It’s a city that conjures up images of true Southern hospitality. Gorgeous homes with trailing ivy, flower boxes, and promenade porches that stretch for miles. Wrought iron balconies that grace the sides of buildings that wouldn’t dream of being pastel anywhere else…but somehow, in this city, it works.
Charleston is about a 5-6 hour drive from where I live, in good old Tennessee. It’s a coastal town and you can see that influence everywhere, from the palm trees, to the ever-changing weather. It is full of history, charm, amazing seafood, and friendly locals. Everywhere you go, whether it’s a restaurant you’re trying out, a store you’re popping into, or if you’re taking a stroll around the French Quarter, people are warm and inviting.
Being raised up in the South as I was, I find it not as culturally shocking as some people from up North might. The tea here runs sweet, just the way we like it, the history may be a little dark during the days of The Civil War and the slave trade, but it is a history worth learning about, and the culture here is a rich and thriving one.
Pictured above is The United Daughters of the Confederacy building, which also houses The Charleston Market, which is open most days from 9:30-5:30pm. (The first picture on this post was taken at the top of those stairs!) Standing up there, I saw a sign that said, “United Daughters of the Confederacy: We are closed.” (Every time I have ever been to Charleston (3-4 times), it has been closed. It is apparently a museum with rather spotty hours.)
It may be awkward for some people to get a grasp on, but when you come down south of Kentucky, Confederate traces are everywhere, in parks, cemeteries, monuments and more.
In any case, if you go to Charleston, I encourage you to soak up the history. And the market!
On any given day, you can see people hocking their trades, whether it’s sweet grass basket weaving, artisans who have made one-of-a-kind puzzle boxes, candied pecans, jewelry—it’s a very cool place to get your souvenirs! And it is the perfect place to catch a horse and buggy(Yeah, ya’ll. We call them buggies down here.) tour of the city. On our most recent trip to Charleston, I had a conversation with our tour guide and was sad to learn that the horse and buggy tours may become a thing of the past, if the mayor has any say in it. I don’t know about you, but I can’t picture Charleston without them!
If parks are your thing, Charleston has a lot of beautiful parks you can stroll through. My favorites are The Battery, Washington Square Park and Chapel Fountain Park. They provide nice, shaded areas in the humidity of summer, great people watching, and interesting statues, fountains and views to indulge in.
I also LOVE exploring old cemeteries. Call me weird, but it’s just another way I can take in the history of a place. According to our tour guide on a ghost tour(Which you HAVE to go on, trust me! http://bulldogtours.com/), Charleston’s real estate can get pretty pricey, so they are always looking for more places to build…which means any graves 100 years or older can potentially be evicted! 😱 I thought that was an interesting fact.
Also, you must visit Rainbow Row on East Bay Street for all your Instagram worthy selfies and pictures of architecture. It is a gorgeous section of town where you can not only see this famed row of houses, but other colonial style homes as well.
My favorite plantation tour was Boone Plantation. Though you don’t get to see much of the house’s interior, the grounds are STUNNING. This was a spot they used for shooting The Notebook, and it has also served as a spot for several celebrity weddings. (Ahem. Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively.) The tree lined drive is amazing and it’s a great place to take pictures.
Oh, yeah, and see more horses! This one was super friendly and so cute. 🐴
As for places to stay, I recommend The Meeting Street Inn, which is right in the heart of Charleston and gives complimentary wine and cheese tastings in their posh lobby every day around 3. Fancy, fancy. It is a boutique hotel and worth every penny because it is unique, classy, and puts you close to everything.
If you can’t swing that, because they book up FAST, try staying in Mt. Pleasant at Shem Creek Lodge or anywhere on Patriot’s Point. Some of the hotels on Patriot’s Point even provide a free trolley service over to Market Street! And even though you won’t be right in Charleston technically, the waterfront restaurants and activities going on will still be within walking distance and be really fun!
As far as my favorite places to eat, I love this little gem in Mt. Pleasant called Page’s Okra Grill.
Best fried green tomatoes I have EVER had. Dessert wasn’t bad either. For downtown Charleston, I always enjoy some SheCrab soup at Charleston Market House. I tried Poogan’s Porch and…I really, really wanted to like it, but…I wasn’t a fan.
When it comes to WHEN to go to Charleston, I have been at all different times of the year, July, October. I have to say, October is my favorite. It is mildly cool, as opposed to stifling hot.
So, cheers to Charleston! One of my favorite cities! Have you ever been there or wanted to go there?