This trip was supposed to happen last year in celebration of my parent’s wedding anniversary. I remember in February of 2020, when I spent a few days with Shaunna at her parent’s condo in Florida, thinking how much I was looking forward to a week at the beach that summer. I wouldn’t call myself a “beach person.” I don’t like the grit of the sand and the sticky saltiness of the ocean. I’m fearful of animals that might be lurking around my feet and powerful waves and currents. I break out in hives if I get too much sun and I turn bright pink and feel nauseous in too much heat. I am not a good candidate to be a beach lover. But, I do love it and I find it restorative under the right conditions. If I can enjoy the beach when the sun isn’t too intense and the temperature isn’t too hot, it’s one of my favorite places to be. So, aside from not being able to see my family and celebrate this amazing milestone with my parents, I was disappointed when the trip had to be canceled last year, for obvious reasons.
But, we were able to go this year, and perhaps we enjoyed it all the more because of the postponement and everything that happened over the past year. We enjoyed being in another state, appreciated beauty we don’t get to see regularly, and relished being able to hug friends and family. It ended up being a wonderful trip that we all needed and savored.
Since it was a trip to celebrate a big anniversary, my parents splashed out on a beautiful home on Isle of Palms, SC, just two blocks from the beach. THIS is the house we rented for those who inquired about it when I shared the house on Instagram.
While I am not a beach bum, my boys are and they couldn’t wait to play in the surf on our first evening there. We walked down to the beach just to check it out, but it was irresistible to them.
There is a ton of stuff to do within about 30 minutes from the house – tours, shopping, restaurants, etc., but we really wanted to spend our time at the beach and the house. If you weren’t aware, Minnesota is pretty far from any ocean beaches, so we didn’t want to spend our time doing things we could just do at home. We also wanted this time to be relaxing and it wouldn’t be if we were running from one activity to the next.
The house we stayed in was perfect for this. When some people go on vacation, the room/house is just a place to eat and sleep, so it can be basic. When I travel, I like for the room/home to be a part of the experience, if possible, and an enjoyable place to spend time. This house was beautiful and had porches, balconies, and a pool to enjoy when it was too windy or hot to be at the beach.
We spent a lot of time at that large table, putting together puzzles, reading books, and playing chess.
We also spent a lot of time out on the porch by the pool. It was shaded and delightful almost every day. It was even a bit cool when it was breezy. Most afternoons, I’d set up my pochade box and do some paintings while others read books or had conversations.
We didn’t have the TV on very often, but a few people sat in the comfort of the family room to read or take naps.
Lunch and dinner were usually casual and people would grab or make something when they were hungry and we would then have a simple dinner together in the evening – make-your-own-tacos, homemade pizzas, a chicken casserole my mom made ahead, etc. We did have a catered dinner the night of the small anniversary party and the large island was perfect for setting up a buffet.
It was hard to get a good picture with the mature trees surrounding it, but here is what the house looks like on the outside…
It has six bedrooms, seven baths, a pool, a ping-pong table, a widow’s walk on the roof, and an elevator. The elevator was nice for some of the guests who have trouble with stairs and for carrying up groceries and our luggage. Marshall, my oldest, loved being the “bellhop.” We would load up the elevator and he would operate it and unload bags on the appropriate floor.
My parents stayed in the house for two weeks. Our family was there for 10 days and other family members came and went as their schedules would allow.
Because the house is two blocks from the beach, my parents rented a golf cart. That ended up being brilliant, so we could easily bring over chairs, bags, and an umbrella, and we could run back to the house if someone wanted/needed to go back. While the walk was a quick & easy one (my mom measured just 400 steps), the cart made it easier for some of our family with bad knees, hips, and backs to enjoy the beach, too.
After the first few days, we also decided to rent chairs and an umbrella. It was another convenience that made it easy to pop over to the beach, sit under an umbrella, and read a book for a while without having to carry out a bunch of gear. We also learned that the beach umbrella from the house wasn’t strong enough to stay up when the wind was really blowing. We had amazing weather (it was in the 70s and sunny most of the time we were there), but there were a few afternoons when the wind was intense. We would sit out there for a while being pelted with sand until we decided to pack it in and come back later. Without the shade of an umbrella, the mid-day sun was too intense for me, even with sunscreen on. Once we had the rented chairs and umbrella, that wasn’t an issue.
My favorite time to enjoy the beach, though, was in the mornings. Every single morning, my mom and I would leave the house about 7:30 to go shelling. And Isle of Palms is a great beach for shelling.
I love the hunt and having a purpose while I’m walking, but I also enjoy the ocean breeze and putting my feet in the surf. I could do that for hours! Some mornings, we stayed out for 2-3 hours because it was so delightful. I’ll share more about shelling in another post, but we found some incredible shells. My mom said the shelling wasn’t as good as when she went there a couple of years ago, but we still both came home with great collections.
The beach itself is a good one for families. It was a little crowded on the weekends (people can drive onto the island and park along the road), but it was quiet during the week. This beach also had a lot of little pools on the beach as the tide went out, which were great places for kids to play or to set up a chair and sit in the water. (They were also great places to find shells!)
The beach is also relatively flat and wide, so it’s a good beach for jogging, walking, or even riding bikes. We saw several people riding bikes during low tide. Surfers were out almost daily, too, and they were fun to watch.
In addition to watching the people, we saw dolphins and pelicans regularly. Mom and I would usually be the ones out under the umbrella watching the boys play or helping them fly kites.
Since the weather was cooler, I ended up wearing leggings and linen dresses to the beach a lot, but my two favorite pieces for wearing to the beach when it was warmer were this long-sleeved rashguard…
…and the swim skirt/legging combo. I wore these several times and they did a great job at protecting my skin from the sun while also being comfortable and quick-drying.
I’ll be sharing more about shelling, our day trip to Charleston, and the paintings & sketches I did there in a few upcoming posts…