Monday, January 10, 2011

Touring Charleston

When my daughter heard we were visiting Charleston, South Carolina again, she asked, in a voice tired of asking the question, "Haven't you seen all there is to see down there?"

Somehow, no. Though we've taken carriage and walking tours, read articles and field guides, and had long discussions with others familiar with the city's history, time and events that shaped South Carolina and the United States have packed so much into the settlement established in 1680, I can't learn it all despite my efforts to do so. But I keep trying.

How?

Tours

Visitors to Charleston have at their disposal, a variety of informative carriage and walking tours. Most companies offer several routes, so if I take a carriage ride in the morning and hop onto another later that afternoon, chances are I'll see a different side of the city. Different streets. Different buildings. More history. Some companies also offer architecture tours. Others focus on photography or Charleston's ghostly past.

Self-guided tours are also available. Whatever I choose, I know I'll learn about the city.

For a different perspective, I can also choose a guided tour of the harbor once blockaded by the British, Blackbeard, and then Union forces. Travel to Fort Sumter, or take a watery ghost tour to learn even more about the city that once aspired to become the Queen of the South.

Museums

As I mentioned in a previous post, Charleston has a creature called Museum Mile. On this occasion, we spent time in Stop 2: the Charleston Museum. The artifacts, reproductions, old photos, clothing, maps and more not only overwhelmed us in their number and explanations, they taught us more about eras we were familiar with—and some we weren't. I took notes and photos (no flash, please!) and said what every other visitor probably said as they walked through the exit doors: I need to go back.

There are fifteen stops in the Museum Mile in a one-mile range. And that's not counting the twelve churches located in the historic district. Just more to see on return visits.

Reference Materials

I also like to tour Charleston at home. On each of our trips, we make it a habit to peruse the regional section of the closest Barnes & Noble. While in Charleston, we also stop in the Waldenbooks located at the corner of Meeting and Market. There, I generally find books I wouldn't have known to buy. On this visit, to expand my Charleston collection and my knowledge of the Holy City, I purchased Charleston: Then and Now by W. Chris Phelps, Charleston Icons, and A Walking Tour of The Walled City (Kindle download). At the Charleston Museum, I bought The Scourging Wrath of God: Early Hurricanes in Charleston, 1700 - 1804.

No doubt, I'll buy more on our next visit. As I've learned, there's always something new to see in Charleston, and I love touring the city in Lowcountry style.

2 comments:

Julie said...

Hi, Kimberli. Your daughter's comment made me chuckle, because it reminds me of what my daughter would ask me. I imagine she will ask you the question again, especially since you feel the need to go back to the museum. But I do agree with you. There's so much to see in a museum. And Charleston is another place that can be discovered over and over.

When I read your blog, I feel like I'm going back with you to discover all those exciting things. I'm especially interested in hurricanes, i.e., "The Scourging Wrath of God: Early Hurricanes in Charleston, 1700 - 1804."

Thanks for the info!

Kimberli said...

Thanks, Julie! While I learned more about the city on this visit, I also discovered I know very little about Charleston. I'm having a hard time taking that in!

I highly recommend The Scourging Wrath. I later learned it's online. Click here to access the text on the Charleston Co library site. The hurricane of 1752 was perhaps the most cataclysmic of all listed. I'm surprised residents didn't pack up and leave.

Thanks for stopping by. I always enjoy sharing what we've learned!

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