charleston

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Overview

Charleston is a port city known for its cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages, and pastel antebellum houses, particularly in the elegant French Quarter and Battery districts.

History

Founded in 1670 as Charles Town in honor of King Charles II of England, Charleston played a major role in American history, especially during the colonial and Civil War periods.

Culture

Charleston boasts a diverse cultural heritage, attributable to its history of African, French, English, and Caribbean influences, reflected in its architecture, food, and traditions.

Interesting Facts

  • Charleston is often ranked as one of the best cities in the U.S. by travel magazines.
  • The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge is one of the longest cable-stayed bridges in the Western Hemisphere.
  • The historic Charleston City Market is one of the oldest public markets in the United States.
  • The city is known for its 'Charleston style' homes, with porches called 'piazzas'.
  • Charleston was the wealthiest city in America during the colonial period.
  • The first game of golf played in the United States took place in Charleston.
  • The city has a significant Gullah cultural presence, descendants of enslaved Africans with a unique culture and creole language.
  • Charleston's Pirate House was once a frequent stop for Blackbeard and other pirates.
  • The 'Charleston dance' originated here in the early 20th century.
  • The city was the capital of the South Carolina colony and later the first state capital.
  • Charleston was home to the first public college, the first museum, and the first playhouse in America.
  • The city is known for its ironwork, handcrafted by enslaved African Americans in the 18th and 19th centuries.
  • The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, is located in Charleston and has a rich military history.
  • Charleston has survived numerous natural disasters, including earthquakes, fires, and hurricanes.
  • The Spoleto Festival USA, held annually in Charleston, is one of the world's major performing arts festivals.

Expert Advice

  • Take a guided tour of the historic district to understand the rich history.
  • Visit during the spring for the annual Festival of Houses and Gardens.
  • Try the local cuisine, particularly seafood and Lowcountry classics.
  • Explore the city by bike or on foot to appreciate the antebellum architecture.
  • Plan a visit to Fort Sumter National Monument, where the Civil War began.
  • Take advantage of the free trolley for convenient transportation around downtown.
  • Spend some time at the Charleston City Market for unique souvenirs and local crafts.
  • Don't miss the opportunity to see a performance at the Dock Street Theatre, America's first theatre.
  • Schedule a visit to one or more of the historic plantations in the area.
  • Relax on one of the nearby beaches, such as Folly Beach or Sullivan's Island.

People on Budget

  • Take advantage of the many free points of interest, like the Battery and Waterfront Park.
  • Look for accommodation in neighboring towns or during off-peak seasons.
  • Explore the city on foot or by using the free trolley to save on transportation costs.
  • Visit restaurants during happy hours or opt for places away from the main tourist areas.
  • Check for free events or festivals happening during your visit.

Emergency Details

  • Police Department: 911 or +1 (843) 577-7434
  • Fire Department: 911 or +1 (843) 720-1981
  • Medical Emergencies: 911 or +1 (843) 724-7311
  • Charleston Visitor Center: +1 (843) 853-8000
  • Emergency Roadside Assistance: Dial *HP (if on a highway in SC)

Weather

Charleston experiences a humid subtropical climate, with mild winters, hot and humid summers, and significant rainfall throughout the year.

Ideal time to visit

The best times to visit Charleston are from March to May or from September to November when temperatures are mild.

Top Places to Visit in charleston

charleston caters to all tastes. Below, we have picked some crowd favorites. Prepare for memorable experiences that will leave a lasting impression:

  • Explore the historic district and its beautiful homes and gardens.
  • Visit Fort Sumter National Monument to learn about the Civil War.
  • Stroll around Waterfront Park and the famous Pineapple Fountain.
  • Take a harbor tour to see the city from the water.
  • Enjoy the vibrant colors of Rainbow Row's historic houses.
  • Discover the art at the Gibbes Museum of Art.
  • Relax on the beaches of Sullivan's Island or Folly Beach.
  • Learn about the Gullah culture and history.
  • Shop for local goods and souvenirs at the Charleston City Market.
  • Attend one of the many festivals, like the Spoleto Festival USA.
  • Tour the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, one of the oldest in the South.
  • Taste your way through the city's renowned restaurants and culinary tours.
  • Visit the Angel Oak Tree, estimated to be 400-500 years old.
  • Take a ghost tour to learn about the city's haunted history.
  • Go kayaking or paddleboarding in the marshes and waterways surrounding Charleston.
Image for The Battery and White Point Garden

The Battery and White Point Garden

Historic landmark with spectacular views

Image for Nathaniel Russell House

Nathaniel Russell House

Discover the Southern Elegance

Image for Rainbow Row

Rainbow Row

Rainbow of Architecture

Top Places to Eat in charleston

charleston boasts a plethora of exceptional dining choices. Below, we highlight a few must-try options not to be missed during your visit. Prepare to savor the culinary delights that await you:

  • Shrimp and Grits: A traditional Lowcountry dish made with fresh shrimp and creamy ground corn.
  • She-Crab Soup: A rich soup made with crab meat, crab roe, and sherry.
  • Fried Green Tomatoes: A Southern classic featuring unripe tomatoes coated in cornmeal and fried.
  • Lowcountry Boil: A one-pot meal containing shrimp, sausage, corn, and potatoes.
  • Oysters: Enjoy them raw, steamed, or fried from the surrounding waters.
  • Pimento Cheese: A spread made with cheese, mayonnaise, and sweet red peppers.
  • Charleston Red Rice: A flavorful side dish made with tomatoes, rice, and bacon.
  • Hoppin' John: A comfort food dish made from black-eyed peas and rice, often served with collard greens.
  • Benne Wafers: Thin, crispy cookies made with sesame seeds.
  • Po'Boys: A traditional sandwich from the South, usually with fried seafood or roast beef.
  • Cornbread: A Southern staple, often served sweet or savory.
  • Peach Cobbler: A dessert made with peaches and a biscuit-like topping.
  • Frogmore Stew: Similar to Lowcountry Boil, it's another name for the same delicious dish.
  • Collard Greens: Slow-cooked with ham hocks, vinegar, and spices.
  • Sweet Tea: The quintessential Southern drink, served ice cold and very sweet.

Callie's Hot Little Biscuit

476 1/2 King St, charleston

Brunch, Southern Food

Eli's Table

129 Meeting St, charleston

Fine Dining, Brunch, Southern Food

Poogan’s Porch

72 Queen Street, charleston

Fine Dining, Brunch, Southern Food

Toast All Day

155 Meeting St, charleston

American (new), Brunch, Southern Food

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