I’ve been sharing travel posts for a couple years now and I really should have more miles or at least points to show for it. But that’s not the case, sadly. It wasn’t until a few months ago that I started really thinking about that, which is perfect timing since I’m ready to take some time off of travel. Perfect timing. So when a trip to Charleston and Savannah came on my radar, I decided to put my American Express Platinum Card to the test. I don’t normally talk about credit cards in my blog posts because that’s such a personal topic, but I’ve fallen in love with one after this trip to Charleston so I had to share it here! If you’re looking for a credit card that will get you a ton of points and you’ll actually be able to use those points, I can’t recommend the American Express Platinum Card enough! I was able to book my flight to Charleston through amextravel.com, I got 5x the points because of it, then I booked my hotel the first night at The Dewberry with points. Once I got to The Dewberry I was offered a free room upgrade, 4pm check out, $30 breakfast credit every morning, $100 worth of food and beverage, and more, all because I booked through amextravel.com. The hotel had an amazing staff, delicious room service, a gym, and a different bars and restaurants to check out! I LOVED it! Booking with points was super easy and I knew I could trust the hotel recommendation through amextravel.com since they only recommend luxury hotels through their site. All this to say, I LOVE my American Express Platinum Card. It’s the best card I’ve ever owned and I wish I would have applied for it earlier.
Anywho, let’s actually talk about Charleston, instead of how I got there. I know credit cards are such an exciting topic. I’ve been to Charleston one other time, but really didn’t get to experience much of it. This time I got to spend a little more time getting to know this beautiful and historic city. Once I settled into Charleston the first night, I headed to Hotel Bella Grace the next day for a few nights. This hotel was ADORABLE! It’s a small boutique hotel that blends historic preservation with modern touches. The guest rooms are beautifully decorated featuring full kitchens, spacious rooms, and a comfortable bed. And all guests will enjoy complimentary breakfast, fitness center, private meeting spaces, small plates and evening beverages. My penthouse suite came with a kitchen table that seats 6 and a rooftop deck that would be awesome for hosting friends in town. It was such a beautiful suite! I loved this beautiful hotel. It was perfectly located close to downtown so I was able to walk most places or easily grab my car from the valet to head out. But my favorite part of the hotel was the female artwork throughout. I honestly want to find the artist who painted all these female inspired paintings and get some created for our own home! I love them!!
Whenever I travel, eating is the first priority, especially at restaurants that have healthy options in a sea of fried food. And kicking off my trip in Charleston at Basic Kitchen was the perfect fit! This chill restaurant has a seasonal menu with local produce and they create healthy options like avocado toast, smoothies, fresh juices, coffee, and even craft cocktails! I ordered a warm slice of gluten free banana bread with brown sugar mascarpone on top. Then had an iced beet latte and the most delicious Vietnamese beef salad! Everything was fresh and filling!
The next healthy restaurant I stopped at was Beech. This family-run restaurant serves a ton of healthy options like poke bowls, acaí bowls, and energy balls. They also make super tasty coffee drinks! I think they thought I was a little weird when I ordered a poke bowl at 8am but eating a crap ton of veggies for breakfast is my favorite way to start a day! I sat at this restaurant for a while working on my computer, and I felt like I fit right in since college students were coming and going on their way to class. I miss college. Those years were so much freaking fun!
Next on my restaurant search – Slightly North of Broad aka SNOB. This restaurant is famous for their reinvented Lowcountry cuisine like shrimp and grits and butternut squash bisque. But what I loved about it is that they offer a completely gluten free menu so it’s easy to find food that fits your dietary restrictions. They even have fluffy gluten free biscuits to start! I don’t remember the last time I had a biscuit like this one, especially one with honey butter on the side. Then I had the beef carpaccio which was FANTASTIC! I have a real obsession with arugula and the beef is topped with an amazing dressed arugula. I cleaned my plate with that dish.
Last time I was in Charleston, I got Butcher and Bee to-go, but this time around I ate in the restaurant. And I’m so glad I did because this restaurant is suuuuupes cute. This is another restaurant that you can count on to bring you healthy choices. It’s a farm-to-table eatery that offers a rotating menu with Middle Eastern and Mediterranean options such as Whipped Feta (aka the best thing you will ever eat), Spicy Carrots and Crispy Brussels Sprouts. This is a restaurant that you’ll leave feeling nourished with tons of veggies and flavors that you may have never tasted before!
If you want amazing seafood while in Charleston, then I can’t recommend Nico enough. This modern French oyster bar features coastal French cuisine with the largest selection of fresh oysters in Charleston. While I was there, they were offering their Restaurant Week menu so I decided to try it out and it was divine! I had THE BEST beef tartare that was on top of a grilled cheese. Sadly no, the grilled cheese was NOT gluten free, but I tried a small bite anyways and it was fantastic! I followed it with tuna tartare and a dirty martini. If you’re looking for amazing seafood while in Charleston, this restaurant is the perfect spot and it’s just a short drive over the bridge.
For my last meal in Charleston before I headed out to Savannah, I had lunch at Minero. There isn’t a ton of Mexican influences in Charleston so it’s hard to get that type of food, but Minero is doing a great job at affordable prices. And they offer a ton of gluten free items on their menu! I tried a chicken burrito bowl and the chicken was phenomenal! I’m not a big chicken guy but this chicken was marinated and charbroiled to perfection!
If you’re looking for things to do in Charleston, it’s pretty endless. It’s a city with rich culture so not only are the streets beautiful to walk through, but you can find a ton of places to stop in and visit. While I was in Charleston, I went on a Culinary Bulldog Walking Tour. This tour group offers a bunch of different tours like ghost tours, but obviously a culinary tour is more my style. This tour took us around downtown, stopping in at 4 different restaurants as well as a spice shop and candy shop. And they are super accommodating with dietary restrictions! They made sure no matter what your restriction was, they had some sort of food for you! And while you go along on this walking tour, you get to learn about the history of Southern food and how it all came to be! It was a really fun and educating experience!
When you’re walking around downtown, you can easily walk to Rainbow Row on East Bay Street. Every house is a different pastel color, making it feel like you’re somewhere in the Caribbean. This street is a fashion bloggers wet dream. I saw so many women shooting cute outfits in front of the different colored houses while I was there.
Then you can easily make your way to the Pineapple Fountain at Waterfront Park. This is an eight acre linear park and pier along the Charleston harbor that has a ton of space to sit under the trees, run along the path, have lunch at a picnic table, or check out the many beautiful fountains along the way. This is a spot where you would want to grab a delicious French pastry and eat while you people watched through the park. Be a creep. That’s the best thing to do while traveling.
But something I cannot recommend enough while you’re in Charleston is getting massage at the Belmond Charleston Place. The Belmond hotel has an old-world charm to it, but the spa definitely doesn’t feel old. You’ll find a stunning pool, a full salon, and a spa menu with a ton of different spa treatments. I got an 80 minute deep tissue massage with Melissa and it was PERFECTION!! I’ve only had a few memorable massages and this was one of them! It was the most relaxing, healing, and pleasant massages I’ve ever had. I can’t recommend Melissa enough!
After getting a blowout at Blo Blow Dry Bar in Charleston since washing your hair while traveling should be illegal, I made the two hour drive to Savannah. I think most people feel like they either have to visit Charleston OR Savannah while on a trip in the South, but that’s completely untrue. It’s only an easy 2 hour drive between the two cities and you’ll be so happy you visited both. This was my first time visiting Savannah and I fell in love the minute I stepped foot in this adorable town. And I’m already making plans to go back soon! It feels like a quiet little town that is easily walkable throughout thanks to the squares and parks that you’ll run into every few blocks. It just feels like a comfortable and safe place that you want to wander around through all day.
When I arrive in Savannah, I checked into The Perry Lane Hotel. This hotel was fabulous. When I go back, I’ll definitely stay at this hotel again. The hotel mixes the rich history of Savannah with contemporary design. And they have a really fantastic staff to make you feel welcome and comfortable during your stay. I even had one of the male staff members compliment my makeup. Sure, it’s part of his job to be nice but that was a pretty cool compliment to get! This hotel has a fantastic restaurant, a coffee shop, study, a huge fitness center, and beautiful rooftop pool with signature drinks every night. I loved it so freaking much!
For my first night in Savannah, I took part in a private cooking class at Chef Darin’s Kitchen Table. This was SO MUCH FUN!! And it makes me want to take more cooking class. We were taught knife skills, cutting skills, best cooking practices, AND we learned a ton about Savannah’s food history. And since I eat gluten free, he made all the adjustments to help comply with those dietary restrictions. While we were there, we learned how to make DIVINE shrimp and grits (I was never a fan of grits before his recipe), gluten free fried green tomatoes, roasted okra, and a refreshing watermelon salad. I learned some new skills and actually bought some cooking equipment while I was there! Not only can you take cooking classes at this location, but you can find some super cool cooking and baking gadgets to take home with you after!
While you’re in Savannah, Tybee Island is only a short drive away where you can visit the beach and check out this cute little town. We stopped by the Original Crab Shack for lunch where you can get a GIANT meal of any kind of seafood you want! We got the seafood platter for 2 and this is what it looked like. As a group of three, we didn’t even come close to finishing all of it. Tybee Island is the best spot to enjoy the beach while in Savannah then you can wander around the island and see all the cute spots that haven’t changed for years.
For my last night in Savannah, I had dinner at HUSK Savannah. This location is in the heart of Savannah and has a really cool feel to it since the main floor of the restaurant has stuck with it’s historic past then the upstairs bar has a modern contemporary feel to it. If you make a dinner reservation there, definitely get there early and head upstairs to the bar to enjoy a delicious craft cocktail before dinner. I don’t drink very much when I’m traveling alone, but a tequila cocktail was calling my name and it was absolutely perfect!
HUSK has an ever-changing menu that depends on what is in season and fresh. They recreate Southern staples with new fresh takes on those dishes. I tried the shrimp and grits with a side of sweet potato greens. I didn’t even know sweet potatoes had greens, but they were damn good! We also had pimento cheese that was topped with pickled vegetables. If I could eat pimento cheese for every single meal for the rest of my life, I would be one happy woman. Their pimento cheese was a thing of beauty. And of course, I had to end the meal with a flourless chocolate brownie ice cream sandwich. Obviously. HUSK is really good about making sure your meal abides by your dietary restrictions and I had no issue at all when it came to eating gluten free there!
Savannah was such a lovely place to visit and I wish I would have had more time to chill while I was there. But I’m definitely booking another trip there soon so I can enjoy even more that Savannah has to offer! Hopefully this post gives you some helpful ideas when it comes to eating gluten free while you’re in the South!
Quick Summary of my Charleston & Savannah Trip Favorites:
- Things to do
- Go on a Culinary Bulldog Walking Tour in Charleston
- Visit Rainbow Row and Pineapple Fountain in Charleston
- Get a massage at the Belmond Charleston Place in Charleston
- Get a blowout at Blo Blow Dry Bar in Charleston
- Visit the Cypress Gardens in Charleston
- Take a cooking class at Chef Darin’s Kitchen Table in Savannah
- Visit the many shops in downtown Savannah. My favorites include:
- Savannah Bee
- Blue Mercury
- Go to the beach on Tybee Island in Savannah