Memorial Day Countdown... 5 Ways Charleston Does It Best

Instant Grit

COUNTDOWN TO SUMMER! Your Grit guide to Charleston's golden season

MONDAY: Summertime Dos & Don'ts

TUESDAY: The Best of Poolside

WEDNESDAY: Get Your Grill On

THURSDAY: Your Summer Music Guide



FRIDAY: Best Summer Town in America? 5 Ways Charleston Does It Best


Best Summer Town in America. It's official—because as everyone knows, when you write it in a blog, it has to be true. Below, here's why Charleston beats the heat—and every other town we can think of. 


5.  TWO WORDS: GOOD BEER. That's what you drink in the summer, isn't it—loaded down in coolers, sipping off the side of a boat? Ogling girls young enough to get you arrested and put on the nearest sex offender registration list. Maybe it's your neighborhood, maybe it's someone else's... Most likely it'll be your in-laws'. In either case, our local breweries are churning out enough interesting new brews to make good local summer beer a big-time point for our team. Here’s a few good picks to get you off to a hell of a start (not at the creepy staring... just don't do that. You're too old and we're not sure if jail cells are even air-conditioned. T-Rav? Do you know? Anyone?)


Hopped Up (far left)


1. Westbrook Brewing's White Thai 


2. Coast Brewing's Boy King Double IPA 


3. Holy City Brewing's Washout Wheat   


4. WATER'S KIND OF OUR THING. Not for drinking... we just covered that. Rather, we’ve got a half dozen (or more?) beaches, maybe 10 rivers, plus a tidal creek around every corner. We don’t live in Columbia—could you imagine? What are you gonna do there, take a refreshing dip in the scorching asphalt? No, you’re going to sweat your balls off, and then get up the next morning and do it again.


In Charleston, we can jump in, salt ourselves up, then get up tomorrow and do it again. That’s just how it works here.


3. YOU WON'T FREEZE OR GET EATEN. The Pacific has its high points, sure, but the average water temp in June (between, say, LA and San Diego) is between 62 and 68 degrees. Same in the Northeast. In Charleston-speak, that’s fucking frigid. Let's save that for baptisms and ice-fishing. Here, we hover around 80 degrees in early summer. That's swimming water.


Will you get eaten? Maybe. We all remember this. But if the U.S.’s stats shake out as one death per year from shark attacks, which they do, my money is on it happening somewhere else—for instance, did you know New Smyrna Beach, Florida, has the most recorded shark attacks? I can see that. I went to college near there; my guess is central Florida sharks are so goddamn bored, what else do they have to do? At least this gives them some shiny flashing lights to squint at. As for the people who live there, you get two choices on how to spend the day: get a sunburn or get a sunburn. There’s literally nothing else to do.


Still, here are some tips for steering clear of sharks this summer:


Red Bull


     * Avoid the water at dawn, dusk, or night, when sharks tend to feed. Take this as your cue to hit Poe’s or that beach bar at the Holiday Inn.


     * Avoid swimming alone; hang with a group, and don’t scatter your group. Unfortunately, this bodes well for those couples littering our shoreline pressed together as one. You know, those nauseating nearly-sex-but-wait… are-they-having-sex? in-water episodes that your kids keep asking about? Someone must have told these couples that the ocean makes them invisible. It’s really too bad they don’t taste like seals. 


     * Don’t splash or move excessively. Alright, if you’re not moving your legs or arms in the water, you’ve got bigger problems than a shark.


     * Avoid entering water if bleeding from an open wound or if menstruating. Ew. 1) The original shark attack prevention list I ripped off the Internet actually contained a hyperlink for the word "menstruating." I deleted that. I'd like to think we're all clear on that. 2) Can we all agree to stay home if we’re suffering uncontrolled bleeding or leaking… of anything? Anything at all.


     * Avoid waters contaminated with sewage or runoff. Yeah, we’ve got no problems there. Shipshape (so to speak…) Pool party in the Cooper! Ohhh..wait.


2. OUR HIGH SEASON FOR TOURISTS IS SPRING & FALL, which means we’re not teeming with them like mountain towns to the north or coastal villages way north, like in Maine and Rhode Island. Remember how you vowed to yourself you’d run down the next Ohioan who darted in front of your car trying to be next in line at Hyman’s? Or drop kick the next party of 15 who keeps you from getting a table at Monza while they toast their coveted CofC grad? You can relax. That’s all over now. The rioters are gone, the sirens subsided.


It’s just us. We can sweat quietly amongst ourselves.


Well, in addition to the first-timers who, bless their hearts, don’t know that you don’t tour our historic streets in August without an EMT on a short leash to your fanny pack.


1. a) WE'RE NO HOLIER-THAN-THOU RESORT TOWN. Sure, we’ve got a gated community or two, with their well-rehearsed hospitality routines and string of immaculately imagined shops (Grit blogger E. Louise weighed in last year on Coastal Living's snoozey crowning of these types of non-beaches), but mostly we’ve got salt. Real salt, in the form of beachside diners, fresh seafood shacks, late-night bars, an occasional brawl, hearty handshakes, good hook-ups, bad decisions, rickety bicycles, shiny boats … You want quiet? Go someplace else. 


b) WE'RE NOT "THE SHORE" EITHER. Ever been to some of those Northern beaches, where people line up like pack animals, wall-to-wall along the sand, stepping into each others’ bologna sandwiches and blending sweet, sweaty aromas of sunscreen and wet body hair? By the way, these beaches are also where you'll find people arriving fully dressed on a 110-degree day to set up a picnic with their family, as if any of this is normal.


It’s not. 


New York Mag


We don’t do that here. Ever. There’s plenty of room at Folly, on Sullivan’s, certainly down at Edisto, for adequate room to breathe the unsullied salt air. And for the most part, we dress appropriately—we wear bathing suits and sundresses. Yes, I know. I see the lovelies wearing suits that are seven sizes too small and the tour buses from Myrtle Manor spilling out. And the denim shorts. But think of it this way: if we were overseas, some of these people would be naked.


Totally. Naked.


I mean, could you imagine what you’d have to see if we did that here? In the South? The sunburned beer-guzzler who just spent his paycheck on wings at the Windjammer clamoring down to the waves… without his denim shorts?


No, thank you.




Cruise around the aforementioned beaches on this bad boy, said to do better in soft sand than its thin-tired peers. 



The "Crusher" ($450) fat-tired bike by Sun Bicycles, available at Mike's Bikes


Have a safe Memorial Day Weekend, Charleston! The Grit team remembers all of our fallen servicemen and women, for whom Memorial Day honors.