I regularly visit my home town to enjoy it’s many splendors and remind myself of how relaxing life can be. Sipping home-made sweet tea as I sit on the dock with my feet dangling in the salty water, I wonder if it’s possible for an outsider to enjoy this way of life. As the afternoon thunderstorms roll in over the inter-coastal waterways I ponder if the humidity and mosquitoes are just a barrier to keep the tourists from deciding to move in.
Should you find yourself walking late at night in downtown Charleston you may suddenly feel as though you are not walking through a historic town, but rather another time. The sweet wetness of the air has a way of locking in the past and maybe a few ghosts as well. It’s easy to see how writers like Edgar Allen Poe, Alexandra Ripley, Dubose Heyward, and Pat Conroy were inspired by the town’s many charms.
If you’re looking for a summer intercontinental getaway I highly recommend you hop a flight and enjoy one of the city’s wonderful bed and breakfasts or charming hotels. Below are some recommendations for your journey. Ya’ll Enjoy and post your recommendations in the comments!
Middleton Place: Spend a day exploring one of America’s earliest plantations! Middleton Place is an 18th century rice plantation and National Historic Landmark comprising 65 acres of America’s oldest landscaped Gardens, the Middleton Place House Museum and the Plantation Stableyards. The Gardens reflect the elegant symmetry of 17th century European design. Sculpted terraces, parterres, and reflection pools inhabited by swans are highlights of their intricate design. Rare camellias bloom in the winter, while vibrant azaleas blanket the hillside above the Rice Mill Pond in the spring. Don’t forget to visit the many animals on the wonderful farm at the back of the property. The lambs graze freely here to trim the grass.
Shem Creek: Rent a boat or take an afternoon sail from the docks. Revel in glorious sunsets over Charleston Harbor as you enjoy a stroll on the docks. Enjoy one of the many dock-side restaurants for the freshest sea food straight from the sea.
The Spoleto Festival: A true summer highlight for Charleston! Considered America’s premier international performing arts festival, Spoleto Festival USA (May 24 – June 9, 2013) fills Charleston, SC’s historic theaters, churches and outdoor spaces with over 140 performances by world-renowned artists and emerging performers in opera, theater, dance, chamber, symphonic, choral, bluegrass, and jazz music.
Waterfront Park: A Beautiful park at the heart of downtown Charleston. Enjoy a picnic in the grass overlooking the waterway or swing on one of the many pier’s lounge swings. Also, features many fountains and even a few you can play in!
Dock Street Theater: This is a theater I hold close to my heart. It’s the oldest theater in America and the stage on which I first performed. The Historic Dock Street Theatre (soon to enter its fourth century as the heart of Charleston’s artistic life) is home to many of the City’s finest cultural institutions including Spoleto Festival USA. Charleston Stage, which became the resident professional theater at the Dock Street Theater in 1978, produces over 120 performances each season and plays to more than 40,000 patrons annually.
Walking, Ghost, and Carriage Tours: Enjoy a walking tour to view colonial churches and graveyards, historic parks with monuments and cannons, cobblestone streets, classic architectural styles, wrought iron gates, gardens and flowering trees, old taverns and wharves, earthquake plates and fire marks, former cotton warehouses and factories, alleys famed for pirates and duelists, and incredible views and stories of famed Charleston Harbor. There are also many carriage and ghost tours.
Folly Beach: Fondly referred to by locals as the “Edge of America”. From painted sunrises and sunsets, to rich history, good food and expansive beaches. This laid back beach town is a good option if staying downtown.
Sullivan’s Island: Proud to call this island my home! The beaches are pristine and very relaxed during most months of the year. You will see many dolphins, turtles, manatees, and beautiful birds from the shores of this tiny island. Enjoy the islands many wonderful restaurants and bars. Please pick up your trash and leave quietly when you’re done enjoying my lovely home! 😉
Isle of Palms: For a busier beach scene check out this island next door to Sullivan’s. Conveniently located at the foot of the Isle of Palms Connector, this island offers a dunes boardwalk with showers and restrooms, a sand volleyball court, many restaurants and bars along the main strip.
Market Square: Part flea market, part craft fair, part foodie market this is a key destination for great souveinors and gifts for loved ones.
Wonder Works: My Dad, Dan Morrisey founded this store with his partner Christine Osborne in 1990. This magical store sells toys for all ages of imagination. There are several store locations throughout Charleston with one small boutique version in the market square downtown. Check it out!
Mac and Murphy: A great stationary store that carries local brands like Sideshow Press, Ink Meets Paper Press, and Proud Mary as well as fun national brands like Kate Spade and Rifle Paper Co. Whether you’re in the market for a pretty new planner, a calendar, or a card the recipient will never want to throw away, you’ll find it here.
Utopia: Located on Broad Street, Utopia is an eclectic boutique situated amongst great restaurants, and art galleries. They always have unique pieces for women’s wardrobe.
Hand Picked: You’re not truly southern till you have something monogrammed! This boutique also offers some great non-southern belle jewelry for affordable prices from local artists and jewelers.
Artist and Craftsman Supply: A staple for creatives traveling through the city. Stop in here to grab some tools/materials for your lowcountry inspired projects.
House of Sage: An fun eco-friendly boutique for men, women, and the home in downtown Charleston.
Rebekah Jacob Gallery: A fabulous gallery on upper King Street in Charleston. The principal focus of this gallery is the representation of an international group of contemporary artists whose diverse practices include painting, sculpture, works on paper, photography and video.
(not gonna go on and on about why you should try these restaurants. You will have a hard time finding a bad meal in Charleston.)
Cru Cafe: Easily my favorite new restaurant in Charleston. You cannot miss on any of their dishes. Reserve a seat on the porch.
Grocery: A new farm to table option in downtown Charleston. This was a highlight meal on my last trip. Fresh, delicious, family style portions.
Peninsula Grill:The best of the best in fine dining. Everything is exquisite. You MUST have the coconut cake.
Fig: A cafe/bistro style setting serving up a delicious homage to low country foods.
The Wreck: Sawdust floors, fried fish, hush-puppies, and cold beer. If you can find this hidden Shem Creek gem you will be glad you came!
Wild Wing Cafe: You’ve never had wing flavors like these!
Sullivan’s: An island staple. You will even see a painting of my house on one of the walls! Enjoy southern classics and fresh seafood in this wooden hideaway. It’s on Sullivan’s Island just up the block from the park on middle street.
Hominy Grill: If ya leave without trying grits then you didn’t try the south! Have a late brunch here and enjoy the southern classics.
Boiled Peanuts: Lastly, don’t be afraid to try some delicious boiled peanuts from one of the road side stands.
Rooftop at The Vendue Inn
The Gin Joint
More Info Via Wikipedia:
Charleston is the oldest and second-largest city in the southeastern U.S. state of South Carolina, the county seat of Charleston County, and principal city in the Charleston–North Charleston–Summerville Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city lies just south of the geographical midpoint of South Carolina’s coastline and is located on Charleston Harbor, an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean formed by the confluence of the Ashley and Cooper rivers.
Founded in 1670 as Charles Towne in honor of King Charles II of England, Charleston adopted its present name in 1783. It moved to its present location on Oyster Point in 1680 from a location on the west bank of the Ashley River known as Albemarle Point. By 1690, Charles Towne was the fifth largest city in North America, and it remained among the ten largest cities in the United States through the 1840 census.
Known for its rich history, well-preserved architecture, restaurant community, and mannerly people, Charleston has received a large number of accolades; they include “America’s Most Friendly [City]” by Travel + Leisure in 2011 and subsequently Southern Living magazine naming Charleston “the most polite and hospitable city in America”.