We’re cruising into weekend two of the holiday proper, and it’s a time for football and a festive Charleston New Year’s Eve.
A special happy holidays shout-out to all of you here visiting on the Isle of Palms. The weather is definitely more summer than winter-like, with temps today in the high 60’s. That makes enjoying one of the best things about a beach house Charleston — the BEACH — all the more pleasant.
Many of our homes are just steps from the sand and surf. There’s something wonderfully festive about splashing around in late December and during the calendar flip. Who needs the Caribbean when you can stay on the Isle of Palms?
The next few days will offer a multitude of fun things to spectate, see, do and celebrate a Charleston New Year’s Eve.
We are smack in the middle of college football bowl season, and tomorrow (Saturday, December 29th) is a big day. I’m talking bowl games, especially the ones which are part of the college football playoffs.
Here’s a rough guide to what’s worth watching on your flatscreens. At noon, the SC Gamecocks take on Virginia in the Belk Bowl.
Then at 4:00, it’s No. 2 Clemson Tigers vs. No. 3 Notre Dame – a playoff semifinal – in the Cotton Bowl.
At 8:00, it’s the other playoff semi when powerhouse No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide faces No. 4 Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl.
It should be quite a day of pigskin, especially considering that Clemson is having to play without one of its best players.
If you’re here now, you have an overchoice of how to ring in the new year. Here’s a comprehensive lowdown from the Post and Courier.
Of course, it’s hard to beat hunkering down in your beach house for a warm family gathering. No need for an upcharged Uber or a designated driver, plus you avoid the crowds.
On the other hand, you may wish to ring it in in the company of others.
One event is worth singling out. The City of Charleston is hosting its annual Charleston New Year’s Eve party in Marion Square downtown. It’s a free, family-friendly, non-alcoholic way to celebrate a little earlier in the day. It’ll take place from 4:00 p.m. till 9:00 p.m. and is perfect for the younger ones in your group. This year’s theme is “Dance Party.”
Get set for:
Marion Square is at the corner of King and Calhoun Streets on the downtown peninsula.
A quick reminder – individual fireworks are prohibited on the Isle of Palms.
So have a happy and safe Charleston New Year’s Eve. And remember, to call EP for the best beach houses near Charleston.
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger
When you’re here in a Charleston, you might as well do the things we here consider to be classic South Carolina Lowcountry experiences.
One of the things that make travelling fun, is to sample the cuisine and culinary traditions that are unique to the area. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. And when in the Lowcountry – get yourself to an oyster roast!
The oysters in the waters of the South Carolina Lowcountry grow in clusters. According to bivalve aficionados, they have a distinct and quite delicious flavor. It’s been likened to experiencing the sea with each bite.
As the saying goes, any month with an “r” in it is a good time to eat oysters. So although December and January might be considered offseason for certain things – say, our beach rentals – it’s actually a prime time to eat oysters.
If you’ve been here before, you may already know how much the Lowcountry loves its oysters. They are a huge part of our local culture and the centerpiece of the classic South Carolina coastal party, the oyster roast. You gather with friends and family around a steaming mound of mollusks, crack open a cold one, and start shucking at the communal table, tossing the shells into the hole in the middle of the plywood. It’s a terrific bonding experience.
The Post & Courier recently assembled a terrific list of places offering oyster roasts during the holiday season.
It’s actually a perfect activity to do around the holidays, when the weather is cooler and people like to gather. It is both a fun Lowcountry activity AND a meal at the same time. It’s also a great way to mingle with the locals.
Here’s the list, ably compiled by Stephanie Barna.
The way oysters grow is an interesting tale that weaves both nature and history together.
South Carolina used to have a huge oyster industry. Back in the 1930’s, 16 different canneries lined the state’s coast. They harvested, shucked and shipped oysters to large cities like New York, Chicago and beyond.
Locals doing the harvesting understood the natural process beneath it all. They knew that oysters need a cultch, or base, on which to attach then regrow. It takes about three months for the baby oysters (“spats”) to attach. It then takes two to three years for an oyster to grow to three inches, which is when it’s considered ready for harvest.
The people working in and running the canneries understood the process. They knew they needed to return the shells back to the water, so everything came full circle.
Decades passed. Before long, Asian markets began flooding the market with cheaper, inferior canned oysters. The last South Carolina cannery closed in 1986.
The South Carolina Lowcountry oyster market switched to a more local one. Whole cluster oysters basically stayed here and were consumed and appreciated, in individual back yards and at benefit parties.
People around here would wisely say this is progress. Local before local was cool. Why ship ‘em up north when we can keep there here for us?
The problem was, most of the shells just ended up in the landfill instead of back in the saltwater and tidal creeks where they belong. Soon it became apparent that oyster beds were disappearing.
So in the 1980’s, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources started an oyster bed seeding program, which has helped the situation. Also turning the tide, so to speak, is their oyster shell recycling program, which they began in 2000. Both have grown steadily ever since, just like the oyster beds they are meant to nurture.
If you’re staying on the Isle of Palms, you don’t even need to leave the Isle for an oyster fix.
The Dinghy has an oyster roast every Thursday at 6:30. There’s live music (usually by Donny Polk) and $7 buckets of fresh steamed LOCAL oysters.
They’re located just a walk, golf cart or quick ride away, at 8 JC Long Blvd. It’s just down the street from our office. Just give us a call us if you need directions.
It’s been going on for decades here in the South Carolina Lowcountry.
I’m talking about the annual Lowcountry Oyster Roast, and it’s happening Sunday, January 27th from 10:00 a.m. till 5:00 p.m.
LOR has been ranked as one of the top 20 events in the southeast (Southeastern Tourism Society). The festival boasts massive amounts of the mollusks, oyster eating and oyster shucking contests, live music by the popular party band The Distinguished Gentlemen, beer, wine, food court and kids’ area.
It’ll take place on the grounds of historic and scenic Boone Hall Plantation in Mount Pleasant. From the Isle of Palms, just cross over the IOP Connector, turn right onto Highway 17 North, and following the signs to Boone Hall.
Here’s the official website so you can start making plans and get tickets.
So enjoy some Lowcountry treasures – fresh cluster oysters, and luxury beach house rentals SC by Exclusive Properties.
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger
We’re in the home stretch heading up to Christmas in Charleston. There’s still much merriment happening in and around the Holy City.
If you are here for the holidays, that in and of itself is a lovely gift. It’s the perfect place for family and friends to gather in large, welcoming spaces and log in quality time.
You are just steps from a walk on the beach, a great holiday bonding time. Here’s a thought – you can even take a beach photo for next year’s Christmas card!
Even though the holiday events calendar isn’t quite as packed as it has been on previous weekends, there are still some choice things to do. Speaking of which…
One of the most famous choirs on the planet, not to mention the most historic, will be performing in Charleston tonight.
It’s the world-famous Vienna Boys Choir, who will be giving a concert entitled, “Christmas in Vienna” at the Gaillard Center. So in other words, Christmas in Vienna meets Christmas in Charleston for a very special holiday event.
The choir consists of 100 boys ranging in age between 10 and 14 (before their voices change), and they sound like angels on earth. This is sure to put you and everyone in your beach house Charleston in a Christmas mood.
The choir started out over 500 years ago – in 1498 to be exact. That’s the year the Holy Roman Emperor Maximillian I, along with the royal court in Hapsburg, established the choir at the Imperial Chapel in Vienna.
They’ve been enchanting listeners ever since with their seamlessly blended voices.
The Gaillard, which is gorgeous after its recent renovation, is located at 95 Calhoun Street downtown. There is a large parking garage located conveniently on site.
The concert starts at 7:00 p.m. tonight – Friday, December 21st. Here’s more from the Gaillard Center site, where you can also buy tickets.
Tomorrow night, same venue, is another chance to hear some superb holiday music.
It’s the beloved annual Holiday Pops Concert by the Charleston Symphony, directed by Yuriy Bekker, and the CSO Chorus. On the playlist: Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Farandole by Bizet, along with favorite hits like Sleigh Ride, Jingle Bell Rock, and a special version of The 12 Days of Christmas.
This is almost always a sellout, so grab any tickets that might still be left.
Here’s a link with details and tickets.
As I covered in a recent blog, Santa has been spotted having brunch on the IOP. You have one more chance to join him. Tomorrow morning – Saturday, December 22nd between 9:00-11:00 a.m. – head to The Refuge on the Isle.
Santa will be there to pose for pictures. There will also be ornament decorating, a hot chocolate station, all kinds of great brunch dishes… plus kids 6 and under eat free! The Refuge is located at 1517 Palm Boulevard. Although obviously geared toward kids, it sounds like family fun for all ages.
The Twelve Days of Christmas is a beloved Christmas carol from England. They say it has its roots in a children’s book of rhymes first published in 1780.
Apparently, if you purchased all the gifts for all twelve days, a recent tally says it’ll cost you $34,558.65.
Seems like there are many other great things you could purchase instead of a lot of poultry and temperamental musicians. Say, for instance… several weeks of vacations in our beach homes on the Isle of Palms? Now THAT’s an impressive gift that says your love is, in fact, true.
So if you are around family this holiday weekend, enjoy the time together however you spend Christmas in Charleston.
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger
Just in time for the holidays, there is some happy news coming down the pike: low gas prices in the Lowcountry.
Gas prices around Charleston, and across the nation in general, have been on a roller coaster in recent years. Up, down, down, then up again. It’s hard to track, keep up or really make much sense of it.
So when they do happen to come down, it’s a pleasant treat.
As a general rule of thumb, South Carolina tends to have some of the lowest – and often the lowest – gas prices in the country. Yet another reason to stay here! Charleston has many draws, and proximity to cheap gas is a minor but nice little perk.
Gas prices in the state of South Carolina are averaging around $2 per gallon. That’s the lowest price all year, which saw it go up to 60 cents per gallon higher.
In fact, this is the lowest price since August of LAST year.
They are expecting prices to drop a couple more cents by Christmas Day. Ho ho ho!
The average in the whole nation sits at $2.37 per gallon, which is also the lowest national average in December since 2016.
I was at Costco in Mount Pleasant the other day, and gas was selling for $1.97 a gallon. The lady at the pump across from me exclaimed that she had been having an awful day, but no more! Gas under $2 had turned her day around. She sounded downright giddy.
It’s no surprise that these low gas prices are proving to be a boost for holiday travel.
The official ten-day holiday travel period begins this Saturday and runs through New Year’s Day.
AAA estimates there will be a record number of folks traveling during that time… 112.5 million Americans. That’s a 4.4% increase over 2017 and is the highest since they’ve been keeping track.
There were some fascinating facts about travel within the state of South Carolina. AAA Carolinas predicts that about a third of people in the state will travel. By far the majority will drive – 1.35 million of them. Around 90,000 will travel by air. That’s a lot of folks travelling to these parts.
Here’s the full story from the Post and Courier.
You still have time to get those packages and cards to their destinations by Christmas.
The USPS released their shipping deadline. Here they are, for domestic mail:
This current week, December 17th – 23rd, is going to be the busiest in terms of mailing, shipping and delivery.
Here’s more on the story from Live 5 News.
If you’re here on the Isle of Palms, we have a wonderful post office right on the island. It is so much less crowded – and friendlier – than the one in Mount Pleasant. Plus it’s super convenient to our Isle of Palms vacation rentals. In fact, it’s just past Exclusive Properties’ office, on the same side of Palm Boulevard. It’s the ideal place to mail postcards, Christmas cards or packages.
So get behind the wheel and take advantage of low gas prices. Just call EP and we’ll help you find the perfect place to stay, whatever the season.
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger
Another December weekend, another weekend filled with your pick of holiday market plus other holiday happenings near Charleston!
The weather these past couple weekends has wreaked a bit of havoc on events in the Lowcountry. Although we didn’t get the snow that blanketed parts north, we did get a lot of rain.
Alas the Parade of Boats in Charleston Harbor, a local tradition and fun annual event for all ages, was cancelled by the Coast Guard due to rough chop.
The downtown Charleston Holiday Parade, which was supposed to take place the first Sunday in December, luckily just got postponed. It’s due to take place this Sunday, December 16th.
The time is the same – it starts at 3:00 p.m. – but they’ve tweaked the parade route a bit. The revised route will now head up Meeting Street.
Here’s the scoop from the official city website, and it includes info about related street closings.
The parade is always a lot of fun, with floats, lots of marching bands and holiday music, local celebrities and the big guy himself, Santa. It’s an easy drive from the Isle of Palms. Just head through Mount Pleasant, over the Ravenel Bridge and take the Meeting Street exit.
Another casualty of the rainy weekends has been the downtown Holiday Market. This weekend is the last chance to check it out. Thankfully the rain should be gone by mid-morning tomorrow.
The Holiday Market is scheduled to take place this Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 15th and 16th from 9:00 a.m. till 3:00. It’s the holiday version of the Charleston Farmers Market, which has been named one of the best in the country. The market is centered around Marion Square and is an ideal place to grab a bite or pick up something to prepare dinner with in one of our beach rentals Charleston. It’s also a perfect place to do some Christmas shopping or pick up a uniquely Lowcountry souvenir from your stay in one of our luxury beach house rentals SC.
Here’s the market’s official website.
Also going on tomorrow is a relatively new holiday market. It’s the Cigar Bazaar Holiday Market happening at the Cigar Factory, also downtown.
Here are some deets:
If you’re on the Isle of Palms this weekend or next, you’ll have a great chance to have brunch with Santa.
That’s right – On December 15th and 22nd, Santa himself will be right here on the IOP. He’ll be at The Refuge, the popular island restaurant in the Harris-Teeter shopping center, between 9 -11:00 a.m.
This will be especially fun for any kids in your clan. They can have their picture taken with Santa, check out the hot chocolate and ornament decorating stations. Oh – and kids 6 and under eat free! Can’t beat that.
So have a hopefully rain-free weekend enjoying holiday fun. And when you are looking for the best beach house near Charleston, be sure to call EP.
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger
The news keeps getting better and better for Charleston International Airport, and the latest milestone is thanks to British Airways.
As I’ve covered many a time, CHS has undergone a massive $200 million renovation. It’s easier and more pleasant than ever to fly to Charleston and our Isle of Palms luxury rentals. It’s generally the fastest way to get here if you’re coming “from off.”
Several new airlines have begun flying here, like JetBlue, Southwest and Alaska. Existing ones have been adding flights and new routes at a good clip. Not coincidentally, we’ve seen more folks flying to stay with us from many of these new destinations.
Well, this fall the powers-that-be made yet another big announcement. CHS will soon have nonstop flights to London, thanks to the fine folks at British Airways.
Beginning April 4, 2019, British Airways will provide twice-weekly service between CHS and Heathrow. Flights will take place on Thursday and Sunday. They’ll be aboard a Boeing 787-8, just like the ones that are assembled right next to the airport. In fact, part of the actual plane that will be flying to and from Charleston was made here.
Here’s the schedule:
Depart from Charleston at 10:50 p.m. Arrive in London at 11:50 a.m. the next day.
Depart from London at 5:20 p.m. Arrive in Charleston at 9:20 p.m.
This initial schedule will last through October 24th, 2019. It is quite possible they will eventually add even more flights during future peak travel seasons. Five-day-a-week flights between England and Charleston are not out of the question.
Here are some interesting stats. Last year, 110,000 left CHS headed for Europe. That breaks down to around 2,100 per week, a sizable number.
South Carolina receives around 750,000 international visitors per year. Approximately a quarter million of those come from overseas.
So, soon it will be easier than ever for our friends across the pond to come and stay here. When it’s cold and drizzly in London, they’ll be able to hop on a single flight and then be lounging on the beach on Isle of Palms.
Here’s a great and quite comprehensive article about it from the Post & Courier.
CHS is busier than ever. As of late September, before this news was announced, the number of ticketed travelers passing through was 3.3 million, up 12% from last year.
At last check, they’re likely to set an all-time record and pass 4 million by the end of this calendar year.
Also, just in time for the holidays, CHS has added more parking options at the airport.
They’ve added a remote lot with an extra 200 spots, along with free shuttle service. They’ve also doubled the number of spaces in the handy cell phone waiting lot. It can now hold 80 vehicles.
Here’s more on the story.
So we say a special welcome to our friends from Great Britain. If you are interested in staying at the beach, do be sure to give us a call.
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger
As we’re cruising toward Christmas, this is yet another weekend filled to the gills with plenty of merriment including a holiday parade or two or three.
Events include a classic Lowcountry tradition (Holiday Parade of Boats), holiday markets and other festive things that are perfect for all ages.
Now, if only we can get the weather to cooperate.
Last weekend saw a lot of rain, to the point that the downtown Charleston Christmas Parade was postponed until next Sunday, December 16th. This weekend looks to be rather wet as well. But look at it this way – at least if you’re in one of our Isle of Palms luxury rentals, you’ll be warm and dry. Parts further north (the Upstate and especially North Carolina) are staring down the barrel of a potentially huge snowstorm. Temps there will be right around freezing, and the forecast includes freezing rain and ice in parts. That’s when people start losing electricity, and what sounded like a winter wonderland quickly turns into a giant, cold hassle.
So count your blessings. Charleston is a very nice place to be, for a myriad of reasons.
Tomorrow – Saturday, December 8th – is the 19th annual Mount Pleasant Holiday Farmers Market & Craft Show. It takes place on the site of the Mount Pleasant Farmers Market Pavilion by Moultrie Middle School on Coleman Boulevard. The market will take place from 11:00 till 4:00, likely before the rain comes in. Local craftspeople will sell their wares, and there’ll be plenty of edible goodies available for purchase. It’s a great place to pick up a locally-made souvenir from your stay in Charleston.
This holiday market is especially convenient to the Isle of Palms. Just head over to Sullivan’s Island, then take the Ben Sawyer Drawbridge to Coleman Boulevard in Mount Pleasant. It will be on your left.
There’s also a great holiday market option downtown, happening both Saturday and Sunday.
The famous Charleston Farmers Market has technically finished for its regular season. But fret not, for the next couple of weekends they’re having their special Holiday Market in Marion Square, the site of the normal downtown market. It’ll go on from 9:00 until 3:00 (Dec. 8th, 9th, 15th, 16th) and will feature more great gift options and gourmet food. There will also be live holiday music and free visits with Santa.
Then Saturday night is the ever-popular (and quintessentially Lowcountry) Holiday Parade of Boats in Charleston Harbor. Ahoy and Ho Ho Ho for the 37th annual installment of this parade on H2O. Watch as folks sail or motor by in their brightly decorated and well-lit vessels.
It starts about 5:30 p.m. and should last till about 8:00 p.m. Boats will start out around Fort Sumter, head up the Cooper River under the Ravenel Bridge, head back under the bridge and down the peninsula, around the Battery, up the Ashley River, and end near the Coast Guard Station. Good viewing spots include the Battery or Waterfront Park downtown. There will be a special catered and ticketed viewing party sponsored by the Historic Rotary Club of Charleston at the Charleston Maritime Center starting at 5:00 p.m. Read all about it here.
On Sunday night, it’s the 23rd annual Mount Pleasant Christmas Light Parade and Tree Lighting. The fun kicks off at Moultrie Middle School (645 Coleman Boulevard) at 5:30 p.m. with the lighting of the big tree and fireworks. The parade will follow at approx. 5:45. The route starts at Mill Street, then heads south on Coleman Boulevard to the intersection of Patriots Point Road and West Coleman Blvd. FYI, the parade route has been deemed a “No Drone Zone” for safety reasons.
It’ll contain more than 100 groups and will feature lighted floats, marching bands, antique cars, Santa riding on a fire engine, and more. You can vote for your favorite float —- #VoteTheFloatMP.
Here’s the scoop.
Honestly, there are about 38 other things going on this weekend near our SC vacation rentals, including Chanukah on the Square on Sunday. Here’s a breakdown from the Post & Courier.
So enjoy a holiday parade or market this weekend, you’ll have your pick. Or just hang out in one of our Isle of Palms luxury rentals and write Christmas cards, listen to carols and the sound of the ocean. If you’re not here now but would like to be, just give EP a call.
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger
On the heels of last month’s Turkey Day Run and Gobble Wobble, get set for another holiday-themed fun run happening this weekend, the ever-popular Reindeer Run. More about that in a minute.
As I covered in that last blog, this past weekend was filled with tree lightings and parades. They were set for various venues around the Lowcountry, all within easy driving (or even walking) distance of the Isle of Palms.
Alas, the weather was a bit uncooperative, as rains put a damper on certain events.
Saturday’s Isle of Palms Street Festival and Tree Lighting went on as scheduled. The free carnival rides were spinning, including a big Ferris wheel on Ocean Boulevard near Front Beach.
Sunday’s events didn’t fare quite as well. Out of an abundance of caution, the powers-that-be decided to postpone the downtown Charleston Christmas Parade. It’s been rescheduled for Sunday, December 16th.
The parade specs will stay the same. It will start at 3:00 p.m. near Colonial Lake, travel up Broad Street to King Street, then on up to Marion Square. If you’re in one of our beach rentals Charleston that weekend, it’s worth a trip to the peninsula. After all, Santa will be there.
The tree lighting ceremony was skipped due to the weather. But fear not, they lighted the tree and Marion Square anyway, just without the official hoopla.
I’ve covered this before, and I’ll cover it again. The City of Charleston is offering a nice holiday gift of two hours of free parking in one of several downtown parking garages. Of course a visit to the Isle of Palms isn’t complete without a trip to the historic peninsula. This helps out.
This coming Saturday morning, December 8th, is the 28th annual Reindeer Run and Walk.
There will be cash prizes, creative costumes, kids and dogs. Unlike the Turkey Day Run Gobble Wobble, strollers and dogs are not only allowed, but actually encouraged. It tends to relax the scene a bit when you throw babies and canines into the mix. It also ups the cuteness factor, bigtime. There’s also free beer and a big afterparty for those 21 and over.
The Reindeer Run is a 5K (3.1 miles) through the streets of the lower peninsula of downtown Charleston. It’s quite a scenic route. It’s just the thing to get you in the mood for Christmas and is well suited for all fitness levels.
They give awards for kids 6 & under and adults up to 99 and beyond. You are encouraged to dress in your best holiday costumes to win fabulous prizes. Categories include: Adult Individual, Child Individual, Group and Dog.
Runners start at 9:00 a.m., walkers at 9:05 a.m. The race/walk begins and also ends at the corner of East Bay and Queen Streets.
The Reindeer Run also happens to be a terrific fundraiser for MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital and is sponsored by Half-Moon Outfitters. Over the years they’ve raised over $1,000,000 for the hospital. Last year alone it was $50,000. Here’s more about the event from Count on 2.
Here’s the official website, with registration info: http://www.reindeerrun.org/
So check it out if you’re so inclined. And when you are looking for beach houses near Charleston, just call EP.
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger