Folly Beach in Winter Photo Essay

Winter is so peaceful on the South Carolina beaches. Love at first sight on my first visit to Folly Beach, just a 15 minutes drive from downtown Charleston.
Come and see for yourself.

Have all year round fun at the beautiful Carolina beaches!

More free family travel attractions in Charleston area:

  • Isle of Palms a more family oriented beach close to Isle of Palms County Park and its awesome zip-line equipped playground. Also nearby are historic Fort Moultrie and USS Yorktown aircarft carrier.
  • Fort Moultrie: visit heroic Revolutionary War battles, ingenious Palmetto trees defense system, intriguing WWII radio communication and photo incredible vistas of the Ravenel bridge.
  • Self guided tour of Charleston’s most outrageous murders, famous ghost sightings and unsolved mysteries.
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    The funniest residents in Charleston South Carolina

    Charleston is now revving with visitors from all over the world, eager to experience the city’s rich history, amazing architecture and exquisite gardens during the month long Spring Houses and Gardens Tours.

    Most locals welcome the extra traffic, but some will rather keep to themselves. Like the King Street’s (where else!) majestic “neighborhood greeter”. He didn’t tell me his real name, but he’s quick to point out that four legged visitors just wonder around up and down the street oblivious to rules and order! 🙂

    Dog wondering the street in Charleston South Carolina
    Those of you that plan to hang around a little longer please stop by “Sophisticated Whimsy” on Broad Street and “indulge in some free putting lessons” from the town’s best golfers. At least we can all agree they are very well dressed!

    Funny Golfers in Charleston South Carolina

    Happy Travelling in South Carolina!

    Charleston’s Spring Houses and Gardens Tour

    Where else but in Charleston can you “hail, mail, jail and bail” all on the same corner? The intersection of Meeting and Broad Streets features The Corners of Four Laws: St. Michael’s church God’s law, United States Post Office federal, Court House state and City Hall for the city law.Charleston Four Corners of Law

    This American jewel, The Holy City, will once again welcome art and history lovers to a spring extravaganza of exquisite houses and gardens tours, interior design and art exhibitions. The magnificent architectural display, master craft interiors, intricate horticultural arrangements and impressive art collections are sure to indulge your senses.

    Start your journey with the 2008 Symphony Designer Showhouse open March 13th trough April 13th. Proceeds benefit the Charleston Symphony Orchestra. Attend the “Windows to the World” preview party and enjoy unlimited event visits. Located on the historic waterfront the house will delight visitors from the moment they cross the threshold. The interior architecture takes full advantage of sweeping water views featuring an open floor plan ideal for entertaining. Admire the gourmet kitchen, five bedrooms, six full baths, the private garden with pool and hot tub and an indoor putting green. Local designers transformed every room into a treasury of decorating concepts, capturing a casual historic Charleston look with an international flare. You will be able to purchase all pieces on display while indulging your taste buds to al fresco dining.

    Immerge yourself in history with the 61st Annual Festival of Houses and Gardens from March 13th trough April 12th courtesy of the Historic Charleston Foundation. The Festival offers guests the rare opportunity to see inside 150 of America’s most distinctive historic houses in 12 colonial and antebellum neighborhoods.

    Begin on Meeting Street, on March 16th and 19th. Note the County Records Building, the first fireproof building in America and the Hibernian Hall, the first semi-public building of pure Greek style featuring a stone from Ireland’s natural wonder the Giant Causeway and an original harp emblazoned over a massive iron gate.
    You will be drawn to the white staples of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church painted black to be saved from destruction during the “War Between the States”, as local called it, since “there was nothing Civil about it”.

    Continue on King Street, on March 30th and April 2nd. “The little street that runneth from Ashley’s River to the Broad path to the country” escaped the many fires that ravaged the city and “boasts an astonishing variety of architecture”. Like the Miles Brewton House, one of the few Palladin buildings in the South and the best double house in Charleston which retains its original gardens and outbuildings and an iron fence topped with a “cheveux-de-frise”.

    All you love birds will be enchanted by the candlelight tours on Church Street, on April 1st and 4th. The “most romantic street in America,” features the Dock Street Theater and the St. Phillip’s Episcopal church the oldest congregation in South Carolina. Notice the “Pirate Houses” next to the graveyard legendary hangouts for eighteenth-century pirates like cruel Blackbeard.

    From Charleston Gh…

    Garden aficionados unite at the 73rd Annual Walking Tour of Private Houses & Gardens provided by The Garden Club of Charleston, March 28th and 29th. Expert club members will showcase each garden, provide tips and answer questions. Did you know that Charleston is quickly becoming a national favorite wedding destination? On this tour you will get divine decorative inspiration from all of the exquisite floral displays. You will be awed by the Calhoun mansion, the “Grande Dame of Charleston”. At over 24,000 sqft is the city’s largest residence featuring 35 rooms and fireplaces, khoi ponds, a private elevator, three levels of piazzas, a 90 foot cupola and more.

    Continue your artistic discovery with the 8th Annual Kiawah Island Art and House Tour set for April 11th on Kiawah Island and benefiting the Gibbes Museum of Art. Explore five exceptional homes showcasing spectacular private art collections. Start at a secluded shingle style home featuring Chinese, African and American art. Next is an 18h century Creole style plantation. Tucked in the dense maritime forest is your third stop featuring contemporary art. The fourth house has an inverted floor plan and expansive porches with magnificent views of the ocean and the Ibis Pond. The tour ends at the Cassique Garden Cottage that incorporates wood and stone with Luteyns and Voysey style elements. While on the island enjoy Jack Nicklaus-designed Turtle Point golf courses and look out for loggerhead turtles, bobcats, and the great blue heron.

    Conclude your journey with the Ashley Hall Tour of Homes and Gardens on April 12th. The self-guided tour offers a rare glimpse of unique private dwellings and gardens not seen on other tours. This year you will enjoy houses on Meeting, Broad and South Battery streets, all within walking distance.

    Check out the building at 106 Broad Street, “The Dr. John Lining House”. Made out of “sturdy black cypress” is the city third oldest building and the only remaining house with a T-shaped chimney. How incredible that a wooden building will survive the many fires that swept across the city!

    Glance over the house at 8 South Battery, the only pre Revolutionary war house on the street. Col. William Washington, cousin of George Washington met his bride to be on his way to the Eutaw Springs battle. As he had no flag for his command Miss Elliott made him one using her mother’s damask curtains, now most cherished possession of the Washington Light Infantry.

    From Charleston Gh…

    In Charleston “you are almost in a splitting distance of a ghost”. If you are lodging at The Carriage House Inn, higher up on Battery Street, you are in for a special treat. You may run nose to nose with the Gentleman Ghost “the well dressed and groomed ghost that likes to lie down besides female guests” or the Headless Torso, the ghost of a Confederate soldier who lost his limbs and head during a munitions explosion.

    From Charleston Gh…

    As you brush pass serene oak trees and mysterious iron gates and hear your footsteps on the cobblestone streets, as you smell the blooming symphony of azaleas, dahlias and peonies and gaze at the white pearl sailboats on the backdrop of the clear blue harbor, you will slowly be soaked in history. What started as a travel experience will quickly transform into soul searching and inner peace discovery.

    All of the sudden you will feel right at home.

    Daniel Island: “Love Thy Neighbor” wildlife photo encounters

    One summer evening we were coming home from school. As I was turning the car around the dolphins’ water fountain I caught sight of a 5 feet alligator sunbathing on the little pond beach across the parking lot. I stopped the car, yanked Lana from the seat, and with her in my arms ran the two flights of stairs up to the apartment and grabbed the camera from the kitchen drawer. Thank God it had batteries! Ran downstairs (Lana still in my arms) and looked anxiously at the pond. The impenetrable beast didn’t move an inch. Can’t tell why I got so excited. We’ve seen plenty of alligators before, on the Louisiana swamp tour, at the Alligator Land in Myrtle Beach and just recently at the Riverbanks Zoo. Vivid images flashed in my head of back-breaking tons pressure jaw snapping monster that could swallow you whole in an instant. As Lana was getting restless trying to get a better view of the “crocodile” I decided it’s time to find shelter inside.

    A month after I moved to Daniel Island I was struggling with the groceries bags. What looked like a bicycle tire laying 3 feet ahead right by the handicap parking started to move slowly towards the apartment building. It was a snake and it was big. Fascinated, I just froze and didn’t even put the bags down. The snake glided through the grass unfazed. Seconds later it was swallowed by the earth in the dusky light. I kept starring waiting for some drama to unfold. Nothing else happened so I reluctantly headed for the stairs. There were plenty of bags left in the car so I had to come back twice. Each time looked anxiously around tiptoeing and hoping my way around through the breezeway. With no sign from my reptilian friend, I was equally relieved and disappointed. Weeks later my mom and my 3 years old were coming back from the Children Water Park when they ran into another snake. This time there was no mistake about it. He was stretched along the road right in front of the Bistro. Maybe he was in for the dinner special. I’m surprised it wasn’t run over by the many cars passing by. My mom and Lana quickly turned around and took the long way home.

    This February got a new digital camera, a S700 Fuji FinePix, with 7MP, 10x optical zoom, image stabilization and many other features I’ll probably never use. Thrilled to try my new toy went out for a stroll on the peaceful walkway around the Wando River. On the little bridge in front of the apartments I ran nose to nose with a great white heron. He was magnificent and he knew it. Like a pop diva he let me shoot at will. He even turned around for a close-up. Bet that’s his good side! Bored by my amateurish maneuvers he finally takes off. Few days later I met its cousin the great blue heron. He was resting by the famous alligator pond. Lana knew the drill and we ran inside the apartment and both brought our cameras. I got a great shot as he was fixing to take off.

    To top it all off I had another avian encounter this time with a strikingly beautiful black crow posing on a pole. As I was fiddling with the aperture settings he condescendingly moved his head from side to side starring down at me. “You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? Then who the hell else are you talkin’ to? You talkin’ to me? Well I’m the only one here.”

    It was late at night. I just passed the Seven Farms and River Landing intersection and could see the lighted oak tree welcoming me home once again. All of the sudden a dog jumped in front of the car and headed into the fields by the fire station. Hmmm…a stray dog…that’s really strange on Daniel Island. I’m glad I didn’t hit it. Never had a road kill before and sure didn’t want to start one now. Then the “dog” turned around and stopped about 30 feet away. He looked right at me as the car headlights were shining on his golden fur coat. At this point I realized it wasn’t a dog but a coyote. I stepped out to get a better look, expecting him to take off any minute. Three more steps. We starred at each other for what seemed like an eternity. He had an inquisitive and melancholic look, not at all afraid but rather curious. A strange sensation of guilt washed over me. The car, the offices, the road and even the lighted tree, all seemed out of place. I turned around feeling uneasy.

    During my short stay on Daniel Island I was blessed with more wildlife encounters than in all the years I’ve lived in United States. This place is truly special. They’ve welcomed us into their home and seemed to have done a good job so far keeping the place intimately warm. We are the trespassers, so let’s gracefully accept their challenge in making the island a “home sweet home” for all.

    I lost my footing
    So I must rest alone
    I’m leaving it up to you now
    Take good care of the land
    Believe me, it’s worth it.

    Sunset peace
    Fresh cut grass
    Wind in the water.
    All we need it’s to breathe in
    All we need it’s to smile out.

    50 feet, 10 dollars and 5 minutes of Heaven (things to do on James Island near Charleston)

    Last month I had a defining moment. Got laid off with little explanation, a smile and no hand-shake. So what better way to celebrate then taking on a 50 feet rock climbing wall at James Island state park despite the fact I’m terrified of heights?

    The truth is I always wanted to do this. You know we all have the “10 places to see or 10 things do before we die”. So I drove myself to the James Island County Park which claims to have the highest outdoor rock climbing wall in South Carolina. See already on my way to breaking records!

    It was Tuesday afternoon and that was a very good choice. There was nobody around but 2 staffers busy laying out some new climbing routes. David – 6 feet tall, dark curly hair, boasting a slender body fit as one might expect, smiled and came to greet me. “This is a good sign” I said to myself.

    I signed a waiver, filled out a short form and paid the 10 dollars fee. That’s right only 10 dollars for all you can climb! David handed me the harness and lead me to the rock were he immediately proceeded to lay out the ropes. Things were moving too fast. My heart pounded heavily and I started to regret my decision. “I’m a little nervous” I said “haven’t done this before. Any pointers?” “Keep your hands above the feet and don’t look down. Don’t worry; I put you on the kiddy run. It’s the easiest around” replied David. Great! The vote of confidence made me feel much better.

    I was hoping there was some rule against an emotionally disturbed rookie climber that would have put an end to this. No luck. David brought me back to reality “When you’re ready say ‘On Belay’”. ‘On Belay’, what the heck that means? So without much of a fanfare or an audience I started my quest to bravery and self-esteem.

    My plan was simple; keep moving, maintain at all times a 3 points contact with the rock (got this tip from a Romanian friend 15 years ago…finally got to put it to use) and, as my guide just advised, don’t look down. It was going unexpectedly well when my left sleeve got caught in a jug. I jerked my arm furiously few times trying to escape. All of the sudden I felt very tired. For some reason all I could think about was that famous guy who had to cut his wrist to save himself. Luckily for me and my wrist I finally managed to let go. Back on track.

    Minutes later I reached the summit (yeah baby, “THE SUMMIT”!). All along I had visions of myself grandiosely declaring my victory with something profound and inspiring like “Veni, Vidi, Vici” or at least a Rocky style fists pumping. Yet all I could come up with was a pitchy “How do I get down from here?” “Grab the rope coming from your harness and lean backwards” David said “I’ll take it from there”. Easy for you to say, buddy. You know I skipped the “trust thy co-workers and let thrust thyself into their hands” team-building class. With not much of a choice I reluctantly grabbed the rope, closed my eyes and slowly squinted down at a 90 degrees angle. I’m sure was a pretty sight to see. The descend was a gentle slide down thanks to my quiet guide below.

    The whole thing took little over 5 minutes. I ended up grasping for air, bruised on my knees and elbows and so exhausted that I could barely move my arms to remove the harness. But now I know what Heaven must feel like.

    Did I mention they are open year around?