Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Another Frugal Day at the Beach

Here are some "almost free" ways to spend your day at the beach:

  1. Go Fly a Kite: You could spend a lot of money on some of the fancy kites I've seen flying at the beach. Or you could spend a few bucks and get a simple kite that will fly just as high.
  2. Rent a Bike: Nothing is more fun than riding a bike on the beach. Kids love to ride through the water. If there's no tire guard and you ride through the water, be prepared for splashes of water on your back. **It's always a good idea to rinse a bike off if it has been through ocean water.
  3. Make Masks or Mosaics: Remember all your finds from beachcombing? Put them to good use by making a plaster of paris mask or mosaic. Find out how to make a sand mask here.
  4. Fishing: I've watched many folks fish from the shore. It looks like a relaxing way to spend a day at the beach (I don't know the first thing about fishing).

  5. Crabbing: Our family had talked about crabbing for years. Finally last summer, I broke down and bought a collapsible crab pot. The premise is you bait the crab pot, throw it in the water on a line and leave it. It worked great...until someone came along and cut our line. We're back to keeping it simple--a string, scoop net, and yucky chicken parts. Doesn't get any easier than this! There are size restriction on your crab catch depending on what state you're in. Be sure and check.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Frugal Day at the Beach

Here are some ways to enjoy a day at the beach without spending any money.

  1. Sand, Surf, and Sun: Enjoy your day at the beach for free. Mother Earth charges nothing for you to enjoy her splendor. Kids, young and old, can splash in the surf; boogie board; or just take it easy in a surf chair.
  2. Watch for Fauna: Bird watching at the beach can be a thrill! Pelicans dive-bomb into the ocean to retrieve their meals; seagulls sneak food from unsuspecting tourists (*Be warned, seagulls love potato chips); and plovers scurry about near the water’s edge. If your vacation brings you to one of the Lowcountry’s beaches, keep a watchful eye out for dolphin.
  3. Build a Sandcastle: You can build a simple "drip castle" or an elaborate castle city. Check out these tips on sandcastle building from Sandy Feet. Are you headed to South Padre Island, TX for your vacation? Find out about sandcastle building lessons here.
  4. Beachcombing: Beach combing is not just looking for shells. It’s about exploring and discovering all kinds of washed up sealife. From driftwood to sea urchins, you never know what you might find.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Frugal Accommodations aka the Virtues of Vacation Rentals

I know I've posted before on the virtues of vacation rentals. In my book, renting a vacation home is the #1 way to practice vacation frugality.

Here are some reasons why renting a vacation home makes "cents":

  1. Rent a vacation home with extended family or friends. You can split the cost of a vacation home. If you find a four bedroom home renting for $2000/week, that works out to be around $70/night per bedroom. **Remember you’re renting a home with a full kitchen, washer/dryer, and plenty of space not some little bitty hotel room.
  2. Rent a vacation home directly from the owner. Many people already rent vacation homes choosing to rent through a management company. I say skip the "middleman" and rent directly from the owner. Renting directly from the owner will save you some cash, plus owners are more equipped to personalize your vacation experience.
  3. Stay home, eat in. Eating out every meal can take a huge chunk of change. Why not eat some of your meals at your vacation home. Again, being frugal is not about deprivation. You can still eat out at restaurants, just not every meal. **Cooking at home allows you the opportunity to sample local produce.

Where to find a vacation rental? Google your chosen destination + "vacation rentals". There are big listing sites like ,, Many owners now have their own personal websites for their homes.

Here are a couple of individual websites to get you dreaming about your next vacation:

Frugal is not a "bad" word!

There’s no denying, the housing boom is a bust, the economy is in shambles, and a recession is close at hand.

It’s time to tighten our belts, folks! It's time to be FRUGAL! Oh, no! Frugal is NOT a bad word. It's NOT about deprivation. It's NOT about starvation.

Frugal is about being economical. It is about being thrifty and managing your money wisely. Being frugal means cutting back where you can.

will be the focus on Lowcountry Lowdown this week. I'll show you ways to cut costs on this year's vacation regardless of where you're traveling, be it the Lowcountry or a trek to Disneyworld.

Upcoming posts: how to find cheaper accommodations, free beach fun, almost free beach fun, and saving on souvenirs.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Charleston's Museum Mile--new website

Charleston's Museum Mile, the one mile section of Meeting Street, is the most concentrated area in the city of historic and cultural places open to the public.

A new website for Charleston's Museum Mile has just gone live. Visit Charleston's Museum Mile's website to discover the "mile" of museums and historic sites, historic places of worship, hotels, dining, shopping, and many other places of interest.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Post & Courier presents its 2008 Dining Guide

Charleston's local newspaper, The Post and Courier, has just released its restaurant guide for 2008. A team of reporters was given the assignment to follow their noses or, in this case, their stomachs throughout the Lowcountry. See the top picks by clicking here.

In addition, Post & Courier readers were asked for their opinions for favorite restaurant in some of the restaurant categories. Look for "People's Choice." These are the top three results for the given category.

If you have a favorite restaurant, let us hear from you!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Family reunions

If the idea of a family reunion has always intrigued you, the Charleston area is a great family destination.

History buffs can discover the multitude of plantations and other historical sites in the Lowcountry. Foodies will go nuts exploring all the restaurants in the Culinary Capital of the South. The shoppers in your family will delight in the search for everything from fine antiques to high fashion.

Rent several homes on one of the islands or one big home, depending on how well you and your extended family get along.

Consider having tee shirts custom made to commemorate the family reunion. A great company and website is We used them for our family reunion.

T-Shirt Design at

Discount Dining Booklets

If you're planning a trip to the Lowcountry this year, you might want to check out the dining booklets.

Hospice of Charleston is offering dining booklets filled with restaurant coupons. The booklets can be ordered online here. Cost for one booklet is $45.00. With 2 for 1 entree coupons for over 40 area restaurants, it's a fabulous deal! And, you'll be supporting a great cause.

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Restaurant review: Cindy's Seafood & Country Market

**2016 Update--Cindy's is closed**

Second stop on our "eat and drink" trip to the Lowcountry was Cindy's Seafood (aka Cindy's Shrimp Shack). We picked a warm sunny February afternoon for our late lunch at Cindy's.

After studying the menu and placing our order, we headed out to the front porch to grab a table and chairs in the sun. The waitress quickly brought our basket lunches. My husband had ordered the fried shrimp (locally caught shrimp) and I had the fried oyster roll. Both lunches were served with hand cut french fries (I told you the diet was out the window!).

I found the food to be very good. Everything was freshly prepared. While we were given ample portions for lunch, this is not a place for a cheap, quick bite. Our two meals, soda and a glass of water cost around $25.00. Regardless of price, I enjoyed the food and atmosphere. I'll be back for another lunch.

Cindy's does carry organic produce, fresh fish, and prepared food items to carry out. To ready another review of Cindy's , click here.

Here's a preview of choices offered at Cindy's Seafood Market: