It was March 31 and my last hours as a 2022 snowbird in Florida were coming to an end. My daughter A had arrived to accompany me on the drive home to New Jersey. I was excited for what I knew was going to be a fun and memorable mother-daughter road trip. We would be making a stopover in St. Augustine, Florida; spend two days touring Charleston, South Carolina; and arrive in Richmond, Virginia, for A’s birthday with a two night stay and spa day at the luxurious The Jefferson Hotel.
Now that I’ve had a few months to recuperate from our mother-daughter road trip, I’m here to share details. Ready to reminisce with me? Here we go.
Clear sailing to historic St. Augustine
Having been in St. Augustine on past road trips, I felt that one night was sufficient for our homeward-bound journey. However, since lodging is quite expensive in this touristy town, I asked A to search for something with a more reasonable rate.
She found Casa de Solana Bed & Breakfast. The inn resides in the seventh-oldest house on the oldest street in St. Augustine. The inn is lovely and rates include complimentary breakfast and off-site parking, a definite plus since parking spaces are at a premium in the historic district. Each of the 10 rooms are decorated with different antiques and furnishings. I was pleased that our room was on the first floor so we didn’t have to carry luggage up any stairs. BTW driving around St. Augustine’s narrow cobblestone streets takes navigating skills.
As the skies opened up with buckets of rain, I asked A where she wanted to go for dinner. We agreed on Mediterranean. We were able to make a last-minute reservation at Costa Brava. The restaurant is located in the four-diamond Casa Monica Resort and Spa. Per the resort, Costa Brava is one of the best places to eat in St. Augustine.
We had a fabulous feast of tapas: Hunt Board filled with Spanish meats and cheeses, Seafood Cerviche, Pan Con Tomate, and Baby Wedge Salad (served with the cutest baby iceberg). Each small plate was better than the next. It was so good, so good, so good. As was the Raventos Spanish wine that we sipped with our meal.
Next stop the charming city of Charleston
My last visit to Charleston was in the early 80s, so I was eager to see the changes that had been bestowed upon “one of America’s best loved travel destinations.” Charleston has a great #ExploreCharleston website if you plan to vacay here. A had told me about the amazing foodie scene and I was revved up that we would have an extra day to enjoy it.
It was another 5 hour drive to Charleston. We touched down at the Hyatt House in the later afternoon, finally finding the valet entrance which was hidden behind one of the downtown streets. Packed with tourists, Charleston lodging is up there in price whether booking an hotel or AirBnb. We had reserved months in advance as you should too if thinking of visiting.
Having received top rankings from Travel + Leisure many years in a row, A and I literally dropped our bags and hit our step counters to 10,000 to get a Southern fix of the city’s history, hospitality and food. We strolled famous King Street, wandering in and out of boutiques and checking out all the hotels, bars and restaurants.
OMG, the historic Southern homes on the way to Charleston harbor were magnificent — majestic doors, expansive porches, lush landscaping — I wish I could have gone inside for a house tour of each one. (P.S. — Certain times of the year Historic Charleston Foundation hosts house and garden tours and there are homes that are designated as Museums that can be entered for a fee.)
Dinner at 167 Raw is worth the wait
”Let’s eat at 167 Raw Oyster Bar,” said A. “It’s one of the top trendy restaurants in Charleston. Only thing is they don’t take reservations. You have to put your name in at the concierge and wait it out.” In between our 90 minute wait, we mozied over to the “#1 City Attraction” The Historic Charleston City Market. By 5:00 pm most of the day vendors were getting ready to close to enable the night vendors to set up for a later event.
“Is our table ready?” A asked the maître d’ when the clock struck 6:15 p.m. “Yep, we have two seats at the bar,” she said. Up we jumped on barstools to partake in delectable seafood. The bartender recommended beverages from 167’s extensive cocktail and wine list. I sampled a refreshing Albariño white.
A did the ordering since she had eaten at 167 before. “We must get the tuna burger. And the crab pasta too,” said A. She selected a few oysters for herself as well. Moi is not a fan of oysters.
How good was the tuna burger and crab pasta? It was so good, so good, so good!
Did we leave room for dessert? You bet. After dinner, we headed to Jeni’s King St for artisan ice cream, choosing Rainbow Buttermilk Frozen Yogurt and Brambleberry Crisp. Two scoops is a small serving. It was a sweet way to complete our first day in Charleston.
An amazing day two touring Charleston
For our day two in Charleston, we booked in advance for an AirBnb Experience called The Best Charleston History Tour. We spent the morning with Cooper, our expert guide for an educational and eye-opening 2.5 hour walkabout throughout the city. We walked up and down the cobblestone streets, hearing all the behind-the-scenes stories about different historic homes.
OMG there is so much to share about the tour that I’m going to save the particulars for a separate blog post. Definitely more to come.
A taste of Southern sushi
It was already Saturday afternoon and we had one more evening and morning in Charleston. Loving our meal at 167 Raw, we were lucky to secure an early Saturday dinner reservation at the hip and cool Raw 167 Sushi Bar (sister to 167 Raw). The Sushi Bar is housed in a tiny space that holds 24 guests.
Our seats were at the high top bar, which allowed us to watch the chef assemble our tuna tartare and tuna carpaccio. Raw 167 Sushi platters not only taste delicious but are truly works of art. So too are the unique hot items from the “izakaya” side of the menu, including the two we sampled: octopus and crispy rice with shrimp.
Time for a takeout breakfast at Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit
I can’t think of anything more appealing than piping hot, homemade Southern biscuits from Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit for a Sunday morning breakfast — another worth-the-wait Charleston experience. Housed in a teeny storefront on King St, it’s standing room only (which can flow around the corner) for made-to-order takeout.
There were many biscuit choices. A and I selected two buttermilk and one cinnamon biscuit, adding on strawberry fig and blackberry jams and pimiento butter for toppings. With biscuits in hand, we strolled over to Babas to get our Oat Milk Lattes. Then we sat down at an outside table near Caviar and Bananas (a worthwhile gourmet Charleston foodie establishment) and devoured every last crumb. How good were Callie’s Little Hot Biscuit biscuits? They were so good, so good, so good!
Feeling a sense of Southern satisfaction in our hearts and in our stomachs, we put pedal to the metal for our 5 hour drive to Richmond, Virginia.
More to come from our stay at The Jefferson Hotel.
Wow-o-wow! This post is getting rather long. Are you tired of being on the road? I am.
Tell ya what I’m going to do. I’m going to hold off on any of the specifics about our spa day and stay at The Jefferson Hotel. It deserves its own spotlight — that’s how spectacular this hotel is. While I’m signing off for now — I promise to report a more in-depth post from our Charleston city tour along with a total recap of our fab time in Richmond, Virginia.
Know that A and I not only made it home safe and sound to New Jersey, we discussed that our mother-daughter travel adventure (while maybe not always on the road) should become an annual event.
See ya soon.