Charleston, South Carolina, is rated as one of the world’s top travel destinations for a reason: there is something for everyone to enjoy! Charleston is full of history, nature, and great food. Many tourists start their day in Charleston by wandering through the market, which branches off of Meeting Street. Here, vendors sell Gullah crafts, handmade soaps, and many other perfect Charleston souvenirs. Next, you should visit Rainbow Row, a collection of colorful historic houses on the peninsula end of East Bay Street. The nearby Waterfront Park boasts swings with a great view of the harbor and the famous Pineapple Fountain. Finally, the grandest antebellum houses in Charleston are located on the Battery, bordering White Point Gardens.
Charleston’s history continues just outside the city at Fort Sumter. If you want to see this piece of Civil War history, you can take the Fort Sumter ferry, which leaves from Charleston Harbor several times each day. But bring a jacket—the harbor is windy!
After touring Fort Sumter, the Charleston carriage tours are a great way to learn more about the city. These tours begin at the corner of Anson and Guignard Streets. The tour guides are very entertaining, and each tour goes to a different section of the city.
For those looking for something out of the ordinary, Bulldog Tours caters to the ghoul-obsessed tourist. The Dock Street Theater is also famously haunted. As the story goes, a beautiful young woman used to love to watch lightning storms from her balcony in the former brothel. She was struck by lightning, and lost her life. Legend has it that she can still be seen floating above her balcony, searching for another lightning storm.
After all of this walking, you’re going to be hungry. Luckily, Charleston has a thriving culinary scene, and the seafood is amazing. Bubba Gump or Hyman’s are ideal if you’re dying to taste some quality seafood. Magnolias is a little more upscale, but their menu is fresh, perfectly cooked, and a wonderful representation of high-class Southern food. For dessert, swing by Saffron or Café Framboise for a flaky pastry.
Outside of Charleston
The sleepy spell of the South continues just outside of Charleston. For nature lovers, Francis Beidler Forest is located only an hour inland from Charleston. This pristine nature reserve features the world’s largest virgin cypress-tupelo swamp and a 1.75 mile long boardwalk. Walking through this silent swamp is an experience not to be missed.
Charleston is also surrounded by plantations, remnants of the antebellum South. Middleton Plantation is a gorgeous example of a Southern plantation, featuring tranquil gardens, an illuminating house tour, and a placid view of the Ashley River. Drayton Hall also features beautiful gardens but is unique because its plantation house is one of the oldest and best preserved in America.
Finally, here are some last things to remember for your trip to Charleston. Remember that not all locals are as charming as they look; there are some street vendors who may pretend to give you a bracelet or a woven grass rose, and then force you to pay for it. However, most of Charleston’s residents are delightful and love talking to tourists. Make sure to wear sunscreen, so you aren’t painfully sunburned in all of your vacation photos. Bring plenty of cash for your visit to the market, and don’t forget to take lots of pictures! Enjoy your visit!