Thursday, January 15, 2009

Charleston, South Carolina

By looking at this blog, you'd never know Charleston, SC is our favorite city. We first visited that stately town shortly after moving to the Carolinas five years ago. We go back every chance we get.

What we love about Charleston--beside the architecture, the history, the scenic location between the Ashley and Cooper Rivers, and the convenience to nearby barrier islands--is the proximity of activities in the Historic District. Park on Market Street and from there, take a carriage ride, (which I highly recommend) a guided walking tour, or a ghost tour (I don't believe in ghosts, but it's a lot of fun.) Or shop in the Slave Market where you'll find the famous baskets made by third and fourth generation basket makers (note, the baskets are quite expensive because they're handmade. If you buy one, ask what it's made of. Sweetgrass is getting harder to find and basket makers are using other materials. The vendors have been up front about it when I ask, so don't hesitate.) And all this from Market Street!

What do you in the Historic District depends on what subject you want to explore. Pick history one day and after you learn about Charleston's role in the Revolutionary War and the War Between the States, search for the graves of Stede Bonnet and other pirates hung at White Point Garden, then take a boat to Fort Sumpter (note: the island visible in the near distance from the Battery is the abandoned Castle Pinckney, not Fort Sumpter.) Or learn about the great fire of 1861, or the great earthquake of 1886. Don't forget to visit the Citidel, both old and new. Older is more interesting (to me) because it's now an attractive park in the Historic District.

Choose architecture the next day and take tours of the Miles Brewton house, where Mary Pringle (Mary's World) lived, then head to Rainbow Row, the Battery, the Old Exchange, St Micheal's Church and a plethora of other homes and houses of worship. You'll see two- and three-story Italianates. You'll also spot One Room houses, which the original owners built sideways on the lot for tax purposes. Piazzas (verandas) with wrought iron balustrades are everywhere, and add to the city's charm.

For the kids, visit attractions such as the SC Aquarium (ask if you can have a tour of the sea turtle hospital) or spend time at nearby Waterfront Park.

Outside of the Historic District, the plantations including Boone Hall and Magnolia Plantation and Gardens are wonderful spots to visit:

Check for entrance fees before you go. If you're in the mood for sand and waves, visit Folly Beach. While there, go to the tip of the island and see Morris Lighthouse. Sullivan Island has a lighthouse as well (though not as attractive.) Eco-tours are available on the Isle of Palms, stomping grounds of author, Mary Alice Monroe, one of the many sea turtle volunteers on that island.

Hungry? Eat at Sticky Fingers, whether in Mount Pleasant where Boone Hall is located, or downtown on Meeting Street. We always eat at A.W. Shucks on Market Street or--just for fun--Bubba Gumps, also on Market. Some folks love Jestine's Kitchen, but Charleston and the surrounding area is flooded with good restaurants serving great Lowcountry food.

One sight we've yet to see is the Angel Oak on John's Island. Click on the link to see a picture of the old oak tree, which has captured the attention of thousands: www.scangeloaktree.com/

Just another excuse to return.

For more information on Charleston and the surrounding area, check out the following links:

Charleston www.charleston.com/
Folly Beach www.follybeach.com/
Boone Hall boonehallplantation.com/

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