Destination: The Carolinas

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Come with me on a trip to the Carolinas. This trip began with the idea that we would go to a golf tournament, but quickly turned into a leisurely vacation of the most iconic must-see Carolina sites.

Let’s start with the basic details.

What flights did we take, where did we rent our vehicle from, where did we stay, etc.

We flew direct on American Airlines out of Des Moines on Wednesday afternoon and landed in Charlotte around 5 PM. Our returning flight was out of Charlotte Sunday morning at 11:30 and put us back in Des Moines around 1:30 pm.

We rented a Toyota Tacoma through Turo. When we travel we like to try out different vehicles we would consider purchasing. Pick up and drop off is super convenient and affordable. The owner of the vehicle offered several recommendations for food and was very friendly and prompt with his responses. This was our second time using Turo and we had a great experience!

Upon landing at Charlotte and picking up our vehicle, we drove right to Asheville. Before we checked into our hotel we stopped at Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack Arden for dinner. We got the Fried Pickle Chips to start and both ordered 3 Fried Tenders which is what were frequently mentioned in reviews on Google and Yelp.

On the spice level, we recommend ordering one step down than you think you’ll like. I ordered Honey Mild and it was so much more spicy than expected. Eric ordered Rocky’s Hot which seamed iconic, and that was even a bit too spicy for him, and he puts hot sauce on everything! While it was spicy, we finished every bit because the Chicken was that good!

We stay in several hotels on our trip to the Carolina’s because Eric has a ton of hotel points. We stayed at the DoubleTree by Hilton Biltmore Hotel-Asheville, Hilton Garden Inn Charlotte/SouthPark, Hilton Garden Inn Charleston/Mt. Pleasant, and Charleston Marriott. My personal favorite was the DoubleTree at Biltmore; we got a room upgrade with a balcony, the bed was extremely comfortable and the breakfast was by far the best of the 4 hotels we stayed at. We also got a warm cookie upon arrival which satisfied our sweet tooth after dinner at Rocky’s.

Day 1: The Biltmore Estate in Asheville North Carolina

We started our morning with breakfast at the hotel and a short drive around the corner to the Biltmore Estate. We parked in Lots A/B because we didn’t mind a short walk to the property. The walk led up to the most iconic view of the house, way better of a view than those who were shuttled in from parking lot C. We highly recommend doing what we did if you want an iconic photo moment of the home.

The Biltmore Mansion
Us in front of the Biltmore Mansion

We booked the Self-Guided Auto Tour for 10:15 am, with about 30 minutes of drive time to the parking lots, we arrived around 9:30 and had plenty of time to take in the views. Our main interest was the Biltmore House itself and the Gardens, but there is plenty of other things to enjoy on the property we would definitely take advantage of on a future trip to the Carolina’s!

I booked our tour 2 months in advance and recommend doing so if you want to start your morning with a tour. We spent about an hour and a half inside the home, and another 30 minutes or so exploring the gardens before heading off to get Lunch at Hillman Beer. We would recommend spending at least 2 days at Biltmore.

After lunch we drove back to Charlotte for a spa appointment at Urbana Spa. This was a last minute addition to our trip and was nice but wasn’t worth going into detail on. We checked into the Hilton Garden Inn Charlotte/SouthPark, had a drink at the bar while we figured out where we wanted to do dinner.

We ended up at 800 Degree Woodfired Kitchen which was walking distance from our hotel. This was one of our favorite meals. We enjoyed the Carni Pizza and Burrata, both were very delicious. Our service here was amazing, great environment, and the price was very reasonable. I also surprised Eric with a Cookie Ice Cream dessert for his birthday 🙂

Day 2: Wells Fargo Championship, Charlotte, North Carolina

The whole point of this trip to The Carolinas started with Eric wanting to go to the Wells Fargo Championship. We knew this would be an early morning and a long day on the course. We arrived to Quail Hollow just before 8 am, enjoyed a overly price breakfast and coffee before watching some of the worlds best golfers.

When we arrived the temp was around 65, and when we left it was around 75. Seriously we got blessed with the best weather. We enjoyed walking the course, watching Rory McIlroy and soaking up the vitamin D! We even met some volunteers that were from Iowa and got to chat with a few local club members!

Once we left the tournament we worked our way south to the next hotel in Mt. Pleasant, SC. We got in around 7 and went right to dinner at Poe’s Tavern. We originally planned to get Mexican for Cinco de Mayo but there was a two hour wait and I was getting hangry. Eric and I both got burgers which were really great! I can highly recommend the Beef Pit & Pendulum!

Day 3: Charleston, South Carolina

Personally this was my favorite day. We started the day at the Boone Hall Plantation and Gardens. We arrived around 9:30 which allowed us plenty of time to park and make the 10:30 tour of the home. The property was beautiful, including the iconic tree lined driveway which was featured in The Notebook. We spent about 3 hours on the property before heading off to Downtown Charleston.

Let me state the obvious about Downtown Charleston, parking and traffic is no joke. We wanted to park somewhere close to our main stops but also not directly on busy streets. We ended up on Cumberland between King St and East Bay. Parking was only $7 for about 4 hours and the location was perfect, easy to get in and out of the parking garage.

We got parked with plenty of time to walk King Street and pop into a few stores before heading to Lunch at Magnolia’s. We had made reservations for a late lunch at 2 pm. Not on purpose, but because we didn’t make reservations weeks in advance; which we highly recommend when planning a trip to the Carolinas.

Lunch at Magnolia’s was everything I expected, quality service and a great atmosphere. Eric and I both went with our waiters recommendations. We started with the Down South Egg Rolls, which we also agree is a must. I ordered the Original Simmons and Eric got the Parmesan Crusted Market Catch, which happened to be Flounder that day. We again cleaned our plates and I have no photos to show for the amazing meals, just take my word for it!

After lunch, we walked over to the iconic Pineapple Fountain and Rainbow Row. Both classic stops when walking around Charleston, however we didn’t think that Rainbow Row was that exciting. We found more enjoyment walking the other streets and looking at more beautiful homes.

We then drove out to the Angel Oak Tree which is estimated to be close to 400 years old. While it is a little bit of a drive, we thought it was really cool to see. We only spent about 15 minutes there as we arrived shortly before they were closing the park.

After checking into our 4th and final hotel, we freshened up for dinner at Revival. Because we didn’t book our dinner reservations in advance, we ended up with an 8:15 PM dinner time. We ended up having a few drinks before dinner at The Rooftop at The Vendue. We got to watch the sunset over the city, making a late dinner worth it!

Dinner at Revival was the best way to end our trip to the Carolina’s. Eric and I both got the Grilled Filet Mignon which was accompanied with a Potato Pave. We also ordered the Charred Okra-Butterbean “Cassoulet” for the table. We cannot recommend Revival enough. Our waiter Summer was amazing, provided great recommendations and allowed us plenty of time to enjoy our meal. We loved the atmosphere, we enjoyed looking at all the local art, the lighting was perfect and the noise level was what we expected. Not too loud, but not so quiet that you could hear everyone else’s conversations.

Eric and I would both highly recommend Magnolia’s and Revival on your trip to the Carolina’s.

Our Takeaways

When planning a trip to the Carolina’s we recommend Spring, the weather was mild, mid-60’s to mid-70’s. You can get by with jeans and a t, or a sundress and jean jacket. Definitely bring comfortable shoes as there is a lot of walking wherever you choose to go! While we don’t mind popping in an out of hotels, I wouldn’t recommend it. I would recommend 2 days at Biltmore, and 2-3 days in Charleston.

When in Charleston, schedule a walking or horse tour, night ghost tour, prebook all of your lunch and dinner reservations and don’t skip the higher priced spots, they’re extremely worth it!

I hope you enjoyed the read, and if you’ve stayed around to the end, thank you!

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