Experience the true meaning of Southern charm with a trip the Charleston, S.C. This city is an ideal spot to experience exceptional down-home cooking, welcoming hospitality, exciting culture and unique coastal history.
Charleston features an interesting and unique blend of culture and is known for its local art, music and food scenes. No matter what season you visit, there's always something fun happening in the area for both indoor and outdoor lovers.
You can stroll the tree?-lined streets and view the lovely Antebellum architecture, enjoy dinner on the patio of a restaurant and wander through the various shops, museums, galleries and theaters.
Charleston is home to many festivals throughout the year, including the Spoleto Festival USA, a 17-day fest with more than 100 performances by different artists, as well as the Charleston Food and Wine Festival, Charleston Fashion Week and the Holiday Festival of Lights, to name a few.
In 2011, Charleston was named one America's favorite cities by Travel + Leisure, and in 2013 Conde Nast Traveler, was placed at no. 1 in their top 10 best cities list.
Things to Do
- Dock Street Theatre: Experience history with a visit to the Dock Street Theatre, America's first theater. It opened in 1736 and hosted the first opera performance in America, "Flora." Now, this space is home to South Carolina's largest theater company, so be sure to catch a show while you're in town. The theater also hosts different festivals throughout the year and produces more than 120 performances each season.
- Magnolia Plantations and Gardens: Enjoy the Southern climate and get some fresh air at the Magnolia Plantations and Gardens. It opened in 1870 and features a stunning display of flowers and plants throughout. In addition to exploring the flora and fauna, you can check out the nature train or take a boat tour. There's even a petting zoo for the kids.
- The Charleston Museum: After you see America's oldest theater, you can visit America's oldest museum - The Charleston Museum - which was established in 1773. It was partly inspired by the British Museum and displays collections about natural science, ornithology, historical culture and documentary and photographic resources. Learn about the history of the area and how Charleston has developed through time.
- Firefly Distillery: If you enjoy Southern libations, head to the Firefly Distillery for a tasting. It's South Carolina's first and largest distillery and produces Sweet Tea Vodka, Firefly Moonshine and other liquors. Enjoy the Southern hospitality as you sip on the different cocktails and take a tour of the Irvin Vineyards.
- Fort Sumter Tour: Step back in time with a tour of Fort Sumter, the site where the famous shots that started the American Civil War were fired. Departures for the tour start at Liberty Square in downtown Charleston or Patriot's Point in Mount Pleasant. On a 30-minute tour, you'll hear all about the history of Fort Sumter, events that lead to the war and facts about the area. The fort also houses an informative museum with historic artifacts.
Shopping and Dining
- Poogan's Porch: This Victorian mansion-turned-restaurant was voted as having the best grits in the Lowcountry, so you can be sure you'll dine on amazing Southern cooking at Poogan's Porch. It was named after the dog of the home's previous owners. Poogan's Porch is known for its signature buttermilk fried chicken, she-crab soup and homemade buttermilk biscuits and sausage gravy.
- Hank's Seafood: Seafood is a must when dining in Charleston and a trip to Hank's Seafood fits the bill. The menu features classic Charleston fish house favorites with a blend of traditional seafood plates and Lowcountry dishes - all with a contemporary flare. Enjoy the laid-back, charming ambiance as you feast on Lowcountry bouillabaisse and she-crab soup, oysters casino, shellfish cocktail with loverster, Charleston oyster stew or Hank's signature pan-fried crab cakes.
- Charleston Historic Market: Do a bit of shopping as you stroll through the Charleston Historic Market, a hub of activity in the city. The Greek Revival-style Market Hall houses the Daughters of the Confederacy museum, and behind it, there are a variety of vendor sheds where you can peruse clothing, jewelry, souvenirs, artwork, crafts and goods. Pick up some souvenirs to remember your trip, then take a carriage ride through the city's back streets starting and ending right in the market.
- Toast: Brunch is a favorite meal of many, and you can feast at one of Charleston's best at toast. With bottomless mimosas and a tasty menu, this is the perfect place to get your day started right. Choose from French toast, eggs, omelets, surf and turf and much more.