Before Red Hook, Brooklyn was hipster cool and fancy expensive, it was a tough ‘hood; home to gangs and legendary mob boss, Al Capone. Though not as historically rough as Red Hook – Cannonborough, Charleston is in similar transition already in the midsts of being a new, explosive neighborhood. The Cannonborough times, they are a-changin’ according to the barista at a hip, cozy coffee shop immediately down stairs from our apartment. “A few years ago, it was a rougher neighborhood. A lot of people didn’t want to walk around here at night but things are changing and businesses are opening.” And it didn’t come as a surprise. During our time staying on Spring Street and making our way around towards the famously popular King Street, one could see that this was a neighborhood smack in the middle of evolution: one way streets are being constructed to two, new coats of paint reviving old buildings, and swoon-worthy places sprouting up everywhere. There’s no quiet murmur of a new ‘hood on the rise – it’s loud and clear. Cannonborough is blowing up. Here, we partnered with a great host to share our fabulous experience staying on Spring Street.
E A T S
In fact, let’s start with the Bearded Cafe, the coffee shop, downstairs. I mean, a hip coffee shop? Is there a more evident sign of a neighborhood on the rise of cool than a coffee shop? Well, maybe an Asian Fusion restaurant or a yoga studio. Oh wait, we found those on our block too. Then there’s Fuel, a retro feel, repurposed gas station around the corner serving “Caribbean food with a twist” which we later learned had been featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives. The large patio was as dope (complete with bocce court) as their Cucumber Cocktail is cooool. And Hominy Grill. Oh Hominy Grill. I’ve never tried much Southern cooking and, if I’m honest, it never called my attention much but their “Shrimp & Grits!” and “ with fried chicken breast, cheddar cheese & sausage gravy made me a believer, a spiritual food convert.
L O C A T I O N
But perhaps what made our Spring Street apartment in Cannonborough such a great place to stay was its location. The four block walk to King Street, passed you by more than a handful of up-and-coming restaurants & bars, salons, pastry shops, a charcuterie/butcher spot, corner markets, supermarkets, and left you at a trolley stop. (For those that have never visited, I should add that the trolley is free so the proximity is major.) And in that walk is where I believe you find the sweet spot of travel; the local places that add flavor and legitimacy to the places you visit and tell the stories of the towns you visit.
A U T H E N T I C
When we visit Manhattan, I love checking out Times Square. It is glittery and popping with excitement. Similar to King Street, it has, seemingly, everything you might need. But I don’t necessarily want to stay in Times Square. It lacks some of the authentic feel that the smaller, more gritty neighborhoods own. It lacks the lived in feel that I’ve come to love about what I consider “real” traveling. In other words, I want to feel like a local, not a tourist passing through. Maybe it comes from years of people discovering that we live in the Dominican Republic, only to offer up their experience in touristy Punta Cana. Yes, it is beautiful, but it doesn’t give the whole story of what the Dominican Republic actually is. I have come to appreciate the less known neighborhoods and cities and staying on Spring Street, in our Airbnb apartment served up that vibe in plentitude. (Use this link for Airbnb and we both receive a $20 travel credit. So, yeah, use this link.)
M Y G O T O T R A V E L Q U E S T I O N
I often judge how much I like a place when I’m visiting (and Husband could testify to this) by one simple question: Could I see myself living here?
So what about Charleston, and specifically, Spring Street? What would my answer be to that question? Yes. Yes I could. In fact, if I lived in that exact apartment we were staying on in Spring Street, many of the above mentioned spots would see me on the regular and though none would need my help, I could single-handedly keep them open.
Check back next week to read more about the kickass food spots in the area and our Cocktail Cruise on Spring (the signature cocktails we drank and where to find them)!
What do you look for in an awesome neighborhood?
P.S. another check on my Living Life List.