It’s an annual thing now. Every fall we head down to Carolina to see a Gamecock football game. Sometimes we fly into Charlotte, other times, Greenville, depending on how convenient Southwest Airlines can make it for us. Then we rent a car and make the hour or so drive to Columbia. But this year, we changed it up a little.
This time we flew into Charleston to meet up with one of our good friends, Bob. Paul and Bob have been friends since their days on the playground of Wayside School, attending the same elementary school and high school, then making their way down to the University of South Carolina, where legend has it, the fun began. They joined a fraternity, ate nachos at Yesterdays, and from what I hear, met for coffee a few times at Group Therapy. Their stories are endless and their Gamecock loyalty unbreakable. It’s the kind of friendship you cherish for a lifetime.
Although Bob invited us to his house for our first night in town, we opted to stay at the only Starwood property in Charleston, the Aloft Airport and Convention Center. We did this for two reasons: we flew into Charleston late on a Friday night and we needed a stay!
Aloft hotels are “a vision of W hotels” and they are great when you just need a place to rest your head when you’re on the go. Most of our Aloft adventures take place at an airport, where we usually drop our luggage in the room and head on down to the XYZ Bar for a game of pool. We’ve spent many an evening dreaming of the next day’s vacation while sitting in an Aloft lobby.
Bob picked us up early the next morning to drive us to Columbia for the game. Whenever we are in Columbia, we make it a point to stay at the Sheraton Columbia. We love this hotel because it used to be a bank and it’s different than most hotels. The hotel bar is in the vault and the rooms used to be offices. There is even a rooftop bar overlooking the city of Columbia. It’s rather unique for a Sheraton, and we hope this hotel will always remain part of the Starwood Brand.
The Gamecocks played the Citadel and lost by one point, but, as always, win or lose, we had a fantastic time. Paul got to meet up with many of his fraternity brothers, and reminisce about their college days.
One of my favorite things about visiting South Carolina is the food, and although Paul doesn’t remember Columbia for its cuisine, it is apparent the food scene has changed here since Paul’s college days. One of my favorite restaurants in Columbia is Bourbon, and I was thrilled to see they’d added vegetarian gumbo to their menu since our last visit. Located on Main Street, this restaurant is small and cozy, with that dark, speakeasy vibe we love so much.
We also ate at DiPrato’s for breakfast, which is another one of my go-to places in Columbia. DiPrato’s is one of those family owned places that makes you feel good about eating there, and the food is delicious. From biscuits and gravy to huevos rancheros, you will never go home hungry when it comes to a trip to DiPratos.
After breakfast, Bob drove us back to Mount Pleasant, the beautiful town he calls home, just across the bridge from Charleston. We were able to get downtown for a bit to walk the streets of Charleston. We only wish we had a few more days to spend exploring this amazing city.
We can’t thank Bob and his wife Ashley enough for having us in their home and treating us like family. We also want to thank them for introducing us to some of their favorite restaurants, Basil and Page’s Okra Grill. We loved our tofu pad see mow from Basil, and we are hoping they plan on a Basil North location real soon. We also loved the shrimp and grits and biscuits and gravy at Page’s, even if we veered off the vegan path just a tad.
Keep reading our blog as our countdown to SPG Platinum continues. We only have until December 31st, but we’ve got this. Stay tuned!