I am thankful for Charleston – Some things and places that warm the heart – What are you thankful for?

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By Mark A. Leon

We all have our own personal happy places.  Those places that, no matter what, put you in a good mood and lift us up.  These are the little things that help you escape the hustle and bustle of life and take you to your own personal wonderland.  On this the day, the Eve of Christmas, we wanted to share some of our happy places and things as we ring in the bells celebrating the birth of Christ.

  • Beignets and fresh crab and fried green tomato benedict at The Sunflower Cafe – Located at 2366 Ashley River Road in West Ashley, this place stands alone among the Charleston breakfast and brunch giants.  In a quaint diner setting filled with sunflowers for all the eye can see and locals yapping about their daily problems lies one of the most amazing eggs benedict dishes and beignets in town.  Don’t let the prices shock you.  They really are that inexpensive and that good.
  • Sunrise on Folly Beach – So many of you are thinking, sounds great, but I am not getting up at 5:00 AM to watch the sunrise.  I will wait until noon and go there to get a tan.  Getting a tan, feeling the heat hit your back, people watching, bocci and football and drinking cold beverages is nice and it is part of our past-time, but a sunrise is a new show every day.  With a unique formulation of clouds and a ball of orange rising like a 3D movie and a slight breeze, you will never feel more alive.  We were able to share a remarkable sunrise where it was raining on one part of the beach and sunny on the other so we were showered by warm water as the sun appeared to rise from the ocean.
  • Cocktails at the Spectator Hotel – The mixologist is a scientist at this new boutique hotel on State Street.  His careful design and development of his cocktails along with the testing expertise of staff and customers make each one of his seasonal creations an experience to remember.  Sullivan & Company was the first cocktail I was able to try.  I thought it may have been named after the beach, but it is named was derived from an apple farm in Maine, one his family has owned for three generations.  This drink is a blend of Virgil Kaine Bourbon, house-made spiced apple cider, maple syrup and lemon juice.  The Flapper’s Delight named after the era of the Roaring 20’s and the design of the interior of the bar and boutique hotel is a memorable fall delight made up of Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin, ruby port, St.Germain Liqueur,  concord grape, lemon Juice and Prosecco.  So refreshing.  Make each sip count with these drink selections.
  • People watching at White Point Gardens – Each morning locals of the Charleston proper can be seen walking their dogs and in some cases, the dogs walk themselves.  These are true locals who value the solitude of the Battery area.  The sounds of endangered birds can be heard from up above and the sun rising with the Cooper River Bridge in the background highlights the experience.  During the weekends, you may catch a wedding or a family picnic and if you venture across the street, dolphins playing may catch your eye in the harbor.  Don’t go for picture or reading the statues.  Just go and let all the life come to you.
  • Happy Hour on the back porch at the Charleston Pour House – If you love music and live in Charleston you know about the Charleston Pour House and the great lineup of entertainment they have each and every night.  Not everyone knows that for Happy Hour there is a warm up act or two that plays on the outdoor stage.  Generally, most of the year, we would rather be outside.  Even in the heat of the summer, trees overhang from the patio to provide shade.  Some of the best up and coming local and traveling artists showcase their sounds to a happy group of PBR drinkers.  Here is the catch, its free.  Every day, free live original music.  You can bring the dogs, the kids and dance away your worries of the day.
  • Yappy Hour at James Island County Park – Is there a place we can bring our dogs to run free and frolic with other canines, listen to live music and have a few beers?  Yes there is.  James Island County Park, which offers a spacious fenced in dog park with two ponds to play, has periodic Yappy Hours where dozens and dozens of dogs in all shapes and sizes run, lick, swim, fetch and just enjoy this mini spring break.  While they play, the two legged owners get live music and a few cold beverages.  If that isn’t a happy place.
  • Relaxing at the MUSC Urban Farrn – Before you dismiss this one as boring, hear us out.  The MUSC Urban Farm is located in a courtyard on Bee Street between Ashley River Road and Courtney farm1Street.  In this courtyard you will find stretching equipment, benches and open grassy fields to lay out or have a picnic.  The farm or garden as many see it offers smells so beautiful they have to be experienced first hand.  From orange trees to sunflowers to basil to rosemary, the farm provides classes and workshops and open space to grow and nurture fruits, vegetables and seasonings.  One of our favorite things is to run our hands through the rosemary and have the smell linger on our bodies.
  • Boba Tea at Tapio on Spring Street and a Goat Cheese and Roasted Tomato Turnover at WildFlour Bakery – We love that Spring Street is seeing a level of excitement not witnessed in years and with that new and exciting businesses are bringing their niche to the city of Charleston.  Two of our special places are neighbors, Tapio and WildFlour.  Two of the most treasured secrets (Many are aware though).  The Thai Coconut Coffee Milk Tea with tapioca bubbles is just splendid and coupled with a turnover from WildFlour makes a complete power attack of the palate.  In a very good way.  While you are there, walk around Spring Street and see some of the great places that have popped up.

I am thankful for the kind and gentle people that truly define the meaning of life in the Lowcountry

There you have it, some of the things and places that bring us happiness.  What are your happy places and things in Charleston?  We would love to know.