The Isle of Palms (IOP) in the summer is unlike anything I’ve experienced. Just a 30-minute drive from downtown Charleston, SC, this beachy, music-filled stretch of land just might be my favorite place on the east coast.
Living 3000 miles away, the IOP wasn’t exactly on my radar. But some of my family relocated to the Charleston area a few years ago and showed me the ropes of how it’s done in the South.
I flew to Charleston for my niece’s high school graduation and was pretty stoked to spend a few days in the sun. I have to back up just a second and tell you how amazing my niece, Meg, is. Sassy from birth, we’ve shared a million memories together from camping in the desert, playing on the beach in Kā’aanapali, chasing the ice cream man in the summer, watching scary movies, and creating our own holidays… it was hard when she moved from Washington three years ago. It’s still hard at times, but it’s the best excuse to travel and go see her and the family.
The day after her graduation, we made the trek to the IOP. Pulling off the highway and onto Palm Boulevard, I could feel my body start to unwind. The pace in the South, in particular the IOP, is a bit slower, like wading through honey. It’s beautiful and sweet and makes you pause a beat to soak everything in.
My sister-in-law took us to The Windjammer– a gigantic, open air restaurant and bar right on Front Beach. We plunked ourselves on the deck overlooking the beach and ordered buckets (yes, buckets!) filled with cold bottles of beer. Just below us on the beach was a sand pit where a handful of people played volleyball, and on the floor below, a live band was playing “Breakeven” by The Script. This picture was snapped right then, and it was one of the happiest moments of my life, surrounded by some of the people I love most on this planet. Side note: Darius Rucker has been known to pop by The Windjammer for an impromptu session!
My niece and I wandered down to the beach and took a dip in the Atlantic. Living along the chilly waters of Puget Sound, warm water never ceases to amaze me. I can actually swim here without a wetsuit? It’s bananas, man. I loved this moment with my niece, almost as if no time had passed between us.
We finished off the day at The Dingy– a fantastic tap house and restaurant with a screened front room. The place is tiny but packs a punch with its great menu (try the gator bites – they’re awesome) and live music. Josh Hughett, who is a regular performer around the IOP, played that night and had the entire crowd singing along to his tunes.
The trip ended all too quickly, and before I knew it, I was on my way back to Seattle. Never has a place I’ve visited made me feel more at home. IOP has left its indelible mark, and I can’t wait to get back.