brilliant sea breezes aplenty, Morgan Creek Grill is the definition of chill, particularly when you add live music to the mix. Morgan Creek recently added a recurring event called Wintertide: Songwriters in the Round, featuring local singer-songwriters every week along with an oyster roast. Head to morgancreekgrill.com for more details.

What’s your favorite local music venue on Sullivan’s Island or Isle of Palms?

5 Ways to Unwind in Mount Pleasant

Mount Pleasant may be look small on a map, but the town packs in a lot of punch with countless shopping areas, restaurants, and places to watch the sunset throughout the area. From Shem Creek’s offerings along Coleman Boulevard to the possibilities aplenty at Highway 17’s Mount Pleasant Town Center, adventure awaits at every turn.

Mount Pleasant

Spa time at Woodhouse

Anyone who’s been to Woodhouse Day Spa knows this place doesn’t hold back in its offerings of luxurious pampering. The spa gives all a little TLC, relieves stress, and nurtures your well being. Everyone gets a robe and reflexology sandals upon arrival before unwinding in the quiet room, where loose-leaf teas await to begin the day of everything from waxings and skin care to massage therapy and sleep treatments. Woodhouse also offers a girls getaway weekend package, complete with hot stone and four-handed massages, facials, microdermabrasion, pedicures, and more. Learn more at charleston.woodhousespas.com.

Shop at Mount Pleasant Town Center

Spoil yourself with a day at Mount Pleasant Town Center, where not only can you update your wardrobe at Copper Penny Shooz, Banana Republic, Teal Boutique, White House Black Market, Victoria’s Secret, Belk, Chico’s, and Apricot Lane Boutique, and more, but you can also grab some tea at Teavana, some wine at the Wine Cellar, a pedicure at Sandals Nail Spa, and a Margarita at Qdoba Mexican Eats. To reward yourself even more, top it off with a film at the onsite cinemas.

Eat in the Old Village

Surrounded by beauty and charm, the six-room Old Village Post House Inn is a sweet wee spot for a staycation night away, but the restaurant is what makes the building renowned. Most days you’ll find seafood bliss with specialties like crawfish soup, broiled oysters, crispy calamari, chili-rubbed ahi tuna, grouper, crab cakes, shrimp & grits, lobster, crab-crusted salmon, and much more. But for Sunday funday, get brunch dishes, like deviled crab cake benedict and the Shem Creek omelet, with shrimp, crab, cheddar, and spinach. Don’t forget to start with a Sunrise Sparkler, a carafe of cava with peach nectar, blueberry pomegranate juice, and OJ. 

Mount Pleasant

Sunset drinks on Shem Creek

Speaking of Shem Creek and drinks, nothing says ‘this is the life’ quite like a sunset cocktail on Shem Creek. Whether you want live music at Red’s or a quiet view of the water at Vickery’s, there are plenty of places to perch and pass the hours. Tavern & Table, Shem Creek Bar & Grill, Water’s Edge Cabana Bar, and RB’s are just a few more spots where you can not only sip to the best sunset view in Charleston but you can also grab some of the freshest seafood around.

Dolphin watch cruise

The Charleston Water Taxi is always a fun way to travel on days you’re focused solely on adventure and relaxation, but the company also offers a dolphin watch cruise on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The ultimate way to unwind, the dolphin watch cruise lasts for an hour but $10 gets you an all-day pass so you can while away all the hours your heart desires. Departs from Patriot’s Point and the USS Yorktown. 

Holiday Celebrations in Charleston

There are so many ways to bring in the holiday season throughout Charleston, but here are a few holiday celebrations going on in the area for 2016. From jazz to a cruise to the hood’s own inaugural holiday fest, there’s plenty to do without traveling far if you’re one of the many who call Charleston home. Happy holidays, and enjoy!

Holiday Celebrations

James Island County Park’s Festival of Lights

This one’s a no-brainer, but if you haven’t gotten in on probably the most popular Charleston tradition, here’s what you need to know. The Festival of Lights is magical, and everyone should witness it. Even with traffic, the drive through doesn’t take more than half an hour at most — and that’s driving slowly so you can see it all. It’s $20 per car, so load it up! If you go Mon-Thurs, it’s only $15/car with a canned food donation. Be sure to park your car in one of the three lots and walk around the lit paths and to the winter wonderland (near lot A), where you’ll see everything from Santa to sand art and have the opportunity to roast marshmallows — oh yes: don’t forget to pack the marshmallows!

Charleston Sleigh Ride

This unique tour embarks at West Ashley’s Ripley Light Marina but its travels are predominantly on the Ashley River through James Island’s Intracoastal Waterway, where they say you’ll have a good chance of viewing holiday lights! The cruise is nearly two hours long and is spent listening to Christmas music and stories about Charleston’s most storied holiday traditions. There’ll be plenty of hot chocolate to go around, but guests are also welcome to bring their own cooler full of drinks — and yes, that means adult beverages, too. This has been a tradition of Pegasus Charters for eight years and counting, and it’s the perfect way to ring in the season — Charleston style.  Dates run from Dec. 9 until Dec. 26. 

The Pour House’s Christmas Party with the Hungry Monks

If you want to relax and have a chill celebration outside on the laid-back deck of one of Charleston’s best music venues, head to the Pour House on Thurs. Dec. 22 for the Hungry Monks’ Christmas Party. Doors open at 4 p.m., so you can grab some grub from their onsite food truck before the music starts at 6:30 p.m. The Hungry Monks features the guys who run the music school of the same name in West Ashley and have been playing their genius blend of folk, jam, Celtic, and bluegrass tunes for many years. Oh, and children and dogs are also welcome.

      1. Holiday Celebrations White Christmas at the Terrace Theater

It’s just not Christmas without a viewing of White Christmas, the classic from 1954. It’s hard to imagine the Christmas season even existing prior to Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas.” While it’s fun to see the film at home, it’s extraordinary on the big screen, and that’s why the Terrace Theater is offering two chances with its screenings on Tues. Dec. 6 and Wed. Dec. 7 at 7:15 p.m. And let’s face it — this is the closest us Charlestonians will ever get to a white Christmas.

Dec. 11 Oscar Rivers and Sam Singleton Christmas show at How Art Thou

Fans of music from eras gone by will love this top-shelf jazz event coming to How Art Thou Jazz Cafe on Maybank Highway. Soul singer Sam Singleton joins jazz great Oscar Rivers (who has worked with the likes of Stevie Wonder, BB King, The Temptations, Etta James, and much more) the second Sunday of every month at this intimate local jazz club, but on Dec. 11 the session will be extra special, and extra Christmas-y. This is their Holiday Season Special, so expect to hear holiday tunes performed in the jazz idiom as well as some with a touch of rhythm and blues, plus a few jazz standards. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and showtime is at 6:30.

Thrifters and Drifters

Find gifts for everyone on your list this holiday at the Royal American from 12pm-5pm on Sunday, December 11th.   Thrifters and Drifters features unique vintage gifts and handmade creations from your favorite Charleston artisans.  If you love vintage art, jewelry, crafts you will not want to miss this!

holiday-parade-of-boats

Charleston Parade of Boats

‘Tis the season to jingle and mingle on the harbor front! Join the Rotary Club of Charleston to celebrate the holiday season with a viewing party of the Holiday Parade of Boats at the Maritime Center on December 10th from 5-8pm.  Enjoy savory foods, holiday music and a view of spectacular boats decorated for the season as they cruise across the harbor.

What holiday outing are you excited about this year?

Date Ideas for James Island Couples

Date Ideas for James Island Couples

Don’t let everyday stress get to you and your partner — get out and about in your own ’hood and get refreshed! From day dates outside to late, groovin’ nights, there’s a lot you can do in James Island that’ll have you and your significant other forgetting your troubles in no time. Here are a few ideas:

Looking for a great day date?  We suggest:

  1. Wild Blue Ropes

Feeling adventurous? Head to Wild Blue Ropes for some scary good fun with its high-climbing ropes course. WBR is not only known for its team building courses for corporate clients, but also its Couples Climb, which is $50 a pair.

  1. James Island

    @jiclumbingwall

    James Island County Park

What CAN’T you do at James Island County Park? We recommend the climbing wall to really get you out of your head, but if it’s hot outside and you’re in the mood to relax, head to Splash Zone Waterpark. If it’s closed, check out the pedal boat and kayak rentals.  You can even bring Fido so the whole family can enjoy the fresh air at the best dog park in Charleston.

  1. Brewery Hop

Yes, James Island has not one, but two breweries now! Go have some fun with a brewery tasting at Low Tide Brewing and Tradesmen Brewing. Low Tide also offers fun events from time to time, like live music, Pints and Painting nights, and more, while Tradesman Brewing is known for its Bendy Brewski Yoga in addition to Hot Dogs and Pints happy hours.

For the more traditional late date:

  1. James Island

    @x_elle_nt

    Terrace Theater + Zia

Dinner and a movie is still the perfect date night, after all these years. Located on Maybank Highway, Zia is a cool little Tex-Mex spot with a delicious margarita menu and some of the city’s most talked-about quesadillas. Go early and then head next door to the Terrace Theater, which is Charleston’s art house theater. Featuring independent films you won’t find at a blockbuster cinema, the Terrace also serves beer, wine, and nifty snacks — if you’re still hungry!

  1. Pour House + The Lot

There’s a lot to do in this little corner of James Island. Located across the street from the Terrace (and near Riverland Terrace neighborhood), the Pour House is one of Charleston’s most prominent music venues. There’s music here every day of the week: free shows on the back deck at 6:30 p.m. and regional and national/international acts — all genres, like Charles Bradley, Of Montreal, Blackalicious, Sturgill Simpson — on the inside stage later on. On Sundays, there’s an all-day Sunday Brunch Farmer’s Market out back while a soul/gospel band plays on the deck stage. They serve Cuban-fused food at the Pour House via their own food truck attached to the deck as well as next door at the Lot, a renowned farm-to-table restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating.

  1. James Island

    @finleyanne9

    Charleston Performing Arts Center + Stereo 8

Stereo 8 is relatively new to the island. It’s known for being themed around music, which is why local artists perform there on the patio every week. The menu is varied and includes duck confit, pad thai, a burger, tacos, and ramen. In the mood for a musical? Located on Folly Road — not far from the restaurant — the Charleston Performing Arts Center presents stage productions performed by mostly locals, like the recent Dreamgirls,The Revue. Disco, “a celebration of those boogie nights and moves that gave us all Saturday Night Fever,” will run until Oct. 23 and will be followed by Holiday Cabaret, just in time for Christmas.

 

Locals Guide to Wagener Terrace

Hampton Park, Wagener Terrace

Hampton Park via Instagram user @tracimagnus

Wagener Terrace is where downtown locals love to live. Away from the bustle of the more touristy parts of downtown, Wagener Terrace is an oasis filled with wide sidewalks, Spanish moss-covered live oaks, quiet living, and friendly neighbors, the latter of which range from families to young professionals. Still on the Charleston peninsula, Wagener Terrace is biking distance to the city’s theaters, antiques, shopping, and nightlife.

Hampton Park, Wagener Terrace

photo taken by @leahsuarez

But there’s still plenty of fun to be had within walking distance inside this serene pocket of the peninsula. These are just a few of our favorite things to do in and around Wagener Terrace:

Play:  The biggest highlight to living in this area has to be the accessibility to Hampton Park, which is below Wagener Terrace in the Hampton Park Terrace neighborhood. The largest park on the peninsula, Hampton Park is 60 acres of green space where locals jog, bike, walk dogs, picnic, and play. Weddings are held in the park’s picturesque gazebo, books are read by the fountain, and there are plans for an abandoned concessions stand at the park to be restored by the neighboring Park Cafe.

Wagener Terrace

photo taken by: @theparkcafechs

Eat:  Speaking of Park Cafe, the bright, airy, and simplistic Rutledge Avenue restaurant is a neighborhood favorite for quality farm-to-table food, wine, and coffee. Just up the street, you’ll find Rutledge Cab Co., another popular local eatery and bar that’s half-owned by actor and Charleston local Bill Murray and features live local music each week. Very close to Wagener Terrace and Hampton Park Terrace is a trendy new spot called NoMo, where you’ll find tons of live music and great wings at Home Team BBQ, a killer brisket at Lewis’ Barbecue, a bar menu and brunch you won’t forget at Edmund’s Oast, and duck-fat fries, taxidermy, and good times at the Tattooed Moose.

Wagener Terrace

photo taken by @tattooedmoose

Drink:  Also close to Hampton Park is Moe’s Crosstown Tavern, a buzzing local dive bar with great grub and a casual, unpretentious atmosphere. For a local craft beer, head straight to Wagener Terrace’s own Cooper River Brewing Co. on Mechanic Street, where you can get anything from a glass of Nitro Stout to a growler of IPA. If you’re in the mood for the lighter stuff, check out Huriyali Gardens, a vibrant wee juice haven on Huger Street with nutrient-rich, organic foods and juices and an adjacent garden that will make you feel like you’ve stumbled upon a magical hidden gem.

Wagener Terrace

photo taken by @cherry_bryd

Dance:  If you’re in the mood for a boogie, head down to the nearby Faculty Lounge on Huger Street. Not only can you find a reason to dance on weekend nights, the Faculty Lounge also features a quality cocktail menu and a chic, local vibe every single evening.

Wagener Terrace

photo taken by @russelldpowell

Shop:  Locals can bike to Food Lion on King Street, the only large-scale grocery store near the neighborhood. As far as any other types of shopping — be it organic foods or clothes or antiques — there are plenty of great spots a short drive away in either the Historic District or over the Ravenel Bridge in Mt. Pleasant.

If this sounds like your kind of neighborhood, stop by the Real Estate Studio and see what adorable bungalows are for sale!

4 Budget-Friendly Outdoor Activities in West Ashley

Looking for things to do in West Ashley?  From the always fun West Ashley Park to the brand new farmer’s market and Higgins Pier, there’s a lot of inexpensive (and free!) ways to spend your time outside west of the Ashley River. Here are four of our favorites:

West Ashley, Charleston, SC

Photo taken by @rachspeer

West Ashley Bikeway

The West Ashley Bikeway starts at Wappoo Road, crosses Highway 61/St Andrews Boulevard, and continues all the way to the beautiful Ashley River, connecting residential neighborhoods along the way, like Sherwood Forest, Maryville, and Ashleyville. And this is a particularly exciting time for the Bikeway, since this summer, Higgins Pier officially opened at the end of the path on the River. The last stretch of the path before the pier is a peaceful one surrounded by forests before giving way to the magnificent view of the marsh. At the pier, you may fish, launch a kayak, or simply meditate with a book under the covered pier head and while away a lovely Charleston Day.

West Ashley, Charleston, SC

photo taken by @dannymaymusic

West Ashley Greenway

The West Ashley Greenway is a sacred thing for nearby residents, who use the part-asphalt, part-dirt trail for running, walking dogs, and biking. The path is over eight miles long, extending from Wesley Drive (the South Windermere neighborhood) and nearly to Main Road, Johns Island. Along the way is everything from lush, wooded areas, where you can still find fireflies if you go at the perfect hour, to the breathtaking Lowcountry marsh. Go for a walk around 5.30 p.m. and you’ll likely pass many of your neighbors as it’s the most popular time of day to venture out. Don’t forget your bike lights if you go after dark, since the area is not well lit.

West Ashley Farmers Market

West Ashley Farmer’s Market

Ackerman Park – 55 Sycamore Avenue

This is a two-in-one spot, since you get both produce galore in the great outdoors, plus there’s a dog park — so everyone’s happy, pups included. Launching today, Wed. Sept. 21, 2016, the West Ashley’s farmer’s market is a huge, welcome addition to the area, since with it comes boocoos of both established and fresh, new producers and food products. Get in on the action while you can, because this farmer’s market only goes every Wednesday until October 26.

West Ashley Charleston,SC

photo taken by @tara_kaminski

West Ashley Park

3601 Mary Ader Avenue

Off Glenn McConnell Highway, you’ll find an oasis from the freeway at West Ashley Park, one of Charleston’s largest recreational parks. The park is 260 acres large, comprising everything from playgrounds (two) and a basketball court to a soccer field and an 18-hole disc golf course, which brings sports lovers of all ages and levels of expertise. Walk on the lush path past gorgeous swamps to a serene pond, where fishermen cast their lines and watch wild birds wander about. Bring your pups, too, because the park also boasts a dog park.

What’s your favorite outdoor spot in West Ashley?

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