Inn at Middleton Place

30 06 2016

Last month, I took a 3 day weekend to celebrate my birthday, and we went up to a hidden gem just outside of Charleston, South Carolina – Middleton Place.

Middleton Place itself is an old estate (parts of it from the 1700s) that you can visit, and right next to it – actually connected to the grounds – is an Inn that just happened to offer better prices than anything in Charleston proper, admission included to the estate and gardens, and the most beautiful scenery.

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After a stop by Pie Society for a birthday pasty on the way up and a 4 hour drive, we checked in to the Inn and were given a map, keys, and the code to the gate. Our rooms were to the left of the Lodge (above); everything circled a grass courtyard that faced (to the right) over the Ashley River.

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Our rooms, the bottom far left and the bottom middle, above. Rooms were fairly big with 2 twin beds and fireplaces (!), but the fireplaces were closed in the summer. The bathrooms have good counter space and large tubs. I’m a shower person, and glad of it because after my first shower, some bugs appeared in the tub, probably attracted by water. I think the place is clean, but being on the ground and so close to the river, bugs do get in. It’s literally the 1 downside about the place.

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More rooms, with hammocks. Seriously the most peaceful place. Would make a great artists’ retreat.

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Should have mentioned that the grass courtyard also overlooks a pool, which overlooks the river – it’s gorgeous! The only pic I got of the whole thing was on my cell phone though.

If you walk down to the left of the pool (like 1 minute from our rooms!), you’ll see the kayak area:

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We went kayaking the next morning for about 3 hours. I didn’t get pictures, but you can see from this vantage point of the hotel pathway some of our kayak path down the river:

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It’s great, because the fee is reasonable, and they give you the oars, map, lifejackets, etc. and push you off, then you’re on your own. (Or we were, but they have guided tours you can do.) We went around 9 and were the first ones out there. The tide was low, and there were tons of alligators on the banks that would slide into the water as we approached. I was a bit freaked out by it! That’s one thing to watch out for; there are gators everywhere here.

Anyway, if you walk a bit further than the kayak area, you’ll find a huge mulberry tree!

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I’d never seen one before and was so excited. You can reach up and pick the berries and eat them (I mean, you’re probably not supposed to, but I did), and they’re SO sweet and delicious, but they do stain everything red. Go for the dark ones; those are ripe.

Walk past that, and you’ll find a clearing that’s lined with a wall of sweet-scented jasmine:

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You can’t really tell in the picture, but there’s tons of it, with the little white flowers. This was in mid May, so not sure if it’s still in bloom.

Back at the hotel, they do a happy hour every night in the Lodge from 5 – 7 with complimentary (included in your stay) drinks and apps. It was very worth it!

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Beyond these cheeses and fruits, they had crackers and a hot dish or two each night (we were there for 2). The first night was pretty rushed, because we walked around actual Middleton Place a bit (more on that later) and then went to downtown Charleston. The second night was a Saturday, and lots of people went to the happy hour.

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The Lodge itself was pretty cute – 2 stories with the food area up top, this chess table halfway down, and below some games you can play, including croquet. Here’s the backside of the Lodge in the next morning’s light:

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They do a complimentary breakfast in the Lakehouse, which was really nice. It’s a quick walk from the rooms on a shadowy path….

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Oh, and do you see the umbrella stand above, with all the umbrella handles sticking out? They had umbrellas everywhere, including outside each room – which I thought was nice.

Anyway, the Lakehouse breakfast is cereals, an oatmeal bar, coffee and juices, and is self serve, and/or you can order hot items for extra charge.

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I was content with oatmeal, because they have so many add in options! (I’m on an oatmeal kick now.) I got blueberries, pecans, walnuts, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Yum!

The Lakehouse overlooks a creek and beautiful greenery. You can sit indoors and admire the view while listening to classical music, or sit outside on the deck. We sat inside, because it was chilly in the mornings.

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Pretty view! We spent most of our time walking across the wooded path to the estate, which is super convenient, as you can go anytime between sunrise and sunset….I wanted to go at night, but with all the gators (they live in the estate pools and like to hang out on the grass, hard to see in the dark), I didn’t want to risk it.

I would highly recommend the Inn at Middleton Place to anyone really, understanding that it is a “woodsy” place, so some bugs are inevitable. I actually didn’t sleep well either night because of that, but it had so much else going for it, that it was way worth it.

The Inn also has horseback riding, but there was no time. Next up – Middleton Place itself!

 

 





The Florida Theatre

23 06 2016

For May Art Walk (every 1st Wednesday in downtown Jacksonville, FL), I met up with a couple friends… as always, always stuff to see during art walk, like this community painting (we contributed to the reverse side):

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Or this cute/weird bird:

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(Sorry for the photo qual – only had my phone.) Eventually, we stumbled on The Florida Theatre. Now, everyone from Jax knows about the Theatre; it’s been around since the 20s and is pretty famous. But honestly I hadn’t been there since a field trip when I was much younger. It’s a shame because it is SO pretty! Turns out during Art Walk they do free tours, so naturally we took advantage!

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Just the entryway alone is pretty. You could get wine or whatever drink (below) and take it with you on the tour, but I needed both my hands free (one for phone pics, one to hold onto railings so my clumsy self doesn’t fall down stairs.)

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You go up some stairs and then into the main area  – my favorite!

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It reminds me of Epcot’s Mexico. 🙂 The plaster décor is all original.

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These doors are NOT original, which is impressive because in person they really look authentic. Anyway, then you get to go into the theater itself:

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…You get to climb right onto the stage and see all this behind-the-scenes stuff! I didn’t get any good shots from the stage looking onto the audience because it is just so massive, it wouldn’t even properly fit into the panorama.

After this, we walked through this little door to the left to go “backstage.”

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Love these mirrors! I will say, the bulk of backstage is surprisingly unglamorous. It surprised me anyway. Very plain, narrow stairs, that kind of thing. I mean, even Elvis performed there! I thought there’d be some fancy chairs or something. But these mirrors were cool, and the lights put off SO much heat!

Then we went upstairs…

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I thought it was really amazing that even these garlands are original:

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I mean, from the 20s! We went on the second level of the theater and got to walk all the way up. Finally, a good pic of the view!

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I can’t get over these amazing lights!

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iPhone pictures definitely don’t do it justice. Or show how enormous they are. We heard about how some of the seats still have the original upholstery and learned about the “ghost” seats off to the side.

Last we walked in a room used by their patrons that used to be a nursery.

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The bunny in the corner there is from the original paint of the nursery.

It’s a really great tour – our guide was a wealth of info, and we loved seeing behind the scenes. Highly recommend stopping by if you go to Art Walk!

A lovely night in downtown:

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Not Forgotten

20 06 2016

30 peacock22I’m still here! Sorry for the super long hiatus – I had a big birthday, left one job, started another, went on a big business trip, and then got sick, so it’s been a little cray. Posts will be coming in the next few weeks, and this pic is a little teaser of what’s to come. 🙂








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