Shem Creek – A Gem in the Charleston Area
Steaming crab legs, ice cold shrimp cocktail, fresh flounder . . . Are your taste buds awake? If you love seafood, you will absolutely adore Shem Creek. Located across the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge from Charleston in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, Shem Creek is the highlight of the Charleston area for the freshest seafood. Brought in daily by local boats, this seafood will make its way to your dinner plate courtesy of the Shem Creek restaurants.
Pack your bags and make a reservation at the Shem Creek Inn. This surprising little gem of a hotel sits directly on Shem Creek, with the pool deck only a stone’s throw away from the water. Although the Inn looks like any other hotel from the outside, you will be pleasantly surprised with your accommodations. All rooms have large, comfy beds, a refrigerator and microwave, cable TV, and high speed internet access. In addition, guests receive complimentary continental breakfast daily.
Once you’ve checked in it will soon be time for dinner. And, oh, how to decide where to eat! My first suggestion is the Water’s Edge Restaurant, adjacent to the Shem Creek Inn. Overlooking the creek, you will find indoor and outdoor seating, as you will with all of the restaurants on the creek. As you enjoy your meal, a parade of boats – kayaks to shrimp boats will make their way past. I was told by one of the waitresses that the dolphins usually follow the shrimp boats back in around 4:00 p.m., so keep an eye out and you just might spot one.
At the Water’s Edge Restaurant I recommend the Fish Stew – Lowcountry style with okra and corn in a tomato broth, and the Shrimp Scampi – sautéed shrimp, fresh garlic and herbs with white wine and lemon juice over penne pasta.
After you’ve had your fill of seafood, take a few steps back towards the hotel and you will find yourself at the Water’s Edge Cabana Bar. Have them pour your favorite after dinner drink and spend some time savoring the atmosphere of the creek.
I do hope you’ll be staying for a couple days as there is much to see and do in the Charleston area. So off you’ll be in the morning to see the memorable, historic city of Charleston. Make your first stop the Visitor’s Center at 375 Meeting Street. Here you will find plenty of brochures to help you decide what to see, and this is also where you can sign up for city tours of all kinds – walking tours, bus tours, horse-drawn carriage tours, and also the famed Charleston ghost tours. The city where the Civil War started is full of history and architecture, and very knowledgeable guides will tell you all about it. In order to be a tour guide in Charleston you must pass a very comprehensive test and get licensed, so be assured that your guide knows what he or she is talking about.
Your day in historic Charleston is done and your brain has been filled with a multitude of historic facts. It must be time again to fill the stomach. Back to the Shem Creek Inn to rest and rejuvenate on your private balcony, or maybe poolside? Then it’s on to the Shem Creek Bar and Grill for dinner.
You will find the view of the marshlands from the outdoor dining area at the Shem Creek Bar and Grill (located on the other side of the creek at 508 Mill St.) to be peaceful and relaxing. Here I recommend the Seafood Stuffed Flounder – flounder filets with a dressing of deviled crab, shrimp and scallops, moistened with a touch of sherry, topped with buttered breadcrumbs and baked to perfection. Other seafood options include Crab Stuffed Baked Lobster, Damn Good Crab Cakes, and “Naked Seafood” – Grilled seafood (your choice of shrimp, scallops, tuna, mahi mahi, or salmon) with butter and Shem spice.
After dinner, if you’re up for a little nightlife, stop in at Red’s. This hoppin’ little spot directly across the creek from the hotel will serve up your favorite cocktail, and you’ll get a breathtaking view of the Lowcountry sky at that magic time of the day – sunset. You will witness the sky becoming filled with every hue of orange, pink and purple. And as the big ball of orange fire drops to the horizon and the stars come out, nighttime settles into the creek. Listen to the music at Red’s or just savor a magical Lowcountry evening. And if, by chance, you are still a bit hungry, you can order Red’s famous bucket of seafood filled with peel-n-eat shrimp, snow crab clusters, and oysters.
Another day has dawned and you’re making plans. What to do in Charleston now that you’ve seen the historic downtown? A visit to a plantation or two is a must! The Magnolia Plantation and Gardens sit on nearly 500 acres on Highway 61, 10 miles from downtown Charleston. At the entrance you may purchase a ticket to tour the plantation home and gardens, or just the gardens. Other options include the Nature Train and the Nature Boat. The Magnolia Plantation, which was owned by Reverend John Drayton at the time of the Civil War, has been in the Drayton family since 1676.
After you have toured the house take a stroll around the grounds. The various gardens, walking trails, and wildlife will keep your attention for hours, if you’re so inclined. Children will enjoy the maze and petting zoo, and your own pet on a leash is welcome to stroll the grounds with you. If time allows you may also wish to explore the Boon Hall Plantation and Middleton Place.
As all good things do, your time at Shem Creek has come to an end. If you love seafood as much as I do, I highly recommend the Shem Creek area restaurants, and if you’re coming from afar, your stay in the Mount Pleasant area will be a most pleasant one at the Shem Creek Inn.
by Dianne Swanson