5 of the Happiest Seaside Towns in America
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Designed to fully engage the senses, the Meditation Garden takes you on an inward journey enhanced by fragrant lavender, rosemary and tea olive, by peaceful sounds of cascading water and wind chimes and the various textures of stone. In keeping with the cathedral motif, the garden is comprised of four “sanctuaries” or smaller garden rooms, which one enters through a small circular cloister garden and the Grand Portal (or narthex) and then through smaller portals. The sanctuaries include the Prayer Garden, the Camellia Garden, the Labyrinth and finally the Christ Statue Garden, which lies on an axial view from the narthex, framed by oaks, as if the cathedral’s “altar.”
The Meditation Garden, including the Labyrinth, is wheelchair friendly, welcoming all patients and guests.
CHARLESTON, S.C. WHY NOW: High temperatures in Charleston average about 76 degrees in April and May, near-perfect weather for exploring its refurbished historic downtown. A new waterfront park and pier were installed last summer in the town of Mount Pleasant, just over the Cooper River. And the nearby Union Pier Terminal will be welcoming more Carnival cruise ships next month, conveniently coinciding with the opening of new hotels, a renovated open-air market and the restoration of cultural landmarks.
WHAT TO DO The Dock Street Theater (135 Church Street; 843-720-3968), which opened in 1736 and calls itself America’s first theater for performing arts, is set to reopen to audiences next month after a $19 million face-lift. That’s just in time for the Spoleto Festival USA (843-579-3100; spoletousa.org), the annual celebration of live music, dancing and theater that begins May 28. The outdoor City Market (between North and South Market Streets; thecharlestoncitymarket.com), which predates the Civil War, was spruced up this spring with wider walkways and roomier stalls to hold even more sweetgrass baskets.
WHERE TO STAY The Restoration on King (75 Wentworth Street; 877-221-7202; restorationonking.com), a 16-suite boutique hotel in a former office building wedged between the Antiques District and the French Quarter, opened this month. Rates start at about $300 for rooms that offer plenty of antebellum charm, like exposed brick walls and knotty pine floors; in-room breakfast is included.
WHERE TO EAT Low Country cuisine is all about seafood and raw bars. And in the middle of the historic district is Amen Street Fish and Raw Bar (205 East Bay Street; 843-853-8600; amenstreet.com), which opened in November in a 19th-century brick building. Young professionals cram the black-leather booths, nibbling on raw oysters until 2 a.m. Or drive a little out of town to 17 North (3563 Highway 17; 843-606-2144; 17north.net), a roadside kitchen that also opened in November, in a ranch-style house. The menu features sustainable and seasonal fare, including smoked pulled pork, and a rib-eye steak drizzled with truffle oil.
DON’T MISS Low humidity, few crowds and flowers in full bloom are ideal conditions for exploring Charleston’s many parks and nearby plantations. The Francis Marion Hotel (387 King Street; 843-722-0600; francismarionhotel.com) hands out picnic coolers stuffed with fried chicken, buttermilk biscuits and assorted jams. Packages, which include the cooler and a one-night stay for two, start at $189.
The Sidewalk Arts Festival: The Savannah College of Art and Design's annual Sidewalk Arts Festival draws thousands of visitors each year to view temporary chalk masterpieces created on the sidewalks of historic Forsyth Park, Savannah, Ga. Participants represent SCAD's many areas of study; different artistic styles are inspired by different cultures, interests and disciplines.
Autobiographical Snippet from the dust cover of Three O'clock Dinner by Josephine Pinckney: "Josephine Pinckney may be described as a cosmopolitan Charlestonian. She has traveled widely abroad, spent a year in Italy, lived winters in New York and summers in Mexico, but she always goes back to home and garden in Charleston,just as her family, well known in the south, has for generations. A literary lady, she has previously published a book of poems, "Sea Drinking Cities" and a novel, Hilton Head. With DuBose Heyward, Hervey Allen and others, she started the Poetry Society of South Carolina which has a strong influence on the rebirth of literature in the South. As a hobby, Miss Pinckney collects and transcribes spirituals which she sings with a group called the Society for the Preservation of Spirituals. Gardening and dogs have a strong appeal for her, and she collects old china and first editions."
Guerrilla Cuisine is Charleston's original collaborative dining project. While the idea of "underground", "alternative" dining is not a new one we've put our spin on it, refined it and brought it to Charleston starting with two dinners in November of 2007. Since those dinners we've evolved and continue to evolve into an exciting culinary, social and philanthropic venture that pushes boundaries, brings awareness and builds communities.
While you may know Guerrilla does at least one event per month and that the event location is only available to paid guests the night before the event. What you may not know is that each event is a collaboration between us, the chef, the farmer, the artists and a particular charity. Think of it as a local awareness project with proceeds from each event benefiting a selected charity...sometimes national, often local.
Guerrilla Cuisine is not for everyone, it's not a sit at the table look at a big menu and pick what you want. It's 5-7 course prix fixe meal to which you BYOB and sit at communal tables with other people as cool as you. Our events are held in unconventional spaces that thus far have included a winery, art galleries, a backyard, a living room, and a warehouse.