I consider myself an expert Yelper, not because of the reviews I leave (truthfully, I don't post many) but because of my ability to weed through the BS and find the best possible restaurants in any location. To be honest, I'd be more uncomfortable without Yelp while traveling than my map app. I'm not sure what that says about me/my priorities, but oh well that's life.
On my road trip, I found tons of amazing restaurants, workout studios, and activities, courtesy of Yelp and a few particularly helpful travel blogs. I thought I'd share a little road trip recap here, because Charleston is my favorite, Richmond is surprisingly awesome, and St. Augustine was on the Bachelorette this season so now EVERYONE will be going there. You're welcome for the travel forecast.
Hot Yoga Barre- This actually might be my favorite workout studio to date. It's a gorgeous space, with brick abound and string lights scattered about. Their merchandise wall is lined with S'well bottles (as if I needed another reason to fall in love), and their staff is incredibly friendly. I was running a little behind, and they were extremely patient with me, which definitely isn't always the case. The class itself was SO wonderful- hot and sweaty, with an invigorating combination of true yoga, true barre, and cardio intervals. After two days sitting in a car, HYB was the perfect choice. If I end up going to William and Mary for grad school (which is a super real possibility btw), I'll be making the drive into Richmond often just for this studio!
Ellwood Thompson's- The selection at this healthy, local grocery store was more expansive than Yelp let on. They had a wide variety of vegan snacks, paleo jerky for Paul, dairy-free ice cream (I ALWAYS check to see if a grocery store carries solid vegan ice creams, even when I can't buy them), and drool-worthy bakery items. Everything a girl could ask for, right? I was a little disappointed by the juice bar- fairly boring smoothies and subpar taste. BUT... still an amazing grocery store. And they have ginger shots!
CHARLESTON (AKA I have an eating problem)
Edmund's Oast- Coolest brunch place in Charleston. They have 41 beers on draft, and they make many of their own beers in-house, so if you like a brew with brunch, you'll be beyond pleased. But for those who don't like beer (=me), the food will more than make up for any alcohol envy. Our table's favorites were the pickled shrimp (just trust me), the cornbread with honey butter, and, for a lighter option, the summer fruits.
Mira Winery Tasting Room- Mira's wine tasting was easily the best I've ever experienced- hefty pours, great explanations of the wines, and true quality from start to finish. Sorry Arrington, but I'm a Mira convert. Their Rosé of Syrah is top notch (even the men on the trip loved it), and their Chardonnay is wonderfully oaky. Don't even get me started on their actual Syrah...
The Ordinary- This trendy seafood restaurant was one of my favorites in Charleston. I only wish I'd had one less cocktail at Prohibition so I could have taken a good picture! Their shellfish tower was a great choice for a party of four, but we equally enjoyed the snapper ceviche and the buratta with grilled peaches and cherry tomatoes. Would 100% come back, probably just for the shellfish, though- I don't think I could afford much more on my student budget.
Bakehouse Charleston- Their lattes doe. I got a couple while I was in town, but my favorite was probably the cinnamon bun, with s'mores coming in a close second. They offer non-dairy milk as an option, which was awesome for my lactose-sensitive tummy. My family is also very snobby when it comes to key lime pie, but the slice we got from Bakehouse exceeded expectations. The crust was thick, and the pie itself had the perfect level of tartness. I wish Tampa had a place like this!
Shopping on King Street- I love to shop. So it's not a surprise that I spent the majority of my non-eating time walking around and exploring the amazing shops in Charleston. I got to create my own charm bracelet at Moon & Lola, an adorable store that has a vibe similar to that of ban.do. I got to sample different flavors of honey, from whipped cinnamon to lavender, at Savannah Bee Company. And best of all, I got to smell countless candles and pick my perfect scent at the candle library at Candlefish. Next time I come to Charleston, I'm totally taking a candle making lesson!
Huriyali Gardens- Finally, a juice bar. I found this place on my last day, and while it's in the sketchiest neighborhood ever, it's worth the drive. I got the green bowl, which was super filling and delicious. But I couldn't stop myself from sipping my mom's choco-brew smoothie, which had cold brew, cacao, chocolate, banana, and dates. NOMZ. Only other downside- long wait times. So don't come here if you're in a hurry!
John Rutledge House Inn- Where we stayed while in Charleston, and where I will probably stay every time I come back. The location was very centralized, and the staff was almost alarmingly competent. We were treated like individuals, and every person we came into contact with went out of their way to make our stay better. Plus, the rooms were gorgeous, and they were dog friendly, which I needed for little Milo!
Hall's Chophouse- I have never had a better dinner experience than the one I had at Hall's. The owners greet you at the door with hugs and smiles, and they treat you like royalty, from start to finish. We got complimentary champagne, because it was my parents' anniversary. Plus, the steaks.... and the lobster mac and cheese......... They even sent me a postcard in the mail, hand-written, thanking me for coming by. If you have a special occasion to celebrate in Charleston, CELEBRATE IT HERE.
Other places I'd recommend...
Poogan's Porch (quality Southern food), Bin 152 (amazing wine selection, perfect for a snack/drink before dinner), The Darling (amazing oysters, fun cocktails, great atmosphere), Carmella's (dessert bar from heaven), The Grocery (small plates, slightly healthier/more vegetarian-friendly than other places), Prohibition (swing dancing lessons with a 20's style ambiance and great food/cocktails), The Gin Joint (AMAZING cocktails, fantastic place to go post-dinner)
Whetstone Chocolates- Cool chocolate shop in St. Augustine that also serves as an activity- they do tours of their factory! We didn't have time to do a tour, but I loved walking around the gift shop. Paul surprised me with a selection of truffles and a sign that says "Actually, chocolate does taste as good as skinny feels." It is displayed prominently in our kitchen!
Likit- The fact that Dole Whip exists in St. Augustine says enough. This dairy-free soft serve is basically impossible to find, so you can best believe I freaked out when I saw it. And it didn't disappoint, because duh, it's Dole Whip.
The Kookaburra- Super cute coffee shop with Australian flair. We fell in love with their Aussie Pies, and the Honey Badger coffee drink blew my mind. Of course, I like my coffee sweet, so don't go for their flavored beverages if you prefer yours black. They also offer dairy-free milk!
The Floridian- Our first dinner in Florida as Florida residents obviously had to be at The Floridian. We loved their healthy dinner options- even their drinks were on the healthy side! I got the Southern Belle Salad, and I would probably get it weekly if I lived by this restaurant. Can't beat shrimp, sweet potatoes, peaches, and pecans!
Other things to see:
Castillo de San Marcos (don't bother going inside, it's $$ and the outside is just as cool), Basilica Cathedral (super old Catholic church, amazing architecture and stained glass), Anastasia Island (because it's my name and also because it's beautiful), Flagler College (gorgeous college campus)