Upon arriving in Charleston, a rich mixture of scents emanate from the ocean, the marshes, and times-gone-by. If arriving by car and you plan to stay for a night or two, consider one of the beautiful, historic hotels located downtown. This will provide you with an excellent point of entry for all that Charleston offers, in addition to providing you with a place to park your vehicle.
You should bring a good pair of walking shoes because, as stated above, parking is limited, and the only true way to experience Charleston is by wandering the streets on foot. At your hotel, the first person that speaks to you will enchant you with his or her Low Country drawl. Be patient. Just because they talk slow, doesn’t mean the mind is, too.
Moving a Little Slower
Things move slower in Charleston for several reasons, and if you go during the summer months, you will discover one of the reasons why. Charleston is situated on South Carolina’s coastal plain between the Ashley and the Cooper Rivers and has the Atlantic Ocean for a front porch. Being surrounded by both fresh and salt water only enhances the humidity level; therefore, take warm weather clothing that is suited to the sultry climate.
Once you are set at your hotel, take a walk down either King or Meeting Street until you reach Market Street. There you will experience the sights, sounds, and aromas of the Charleston City Market. This Market occupies four city blocks and is an excellent representation of the diverse cultures and remarkable artistic and culinary talent of the Low Country. Exploring the Market and the shops running adjacent to it may be an all day event. Take the time to observe the basket weavers weaving sweet grass, and be sure to strike up a conversation. When you do, you will be amazed to hear their Gullah-Geechee English. You’ll have to listen carefully to understand this colorful mixture of English and several African dialects. If you have time, take a tour of the Gullah region. The Market is a fine example of Charleston’s cultural diversity.
Horses and Carriages
A wonderful manner to experience “old world” Charleston is to tour the city by horse-drawn carriage. This will give your tired feet a break, and provides an overview of Charleston’s most important historical structures. As you listen to the clip-clop of the horses’ hooves, the coachman will expound the history, folklore, and ghost stories for some of America’s oldest town homes and the families that lived there. The courtyards, enclosed with filigreed wrought iron gates and old red brick, abound with azaleas and 150 year old live oaks laced with Spanish moss. The coachman would remiss if he or she did not continue the tour to the Battery.
The Battery, much like a fortified seawall, sits on the very tip of the Charleston Peninsula. Construction began in 1737, and The Battery went through many transformations until its completion in 1820. The Battery, as most South Carolinians still call it, offers you a fresh sea breeze, a promenade to stroll upon, cannons from the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War, in addition to beautiful ante-bellum homes. While you are at the battery, try to catch a glimpse Sullivan’s Island, Fort Sumter, and Rainbow Row. These historical sites are located across the harbor.
Be careful while you are visiting Charleston. She’s been known to wrap her arms around you, and you will always long to return to her.
Kevin Caldwell is a traveler who enjoys writing about the many places he has visited. He also created a website to help people find hotels near Temple Bar in Dublin at affordable prices. Visit the site, www.dublintemplbarhotels.com to learn more about what they do.