A pineapple fountain, beaches everywhere you turn, and colorful buildings galore, I’m not going to lie, Charleston is definitely me in a city. Ever since I learned of this magnificent coastal city, I knew that one day I needed to plan a trip. Luckily for myself, my college’s Honors Program allowed me to help plan and attend their annual Fall trip to Charleston this past September. This meant that I got to not only travel to Charleston for the weekend, but have the opportunity to go with some of my best friends (and make new ones along the way). Let’s just say a lot of Lilly Pulitzer went into my suitcase that weekend!
Since I did travel to Charleston with my school, this meant that there was an academic component to it. Yes, that means that professors DO travel with us. For the academic part of the trip, each of us spilt up into different mini courses which focus on a different aspect of Charleston, such as food, the environment, gender at the Citadel, and religion. My group had an environmental emphasis placed on it, and we traveled to the Isle of Palms State Park where we participated in an ocean cleanup (more on that later!). Personally, I really enjoy the academic aspect of each Honors trip, as it allows me to learn about a different city and its culture in an out of the classroom manner.
After getting up at the crack of dawn with a suitcase full of Lilly Pulitzer and a five hour bus ride, I finally made it to Charleston. Upon arrival, each mini course group met at the hotel and settled in there, before we all headed to the Isle of Palms State Park for some much needed vitamin sea. There, I finally achieved my dream of getting to take a underneath a beach pier, which was super exciting! After soaking up some sun, it was time to hit the Spirit of Charleston for a gorgeous river dinner cruise (fun fact: I LOVE river cruises in general, so this was a plus!!). There, I got to soak in some gorgeous views of Charleston’s iconic Ravanel Bridge, downtown, and Fort Sumter. Let’s just say I feel right in love with the city before even stepping foot in its downtown!
Saturday morning was mini course morning, so, for me, that meant it was ocean clean up time. My group and I went back to the Isle of Palms State Park, where like many other South Carolina beaches, are participating in a statewide clean up that happens one Saturday morning each month. Before the clean up, my group and I learned some staggering facts about how much plastic waste affects our oceans and our beaches; one little piece of plastic can really harm a tiny ocean creature. These facts definitely made me realize the gifts that each person who takes part in the ocean clean up brings to our ecosystems. I didn’t take many pictures at the clean up, as I wanted to put my all into the service component of the trip and really take the time to leave my mark while I was there.
The afternoon-evening was left open for me and my classmates, which meant for most of us exploring the downtown. My friends and I ended up checking out a burger place (which I honestly forget the name of), before walking throughout many of the shops of the city’s iconic King Street. After visiting many shops, we headed for Rainbow Row, the Waterfront Park, and the Pineapple Fountain where I truly felt as if I was in my element! Once we soaked in some of the major sites, we headed for the Charleston City Market, where we met up with my cousin Laura who went to school and lived nearby the downtown. My friends and I, then, enjoyed dinner and experiencing Charleston from Laura’s viewpoint. We were definitely the last one’s back to the hotel, but it was 100000% worth it!
Sunday morning was a morning spent well listening to presentations from my classmates and I about their mini courses. Since we had extra time after the presentations, we took a group excursion to the Boone Hall Plantation to learn about its colonial history and receive a surprise presentation on how indigo is made. Once our morning had ended, we had a nice group lunch at the celebrity-frequented Hyman’s Seafood restaurant before hitting the road back to Raleigh.
All in all, going to Charleston was like a Lilly Pulitzer dream come true. Planning a trip to Charleston was something that I had hoped to do for a few years now, so I feel very lucky that I was able to experience this magical colonial city with some of my best friends. They always say that there’s always an opportunity to travel to the places that you have loved and have consistently wanted to see, and after going this trip, I can vouch that this is very true. Til next time, Charleston!