Posts Tagged With: Charleston

Wrap up on 2016

This is the crazy post where I try to dig back through my brain and figure out how many nights we spent in hotels.  I can safely say not near as many as 2015.   Our family needs are changing and we do more small weekend trips away now that our daughter is older.

2016 saw us take a spring break trip to check out three colleges for said daughter.  The Holiday Inn IHG mail in promotion points came in really handy for this trip to Pennsylvania.

Franklin & Marshall

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We also did a couple of single nights in hotels before a college visit to make sure we arrived on time and for a little family break.  Nothing wrong with relaxing in a hot tub and eating seafood on a weeknight.

Since our daughter was heading to South Africa for a few weeks in June we used a night in Radisson Kalamazoo for a family night.  Enjoying their great pool area and local food before we went our separate ways for most of the summer.

Kalamazoo Radisson

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August saw the girls having free time and Southwest airline credit to use so we went to Savannah and Charleston for a long weekend.  I did not want to lose $124 in credit from when I re-booked price changes. I let Daughter pick the destination and I was surprised by her choice.  She fell in love with the south and everything about Savannah.

Bonadventure Cemetary

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Labor day brought us to South Bend for a quick get away.  The work hard play hard Club Carlson promotion was offering triple weekend points so we took in the Celtic Festival.

Learning to throw an axe.

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Then we took our long December vacation to Louisiana and Mississippi.  This time we cleaned out my husbands IHG points account leveraging it for three nights.  I really wish IHG did more mail in promotions!

Creole Queen foggy ride

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Also new to us this year was staying a hotel night before a long race.  It is easier on the family if they can hang out at the room for a couple of hours after an early starting run.  No parking hassles, no freezing while they wait or looking for bathrooms. I like walking to the start and knowing they are comfortable.

Foreshore adventure run

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So this years math:

3,358 airline miles in 2016

19 nights in a hotel

2 nights in a Bed and Breakfast

Losing the second night free benefit with Club Carlson kept us lower on our stays this year and I am not really focusing on one chain at the moment.  Whomever has the best promotion gets my business for now.   We seem to be doing more driving than flying these days. And with my daughters schedule its really hard to get away for more than a couple of nights at a time.

For 2017 we start off with a bang, my daughter has an opportunity in D.C. so we will soon be headed there for a bit.  We are tossing around heading back to Florida for our winter getaway.  We were lucky with mostly nice and unusually warm weather in Louisiana but going further south should up our warm weather chances.

Creole Queen

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Who knows where this crazy hobby will take us this year!

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I Happen to Like Mules…

After our Free Tours by Foot tour of Charleston I asked Daughter what she wanted to do next.  I had a plan but that was about to go out the window.  Daughter wanted to go back to the market area and maybe (depending on costs) take a carriage tour.   My plan was to leave the historic area and head to Drayton for a tour before returning to the airport for our flight home.

We walked back through the market and saw different vendors.  Daughter purchased a nice matted photograph for her room. We also looked at various carriage tours and inquired on costs.  They all seemed to be around the same price but one vendor thought he would be funny and try to steer us in his direction.   He told us most carriages give the same tours but that his tour was not “half-assed and that they use horses for their tours.”  Not funny.  I am never a fan of bashing another business to make yours look better. And by the way mules are amazing creatures.  Guess what tour we did not take?

We walked around to the red barn a block over to inquire if they had room for a tour that afternoon.  Luckily for us being a Monday they were not overwhelmed and we were able to secure a tour leaving in a little over 30 minutes.

They offer a waiting area with decent bathrooms.  Lots of benches and fans while you wait or you can shop the market and return prior to your tour time.

Palmetto Carriage Works

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They pull your carriage team up to the loading area and call your name to board by row.  We had 4 in our row and we were seated right behind the driver.

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Charleston Unitarian Church Graveyard

On our ghost tour the night before we were told the story of Ann Ravenel at the Unitarian Graveyard entrance on King Street.  Before we walked on to our next ghost stop my Daughter was talking about visiting here in the daylight.  After our time at the Slave Museum we walked the few blocks over to the small brick wall and gate area between two shops and across from the library on King Street.

Unitarian Cemetery

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There is a small brick path way that leader further back towards the Unitarian Church. There were a couple of benches and it was almost like an over grown park.  Such an interesting place! Towards Archdale Street the graveyard widens and has more pathways through the tangles.

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A Planner Trying to be Flexible

If you know me you know I am a planner.  If the tour calls for cash I have it in an envelope marked with the date I need it and tour information.  I keep each trip on a spreadsheet.

My version of being flexible is walking into Ben & Jerry’s on the way back from the ghost tour.  I did not realize that would be an almost $15 decision (ouch) and I will be flexible elsewhere in the future with my late night ice cream runs.  I would rather keep late night ice cream visits to $10 and under!

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Free Tours by Foot in Charleston

I am a big fan of Free Tours by Foot.  We have used them in Philly, Savannah and previously in Charleston.  The process is simple, find the tour / date on the calendar and book it online. There is a $1 fee to book per person to cover the Charleston tour tax.  The tour guide tells you where to meet and what time.  Easy peasy!  Please book well in advance, they are allowed 20 people on the tour and even on a hot Monday in August our tour was full!

Free Tours by Foot

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CHILLING CHARLESTON MACABRE GHOST TOUR

When I received the surprise email from Wyndham hotels on my Go Fast redemption I clicked on a link that took me to Viator a booking site for tours and activities.  I figured the prices would be so inflated that my $10 code would not be worth using but I poked around for curiosity.

They offered food tours, carriage rides, walking tours, and ghost tours.  I know Daughter loves a good ghost tour so I tried to figure who the vendors were for the seven tours listed.  A little leg work and I knew that most of the prices were the same as the companies websites, so I was not paying inflated prices which was a pleasant surprise.  The down side is one very popular company was not booking on Viator for their weekend tours.  Bummer, so if I wanted to go into the jail on their tour I could not use my $10 voucher as we were only in Charleston for the weekend.

One tour had great reviews and was actually priced less on Viator than on the company website.  Chilling Charleston Macabre Ghost Tours by Ashley on the Cooper Walking Tours.  So I could use my $10 discount code from Wyndham that I received by booking a hotel on points! I love this crazy hobby! The tour cost on Viator is $15 a person.  After applying my gift code I paid $20 total for the two of us to book the ghost tour at 9pm.

We met our tour on the steps of the Gibbes Museum of Art just a block up from our hotel.  It had been plenty hot during the day so I happy to be touring in the dark. We easily found our guide and waited for the other guests to arrive while we chatted with her. Its easy to see she loves what she does!

Our tour took us around different sites in the city and gave us spots to sit along the way.  We heard about Zoe at Poogan’s Porch, Anna Ravenal, and Lavinia at each location.  Our tour took around 90 minutes and was very entertaining.  We would recommend it! Tours are offered at 7 and 9pm.

More information here: http://ashleyonthecooper.com/work/charleston-ghost-tours/

Macabre Ghost Tour

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Charleston Historic Market

The Charleston Historic Market stretches for 4 blocks under cover with an air conditioned store section in the middle.   We were able to walk through the market twice.  Once for the day time market and again Sunday night for the Charleston Night Market. The vendors were different for both.

Historic Market

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Do remember IF it is raining heavily do not hang out in the market area. This is the low spot in town and prone to flooding.  This is why its the perfect spot for a market that is dis-assembled each night.

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It’Sugar Store

When you travel with kids you are pulled into stores you normally would walk right past.  Daughter spied It’Sugar next to the Charleston Historic Market and was inside before I figured out what the store was.

It's Sugar

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This is kid heaven!

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The Mills House – Wyndham Grand Hotel

I can watch people glaze over when I tell them to save those hotel points and miles.  Over time they do pay off!  Wyndham previously was an under used program for me.  It seemed to take forever to earn enough points for a decent hotel stay.  But then they changed their program for the better and I was happy to take advantage of the change.  All their hotels redeem at 15,000 points.  You read that correctly!  The Days Inn is 15,000 points as is the Super 9, Ramada or Wyndham Grand locations.

The Mills House was not on on my radar, I was hitting all my hotel programs to hopefully find a hotel close to Charleston. But when I searched Wyndham and saw the Mills House I was a little excited.  I remembered walking past the courtyard of this hotel back in 2014 and thinking it was a nice looking place in a great location!

Mills House

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So I quickly booked our Sunday evening in Charleston here for 15,000 points.  The average rate would have been $179 plus tax for our Sunday night. On weekends the rooms run $279 so this is a great place to redeem Wyndham points in my book!  Then I had an unexpected surprise in my email that I would be receiving a code for my “Go Free Plus Award from Wyndham” seven days before check in.  I was not sure what that meant at the time so I tucked the email in with my other trip notes.  Ends up when you book a Go Free Plus hotel they send you a discount code for $10 off a local attraction.

Parking is either valet or self parking is the attached garage on Queen street at $23 a day.  We easily found the parking garage and used the second floor bridge to enter the hotel. Taking the bridge allows you to pass the pool and pool side rooms.

Mills House

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Mills House

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The Mills House is very impressive and we have not even checked in yet!

Mills House

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Mills House

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Check in was quick and very friendly.  She gave us two food vouchers for use at the hotel which were much appreciated and unexpected!

Our two queen room was on the seventh floor and beautifully decorated.

Mills House

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The Mills House

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Large bathroom with lots of counter space is very helpful when traveling with a teen girl.

Mills House

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This was our view.

Mills House room view

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The Mills House is two short city blocks from the historic market area with all the shopping and food you could want. Its less then a ten minute walk to the waterfront park. Perfect location for our time in Charleston!

Breakfast the next morning was delicious.  There were several options but we usually pick french toast or waffles in our house.

Mills House

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Mills House

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Daughter went with the french toast and gave me her fruit. She loved the bacon that came with it.

Mills House French Toast

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I went with the pancakes and ham.

Mills House Pancakes

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The Mills House was amazing and I would love to stay there again!  We left our bags after breakfast with the valet and that worked perfectly until it was time to head to the airport.

Address:

The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel

115 Meeting Street, Charleston, South Carolina 29401

 

More information here: http://www.millshouse.com

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McLeod Plantation Historic Site

McLeod

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For her first trip south Daughter had requested to visit a plantation.  She must have missed some information in the AP Us History class last year because that is not really an option.   In fact I took her to the historic Sheldon Church ruins just to show her how damaging the Civil War was.  There are still plantation options but they either are mostly gardens or rebuilt homes.  The closest I had come previously was Drayton Hall and that was on my list to visit with her.

Then on TripAdvisor I stumbled on McLeod Plantation while looking up reviews on Drayton Hall.  Odd that I had never heard of this one or stumbled upon it on our last trip so I dug up some more information. This historic site was opened to the public in April of 2015 and is ran by the Charleston County Parks & Recreation Commission.  They offer guided tours four times a day that are not to be missed. I feel if you just wander the property you will be really missing some of the emotion of the site.

They preface the tour with a warning that this tour will make you uncomfortable at times.  They do NOT skirt around slavery here and they address it head on, this the main focus of the tour.  I will admit I was very uncomfortable and shocked at times. But this story needs to be told and being from the Midwest reading it in a history book was different than standing next to the slave cabins.

I would also add that older children will get more from this plantation than the younger kids.  We had a few children on our tour and they just looked a bit bored.  They were quiet and respectful but you could tell they were ready to be done.

This is the now front of the home that used to be the back entry.  The exterior was updated in the late 1920s to early 30s.  Changing the entry and the driveway to the other side of the home.

McLeod Plantation

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This was the prior front of the home overlooking the fields and land they owned.

McLeod Plantation

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This tour walks you through the long history of the home and its owners from 1741.  Pretty impressive!  When they talked about how much this plantation produced in the 1860s I could not imagine it. They had 74 salves in 23 slave cabins doing an unfathomable amount of work and not just in sea cotton. Prior to the tour I had never heard of sea cotton!

McLeod Plantation

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Several of the old out buildings are still standing and slowly being repaired.  Even the old two-holer outhouse is still standing near the house.

And I loved this twisty old oak! It is said to be over 600 years old, some say 1,000 years old.

McLeod Plantion

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This is the old driveway to the house through the oaks and past the slave cabins.

McLeod Driveway

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We learned about both armies using the home during the civil war and then the Freedmen’s Bureau.

McLeod Plantation

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Our guide allowed us to peek inside a couple of cabins and it blew my mind that these were still rented and lived in during the 1990s.  Farming had ended here in the 1940s.

McLeod Plantation

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McLeod Plantation

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I think our tour took about an hour.  Our guide was very interesting and had an ipad with old photos from the family so we could see more history that she showed everyone.

Afterward you are welcome to enter the lower level of the home and look around the unfurnished home.  The main home was build in 1858.

McLeod Plantation

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McLeod Plantation

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McLeod Plantation

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McLeod House

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The county currently owns 37 acres, at one time the family owned 1,693 acres here.

There is a welcome center with bathrooms that was built in an adjacent parking lot. Here is also where you purchase your tour tickets.  Guided tours are offered at 10am, 11:30, 1:30 and 3pm.  Adults are $10 and children 3-12 are $6.

Hours
Tues – Sun, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
(Also open on President’s Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day

Admission

  • $10 Ages 13 & up
  • $6 ages 3-12
  • Free ages 2 & under
  • Gold Pass membership allows free entry for 4 guests per visit

 

Address:

325 Country Club Drive
Charleston, SC 29412

More information here: https://ccprc.com/1447/McLeod-Plantation-Historic-Site

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