I’m back from a ten day vacation to North and South Carolina and had an awesome time visiting with family and friends. I’m so excited to share a bit more about what I did, what I wore and the restaurants and shops in the area that I think are great for conscious travelers!
For someone who travels a lot (especially for work), I guess I don’t talk much about my travel capsule wardrobes or conscious city guides. I think the only times I ever really touched upon it were in this article I wrote post-Belgium, plus a couple of packing posts.
Instead of looking at my travels as a fun or stressful (depending on the circumstances, ha!) interruption in my blogging, I realized that I could be sharing more with you about what I do on these trips, even though I’m not a travel blogger. I sometimes put myself in this tiny box of being a fashion blogger, but what we wear is part of everything we do.
In addition, I recently got a Canon DSLR (a birthday gift from my husband, which was so, so exciting – he’s a big supporter of my writing, and I had borrowed this exact camera from a friend for a couple of posts I did and loved it), so I was able to kick my travel photography up a notch!
During our travels, we visited Charlotte, Myrtle Beach and Charleston, and below I’ve put together some mini-guides on places that I think might be of interest to all of you! Scroll through for my recommendations, or skip to the end of this post to see what I packed and what I wore!
Charlotte, North Carolina
Approximately 60 people move into Charlotte each day, and it’s easy to see why! We visited our friends Tom and Maxine in the vibrant and artsy NoDa district (North Davidson), and frankly, didn’t really leave the neighborhood! The streets are dotted with creative restaurants, independent boutiques, art galleries and tattoo parlors.
Where we stayed: This Airbnb is in a brand new apartment building situated along the light rail line for eco-friendly travel. We were just one stop away from NoDa!
Where we shopped: No shopping on this leg of the trip – just lots of eating, drinking and wandering around with friends. But there is certainly no shortage of unique stores to be found in the art district.
Where we ate: We were only in Charlotte for two days, and there are infinite restaurants and breweries to try out. But here’s where our lovely local friends thought was most worth our time.
Haberdish: This Southern kitchen and cocktail bar uniquely only offers brunch during the week, so while we were there we ordered a variety of plates from their standard menu. Despite the copious amounts of fried food on the menu, it’s also pretty veggie-friendly! Don’t miss the kale salad, house-made tator tots and macaroni and cheese (okay, okay. I ate some cheese on this trip, it’s pretty hard not to down south!). They also offer a cauliflower steak, sweet potato dumplings and excellent coffee.
Mac Tabby Cat Cafe: Go for the coffee, stay for the cats. Mac Tabby has adopted out nearly 200 cats from their second-floor cafe, plus they have a lot of cat-oriented gift items that you can shop while you’re there.
Reigning Doughnuts: It’s a doughnut window with fresh doughnuts and great coffee. Enough said.
Salud Cevezeria: At Salud Cevezeria, you can shop for and taste beer on the first level, or go upstairs to the kitschy lounge for a larger variety of drinks and food. We enjoyed a lively and competitive shuffleboard game here.
Soul Gastrolounge: Tapas and cocktails in a trendy + veggie-friendly environment. Don’t miss the Moscow or cranberry mules, and the falafel, flatbread, and guacamole stack.
Superica: On the South End, check out Superica for Tex-Mex + veggie friendly food. The sangria and margaritas are excellent, as are the vegetable enchiladas.
Wooden Robot: Our friend Max works here, so we might be a little biased – but we think it’s the best brewery in Charlotte ;). Don’t just take my word for it though. The NoDa location has a patio with easy access to the inside bar, as well as rooftop seating. Don’t miss Good Morning Vietnam, a coffee vanilla blonde ale made with locally-roasted coffee. If you like sour beers, they’re known for them – give A Sour Darkly a try, which is aged in red wine barrels.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach is your standard American tourist destination – lots of neon signs, chain restaurants and beach shops. While it isn’t my favorite place on this trip’s itinerary, the sand and sun were great, and there are still a couple of places I’d like to note for the conscious traveler!
Where we stayed: A rental condo with family
Where we shopped: No shopping on this leg, either!
Where we ate:
Duplin Winery: Okay, we drank here. I’m not much of a fan of sweet wines, but Muscadine wine is certainly part of that Southern experience, so this place is worth a visit! Duplin has a lovely wraparound porch and affordable wine tastings with locations in both North and South Carolina.
Mediterranean Bistro: Website and outside appearance aside, this little Mediterranean restaurant has an awesome falafel gryo and is overall very veggie-friendly in a not-so-veggie-friendly town. The service is also top-notch.
Charleston, South Carolina
Undoubtedly my favorite leg of the trip, our last weekend of our trip was spent in historic Charleston, South Carolina.
Where we stayed: This Airbnb was modern and comfortable, located within walking distance of King St. (the main hub for dining and shopping).
Where we shopped: That’s right, this is where the shopping comes in!
Candlefish: I’m not sure I have ever loved a store more than I love Candlefish, because I love, love, love candles. And while I sometimes feel guilty making purchases, I never feel guilty about candles. At the Candlefish Library, you can experience their 100 different scents and see why this store has been called one of the “Most Instagrammable” shops in Charleston! I went with No. 40, which has notes of rose, lavender and leather. I seriously want this candle in every room of my house. They also have a candle making workshop, but sadly it was full by the time we learned about it.
Indigo: Indigo is an eclectic boutique that is committed to local, sustainable and fair-trade goods. It caught my eye as we were heading down toward the water, so we decided to stop in. They have a lovely assortment of clothing, accessories, books, stationery, children’s products and more. I did have my eye on a locally-printed bandana, but decided I probably have enough bandanas. Instead, I got a cute card with cats on it for a friend’s birthday.
White’s Mercantile: White’s Mercantile bills itself as a modern-day general store. It’s owned by Holly Williams, the daughter of Hank Williams, Jr., so it has both country flair and a commitment to local goods. I was happy to find (and purchase!) a striped tee from ABLE – makes sense, since both they and White’s Mercantile are based in Nashville, TN. They also carry AGOLDE denim (which I did not buy, only admired).
Worthwhile: “I need to go in that Scandinavian-looking shop across the street.” – Me to my husband as we walked past Worthwhile. This boutique is paradise for ethical, thoughtful and independent fashion lovers. They also have a curated selection of accessories and apothecary products. I tried on a pair of amazing wide leg pants from Black Crane (and nearly bought them after walking around the store with them in-hand for about 20 minutes), but ultimately didn’t buy anything here. A lot of the pieces were $500+ (with many in the quadruple-digits) so while it was delightful to browse I decided to pass, even on the much more reasonably-priced pants. Maybe one day I’ll return. 🙂
Where we ate: Similar to Charlotte, there was no possible way to visit all the places we wanted to. But here’s a small selection of some great eats.
Basic Kitchen: Basic Kitchen prides itself on seasonal, local produce as well as sustainably-sourced seafood and meat. I had the rigatoni with oyster mushrooms, while Matt had a salmon special. They also have a creative (but still approachable) cocktail menu – I had the Italian summer: watermelon, aperol and prosecco.
Xiao Bao Biscuit: This place is incredible. Many thanks to my friend Jenny over at Loyale Studio for recommending it! Xiao Bao Biscuit specializes in dishes from China, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam made with local ingredients, and is located in a restored gas station. Don’t miss the okonomiyaki (Japanese cabbage pancake) – it is one of the best things I have ever eaten in my life. We also really enjoyed the mapo dou fu, which we had the vegan version of.
Indaco: Indaco is a solid option for Italian food with a trendy environment. We sat at the bar overlooking the kitchen, and it was fun to see all the food being prepared. Lots of veggie-friendly options, too!
Poogan’s Porch: Poogan’s Porch is one of Charleston’s oldest independent restaurants, serving up Lowcountry cuisine loved by locals and tourists alike. It is named after the late neighborhood dog Poogan (they have his story on their menus and it made me tear up, typical Kell.) Their shrimp and grits were recently voted best in South Carolina, and they also have a heavenly stuffed french toast. It is also – you guessed it! – veggie-friendly.
What I Packed + What I Wore
If you follow me on Instagram, you likely saw my packing stories of my new Pakt duffle. My thoughts on this bag are a blog post for a later date (after I bring it on my upcoming trip to Madrid!), but I packed my travel capsule in it and put my shoes and toiletries in Matt’s check luggage.
Madewell Central Shirt // Miranda Bennett Studio Everyday Top (old, similar here) // Cait Shea Trapeze Tank // Sanctuary Clothing Striped Blouse // White Linen Button Down (old, similar here) // Reformation Off the Shoulder Top (I actually forgot I packed this, and only realized much later in the trip – it folds up so small! Mine is older, similar here.)
And of course some leggings, pajamas, and undergarments.
My Capsule in Motion
And to end things…a few images of my travel capsule in motion! I didn’t get photos of all my outfits (it was vacation, after all) but here are some.
I hope you enjoyed this absurdly-long blog post of my travels! Let me know what you think of this travel diary format in the comments!