By Mark A. Leon
Charleston is known throughout the region, country and the world as a quaint historic coastal city where the people are friendly, the homes provide a stunning backdrop, history howls with the haunting sounds of ghosts in the alleys, the culinary artistry is mouth-watering and the romantic ambiance showers you with a rainbow of hearts.
Being one of the top wedding destinations in the United States, it is no wonder love is always in the air. Whether it is fine dining, a walk in the park or Gelato on King Street, Charleston offers couples a romantic retreat.
Sometimes even romance has a budget. We wanted to provide some tips on how you can bring out your romantic side, without finding yourself with an empty wallet or maxed out credit card.
- Buy a bouquet of flowers at Tiger Lily. Voted best Charleston florist since 2000, Tiger Lily offers some of the freshest and most unique flowers in the area with a staff that is always smiling and ready to please. Their expertise and careful crafting of bouquets makes you want to come back over and over and shower your special someone with the gift of nature. Here is a little secret. All walk in customers get half price on all purchases. A beautiful bouquet that may run $20 if ordered by phone or online, will cost you $10 and you can watch the TLC right before your very eyes.
- Movie in the Park or on the beach – Couple Style – This is more of a Spring/Summer event: Marion Square does movies in the park in the Spring and The Tides on Folly Beach in the Summer and Belle Hall Shopping Center Parking Lot as well, but what about a movie in the park for just the two of you? Most of the Charleston Parks offer free wifi. We have that out of the way. One evening, take your IPad, Tablet, etc, get some ice cream or thai take out and a blanket and get comfortable under the stars. Set up camp on the grass and watch a movie on Amazon Prime, Netflix or Hulu. Watch out, people may see you and steal your idea. It is pretty romantic.
Double Sunset Magical Show of Nature – This one is a little tricky to pull off, but achievable. Just past Omar Shrine Auditorium in Mount Pleasant, take a right on Bridgeside Blvd and take it all the way to the end and park. Once there, you will witness the most spectacular view of the Arthur Ravenel Bridge. Walk down the steps through the grassy courtyard and find a perfect spot to watch the sun set over the bridge. If you have time, stop by Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s to get a six pack or bottle of wine. Once the sun sets over the suspension wires, jump in your car and go one street over (Harry M. Hallman Jr Blvd). This will take you to the Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Pier. Go to the end of the pier and you will see the final moments of sunset and if you are lucky a blue, orange or amber sky. Bring your camera; you will get spectacular shots. If it is warm out, make sure you stop in the store afterward for some ice cream.
- Free Salsa Lessons and Cuban Salsa Dancing/Music with Gino Castillo at Prohibition – Every Tuesday at Prohibition at 547 King Street is Havana Nights. From 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM, local expert salsa dancers offer free lessons. If you are an amateur dancing couple, but want to spice it up on the dance floor, come out for a lesson or two and bring a new level of heat. After the lesson, Gino Castillo and his band will bring energy to the restaurant with some action packed tunes to keep your feet moving.
- Open Mic Poetry at East Bay Meeting House – Have you ever written your special someone a poem, but were afraid to read it? Do you have a special anniversary and really want to impress the love of your life? Come to Open Mic Poetry on Monday nights and express your feelings in this accepting open forum. This small intimate setting is one where you can be free to open up your heart. While you are there, have a cup of tea or champagne. The location is 160 East Bay Street. The event starts at 8:00 PM but sign ups to perform begin at 7:00 PM.
- Sunrise on the Beach – There is nothing more romantic than a sunrise walk on the beach. There are a number of options, but the coastal angle of Folly Beach makes this an ideal sight. Plus, Roasted (coffeeshop in the Tides Hotel) is open ridiculously early if you want to grab coffee or a frappe. Hold each others hand, let the sand caress your feet and watch the sun rise from the ocean and lift itself into the sky welcoming an new day. It is breathtaking and makes for an perfect start of your day, no matter what follows. If you plan on staying a while, set up a hammock under the pier.
- Reflect on some culture/art – The Halsey Art Institute offers modern and culturally relevant exhibits that test the mind and open your eyes to the world around you. It is a wonderful way to learn about each other and challenge each others minds. You are also a hop, skip and jump from Kudu or Starbucks to get a hot chocolate to enjoy while you walk around. If you are really feeling educational, head to the Mace Brown Museum of Natural History Just on the other side of Calhoun Street.
- Fishing – This is who we are. Whether it is the Mount Pleasant Waterfront Park pier or just a small bridge on James Island or John’s Island, fishing in the South is as romantic as it gets. Get your loved one, a bottle of wine or six pack, those fishing poles and enjoy a quiet outdoor moment together. If you happen to catch dinner, let the night continue at home.
- Dance to the music of a street performer – If you think Second Sunday or the Charleston Farmer’s Market is the only place to see street performers, you are so wrong. There is a beautiful brass performer on East Bay and even an amazing folks singer. Find a great performer, slip a few bucks and enjoy a romantic dance on the side walk. You will make everyone around you jealous. Or just sit outside Carmella’s, rev up the IPhone with some Sinatra and make your moment together.