by Libby Farris
If you’ve never been to Charleston, you’re in for a treat. It’s a unique city with heaping spoonfuls of Southern charm, living history, and natural beauty. Bring comfortable shoes because you’re going to want to do a lot of strolling (all the better to indulge in a slice of world’s best coconut cake at the Peninsula Grill).
Head first to the waterfront to explore Battery Park and its oak-sheltered paths, rustling palmettos, and spectacular views of the harbor, Fort Sumter, and Sullivan’s Island. Stop for a photo opp at Rainbow Row, a stretch of paintbox-pretty historic homes along East Bay Street. From many vantage points in Charleston you’ll see the stunning Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge which spans the Cooper River and has a walking path where you can take in the city skyline.
Another fascinating area for wandering is King Street, where you’ll find upscale shopping (antiques, clothing boutiques, quaint book shops) and plenty of restaurants, coffee shops, and bars. A must-see attraction that is part history, part retail, is the bustling City Market, one of the nation's oldest public markets and a Charleston cultural touchstone. Wander among hundreds of local craftspeople and artisans—you’ll see folks busy weaving traditional sweetgrass baskets (which make a great take-home souvenir).
History buffs will want to tour Fort Sumter, site of the first shots fired in the Civil War. To see an authentic antebellum manse, visit the Nathaniel Russell House, a gracious 19th-century home surrounded by formal gardens.
And, of course, there is the buzzed-about Charleston food scene. It’s hard to miss among its many notable restaurants, but don’t leave the city without trying the Lowcountry cuisine (Magnolias is a longtime favorite; Husk is a more recent star) and the barbecue (try the smoked wings at Home Team BBQ).
Photos: Charleston CVB