Oh, Charleston, we love you.

Ahh, Chucktown. We struck gold when Ray’s work brought us to this lovely town while he did some training. We were residents of this charming city for over a week and we sure made the most of it.IMG_2541

There’s a lot history here, as is the case in a lot of southern cities. (Fun fact, it’s named after King Charles II.) There are also some pretty fabulous restaurants which we obviously had to check out and review as our obligation to contribute to society.

Some of the best food we ever had was at Leyla Fine Lebanese Cuisine. It’s a family owned place and they really provide wonderful customer service. The food was just phenomenal and I’ll definitely be stopping by next time I’m in town.

 

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Leyla

 

Looking for a quick bite? We really enjoyed this small Vietnamese place called Bon Banh Mi. They have fantastic sandwiches and really good tacos and it’s super affordable. Not to mention- they have happy hour every day with great beer and sandwich specials.

If you’re looking for a fun night hangout, check out Fuel. It’s an old gas station turned bar with a bocce pit in the back the perfect combination for a good time.

In the morning (or anytime really, I’m not judging) head over to Kudu Coffee and Craft Beer. They have a quaint little courtyard where you can sit and enjoy your coffee or brew of choice.

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Kudu Brews

 

Anyway, be sure to walk around downtown and check out the waterfront. There are tons of shops on King Street if you’re feeling a little shopping spree. Oh, and you have to get some chicken and waffles for breakfast. HAVE TO.

Savannah pt. 3; Thirsty?

There are a ton of watering holes in Savannah but these are definite faves.

The Alley Cat

This place is my favorite cocktail bar in Savannah. It’s a bit hidden down an alley which is part of the allure, but my favorite part of this place is the menu. It’s a newspaper. That’s right, a good old-fashioned black and white newspaper. They have a TON of options and throughout the newspaper, you’ll find a bunch of fun little stories all usually pertaining to alcohol.

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Kids today will never know that elation we felt when we opened our lunch boxes to find a fruit roll up or a Rice Krispie treat waiting for us.  So while they munch on their organic gluten-free sweet potato chips, we can indulge our inner child with an adult beverage with some of our favorite childhood treats! This place has hundreds of fun and funky martinis including Snickers bar, Rice Krispie, and Fruit roll-up.

Rocko’s Lounge

This place has pretty cool. It has more of a 70’s vibe and there’s an old-school photo booth that you have to take pictures in obviously. The drinks are pretty affordable and they often have live music.

Abe’s on Lincoln

So there’s always that one dive bar that you just have to check out and Abe’s is it. Bring a pen, and be sure you add your own picture of Abe to the collection that covers the bar!

Artillery

Another nice cocktail spot. The atmosphere here is really cool, and like most of Savannah, it has history. (Yes, it actually was an old artillery, you’re brilliant.) Anyway, they have little buttons at each table for you to push and the server will come take your order. Pretty nifty; not to mention the drinks are fabulous.

Rocks on the Roof

So the drinks aren’t anything super spectacular but with a view like that, they don’t have to be.

 

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Rocks on the Roof 

 

Savannah pt. 2: Food for days

Food, food, and more food

Savannah is home to around 700 restaurants and we really made it our business to try a variety of different places while we were there. Seriously, I’m not saying that as a hyperbole either. We literally have been to about 40 different restaurants. Don’t judge me. Anyway, there is something for everyone; Check it.

Cotton and Rye

Cotton and Rye is a little ways from downtown Savannah and certainly one of our favorite spots to go. It’s unpretentious and more of a hipster-esq dining experience. The cocktails are great and the food is delicious too. And my go-to food of choice here?  A burger. Look I know, a burger doesn’t sound like “the thing to get” but trust me when I say it was one of the best burgers we’ve had. This is a pretty big deal for me too because if I’m being honest I am not one to eat a lot of red meat, but this burger made the cut and it was just fabulous. They ground their own meat and cure their bacon in house and it really comes together so nicely. Not to mention- you get a whopping pile of fries with the burger. Seriously, SO MANY FRIES.

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Three words. Lavender mocha latte. This place is a must especially for breakfast/brunch while you’re in Savannah. It’s a chic little farm-to-table place that has it all. The Lavender mocha latte is the signature drink here and it is just fabulous. They even have little sprigs of lavender in it! If that’s not your thing then their brunch menu is sure to tickle your fancy. They have everything from avocado toast and brioche french toast with fresh berries, to homemade buttermilk biscuits and gravy with sausage. De-licious.

Tequila’s Town

Okay, if you’re in the mood for authentic Mexican tacos then this is your place. The pastor is a personal favorite of mine and they do not disappoint. OH, and during happy hour there are $2 margaritas! Yup.

The Ordinary Pub

This place is great and we frequently found ourselves here. It’s more traditional pub-like food and atmosphere and they often have live music. They have a fantastic- I mean fan-flipping-tastic chicken and waffle gyro, I highly recommend it! They also have these massive moscow mule cups to share (or not, I’m not judging) and bottomless mimosas for $10 every day. You’re welcome.

Flying Monk Noodle Bar

 

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Pho-real.

 

This place is Pho-real. (I know, I know.) But seriously this place has some pretty great pho. We also really liked the Master Shifu noodle dish (yup, just like Kung Fu Panda, which may or may not be the reason I originally tried it.)  and the Succulent Pig Plate. This place is a must for anyone looking for your noodle fix, or just trying to ease your hangover.

 

Pie Society

On the odd chance that it’s rainy or not a sunny, beautiful, warm day in Savannah (I know it’s very unlikely) Pie Society is the perfect place for comfort food. It’s a traditional British pie shop and they have the best pot pies around! The steak and ale is my personal favorite but the chicken and thyme and the steak and mushroom are close seconds!

The Public Kitchen

I love this place for its modern simplicity. Does that make sense? The atmosphere is very nice and they have one of the best chicken salad sandwiches I’ve ever had! My husband was also a huge fan of their Savannah Red Rice. Definitely worth checking out!

Now, I honestly could go on for another 3 pages of places to eat that are all really delicious. Instead, I’ll list the rest and you can check them out yourself. (Didn’t think I’d do ALL the work did you?)

The Pink House– for the fancy evening

The Sandfly– Three words- B-B-Q

Rancho Alegre Cuban Restaurant – fantastic Cuban food (and great live music)

Treylor Park- Avacado fries to fulfill your avocado fetish

Sly’s- mini burgers of all sorts

Georgia On My Mind- Savannah, Georgia Pt. 1

Oh Savannah- In a nutshell  —Part 1 of 3 Being a Jersey girl, I’m used to the hustle and bustle of the Northeast. I grew up 20 minutes from the city of Brotherly Love and 45 minutes from the shore. We get all four seasons in Jersey, from those scorching hot July BBQ days to […]

Being a Jersey girl, I’m used to the hustle and bustle of the Northeast. I grew up 20 minutes from the city of Brotherly Love and 45 minutes from the shore. We get all four seasons in Jersey, from those scorching hot July BBQ days to frigid 10 feet of snow-can’t-leave-your-house, I just want to cuddle my dog, days.  So when my husband was offered a job in Savannah during the winter months, there were no ifs, ands, or buts, about it– we were going.

And I hate to be all cliche about it, but from the moment we arrived, we fell in love with the place. I mean- how could you not?  Savannah Georgia is one of the most beautiful places in the south, and that’s not just my humble ole’ opinion. Savannah is on numerous lists like “the most beautiful places in the U.S.” and  “best cities in America” and the like. Be sure to check out all the little squares throughout the city, each one is unique and idyllic in its own way. A personal favorite is Forsythe park and obviously, you have to go to Chippewa Square because it’s where Forest Gump sat on that famous bench. Ya never know what you’re gonna git.IMG_2572

In addition, not only is Savannah beautiful, but it’s kind of got it goin’ on. I mean it’s like the beautiful popular girl who’s also really smart and unfailingly kind. I know–unfair right?

There is an immense amount of history in Savannah, literally almost around every corner. From underground tunnels under the city that pirates would use to do their dirty work to the endless amount of ghost stories that’ll give your goosebumps goosebumps. (Savannah also made a list for the most haunted city in America. BOO!) With that being said, checking out the famous Bonaventure Cemetery and Colonial Park Cemetery are a must when here. They even have some walking tours at night if you’re brave enough!

 

And to top it off there are also over 700 restaurants in Savannah. Getting to live here for four months was a privilege and we are definitely keeping this on the list of places we may settle down when it’s time.

Anyway, with that being said, I decided to break up this post into three parts. This was just the gist of Savannah–just the bare bones, the tip of the iceberg, or whatever metaphor tickles your fancy.

Part 2 is going to focus solely on the food in Savannah because there are too many spectacular places to eat to not get its own post. And finally, Part 3 will be about all the fantastic places to quench your thirst, for all you drinkers out there. Stay tuned.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Oh. Em. Goodness. I don’t really know where to start with this one and I’m literally smiling and getting all giddy just thinking about this post. For my Christmas gift this year, my husband really hit it out of the park and took me to Universal Studios– more specifically, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. (Side note: Not sure how he’ll ever manage to beat this gift. He set the bar too high now. His problem.)

Now, if you know me, you know how much of a Harry Potter nerd I am, and if you don’t know me, well the cat’s out of the bag. Harry Potter has held a special place in my heart since I was 10 years old when I read the first book for the very first time. (signal nostalgic music and flashback to a little tomboy in her ADIDAS swishy outfit, sitting in her room for hours on end reading Harry Potter.) Yup, that’s where it all started.

Since that moment, I was hooked so you can imagine my elation when I finally made it to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter this year. As soon as I found out we were going, I started my research. I read blog after blog to get all the “insider” tips and tricks. I knew we only had one full day there so I had to plan out every magical moment.

I made a game plan that’s basically a compilation of everything I read, so I guess you could call it the “The Ultimate One-Day Plan to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.” I go into pretty serious detail below, but if you’re lazy and just not into all the magical details, and don’t feel like reading about all the super fun I had then there’s a simplified list at the end of this post. (Muggles- ‘eye roll’)

The Ultimate One-Day Plan to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Obviously, I barely slept the night before, just like a little kid on Christmas morning- er- or me on Christmas morning. But lack of sleep had zero chance of dampening my spirits;  neither did some damp weather. Stupid drizzle.

We got to Universal Studios right when it opened, and we went right to the Wizarding World. Sorry, Indiana Jones and Shrek. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Diagon Alley First!

Now you have two options, go to Diagon Alley first, or go to Hogsmeade. I recommend Diagon Alley first, but do what you want, I’m only an expert. As you walk around you’ll notice what looks like the muggle town of London. You’ll see the infamous Kings Cross Station (I’ll come back to this later) and you’ll see quaint homes lined up in a row. You’ll also see Stan the driver of the Night bus- go have a chat; he is just as sassy as he was in the movie.

Some secret magical fun

Now, in muggle London, there are two secret magical things to be on the lookout for. One is Kreacher the house elf. If you’re looking closely at the townhomes, you can see Kreacher in the second story window of 12 Grimmauld Place. He pops out from behind the window every few minutes so you have to look carefully.

The other magical fun is in the red phone booth. This is an entrance to the ministry of magic and if you go inside and dial “MAGIC,” you actually get to talk to the Ministry of Magic. Woo!

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Impatiently waiting for my turn.

 

Ollivander’s Wand Shop

Okay, now for the real deal. You walk through the brick wall… And voila! You’re in DIAGON ALLEY! I actually started to tear up at this point, because I was in such awe of the details that the creators included. They really outdid themselves and it’s as if you’re in the movie. Now once you catch your breath, you hurry on your way to your first stop, Ollivander’s Wand Shop. There is usually a line but if you go there first thing, you should be in and out before you can say “wingardium leviosa.”

This part was seriously cool. They take you into the shop in groups and they go through the whole wand process. After all, the wand chooses the wizard. Seriously though, it’s really cool and if you’re lucky enough you’ll be the chosen one.

After the process, you end up in the shop where you can purchase a wand. Now, if you’re going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter,  you buy a wand. I’m not sure why this is even an option. Any real witch or wizard would agree. Now there are two types of wands, interactive and regular. If you’re getting a wand, obviously you get an interactive one. TRUST ME. It’s worth it.

Once your wand finds you and you pay for it, you have to go try out your wand. Open the map it came with and find a spot around Diagon Alley. The map tells you how to move your wand and which spell to say, and it is one of the coolest feelings to really make some magic happen.

Escape from Gringotts

After you get a few spells under your belt, move on to the coolest ride there, Escape from Gringotts.This line can get pretty long later in the day so that’s why we did it next. Now, they have free lockers there that you have to put all your things in so as much as you hate to depart from your new wand, it’ll be kept safe until you’re done the ride. As you walk through the bank you’ll have flashbacks to the movie and it’s quite mesmerizing. This was our favorite ride, we did it twice, no big deal.

The Leaky Cauldron, that’s in London

Once you’ve escaped from Gringotts, hopefully in one piece, it’s time for a snack and some famous butterbeer at the Leaky Cauldron. It was my first real butterbeer, and I have to say HOLY MOLY, it’s delicious. Think cream soda meets caramel creams. Yup. As you sip your butter beer, you’ll feel like you’re right there with Ron and Hermione and that’s because they actually have pieces from the movie set there!. (Catch a picture of the infamous WANTED poster for Sirius Black.)

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Butterbeer at The Leaky Cauldron

 

Explore some more!

Next up, explore, explore, explore. You have to check out Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes for some practical jokes, and try on a robe at Madam Malkin’s Robes for all Occasions so the mirror can tell you how you look. (Don’t worry she’s usually pretty nice, at least she was to me.)

Catch a show

Alright, I was a little skeptical about this but I’m so so glad we got to see this. Throughout the day, I believe it’s on the hour, there are short performances of the Tales of Beedle the Bard. (If you check the schedule online it will usually keep you updated.) Anyway, while we were there, we ended up seeing two performances, my favorite being The Tale of the Three Brothers. It was amazing and I highly recommend trying to see this one!

Knockturn Alley

Now for you naughty witches and wizards, be sure to check out Knockturn Alley. There you’ll find Borgin and Burkes and the vanishing cabinet. (If you listen closely you can hear a bird chirping in there. Creepy.) Also, if you want a little extra magic, place your spell map under the black light, and the shapes of the spells that are written in invisible ink will appear. Sneaky, sneaky.

Time to get to the Platform

Once you’re done galavanting around Diagon Alley, head to Kings Cross to platform 9 ¾ . (If you ask an attendant they’ll tell you there’s no such thing.) Remember to walk right through the wall between platforms 9 and 10 and don’t hesitate! Seriously though, have someone in your group stay back a little when you’re almost there because there’s a super cool photo opportunity to walk through the platform. 

Now the train is just another fantastic experience. You’ll hear the trolley lady come by and may even get a visit from the dementors. Watch out! (Also, try to take the train both ways because there are different surroundings for each way. It’s dope.)

Hogsmeade

Once you step off the train in Hogsmeade you’ll need another minute to catch your breath because the castle is just, “ Holy Cow.” At Hogsmeade, you have a little wiggle room to do your own thing but basically, I’d get the ride out of the way.

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Hogsmeade

 

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.

Head over to this ride. CAUTION: if you get motion sickness easily, you may want to skip this one. It’s fun, but afterward, quite a few people said they felt a little woozy.

The Three Broomsticks and Hog’s Head Tavern

Once you’ve kept your lunch down and completed the forbidden journey, you have to check out The Three Broomsticks for some traditional English fare. Then head to The Hog’s Head Tavern for a pint of their special beer made especially for the Wizarding World. Mm. ( There’s also more butterbeer for you underage wizards.)

Owl Post

Okay, this is pretty cool. If you go here you can actually send letters or postcards from here that’ll be stamped by the Owl Post in Hogsmeade. WHATTTT.

Honeydukes

One of the last stops before our day was done was at Honeydukes. We picked up a classic Chocolate Frog, and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Jelly Beans for the ride home.

So there you have it. If you only have one day at the Wizarding World, it can be done and it can be done more than one way.–but my way is the best. Just sayin.

The Lazy Muggle’s Guide for One Day at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

  1. Diagon Alley
  2. Ollivander’s Wand Shop
  3. Play with your wand
  4. Escape from Gringotts
  5. The Leaky Cauldron
  6. Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes
  7. Madam Malkin’s Robes
  8. Catch a show of Tales of Beedle the Bard
  9. Knockturn Alley
  10. Catch the train on platform 9 ¾ to Hogsmead
  11. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
  12. Three Broomsticks
  13. Hogs Head
  14. Owl Post
  15. Honeydukes

 

5 things to do in Greenville, South Carolina

If you haven’t heard talk of Greenville, South Carolina you will soon, trust me. Greenville is becoming a must visit destination in the south and for good reason. Between the picturesque scenery of the Blue Ridge mountains and the quaint, yet city-like feel of downtown, you’ll be in awe such a place exists.

Not to mention the food is just delicious. Let me put this in a “foodie” perspective for you. Per Trip Advisor, Halls Chophouse is the number 1 restaurant in the beautiful city of Charleston, South Carolina. They opened a second restaurant in Greenville, and it’s ranked number 3. That’s right. A number 1 restaurant in Charleston, one of the food capitals of the U.S., is number 3 in Greenville. Mind. Blown.

My husband and I lived in Greenville for about 3 months and drank and ate our way through the town. Luckily for all the hiking/biking/running trails or we would probably have gained some L-B’s if you know what I mean. (pounds (lbs) if you don’t.)  Anyway, there are some pretty spectacular things to do and places to eat in this town, making it tough to narrow it down to just 5. Then again no one wants a list of 25 must do’s, it’s too much reading so here it is. Greenville, in a nutshell.

1. Don’t go chasing waterfalls– actually, go for it

TLC was wrong. You should chase waterfalls, and Greenville is close to some of the best spots to do so. Right downtown is one of the smaller waterfalls, Falls Park on the Reedy, but don’t let that deter you, size doesn’t matter in this case.

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Falls Park on the Reedy

 

Looking for something bigger? There are quite a few other waterfalls within driving distance including Twin falls, Ceasar’s Head State Park, Table Rock, and Rainbow falls to name a few! Go get your hike on.

2. Go down The Trappe Door

This is not a trap. (See what I did there?)  There’s a bar downtown called The Trappe Door that quickly became one of our favorite spots. It’s a Belgian-themed bar and not only do they have a great beer selection, but the food is up there too.

3. When in Carolina, BBQ is an obvious must

Does this really need explaining? Carolina style BBQ is out of this world, and one of our favorite spots is Smoky Dreams BBQ. This is one of the places that beats out Halls Chophouse and having eaten at both places, I have to say I understand why. Don’t get me wrong. You want a fancy seafood tower or pan roasted brussels sprouts that’ll knock your socks off, Chops is the place. But when it comes to BBQ, Smoky Dreams does it right.

4. Pour.Pour.Pour.

Whoa. Seriously there is a watering hole called Pour, and let me tell you it lives up to that name. You get a wristband that is synched to your credit card (oh boy) and go through and pour your own beer. This is awesome because the selection is so diverse you can try a little of everything.

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Pour

 

5. Greenville Zoo

Okay the animal lover in me is putting this on the list. The Greenville zoo is a pretty small zoo; if it were a pizza it’d be a personal pizza. That being said, they put a lot out there for conservation efforts and to me, I’ll always support that. The other good news is you get pretty close to the animals, and they have some really great ones too. (Lions, and giraffes, and red pandas oh my!)