A local’s guide to Charleston, South Carolina: 10 top tips | United States holidays


Walking tour

A strolling tour is a good way to discover the town at a leisurely tempo and uncover its spectacular structure, hidden alleys and different secrets and techniques. Charleston Strolls’ excursions take you thru the historic district and to properties, gardens and church buildings that are off the crushed observe. Horse and carriage excursions and bus excursions are additionally obtainable.
18 Anson Street, charlestonstrolls.com

Slavery museum

Old Slave Mart in Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Photograph: Steven Liveoak/Alamy

More enslaved Africans have been bought in Charleston than in another place within the US, so it is smart that we’ve a museum devoted to this very darkish a part of our historical past. The Old Slave Mart Museum is the primary African-American Museum, full with shifting shows describing the lives of slaves. Many of the employees can hint their historical past again to Charleston slaves. The museum is on a cobblestone road in an unique slave-auction home. Charleston can also be constructing the International African American Museum, due to open in 2020 or early 2021.
6 Chalmers Street, oldslavemartmuseum.com

Gardens and swamps

Live Oak trees arch over an avenue of azaleas in Magnolia Gardens, Charleston.
Live Oak bushes arch over an avenue of azaleas in Magnolia Gardens. Photograph: Phyllis Peterson/Alamy

As a child I cherished all of the rivers, creeks, waterways and seashores of Charleston – a metropolis with nature at its coronary heart. Gardens are thought-about an artwork kind right here and it’s extremely lovely in spring, when the whole lot’s in bloom. The Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, about 20 miles from downtown, is spectacular. Founded in 1676, it opened to guests in 1870 and is the oldest public gardens in America. You can tour the gardens – in bloom all 12 months – and see the whole lot from camellias to azaleas. There’s additionally a plantation home, which supplies a glimpse into Nineteenth-century life. A tram experience will take you thru wetlands, forest and marshes, the place you may spot alligators, egrets, herons and turtles. Audubon Swamp Garden, with bushes rising from the water, is especially considerable in wildlife. Explore this on foot, on boardwalks and crossing bridges, to be actually immersed in nature.
3550 Ashley River Road, magnoliaplantation.com

On the waterfront

(*10*)Schooner Pride sailing in Charleston Harbor, South CarolinaHTGB52 Schooner Pride sailing in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina
Photograph: Daniel Borzynski/Alamy

There are some ways to discover Charleston on water. Board a tall ship for a day dolphin sail or a romantic sundown wine-tasting cruise. For extra of a exercise, take a kayak out from Shem Creek and also you’ll see dolphins and typically whales; there’s one thing magical about paddling by creeks and marshes whereas respiration within the salt air. There are nice seashores additional afield: the Isle of Palms, arrange with showers and outlets, is nice for households, whereas Folly Beach is extra laidback.

To the grave…

Tombstones in historic Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston, South Carolina.
Photograph: Richard Ellis/Alamy

One of probably the most lovely locations in Charleston is the Victorian Magnolia Cemetery simply outdoors the historic district on a former rice plantation. It’s an actual who’s who of the town for the reason that 1800s. So many tales may be informed from right here: that is the place greater than 2,000 Confederate troopers who died in the course of the civil conflict are buried. Spread over 150 acres, it was designed, as cemeteries as soon as have been, to be a park for gatherings and picnics. Resting on the banks of Cooper River and close to a big lagoon, the surroundings is magnificent, with landscaped paths and ponds and imposing monuments. It’s nice for birdwatching and recognizing wildlife, from alligators to turtles. We’ve simply began evening tours the place you’ll be taught in regards to the historical past of the cemetery and listen to tales of unsolved murders and different scandalous tragedies.
70 Cunnington Avenue, magnoliacemetery.net

Lowcountry delicacies

Magnolia restaurant

There’s a very vibrant meals scene in Charleston immediately, and Magnolias has performed an enormous half within the culinary renaissance that has taken place over the previous decade. Charleston has entry to wonderful recent produce: we’ve been doing farm-to-table for 350 years! Magnolias has been an establishment for the reason that Nineteen Nineties and its Lowcountry delicacies (related to the South Carolina and Georgia coast and influenced by British, French and African immigrants) is an attention-grabbing combine that features nice seafood and conventional dishes, similar to shrimp and grits. The restaurant was additionally a forerunner for upscale Southern delicacies and has finished an ideal job of giving old-school recipes a twist. Try its fried rooster and sausage gravy, Charleston crab cake, and fried inexperienced tomatoes with caramelised onion grits.
185 East Bay Street, magnoliascharleston.com

A style of the South

Cru Cafe, Charleston, South Carolina. fr
Cru Cafe

A local’s favorite serving a number of the finest connoisseur consolation meals within the Lowcountry, Cru Café was opened in 2002 by chef/proprietor John Zucker. Set in an 18th-century home, it’s a reasonably informal affair – you may sit on the porch or on a communal desk. The cafe takes pleasure in utilizing native produce, providing a wide range of salads and native seafood. Favourites embody the four-cheese macaroni and the orange sherbert cake. Another good restaurant is Fleet Landing, primarily based in an outdated navy constructing on the waterfront in historic downtown. From right here you may watch boats go by and possibly even spot dolphins whereas consuming seafood gumbo or fried oysters with barbecue sauce. Bitty & Beau’s Coffee, run by individuals with mental and developmental disabilities, is a good expertise. Southern hospitality escalated, it’s so genuinely pleasant and the espresso is nice too.

Farmers’ market

Marion Square Farmers Market, fresh produce local products artisans crafts radish and carrots, Charleston South Carolina
Photograph: RosaIrene Betancourt/Alamy

Every Saturday, an enormous number of farmers, growers and meals distributors take over lovely Marion Square within the historic district for the Charleston Farmers’ Market. I like getting there early when the stalls are being arrange, with the aromas of espresso and gastronomic delights within the air. All produce has to be grown domestically, in South Carolina; bananas are the one exception! It’s nice to wander and nibble, and check out native favourites similar to grits and jelly on toast. It’s additionally good for households, providing a bouncy fort and dwell leisure. And there’s myriad stalls the place native craftsman promote the whole lot from jewelry to hats.
Marion Square, charlestonfarmersmarket.com

Jump on a ferry

Fort Sumter, where the civil war began from the mouth of Charleston Harbor, South CarolinaBDMAF8 View of historic Fort Sumter, where the Civil War began from the mouth of Charleston Harbor, South Carolina
Fort Sumter, the place the civil conflict started. Photograph: Richard Ellis/Alamy Stock Photo

To get the very best concept of the town’s structure, you’ll want to see Charleston from the water. Take a ferry experience out into harbour and discover Fort Sumter on the artifical island to be taught the place the American civil conflict started. The park rangers main the excursions are specialists on this space, so it is a must-do for historical past followers. That apart, the boat experience is enjoyable and the views are excellent.

The world’s first killer sub

Raised in 2000 after being misplaced for over a century, HL Hunley was the primary profitable fight submarine on this planet, however she went lacking in 1864 in the course of the civil conflict. The hand-cranked vessel may be visited on the Warren Lasch Conservation Center, the place a world staff of scientists are working laborious to preserve her and discover clues about her mysterious disappearance. Fascinating, significantly for naval historical past buffs.
1250 Supply Street, hunley.org

Getting there
British Airways has simply launched twice-weekly flights from Heathrow to Charleston – the one direct flights between Europe and the town. Fares begin at £486 return.

Where to keep
Accommodation in Charleston isn’t low-cost, however Days Inn by Wyndham Charleston within the historic district has double rooms from $114 and is nicely positioned for exploring the town on foot.

When to go
Charleston is gorgeous within the spring when the flowers are in bloom and it’s not too sizzling. September to November can also be a superb time to go to, with decrease room charges and fewer crowds.

John Laverne is the proprietor and a tour guide of Bulldog Tours

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