The Outdoorsman’s Guide to Charleston

The picturesque Lowcountry offers visitors to Charleston an opportunity to explore one of the world’s most complex eco-systems. From the Atlantic Ocean with its abundant estuaries to the surrounding low-lying marshlands, Charleston is home to one of the most diverse and naturally beautiful landscapes in the country.

Get On the Water
Charleston offers arguably the best ocean, tidal and freshwater fishing of any kind. Spend an afternoon of inshore fishing on the plentiful shallow waters and coastal estuaries of the Lowcountry, teeming with a variety of game fish including redfish, flounder, black drum and even sharks. Or set out for a full-day of deep sea fishing. Providing a challenging adventure even for experienced anglers, catch marlin, tuna, sailfish, mahi-mahi, wahoo and many other species. Charters can be arranged for year-round fishing.

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Set Your Sights on the Sky
Located on a historic rice plantation, Ravenel Caw Caw Interpretive Center offers a wide range of trails and nature-viewing opportunities. Noted for its rich bird life, Caw Caw is a birding hotspot for coastal South Carolina. In addition to bird spotting, visitors may catch a glimpse of waterfowl, songbirds, otters, deer, alligators, bald eagles and more. A variety of interactive exhibits, displays and programs can also be found at Caw Caw.

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Hit the Trails
Seabrook Island Equestrian Center, located on nearby Seabrook Island, offers one of the few public equestrian trail systems in the Lowcountry. Pristine scenery awaits as you journey through scenic woods, marshes and tidal creeks on trails designed for beginner and advanced riders. Beach rides along the North Beach of Seabrook Island are also available. Open year-round schedule based on tides. Reservations required.

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Explore the Great Outdoors
Grab a mountain bike and head to the old Santee Gun Club, now a protected wildlife management area. This 24,000-acre reserve features several dirt road trails through old rice fields, past freshwater cypress swamps and through pine woodlands. Parts of the reserve are open to the public for hunting during certain times of the year.

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After exploring Charleston, retreat to Belmond Charleston Place, to relax in luxury.

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The South’s Sugary Indulgence

Take a walk around the Holy City and chances are your senses will lead you to the sweet scent of pralines wafting down the street.

King and market street signPralines can be traced back to early 17th century French history when a diplomat’s personal chef happened to create this tasty sweet treat.

The diplomat had Praslin in his name, which is where the treats’ name comes from, legend has it.

Some say the chef stumbled upon his apprentice just as he knocked over a container of almonds into a vat cooking caramel. Others claim Praslin asked his personal chef to create an irresistible treat that ladies would not be able to deny. He packaged the sugary nuts into little parcels marked with his name, and the name pralines stuck.

In America, pralines first came to Louisiana from the French in the early to mid 1700’s. Almonds were in short supply in the area, and the nut was substituted with pecans, which are local to the region.

Whatever the story, the praline is a sweet confection of pecans and sugar that we can’t get enough of in the South. Pecan pralines spread rapidly throughout the port city of New Orleans and quickly to other Southern cities like Charleston, becoming a popular treat.

We asked Executive Pastry Chef Chris Ryan of Belmond Charleston Place to share his traditional recipe for this Southern indulgence.  These sugary, nutty sweets are the perfect treat to make when you’re missing Charleston.

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Chef Ryan’s Traditional Pecan Praline Recipe

Butter, unsalted 4 tablespoons
Heavy cream ½ cup
Bourbon (or liquor of choice) Splash
Granulated (white) sugar ½ pound
Brown sugar ½ pound
Pecans, pieces 1 pound

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients except pecans in a pot, with liquid ingredients in bottom of pot. Cook over high heat. Once ingredients come to a boil, bake pecans in oven at 350 degrees to toast for approximately 8 minutes. Using a candy thermometer, measure

praline mix temperature. Remove from heat when mixture reaches 240 degrees. Add pecans to pot. Stir lightly. Use wooden spoon or ice cream scoop to portion pralines onto parchment paper. Allow pralines to cool.

Tip: If you have a sweet tooth and are visiting Charleston, pick up a pound of your favorite pralines from one of the local candy shops and take a piece of the South home with you!

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My Sparkly Valentine

As Valentine’s Day quickly approaches, thoughts of enchantment and romance swirl about. Flowers, quiet dinners and jewelry are all popular and beloved and cherished. We interviewed Rhett Outten of Croghan’s Jewel Box , the oldest family owned jewelry store in town, for the inside scoop on sparkly gifts to give your Valentine this year.

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Croghan’s Jewel Box has such a storied legacy. Please tell us about the history of the store. 

My grandfather, William Croghan, started Croghan’s Jewel Box just before World War I and when the War broke out, he closed up shop to be a foot solider! He was trained at the Philadelphia School of Horology as a hand engraver and apprenticed in jewelry repair and bench manufacturing. The beginning of Croghan’s consisted mostly of my grandfather taking in and performing jobs at his bench. My mother graduated from the College of Charleston with a degree in Journalism and wanted to be a writer. my grandfather asked her to come help a little bit in the store after graduation and she never left. She created the atmosphere that exists today with an interesting collection of jewelry, estate finds and gifts. We are still known for our hand engraving and have four bench jewelers in a studio on the second floor where we do repairs and create custom made pieces by hand. My sister, Mariana and I are the third generation to operate the store and my nieces, Kathleen and Mariana (Mini) have just joined the business. It is so thrilling to have youth, enthusiasm and knowledge that the fourth generation brings to the table!

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Croghan’s has been in business for more than 100 years. What do you think endears shoppers to your store?

We are truly a family business. We grew up with our customers as my mother and grandfather did. Back in the day, Papa used to close up for 2:00 dinner and as he left the shop he would take whoever was there home for a proper lunch a few blocks away on Church Street (think postman, customer, visitor to Charleston, salesman!). Our mother taught us how important it is to contribute to this community that we love so much. We are deeply involved in many city activities and non-profit organizations. With the surge of visitors to Charleston, we find ourselves often playing the part of concierge , as advice of a local is cherished. We have made restaurant reservations, booked tours and even given people rides back to their hotel if their bags are too big to carry or if its raining! We truly want people visiting to love Charleston as much as we do. We feel lucky to have grown up in this magical place and we like to share that with people.

The Jewelers Circular Keystone Magazine reports that over 981 jewelry stores nationwide closed in 2016. So often visitors do not have a family owned store in their hometown where an owner is present and has a passion for their graft. 48 percent of our business consists of out of town customers. We find that exciting! We get to be a part of the most meaningful events in people’s lives… engagements, weddings, christenings, graduations, anniversaries! It’s an honor to have served four generations during such occasions. Of course a Social Media presence and website have brought us into this century and make it easy to stay in touch with customers.

You are known for your estate collection. What makes it special and how do you curate it?

We love estate jewelry and silver. We like to say it has a soul. It is special because so often the techniques used to create it are no longer used in the industry. Like diamonds are no longer cut by hand ad rarely do you see hand filigree work on the inside of a ring. Plique de jour is a French application that looks like colorful class but there are very few people in the world who can create this now. We have each piece of estate jewelry examined by one of our four gemologists on staff before it goes in the case! We literally shop the world for our inventory. We have wonderful contacts in London, the far east and all over the country that we have partnered with for generations.

It seems that estate and vintage pieces are very much in demand – why? And what should a buyer look for?

Estate Jewelry is very often one of a kind! It is for the person who wants a special piece of jewelry that they will not see on anyone else! It is also for the sentimental customer who has happy memories of seeing antique jewelry on their grandmother or the history buff who has a thirst for everything Georgian. Antique jewelry is unique, and it is fun to sell in a jewelry store that is more than 100 years old and set in a 1790’s Charleston building. People who visit here usually love history and the charm of estate jewelry is usually appealing. In terms of what to look for you have to be careful because this jewelry has usually been worn and “loved” as we like to say. So you need to be sure that clasps work properly and prongs have been checked so that stones stay secure.

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Every day you help select gifts for special occasions. Which piece or pieces would you recommend for Valentine’s Day?

Anything engraved on Valentine’s Day make a gift extra special! And of course we have beautiful heart lockets and charms as well as crystal amulets by Temple St. Clair.

What items or collections are you most excited about right now?

We have just refilled our estate case after the holiday season. Our selection of antique diamond rings is fabulous and includes lots of enameling and filigree settings. We also have a whole new lot of estate gold lockets that are unusual. These start as low as $200.00! Also… our Goldbug collection is so fun and exciting! My niece’s collection of gilded palmetto bugs has taken us all by storm!

What is your ideal romantic evening in Charleston?

I like things pretty simple! After all of the parties and hard work involved over the holidays at Croghan’s, a quiet easy dinner at home, or if its good weather, something grilled outside in the courtyard sounds ideal to me! I just helped a client plan a 30th wedding anniversary dinner though, which included a horse drawn carriage ride to champagne awaiting them in a cupola atop one of our beautiful historic buildings at sunset and a dinner at one of our wonderful restaurants… which happens to be in a courtyard as well. There is something about hidden spots in Charleston behind historic brick walls and iron gates that is so very romantic! Don’t you think?

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Learn more of our exclusive Valentine’s package that will bring the bling.

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