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IOP: the Safest City

The official stats are in, and the Isle of Palms has been deemed to be the safest city in South Carolina.

This important accolade is determined by the good folks at SafeWise, who track safety and security issues around the country.

It marks the third year in a row that the IOP has been named the safest city in the state.  This is SafeWise’s sixth annual Safest Cities Ranking.

To determine the rankings, the number crunchers analyzed FBI crime report statistics along with population data.  They took into account both violent crimes (aggravated assault, robbery, rape, murder) as well as property crimes (larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and burglary).  To give a fairer picture of each city, they calculated the number of crimes per 1,000 people, weighing violent and property crimes equally.

You can read all about SafeWise’s methodology here.


The Safest City Top Twenty for South Carolina:


  1. Isle of Palms
  2. Port Royal
  3. Mount Pleasant
  4. Bluffton
  5. Tega Cay
  6. Edgefield
  7. Hanahan
  8. Mauldin
  9. Fort Mill
  10. Central
  11. Clover
  12. Walhalla
  13. Ridgeland
  14. Belton
  15. Goose Creek
  16. Charleston
  17. Simpsonville
  18. Saluda
  19. Fountain Inn
  20. Surfside Beach

The Lowcountry came out with flying colors on the statewise list, comprising eight of the top twenty.  They include, in order of safety: Isle of Palms, Port Royal, Mount Pleasant, Bluffton, Hanahan, Goose Creek, Charleston, and Surfside Beach.

You can read more about the story at ABC News 4.  Or, go straight to SafeWise and read the list complete with individual city data here.


The state’s safest city  –  it’s yet another good reason to book one of our Isle of Palms vacation rentals.  When you’re ready to book, just give us a call at Exclusive Properties, and we’ll help you find the perfect one.

All best,
Lowcountry Lisa
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger

Free concerts from The Gaillard

In these days of COVID, it’s good to look for the silver linings  –  one of which is access to free concerts.

Performing artists are having to get particularly creative in these days of social distancing and quarantine.  As I covered in that last blog, Spoleto is offering virtual performances during these 17 days that the festival was supposed to be taking place.  Similarly, the Post & Courier has been sponsoring the No Intermission series online.

Now the Gaillard is getting in on the act.

The Charleston Gaillard Center, the preeminent arts venue in the Lowcountry, has partnered with PNC Bank, 105.5 The Bridge and Charleston City Paper to bring us all a series of terrific free concerts.  Entitles, “Lowcountry Listens,” they’ll happen each Wednesday evening at 6:00 p.m. beginning on June 3rd and continuing through the next four weeks.

Each one of the five free concerts will feature a gifted artist with Lowcountry roots.  They’ll perform three to four songs.  Richard Todd, host of “The Morning Buzz” on The Bridge will perform introductions as well as a brief interview with each artist.

You can watch the free concerts in multiple ways  –  on the Gaillard’s website, Facebook Live, or YouTube Live.  As a nice bonus, videos of the free concerts will remain online afterwards for you to watch at your leisure.

Upcoming Free Concerts from The Gaillard


Here’s the scoop from the Gaillard’s website on the lineup for the five free concerts that are coming up.

Wednesday, June 3rd, 6:00 p.m.  –  Contemporary Violinist Daniel D., Featuring DJ Calculations Of and Keyboardist Beatman Fresh (Shelton Desaussure)

Daniel D. is a three-time 1st Place Apollo Theater Winner, Daniel D. graduated from Charleston County School of the Arts and studied at NYC’s Julliard School of Music. Daniel D. has opened for Kim Waters, Boney James, Jamye Fox, Kanye West, Najee, K’Jon, Lelah Hathaway, and performed for Oprah Winfrey, the late Michael Jackson as well as President Barack Obama.

Wednesday, June 10th, 6:00 p.m. – Brendan James

Brendan James is an American singer-songwriter in the pop/folk genre, akin to Jason Mraz, David Gray, and Elton John. Signed to Capitol Records at age 25, Universal Records at 28, James has reached the #1 spot on iTunes multiple times, accrued more than one million fans in 65 countries on Spotify. He has collaborated or toured with the likes of John Mayer, John Legend, Cat Stevens, Carly Simon, Keb’ Mo’, and Andy Grammar.

Wednesday, June 17th, 6:00 p.m.  –  She Returns from War

Charleston’s Hunter Park is She Returns From War. With two full-length albums under her belt and another one coming together in the studio, it’s easy to say she has established herself as one of the strongest songwriters coming out of the modern south.  She has shared the stage with bands like St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Shovels and Rope, and recently completed a west coast tour as the opening act for Band of Horses. She was asked to open for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders as a part of his rally in Charleston.

Concerts (cont.)


Wednesday, June 24th, 6:00 p.m.  –  Grace Joyner

Where Grace Joyner’s EP Young Fools served as an introduction to songwriting and a chance to explore her musical muse while treading her own artistic path, her debut LP, Maybe Sometimes in C, revealed what she has found along the way. Joyner weaves a beautiful and delicate balance between reflecting on the trials of young love and showing a remarkable commitment to self-development.  Teaming up for the third time with producer and engineer Wolfgang Zimmerman (Band of Horses, SUSTO), Grace Joyner looks to further her musical journey with her sophomore album Settle In.

Wednesday, July 1st, 6:00 p.m.  –  Will Blackburn

With a voice that recalls a timeless blend of Ray Charles, Van Morrison, and Jeff Buckley, William Blackburn joins such artists as Frank Ocean in crafting modern soul songs that are alternately lush and intimately earthy. The singer songwriter was born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina.  Captivated by vocalists such as Ray Charles, William went on to become the front man and lead singer of national touring act Stop Light Observations. Growing up on black gospel and soul, he has taken his profoundly expressive voice and moved fans with stand-out performances at festivals such as Bonnaroo and Firefly. William is setting out to record and release his first ever solo project this Winter.

Find out even more about Lowcountry Listens here.

So enjoy some free concerts from the comfort of your own home, or maybe from one of our Isle of Palms luxury rentals.  When you are ready to book, just give us a call at Exclusive Properties.

All best,
Lowcountry Lisa
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger

What's Now Open

Several of the major tourist attractions in and around Charleston are now open or will be opening very soon.

Governor Henry McMaster officially announced yesterday that attractions can begin reopening to the public this weekend.  As a result, several are swinging open the doors right on cue, just in time for the Memorial Day holiday.


Check out what’s now open, or soon will be…


Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum – will be open this weekend during normal hours.  Some indoor exhibits with particularly close quarters like the Clamagore submarine will be closed until further notice;

Boone Hall and Drayton Hall  –  opening today (Friday, May 22nd);

The South Carolina Aquarium  –  opening this Saturday.  Perfect timing since it is their 20th anniversary!   You’ll need to buy tickets online for a specific date and entry slot (spaced an hour apart, beginning with 9 a.m., ending with 4 p.m.);

Cypress Gardens – will open Tuesday, May 26;

Middleton Place and Magnolia Plantation & Gardens  –  their grounds on have been open since May 1;

The Charleston Museum – will likely open next Wednesday;

Joseph Manigault House will begin offering tours June 1; 

Heyward-Washington House  – June 15;

Palmetto Carriage Works – taking reservations for private carriage tours starting tomorrow (Saturday, May 23rd).

Click here for the full story.


Spoleto at Home


Today was to have been opening day for Spoleto and Piccolo Spoleto.  Along with almost everything else, they had to be cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns.

But that hasn’t stopped Spoleto completely.  Organizers have arranged for some virtual Spoleto concerts, performances and talks for you to enjoy from home, or as they call it, “Spoleto at Home.”

Just like the festival, it lasts from May 22nd through June 7th.

Here is how they describe it  –  “This is your all-access invitation to Spoleto at Home—17 days of virtual programming you can enjoy from the comfort and safety of your own living room! Tune in for original concerts, best-of Chamber Music hits, and insightful conversations with Festival artists. All programs are free to experience; no tickets required!”

Here’s a link to Spoleto at Home.  You can also sign up for email alerts for upcoming events.  Also, check out the Post & Courier’s coverage of Spoleto at Home by Adam Parker.


No Intermission


Along the same line of thinking, and to fill the void left by Spoleto’s cancelling, the Post & Courier has been sponsoring a series of online events.  Called “No Intermission,” one happens every day at 2:00 pm, through the middle of June.  They feature local musicians or theater professionals, and the series offers a way for them to connect to audiences during the pandemic.

Click here to access the episodes.  They have already done 43 of them, and you are welcome to watch any or all of them.

So you can experience Spoleto virtually from home if you’d like.  Or come in person, as area attractions are increasingly now open once again.  And be sure to call EP if you’d like to stay in one of our SC vacation rentals while here.

All best,
Lowcountry Lisa
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger

Nature walks with Judy

Barrier islands in the Lowcountry are teeming with wildlife, and nature walks are a great way to experience some of it.

Of course with COVID-19 putting some plans on hold, in-person nature walks might not be on the agenda right now.  Never fear  –  there is a terrific local source of virtual nature walks, and they are well worth checking out.


Nature Walks with Judy


The Island Eye News, intrepid newspaper of the barrier islands near Charleston, recently featured a local resident who has put together some wonderful videos on wildlife around these parts.

Her name is Judy Drew Fairchild, and she is a South Carolina Master Naturalist.  She is also a trained educator and has a knack for sharing fascinating facts about the natural world.  Judy lives on Dewees Island, the next island up from the Isle of Palms.

She’s produced an extensive series of one-minute videos incorporating still photographs and videos of local wildlife  –  beach creatures, birds, you name it  –  that are really fun to watch.  She compiled all of them onto a website entitled, “Nature Walks with Judy.”

Their subject matter includes critters you will probably see and wonder about during your visit to the Lowcountry.  Here is her invitation… “Explore nature with me.  Every day, tiny miracles exist all around us.  From the lengthy migrations or warblers to the way a bee gathers pollen, there is something incredible happening all the time if we only get out and look.”


Subjects of her videos include…


Carolina Anoles (the cute little green or brown chameleon-like critters that are all over the IOP)

Horseshoe Crabs

Mottled Purse Crabs

Mole Crabs

Sea Hares


Tricolor Anemones

Ghost Shrimp


Roseate Spoonbills

Yellow-Bellied Sliders

Black Racer Snakes

Two-Headed Butterfly?

Loggerhead Sea Turtles

Pink Ladies and Green Bees

Great Egret Babies

Red-headed Woodpeckers

Live Oak Trees

Painted Buntings

Baby Alligators

Cannonball Jellies and Spider Crabs

…and a whole lot more.

You can pick the ones that most interest you.  Or, she has a neat feature on her website where you can binge watch them easily, as one will play right after another.  At just one minute each, you get a fantastic overview of the fauna and flora of the islands near Charleston.  As she puts it, “My goal is to get people to notice those and grow to love the nature around us. Once you love something, you’ll be more invested in protecting it.”


For more information…


Here is Judy’s website with all the available videos.

This is a link to the Island Eye News article entitled, “Connecting with Nature.”

So check out Nature Walks with Judy, to get a taste of the Lowcountry from wherever you find yourself.  And when you’d like to take some of these nature walks in person, just give us a call at EP.  We’ll help put you in a perfect Charleston beach house.

All best,
Lowcountry Lisa
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger

Tourism numbers are record breaking

Tourism numbers are in for 2019, and the news is good.

The first week in May is National Travel and Tourism Week.  This year’s theme in the midst of COVID was “The Spirit of Travel.”  Although the pandemic has thrown a giant wrench into things, it certainly hasn’t squelched the spirit of travel.  We’re hopeful that as restrictions ease, people will venture to places that bring them joy, like the beach.


Tourism numbers from 2019 were stellar. 


For the seventh consecutive year, tourism numbers set a record.  Tourism netted $24 billion in the state of South Carolina.

In Charleston, the tourism numbers were also record-breaking, with $9.67 billion worth of economic impact.

Read more about it in the Post & Courier.


The beach is open!


As I covered in that last blog, the Isle of Palms is officially back open for business.  The security checkpoint is gone.  Everyone is welcome on the island.

And yes – the beach is open. Most beach restrictions are gone, including the “Keep it Moving” rule.  You are welcome to sit on a towel and chair and just soak up the sun and listen to the waves.  The only thing they ask is that you refrain from clustering in groups of more than three  –  unless members of the same family  –  and that you maintain 6’ social distancing from others.

As of this week, short term vacation rentals are open once again as well.  We take extra care to maintain the highest standards of cleanliness in all of our luxury beach homes.  So give us a call at EP, ASAP.  We’ll help you book the perfect one from our portfolio of Isle of Palms luxury rentals, for a safe and relaxing getaway.


Bridge Run News


Just a few moments ago, the mayors of Charleston and Mount Pleasant made a big announcement about the 2020 Bridge Run.  They have made the difficult decision to cancel the event.  Mayors Tecklenburg and Haynie released this joint statement:

“Given the current circumstances related to COVID-19, we feel that it is time to cancel this year’s Cooper River Bridge Run.  These are truly unprecedented times and, as the situation is constantly evolving, we believe that this decision is in the best interest of all our citizens and visitors.”

As I covered in this blog, they had initially rescheduled the Bridge Run for August 1st.  They also had options like participating “virtually” or transferring your registration spot to someone else.

Well, they’ve decided to scrap it all together due to COVID-19.  Bridge Run organizers had this to say:  “Based on the decision of our city leadership, local health experts, and community leaders, it has been determined the race must be canceled for this year.  We are committed to providing a world-class 10K foot race and we are looking forward to celebrating its return on March 27, 2021.”

Read more about it from Live 5 News.  You can also check the official Bridge Run website for details.

All best,
Lowcountry Lisa
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger

Short term rentals allowed

The Isle of Palms has finally opened the door once again to short term rentals on the island.

As you are probably well aware, COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on businesses across the board, vacation homes included.

The Isle of Palms City Council met once again this past Friday.  Their emergency meetings have been happening all the time, often multiple times a week as conditions change and evolve.

Lately they’ve been keying off a couple different main sources of guidance.  First, they take cues from what South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster says in his press conferences and executive orders.  Second, they’ve been seeking the counsel of experts from MUSC, who give them advice from a medical perspective.

Well, this Friday they issued COVID-19 Update #24.  I alluded to it briefly in that last blog.

Basically, in a nutshell, the City is allowing short term rentals once again on the Isle of Palms, beginning Wednesday, May 13th.

Short term rentals by their definition is any stay of 29 days or less.


IOP COVID Update 24 and Short Term Rentals


Here is the wording from the May 8th COVID Update…

The Isle of Palms City Council held an emergency City Council meeting today, Friday, May 8, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. to discuss the recommendations developed by the Short Term Rental & Hotel Phased Re-Opening Task Force and consider further measures to protect the citizens of the Isle of Palms.

City Council took the following actions:

The following information, regulations and restrictions are still in place:


Short-Term Rentals and Hotels

Short term rentals, hotel and overnight accommodations of 29 days or less are prohibited until May 12th.

Effective May 13, 2020, short-term rentals and accommodations businesses shall implement all reasonable steps to comply with applicable Governor’s Executive Orders, sanitation guidelines, including future guidelines, promulgated by the CDC, DHEC, or any other state or federal public health official, including but not limited to measures outlined in this document.


As far as beach use restrictions, the City is still prohibiting public gatherings of greater than three people, except family members who live in the same household.

You can access the entire update on the Isle of Palms website here.

Now that the City has officially opened up the island to short term rentals, it’s a great time to get your name on the calendar.  Just give us a call at EP and we’ll help you find the perfect beach vacation home for you and your loved ones.

All best,
Lowcountry Lisa
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger

James Beard Finalists Announced

They are the Oscars of the food world, and the shortlist has been announced  –  the James Beard Finalists.

As I covered in this blog, the James Beard Awards are currently brewing.  Several Lowcountry establishments and people made the nominations list.

This James Beard Award season has been upended by the coronavirus, of course, as has the whole world.  The gala and awards ceremony have been put on the shelf in a sort of limbo.  However, they have moved forward with the James Beard Finalists list.


James Beard Finalists from the Lowcountry


Two Lowcountry reps have made the cut and are officially still in the race as James Beard Finalists.

FIG is up for Outstanding RestaurantHigh Wire Distillery, with Ann and Scott Black well at the helm, are on the nation’s short list for Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Producer.

Also, there are several Lowcountry names among other awards in the food and beverage world.

Leadership Awards  – Abundant Seafood’s Mark and Kerry Marhefka, one of five nominated in the country;

Alternative Eating and Drinking Places –  Studio Dewberry &  Workstead, for The Dewberry’s rooftop Citrus Club cocktail bar

Jonathan Gold Local Voice Award  – The Post and Courier’s food editor and chief critic, Hanna Raskin

Health and Wellness – Tony Bartelme, for his coverage of A.G.E.s

Short Essay – Ali Rosen, for her story on the closing of Hominy Grill.

Read all about the James Beard Finalists and more in the Post & Courier.

You can find all the James Beard nominees on Open Table.  Read all about how “the James Beard Foundation has committed its full staff and programs for the next 12-18 months to Open For Good, a campaign to support the recovery and rebuilding of an independent restaurant industry that is stronger than ever,” here.


A quick IOP update


This just in  –  the Isle of Palms City Council just decided to allow short term rentals once again, beginning Wednesday, May 13th!  They also voted unanimously to rescind the “keep it moving” requirement on the beach.  That takes effect immediately.  Anyone who is on the beach no longer has to be moving or exercising.  Sitting in place is now allowed, as long as folks follow proper social distancing.

Read more about it here.

If you are ready to book a stay in a beach house Charleston, just give us a call and we’ll get you on the calendar.

All best,
Lowcountry Lisa
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger

The Latest Isle of Palms update

Well, the COVID situation constantly evolves and changes, as does the response at the local level… so it’s time for an Isle of Palms update or two.

The Isle of Palms City Council has been holding emergency meetings left and right.  There was one this past Saturday, then another one yesterday.

You can watch all the action on their YouTube channel.

Also, you can access all of their COVID-19 updates on the official city website.  Believe it or not, they are now on Isle of Palms update #23.


The Latest Isle of Palms Update


The latest emergency meeting Monday, May 4th netted some big changes.  The security checkpoint on the IOP Connector, limiting those who can come onto the IOP, will be coming down.  Wednesday, May 6th will be the first day with open access to the island.

Interestingly, both Sullivan’s Island and Folly Beach are keeping checkpoints in place.  Folly is restricting access between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.  Sullivan’s is restricting access between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

In accordance with Governor McMaster’s order to allow open air dining, City Council also made changes regarding restaurants.  For the next 15 days, they are allowing restaurants along Front Beach to set up outdoor tables and chairs outside of their establishment, in order to serve customers.

Regarding vacation rentals, this is what they decided: “Short term rentals, hotel and overnight accommodations of 29 days or less are prohibited until May 12th.  However, City Council created the Short-Term Rental and Hotel Phased Re-Opening Task Force to discuss a plan for opening Short Term Rentals and Hotels prior to May 12th, 2020.”

That task force meeting is going on this afternoon, so stay tuned to find out just what that means.


Mount Pleasant Farmers Market update


During the COVID crisis, most farmers’ markets have delayed their spring openings.  This includes the “biggie,” the downtown Charleston Farmers Market at Marion Square, which has been named one of the top ten in the nation.

Mount Pleasant, however, has adapted to the COVID situation and has rechristened itself the “Mount Pleasant Essential Farm Goods Market.”  It’s open on Tuesdays, with expanded hours of 1:00 p.m. till 7:00 p.m.  Instead of the typical 100 or so vendors, they have trimmed it down to six  –  farm stands selling fresh produce.

For the first time ever, you can prepay and order online.  They will be adhering to social distancing guidelines, advising people to stay six feet apart, with no more than two customers in a booth at one time.  It will function this way until further notice.

Read more from Live 5 News or on their Facebook page.

The COVID situation is fluid, indeed, as is the reopening of the island and beyond.  If you are interested in staying in Isle of Palms vacation rentals, just give us a call and we’ll help however we can.

All best,
Lowcountry Lisa
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger

Loggerhead nesting season

Loggerhead nesting time along the coast of South Carolina and beyond has officially begun.

May 1st marks the start of loggerhead nesting season, which will last through the end of October.

Loggerheads  –  those gentle giants of the sea, and unofficial mascots of the Lowcountry  –  use our fair barrier islands to birth their young.

Populations of loggerhead turtles were seriously declining for several years.  Thankfully, the public and private entities woke up to the dire situation.  Thanks to the work of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) along with countless dedicated staff and volunteers, turtle numbers are rebounding well.

If you have stayed on the Isle of Palms during loggerhead nesting season, you very well have seen a turtle nest cordoned off in the dunes.

In a typical year, a few thousand turtle nests are laid along the 190 miles of South Carolina beaches.  This makes South Carolina second only to Florida in the number of sea turtle nests.  Last year (2019) was record-breaking, with the most nests ever counted in a single loggerhead nesting season in South Carolina  –  a whopping 8,802 nests.  This was an increase of 37% over the previous record, which was set back in 2016.  By the way, 2018 was unusually low, with only 2,767 nests recorded.


Loggerhead Nesting Season 2020 Has Kicked Off in Style


Right on time, the very first loggerhead nest was laid last night  –  April 30th-May 1st .    Mother loggerhead laid the nest on Lighthouse Island, which is located north of the Isle of Palms in the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge.  Read all about it in the Island Eye News.

If you are staying in a beach house now or later this summer, you need to be aware of certain laws.  Several ordinances of the City of Isle of Palms are written to offer protection to these magnificent creatures.  They include:

No personal property shall be located within 25 feet of any emergency beach access or any turtle nest.

In addition to any other applicable State or Federal laws, no person shall physically harm, harass, or otherwise disturb any sea turtle (including eggs and hatchlings) or any sea bird (including eggs and young). Beached or stranded sea turtles, whales, or dolphins shall be reported immediately to the City Police Department.

It shall be unlawful for any person to allow a dog to disturb nesting sea turtles, turtle nests or turtle hatchlings.

The main ordinance concerns exterior lights of oceanfront homes.  They must be turned off from sunset to sunrise during turtle nesting season.  That’s because artificial lighting confuses the baby hatchlings and the mamas as well.  They mistake it for the reflection of the moon and stars off the ocean, which they use to navigate.  Even flashlights and any small lighting visible from the water or beach can spell disaster for the turtles.  Remember: Lights Our For Loggerheads!


The Turtle Team and SCDNR


The Island Turtle Team is a group of volunteers who work tirelessly on behalf of sea turtles like the loggerhead.  They mark and protect nests, count eggs, relocate them when necessary.  Members keep an eye peeled for injured or distressed turtles who need hospitalization at the Aquarium.  They keep accurate records, all in an effort to ensure successful survival of the species.

The team keeps a website with the latest photos and info on their progress, as well as records of past nesting seasons.   And here’s the turtle page on the City of IOP’s website.

Here is the DNR official website, with total nests laid in the state so far this year.

So keep an eye peeled for turtle nests when you’re staying in a beach house Charleston, and be sure to turn out those lights.  And be sure to contact EP to book your next stay at the beach.

All best,
Lowcountry Lisa
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger