Thursday, July 25, 2013

4th of July in Charleston, South Carolina

A lot of people ask how I plan my trips. This road trip we wanted to make the most of the hotel reward  nights we had earned so choosing the hotel was easy- whichever one closest to downtown Charleston that could be covered by points. We chose the Residence Inn in North Charleston.  For activities, I created a Pinterest Board. After completing the Pinterest board,  I made a google map to help navigate around town. Lastly, I asked on Facebook for recommendations. I ended up with a great list of suggestions.
My husband and I headed out on the open road Wednesday July 3rd after work. We stopped for the night just outside Savannah at the Hampton Inn. This hotel is right off the highway, clean and offers free breakfast. It also has an adequate fitness center. Overall, a great stop on a road trip. 

For the 4th of July, our first stop was Firefly Distillery. It is way back in the woods and shares land with winery. We sampled vodka, rum, bourbon and moonshine - 6 tastes ice or $6.
Firefly Distillery Moonshine
 The Firefly Southern Lemonade was my favorite. It captures that refreshing tart taste of summer.

 Next stop was downtown Charleston.  We tried to get lunch at Southend Brewery, but the service was terrible so we headed across the street to the rooftop bar at Vendue Inn. The food, service and views were terrific.

View from rooftop deck at Vendue Inn 

Fortified, we headed out to explore. We walked up and down the charming streets. We bought the combination ticket and explored the Customs house, the Provost dungeon, and the Slave trade museum.
Provost Dungeon, Charleston, SC
All three were very well done and offered good self guided tours.  I had not realized the extent of the domestic slave trade before the museum. It did a good job explaining how the system worked. 

In the evening, we enjoyed happy hour at Wing Wing Cafe and then took a carriage ride with Palmetto Carriage tours around the city.
Charleston Private Carriage Ride

It is a must do. Important note: The carriage tours cannot go into the residential neighborhoods after 6 pm. If you want to see the beautiful old homes, be sure you book a tour that leaves before 5 pm.
For the fireworks, we chose a cruise on the Carolina Queen. It was a great choice. We saw about 15 shows all around the marina. It was a beautiful night.
Charleston, SC

Day Two 
We wanted to visit a plantation and plantation house so we headed out to Magnolia Gardens. This incredible place has gardens, several tour options, a plantation house, a train ride, and special exhibits. The line to get in was very long so we decided to head to Drayton Hall instead. This was a great choice since all we were really interested in was touring a house. The Drayton  Hall is special because it has not been renovated. The house is in the same condition as the owners used it. Because it does not have air conditioning, it does not have furniture. The admission fee includes a guided tour and a comprehensive DVD tour. We really enjoyed the tour and exploring the house and grounds. 
Drayton Hall 
We then hightailed downtown because we had signed up for a cooking class at Charleson Cooks. The class was excellent. The instructor gave a great overview of the history of low country cuisine and then did a great job teaching the recipes and giving solid cooking tips.

Fried fish and rice and peas at Charleston Cooks! Cooking class 
 We walked around downtown a little more then went back to the hotel to change for our dinner at Husk. 
We went to The Gin Joint for pre-dinner cocktails. 
The Gin Joint 

It is a fantastic happy hour bar. Be prepared to wait for your cocktails. It is worth it, but a little weird to get all our food before our drinks. We walked over to Husk.  

We were very impressed with Husk. The menu changes daily so recommendations will not be helpful. The service was very good. The food was very good. The bar is also worth a visit if you cannot get reservations. After Husk, we went to The Market Pavilion rooftop bar. It is awesome. Fantastic views. Definitely go!! 

Day 3
We had originally signed up for a food tour, but it was cancelled at the last minute because the chefs were gone for the holiday. We quickly walked through the farmers' market and then headed south of Broad Street to see all the old homes. We toured the Nathaniel Russell house. 
Angie at Nathaniel Russell House 

It has been restored and modernized so it includes furniture appropriate for the period. The tour guide was very knowledgeable. We really enjoyed seeing all the historic homes. This is an example of classic Charleston architecture - one room wide with a long porch with two doors. 

 We walked over to Hominy Grill for lunch. I finally got my shrimp and grits!!
Shrimp and Grits 

 They were delicious. This restaurant will have a wait, but they turn over tables quickly and have a window into the bar so you can get a drink while you wait. We wanted to try more Charleston beers so we went to Closed for Business - a great beer bar. We enjoyed sampling all their beers and had a good Scotch egg. Dinner was at The Ordinary. 
The Ordinary
This is an oyster house. We were expecting a little more of a fine dining atmosphere. It would be a great choice for a group celebration or a happy hour. The oysters were the star. After dinner, we found another great rooftop bar a few blocks away: Stars.  The restaurant menu looked really good and the bar was fun. It was very popular. We got there around 8:30 pm and were able to stalk a table. When we left around 11 pm, the line to get in was very long. 

Day 4 

We had a long drive so we headed to 82 Queen for brunch right when it opened at 10 am. we loved this restaurant. The courtyard was great. The eggs Benedict with a fried green tomato and crab cake was unbelievable.

We will definitely be back there. 

Overall, we enjoyed Charleston. The service everywhere was very good. At times we felt like we were on a movie set and wondered about the soul of the city. We will likely go back and stay in downtown the next time. We want to explore more plantations and historic houses, check out the Fort, and visit some more museums. I want to take a carriage ride through the historic district. Let me know if you have any questions or would like me to plan your Charleston trip. Email me at 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Trips with Angie Deals of the Week 7.22.13

Check out these special savings on cruises, all-inclusive resorts, and Florida vacations:

Norwegian Epic 

Celebrity Cruises: Free Shore Excursion, $100 OBC on Select Cruises and Free Exclusive Shore Excursion, Concierge Host and Cocktail Party on others

Princess: $325 Shipwide Savings Coupon Booklet & $100 Reduced Deposit on Select Cruises!

Norwegian Cruies Lines:  $50 Specialty Dining Credit, Bottle of Wine on your next 7-day+ Freestyle Cruise.

All-Inclusive Resorts 
Live Aqua Cancun 

Live Aqua Cancun All Inclusive Adults Only Resort: Pamper yourself with $400 Resort Credit at Live Aqua Cancun

Check out the Jewel Resorts in Jamaica: Summer fun has begun at Jewel Dunn's River Beach Resort & Spa in Ochos Rios. Up to 52% all-inclusive savings plus Dunn's River Falls Tour for Two!  OR the Jewel Runaway Bay Beach & Golf Resort! Up to 62% all-inclusive savings plus Kids FREE!

Enjoy Great Savings on Florida Fun

Clearwater Beach, Florida 

Save on a Southwest Vacation to Florida:  Explore destinations all over the state. Dive into the clear-blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico in Clearwater/St. Petersburg; explore the theme parks of Orlando; and experience the energetic beaches and exciting atmosphere of Miami.  Book a flight + hotel vacation package for six or more nights to Florida, and get two nights free*.
Book: 7/16/13 - 7/29/13 by 6 p.m. CT
Travel: 8/20/13 - 2/12/14
One-day advance purchase required.
Blackout dates and restrictions may apply.

You can email me at or find me on Facebook. 

 Be sure to LIKE my page to get great travel tips, information on fun destinations and the latest deals. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Why book a vacation with Trips with Angie?

Here's why Julie did: 

Julie contacted me about a 10th anniversary trip to Disney World. She was very frustrated. She had spent hours researching the trip on the internet and still wasn’t sure she was getting a good price. She sent me information on an off site property she believed to be the cheapest accommodations in the area with king sized beds. I started to work my magic and discovered that the Swan/Dolphin properties were offering a promotion that made the package there only $100 more than the package she sent me. She was so excited. Now she was staying within walking distance of Epcot at a beautiful property. 
The Swan at the top of the Swan/Dolphin Hotel 

So if you are getting frustrated planning an upcoming vacation or know someone who is, please email me at I can help. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Dancing with the Stars Cruises - Holland America

Holland America Cruise Lines has partnered with Dancing with the Stars for a dancing contest on its ships culminating in a final dance competition next January. Check out some of these great sailings and Trips with Angie perks!

A Sample of Upcoming Cruises

7 Day Glacier Discovery Sailing from Vancouver to Seward
Trips with Angie Special for Select Sailings
$50 Shipboard Credit
Ocean View Cabins start at: $499 per person
 This rate is a flash special that expires 7/14/13 

7 Day Caribbean Culinary Collection Sailing on ms Eurodam or ms Westerdam roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale
Trips with Angie Special for select sailings:  Shipboard Credit Per Person ($25), Exclusive Demo With Guest Chef 
Balcony Cabins starting at $849 per person

10 Day Colors of Canada and New England Discovery Culinary Collection Sailing on ms Veendam between Quebec and New York

Trips with Angie Special:
Shipboard Credit Per Person ($25), Chocolate Covered Strawberries; Exclusive Demo With Guest Chef
Ocean View Cabins starting at $999 per person 


15 Day Transatlantic Journey to a New World Culinary Collection Sailing
October 31, 2013

Trips with Angie Special:  $100 Shipboard Credit per Cabin,  Exclusive Demo With Guest Chef
Balcony Cabins starting at: $1,099 per person 

12 Day Mediterranean Empire Culinary Collection Sailing Roundtrip from Venice
September 12, 2013

Trips with Angie Special:  $75 Shipboard Credit per Stateroom,  Exclusive Demo With Guest Chef
Ocean View Cabins staring at: $1,699 per person 

18 Day Panama Canal Cruise from Vancouver to Fort Lauderdale  September 15, 2103

Trips with Angie Special:  $100 Shipboard Credit per cabin
Ocean View Cabins staring at: $1,999 per person
This rate is a flash special that expires 7/14/13 
All prices are based on double occupancy and subject to change. Trips with Angie Specials are subject to availability and the terms and conditions of the promotions.