A tangerine sunset sinks into the horizon, bathing the Charleston skyline and harbor in a fiery glow. From our balcony at The Beach Club at Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina, I gaze out at the tidy rows of sailboats and yachts sitting still and silent in the melon-splashed marina.
I’ve just arrived in Charleston with my mom and sister on a rare early Mother’s Day getaway –– our first trip together without kids and grandkids that consists of more than one night away and is far enough to require air travel. Prompted by the allure of exploring a new place together (none of us had ever been to Charleston) and the fact that Southwest Airlines just launched daily nonstop service to and from Austin this spring, we set our sights on Charleston for our annual mother-daughter trip with no major plans on our agenda other than to relax and enjoy some uninterrupted time together. It turns out The Beach Club at Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina is the perfect place to do exactly that.
Perched on the Charleston Harbor Marina and nestled in the historic Mount Pleasant Village, which is known for its gorgeous historic homes, moss-draped live oaks and some of the best waterfront views in Charleston, The Beach Club is a beautiful blend of coastal luxury and Lowcountry charm. Here, you get an authentic Charleston experience, but you’re tucked away from the bustle of the city while remaining just a water taxi ride away from all of its main attractions.
Booking a late afternoon direct flight out of Austin on a Sunday afforded enough time to attend my kids’ soccer games and scout meeting and still arrive in Charleston to enjoy dinner with my mom and sister that same evening. After checking into our spacious double queen suite at The Beach Club, a stay that’s accompanied by jaw-dropping views of Charleston’s harbor and skyline, high-end luxurious accommodations with some of the most comfortable beds we’ve ever slept in, palatial pools perfect for lounging and a top-rated spa, we sauntered a few steps over to the Charleston Harbor Fish House.
The Fish House serves up unparalleled waterfront views of the historic Charleston skyline, the USS Yorktown and Marina along with South Carolina-inspired coastal cuisine like seared jumbo scallops resting atop creamed corn with blistered tomatoes and roasted okra; rich and savory shrimp and grits; and she-crab soup –– a creamy regional specialty made with crab roe from female crabs. If you have time before dinner, head upstairs to the Bridge Bar to sip a pre-dinner cocktail and soak in elevated waterfront vistas.
After a dreamy night’s rest, the three of us woke to a sunny South Carolina morning and wanted to get a good workout in before an afternoon of spa pampering and pool lounging. The resort has an impressive fitness center, but we opted to work up a sweat while taking in the surrounding scenery by crossing the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. The bridge, which stretches above the Cooper River and links downtown Charleston and Mount Pleasant, is the third longest among cable-stayed bridges in the Western Hemisphere –– and walking, biking or running across it is a not-to-miss Charleston experience. There’s a protected pedestrian path the entire way across –– approximately 3 miles one way or 6 miles round trip. You can easily Uber from the resort to the starting point of the path, or you can tack on some extra mileage by walking directly from the property (there’s a sidewalk). Be sure to pause at the top of the bridge for postcard-worthy panoramas of Sullivan’s Island, Mount Pleasant and downtown Charleston.
Once we made it across, we refueled at Mercantile and Mash, a gourmet foods emporium located in the historic Cigar Factory Mercantile where we ordered iced matcha lattes and locally-sourced healthy and delicious dishes including the falafel pita with honey roasted feta, radicchio arugula, onion and parsley; a mushroom grain bowl layered with roasted sweet potato, gruyere mornay and a fresh farm egg; and a baby kale Caesar salad with charred asparagus and chickpea croutons. There’s an attached craft whiskey and beer bar called Bar Mash, but we took an Uber back to get started on our afternoon of well-earned relaxation at the resort’s Estuary Spa.
My mom booked the Renew Herbal Massage, which uses Arnica oil to relieve muscle soreness and stiff joints while encouraging circulation and energizing the senses, while my sister opted for the Blue Eucalyptus Massage, which combats fatigue and boosts immunity with ginger root oil and mint rescue cream. They both raved about their treatments, but I will attest that the 80-minute Nirvana Stress Relief Massage –– a soothing aromatherapy massage that uses lavender oil to unwind the body and melt stress away –– was quite possibly the most blissful full body massage I’ve had to date. When it was over, the therapist asked me if there was anything else I needed, and the only response I could mutter was “another one of those please.”
But spending the rest of the afternoon sipping bubbly at the resort’s sparkling pools positioned before the breathtaking Charleston Harbor backdrop and surrounded by a 30,000-square-foot tropical deck lined with posh poolside cabanas and a private beachfront wasn’t exactly a shabby alternative. If you’re hungry, order poolside bites (try the smoked gouda pimento cheese and crackers) from Charleston’s only waterfront Tiki Bar.
Be sure to bring your appetite to Charleston, which cooks up some of the best cuisine in the country including seafood specialties such as the aforementioned she-crab soup, luscious Lowcountry dishes spanning gumbo to grits, and oysters, oysters and more oysters –– served on the half-shell, baked, stuffed, grilled, fried and charbroiled.
Oysters are a staple of Charleston’s culinary scene, and we began almost every meal here by slurping a dozen of these freshly-shucked delights –– something I couldn’t feel guilty about after learning some “pearls of wisdom” from the back of one of the raw bar menus that stated eating four oysters a day provides you with a complete daily supply of copper, iodine, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and monounsaturated fat. (No need to pack those multivitamins.)
I’d highly recommend ordering a platter at The Darling Oyster Bar, housed inside a 115-year-old charming historic building fronting Charleston’s famed King Street, where we savored Single Ladies, clean and salty tasting oysters sourced from Seabrook, South Carolina, and petite and briny Sweet Carolinas from Stump Sound, North Carolina. Another not-to-miss dining experience unfolds at The Obstinate Daughter, located on Sullivan’s Island just 15-minutes from the resort. Following yet another delicious round of a dozen buttery and briny bivalves, we tucked into Lowcountry seasonal dishes brimming with French, Italian and Spanish flavors including the Farro Piccolo (Brussel sprouts, peanut, balsamic and black truffle), the Clams Fra Diavolo (Clammer Dave’s clams, fresh fish, calamari, tomato served with Calabrian chili sourdough) and a warm and crusty wood-fired gourmet pizza topped with tomato, mozzarella, arugula and Calabrian chili honey.
Even if your time in Charleston is brief like ours was, carving out a day to play in the city is a must. We boarded a Charleston Water Taxi from the Charleston Harbor and Marina at the resort, which departs every hour on the hour and costs just $14 per person for an all-day pass. Stopping off at the city’s iconic Waterfront Park puts you steps away from both Charleston’s famed King Street, lined with upscale shops, historic architecture and incredible restaurants, and the Charleston City Market –– one of the country’s oldest public markets where you’ll find hundreds of entrepreneurs selling everything from clothes and leather goods to toys and highly sought-after sweetgrass baskets. Widely considered the epicenter of sweetgrass basketry, Charleston City Market is home to more than 50 resident Gullah artisans who have carried on this more than 300-year-old tradition that can be traced back to West Africa. Woven from locally-harvested marshgrasses, sweetgrass baskets are considered one of Charleston’s most culturally significant treasures.
Before leaving, my sister and I purchased some beautifully woven sweetgrass rose bouquets to bring back as souvenirs for both of our daughters, who will one day join us in these annual mother-daughter getaways. As always, our time away has been fabulous but fleeting. The three of us departed Charleston with a tiny taste of what this South Carolina gem has to offer and with a reason to return –– perhaps the next time with our grown daughters along for the trip.
If You Go
Southwest Airlines recently launched daily nonstop service from Austin to Charleston. With less than 2.5 hours of direct flight time, travel between AUS and CHS has never been easier.
The Beach Club at Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina is a luxury 92-guestroom waterfront resort that’s recognized as the #1 resort in South Carolina by Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards, the #4 Waterfront Hotel by USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards, and One of the Best Hotels in the World by Fodor’s Travel.
There’s no shortage of things to do in Charleston. Some of the more popular attractions and experiences include historic horse-drawn Old South Carriage tours through Charleston’s historic downtown; visiting Charleston’s historic sites, plantations and museums that serve as important educators of the complex history of the Deep South and long-standing oppression of African Americans; touring Fort Sumter where the first shots of the Civil War rang out; soaking in South Carolina’s sun, sand and sea at Folly Beach or Sullivan’s Island Beach; browsing the endless stalls at Charleston City Market; and strolling along the multi-block shopping stretch of Charleston’s famed King Street.
Eat & Drink:
On the property, enjoy breathtaking waterfront views with your breakfast, lunch or dinner at the Charleston Harbor Fish House, sip a cocktail on the rooftop upstairs at Bridge Bar, or grab casual bites and cocktails at the resort’s Reel Bar or Tiki Bar. For a memorable and delicious dining experience, make reservations at The Obstinate Daughter on Sullivan’s Island or The Darling Oyster Bar.