THE SEA ISLANDS
Time is a slippery thing on the Sea Island coast. This marshy waterworld of oak hammocks, shrimp docks and sleepy towns, all lilted with a sing-song accent that, together, conjures up a kind of magic that’s rare to find in America, if not the world. This is the Lowcountry. Her saintly capital is Charleston, with a rainbow of fine houses and a tableful of James Beard Awards. Southward from the historic peninsula, communities are woven together by palmetto thickets and spartina grass and Gullah-Geechee lore that points to the complicated ancestry of this beautiful dream of a place.
There’s perhaps no better walking city in America than Charleston, where cobblestone streets give way to boutique haberdasheries and verdant parks with sea breezes. Make your residence at The Restoration on King, five small dwellings sewed together in the heart of the historic district. Speaking of, roaming the alleyways and one-way streets South of Broad is jasmine-scented voyeurism at its finest. Catch on with Tommy Dew for a two-hour guided tour. As for the well-deserved raves about the Holy City’s restaurants? Here’s a trio on Upper King: Rodney Scott’s BBQ for whole-hog divinity; the all-things-Lowcountry seafood pilau at The Grocery; and, as a nightcap, a martini and tiny burger at Little Jack’s Tavern. Trust us: That’s the best dessert in town.
BEAUFORT & BLUFFTON
Every road trip begs for that hourlong drive that takes half a day. Here’s yours. Cruise the backroads through Johns Island, Wadmalaw and Edisto, then veer up to Highway 17, all the while soaking in this marshy maritime forest vision. You’ll see roadside fruit stands, sweetgrass weavers, crushed-shell driveways and more ghostly oaks than you can count. Stop at McIntosh Book Shoppe in Beaufort, a lucky charm of a small town, and pick up a novel by Pat Conroy, the Lowcountry laureate. Before the stars rise, either pitch your surfside tent on Hunting Island or tuck in for high-end hospitality at Palmetto Bluff.
SAVANNAH & CUMBERLAND ISLAND
Savannah could be a trip unto itself, but this time it’s a sustenance stop. Hit Back in the Day Bakery for what Sean Brock calls the best biscuit he’s ever tasted, then head to Cumberland Island. Only 300 visitors are allowed on per day, carried over by ferry from the town of St. Marys. Once there, you’ll find wild horses, lazy loggerheads and 18 miles of untouched beaches. Standing sentinel among the scenery is Greyfield Inn, a Carnegie-built mansion with verandas, antiques and the aura of kingly escape. If you come back ashore, Speed’s Kitchen in Shellman Bluff is decidedly unpolished and barely a thousand feet (as the seagull flies) from Blackbeard Creek.
The Restoration on King • 75 Wentworth St • therestorationhotel.com
Tommy Dew’s Walking History Tour • tommydewswalkingtour.com
Rodney Scott’s BBQ • 1011 King St • rodneyscottsbbq.com
The Grocery • 4 Cannon St • thegrocerycharleston.com
Little Jack’s Tavern • 710 King St • littlejackstavern.com
McIntosh Book Shoppe • 917 Bay
Palmetto Bluff • 19 Village Park Square • palmettobluff.com
Back in the Day Bakery • 2403 Bull St • backinthedaybakery.com
Greyfield Inn • 4 N 2nd St • greyfieldinn.com
Speed’s Kitchen • 1191 Speeds Kitchen Rd