isle of palms | part one | the house & the beach

by | May 31, 2021 | summer, Travel | 21 comments

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.

isle of palms | miss mustard seed

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.

isle of palms | beach house | miss mustard seed

We spent a lot of time at that large table, putting together puzzles, reading books, and playing chess.

isle of palms | beach house | miss mustard seed

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.

isle of palms | beach house | miss mustard seed

isle of palms | beach house | miss mustard seed

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.

isle of palms | beach house | miss mustard seed

isle of palms | beach house | miss mustard seed

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.

isle of palms | beach house | miss mustard seed

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…

isle of palms | beach house | miss mustard seed

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.

isle of palms | beach house | miss mustard seed

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.

isle of palms | miss mustard seed

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.

isle of palms | miss mustard seed

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.

isle of palms | miss mustard seed

isle of palms | miss mustard seed

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!)

isle of palms | miss mustard seed

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.

isle of palms | miss mustard seed

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.

isle of palms | miss mustard seed

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…


  1. Jerry Stocks

    So glad you had such a great visit in my home state. I live in Beaufort which is around 75 miles south of Charleston. You would love our town and our beaches.

  2. Dana Wall

    Ahhh, looks perfect. Happy Anniversary to your mom and dad!! Just for the record, we lovingly call that “blowing sand” Microdermabrasion. Gotta look at the bright side!!! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Betsy

    Your description of how you feel about the beach was spot on for me. I love taking a beach blanket early in the morning or evening and enjoying the peace ,serenity and contemplation.

  4. Cheri Dietzman

    Beach walking and shell hunting are one of my favorite things to do in life. From as early as I can remember I have loved it … starting on Lake Michigan (Indiana/Michigan side). Can’t wait to read the rest of your posts!

  5. Irene Kelly

    So happy for you that you got to spend time with your family at the beach. That house looks great. Thinking about renting it maybe next year to invite our family. I have never been there but most in our family have so they know the place fairly well. I am with you on the beach trips. My family own a vacation cottage on an island in Maine so I have lots of beach stories.

  6. Chan Galik

    Lucky family! Sounds like a marvelous time. Thank you for sharing it with us!

    • MaryLisa

      What a beautiful spot! I sometimes take for granted my beach cottage I live in on my little island but then I realize what a privilege to have such a spot. You made a wonderful memory with family!

  7. monique odman

    A gorgeous house done a bit in your style. Your boys must have had such good time in the water and enjoyed a change of scenery and climate. Like you, I fear the sun but love the beach when no one is there, and looking for shells is a wonderful meditative moment, so absorbing a pass time and walking along in and off the water. Your stripped tee shirt is perfect for later sunny hours.

  8. Laura

    This has to be my favorite post ever! After 14 months of “solitary confinement”, I just love this post! Many thanks for the uplifting story.

  9. Karen B.

    What a wonderful anniversary celebration for your mom…family time in a lovely house. I look forward to your shelling search and the shells found, We don’t have great shell searches here in Southern California, but I love looking for shells.

  10. Barb lundberg

    How much did it cost to rent the house may I ask

    • Marian Parsons

      Click on the link to check out the listing. The price varies pretty greatly depending on the time of year. Since it’s a larger house, it’s definitely a good one to split with other families/friends.

      • Dani Durham

        Looks amazing! I feel silly, but I don’t see the link to the house listing? I will be in Sullivans Island next week and would like to check it out this house for my family this fall. Thanks for sharing!!!

  11. Sandy

    I can see my brothers house in the background of one of the pictures! My family started going to Isle of Palms 51 years ago and boy has the island changed over those years! My brother moved there 15 years ago and my mom and dad 12 years ago! We love it! We just bought my parents condo in Mt Pleasant between the island and Charleston! Very exciting…so glad you enjoyed it

  12. Alyssa

    My husband and I just took our post Covid vaccination trip to the Charleston area as well, staying at Folly Beach. We loved our beach walks each day, and exploring Charleston many of those days as well. What a great vacation destination!!

  13. celestial

    I love seeing your “sun suit”! I am also one who burns easily (and have never had a tan; I just become less white). I have tried rash guard shirts but find the synthetic fibers so hot and clammy that I cannot stand them on for more than 10 minutes, which kind of defeats their purpose. Do you find this as well or are your rash guards of a different fabric? For the last decade I just stay inside from 10 am to 2 pm and have avoided the usual blistering sunburns. I’m always interested in how others handle not getting fried in the sun.

    • Marian Parsons

      These are definitely made from synthetic fibers, but I found them to be very breathable and comfortable, especially that shirt which was a little roomier. Several readers shared that they wear those shirts for gardening, tennis, golf, etc. during the summer because they are breathable. I prefer natural fabrics, but these work well for the purpose of sun protection and drying quickly.

  14. Meredith Weisz

    I stayed on Seabrook Island the month of March…loved it! I will be back!

  15. Pam Emma

    Isle of Palms is truly a beautiful place and the house you stayed in was wonderful. I live in South Carolina in the Charleston area and spend Memorial Day at IOP and it was a wonderful time. I have lived here almost 5 years and originally from New England. I truly love spending time at the beach and so happy you and your family came here and had a wonderful time too.

  16. Aleta Rogers

    Omg…i love the isle of palms.we were there in april and it was just grandsons were on spring break and the beach was their favorite spot to go to.mine was the co-op for frose’.the house we rented slept 16 people and had a private pool and a rooftop balcony looking at the beach.elevator and under house parking.each room with a balcony.i can’t wait to go back to the wild dunes.i will never forget the IOP.


Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

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