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Help! 3-day trip centered around Pat Conroy/food/wildlife

Big Island, Hawaii
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Help! 3-day trip centered around Pat Conroy/food/wildlife

Ok, so my 14-year old daughter (who will turn 15 while on the trip) and I are planning to drive from Orlando to Beaufort/Charleston area en route to visiting friends in TN. The plan is to leave Orlando on the morning of July 20. We then have three nights to play with. I am a huge Pat Conroy fan and I want to visit his grave on St. Helena as well as some other areas that he loved and played a part in his books, including possibly South of Broad and the Citadel in Charleston as well as Beaufort. I am intrigued by the wildlife/birding/alligators/Dolphins/snakes/ marshy areas. I spent half of my childhood growing up in TN and I love good southern food and am excited to introduce my daughter to good southern food as well as experiencing unique Lowcountry food.

So my initial idea was to spend three nights in Charleston but now I'm thinking of other options. Maybe one night in Beaufort and two in Charleston. OR spending all three nights at a vrbo/house rental in some more remote island area to get a more waterfront/wilderness experience. Not interested in condos/golf courses (I like golf, just not this trip), or resort type areas. I don't have budget concerns. I looked at the Wentworth in Charleston which seems lovely, but most of the luxury hotels in Charleston appeal to me and seem to all be in generally the same price range ($400-500 per night for midrange rooms, which is fine). If you recommend spending all three nights here, is there a hotel that stands out?

So basically, given what I've outlined above, what would you do? Where to spend the three nights, what wilderness areas to focus on (Pinckney Wildlife Refuge appeals) but also a good base for perhaps some experiences in Beaufort and Charleston proper, including great dining experiences?

Cincinnati, Ohio
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1. Re: Help! 3-day trip centered around Pat Conroy/food/wildlife

For a Pat Conroy feel I'd focus on the historic Beaufort area as a base. From there it's a visit to Hunting Island State Park (short drive down 21 - fantastic 'jungle' with lighthouse and beach); a 1.5 hour drive north to Charleston for the day; a 1 hour drive south to Savannah. You could also base your stay on Fripp Island where he and his wife lived for many years... if you could find a rental for less than a week.

Or just soak up Beaufort's charm and see the area through his eyes... enjoy your adventure :)

Decatur, GA
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2. Re: Help! 3-day trip centered around Pat Conroy/food/wildlife

Another place of historic value near Beaufort is the Penn Center on St Helena, a well restored and interpreted site of early African-American education. And be sure to have a meal at MJ's on St Helena for real home cooked soul food.

Kiawah Island...
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3. Re: Help! 3-day trip centered around Pat Conroy/food/wildlife

I'd love to be able to help you, Shea, you've helped me when I've visited the Big Island!

You could work your way up to CHS, spend a night in Beaufort (get one of the historical B&B's, if you can at this late date, right there in town), and do all you need to do there. The Great Santini is buried in the National Cemetery in Beaufort (as is my own Papa), nice to drive through there.

Then come on up to CHS and spend the last 2 nights here, Wentworth is a great place.

When you figure out what you want to do for sure, let us know and we can help you w/restaurant suggestions. You will need to make reservations very soon.

Kiawah Island...
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4. Re: Help! 3-day trip centered around Pat Conroy/food/wildlife

The more I think about what you want to do, here's a thought...

Spend the night in Beaufort and arrange w/my friend Ralph to meet him in the ACE Basin (Asheepoo, Cumbahee and Edisto Rivers, 350,000 acres of federally protected wetlands, between Beaufort and CHS) and take a kayak trip. Then continue on to CHS for the rest of your visit.

He could give you a taste of what's out there w/a 2-3 hour paddle trip (good for beginners), see things that most folks who live in the Lowcountry have never seen (chance for either gators or dolphin, depending upon where you would go).

So there's a little something to think about.

Here's Ralph's contact info...

www.kayakcharleston.net

Edited: 9:32 am, June 07, 2016
Columbia, South...
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5. Re: Help! 3-day trip centered around Pat Conroy/food/wildlife

If you are driving up I-26 you can also consider a stop at Congaree National Park. It's basically a giant swamp. There is a boardwalk trail that winds through it that can be done in less than one hour if you just want to look for wildlife.

Big Island, Hawaii
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6. Re: Help! 3-day trip centered around Pat Conroy/food/wildlife

Thank you all for the assistance, it's much appreciated. I'm still torn on whether to keep my existing reservation for two nights at the Wentworth and spend the first night in Beaufort, or if I should just settle into perhaps a cottage or something for one night at one location. I'll try to make a decision this week!

Charleston, South...
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7. Re: Help! 3-day trip centered around Pat Conroy/food/wildlife

You could stay in Charleston a week and still not see and do everything. 😊

Big Island, Hawaii
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8. Re: Help! 3-day trip centered around Pat Conroy/food/wildlife

Oh, I have no intention of even trying to "see everything". 😁 I'm a slow traveler, so I just want a leisurely pace to see a few things along this route that I'm most interested in.

Ridgewood, New...
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9. Re: Help! 3-day trip centered around Pat Conroy/food/wildlife

Beaufort and its sea islands will give you a good sense of Pat Conroy, who chose to be buried in the Gullah cemetery on nearby St Helena's Island. Here is a very moving and informative article about Conroy's final days ...

islandpacket.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/d…

For more information, you might want to post your question on the Beaufort forum: https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g54135…

Big Island, Hawaii
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10. Re: Help! 3-day trip centered around Pat Conroy/food/wildlife

Thanks all. I've decided to rent a waterfront house on St. Helena for the entire three nights. I'll basically devote the time to Beaufort, St. Helena, and hanging out. I'll then go on to Charleston for a day before heading across to my friends' in NC. Thanks, kiawahvilla, for the link to that article, it was very helpful and interesting.