Exploring the Great Outdoors of Charleston
Even in January, daytime highs in the 60s and 70s are common in balmy Charleston. For travelers coming from points farther north, the city offers a cure for the fever cabin of long winters. Whether you want to kayak through the swamps, wander through gardens that are in bloom year-round, or simply enjoy an alfresco lunch, you’ll discover that Charleston’s Southern warmth refers to more than the graciousness of locals. Betty Jo Currie of Currie & Co. has created an itinerary for any traveler who wants to get outside and stretch their legs when visiting this city by the sea.
  • Day 1
    Arrive in Charleston
    To make the most of Charleston’s location on the water, Betty Jo will arrange for you to stay at the Cottages on Charleston Harbor. These 10 two-bedroom cottages with screened-in porches are like having your own Southern vacation home for a few days, with an enviable location on Patriots Point. If the cottages are beyond your budget for this trip, another waterfront option on the Charleston peninsula is the Hilton Garden Inn Charleston Waterfront/Downtown, overlooking the Ashley River. The Hilton Garden Inn has the added convenience of being within walking distances of some of Charleston’s historic sites.

    After you are settled into your hotel, you’ll go for a sunset cruise aboard a three-masted ship modeled on 18th-century schooners. Betty Jo can arrange for a private charter or you can join a scheduled sailing. On the cruise you’ll spy the islands that dot the harbor and admire the city skyline as it starts to twinkle as evening descends. For private charters, a wine tasting and dinner can be arranged on board the ship. Otherwise after your sail is over, you’ll dine on fresh fish alfresco at Tavern & Table on Shem Creek.
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    Day 2
    A Kayak Adventure to Capers Island
    This morning you’ll drive 25 minutes to Gadsenville Landing, where you will embark on a six-hour kayak tour to Capers Island. As you paddle your way through the estuary, you’ll be able to spot dolphins, loggerhead turtles, and various bird species that make their home in the area’s salt marshes. Included in the expedition is a picnic lunch on the uninhabited island, before you return to the mainland. (If the six-hour excursion sounds longer than you’d like, Betty Jo can suggest shorter outings, from nature walks to sunrise photography tours.)

    After you have a had a chance to rest back at your hotel, stroll the streets of historic Charleston, which feel especially magical in the evening light with their illuminated historic buildings and trees draped in moss. Your final destination is Cannon Green, located in the heart of the city’s most dynamic neighborhoods and offering a garden-inspired dining experience. There’s an outdoor patio ideal for warm weather, though the cozy interior is equally inviting if you have to dine indoors.
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    Day 3
    Tea and Toasts
    After a day kayaking, you’ll take it somewhat easier today. A 45-minute drive from Cottages on Charleston Harbor will bring you to the only estate where tea is cultivated in the United States. While attempts to cultivate tea in South Carolina date back to the late 1700s, they weren’t successful until 1888. The Charleston Tea Plantation is now owned by the Bigelow Tea Company, which maintains it as a showcase to introduce visitors to the process of tea cultivation and fermentation. After you have toured the plantation, continue on to another unique farm—the Deep Water Vineyard, the only winery in the Charleston area. After touring the operations and sampling some of its products, from dessert whites to fruity reds, you can enjoy a picnic lunch on the estate, accompanied by a bottle purchased from the winery.

    After lunch, head back to Charleston, with a detour on the way to visit the Caw Caw Intepretive Center. Six miles of boardwalks lead visitors over wetlands in this area that was once part of several rice plantations. It was also the site of important battles during the Stono Rebellion, a slave uprising in 1739 when South Carolina was still a colony. Now the area is best known as a prime bird-watching spot, rife with songbirds and waterfowl.

    Return to Charleston for a casual Sunday evening dinner at Harold’s Cabin, which opened in 2016. One of the restaurant’s co-owners is actor Bill Murray, but locals come not in hope of a celebrity sighting and instead to enjoy the delicious Lowcountry dishes which taste even better on the rooftop garden.
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    Day 4
    A Walk on the Beach
    Depending on the schedule of your flight back home, you may have time for one last visit to the beach. Sullivan’s Island is 15 minutes by car from the Cottages on Charleston Harbor, while the popular Folly Beach is only a little farther. Take a dip in the Atlantic, breathe in the ocean air, and say goodbye to the seabirds before heading back home.