There are those who say Charleston is the most picturesque city in America, and anyone who disagrees should get their eyes checked immediately. Located on the South Carolina coast where the Ashley and Cooper rivers converge, as the local joke goes, to form the Atlantic Ocean, Charleston is a town unlike any other, where fierce local pride is not only a cultural landmark but also a beacon of southern brilliance to the world.
Surrounded on three sides by water and shaded by palm trees and hanging Spanish moss, Charleston possesses an exotic flavor that sinuously embraces its historical architecture. Add the surrounding areas, filled with world-famous plantations, championship-caliber golf courses, and resort-like beaches and South Carolina’s best-kept secret becomes an ideal vacation spot for the whole family.
An experienced travel agent will help you plot an exciting course in and around Charleston, whether you plan to stay close to the Historic District, charter a fishing boat to drop anchor in the Gulf Stream, or shop for sweetgrass baskets and handmade crafts at the famous open-air market.
There are few places in America where you will find so many antique homes side by side, each painstakingly preserved with love and callous-handed dedication. During the spring, many of the private homes are open to the public, where a tour will win you a glass of sweet tea and a long chat with the owner. Other restored houses are run as museums all year. Strolling past these brightly painted houses and their windswept piazzas (Charlestonese for porches) is enough to thicken the air around you with History’s warm breath, teaching you to slowly inhale the life around you.
Charleston’s history lesson does not stop at the front stoop of these residences. Spires and steeples from 181 churches punctuate the skyline like an open box of giant crayons. Outside of God’s walls and into the footprints of past wars, Charleston’s military significance comes alive in nearby historic forts. These crumbling monuments to America’s bravery pinpoint the defining moments of some of the nation’s most important campaigns, including Ft. Moultrie, the site of the first decisive patriot victory of the American Revolution, and Ft. Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War still echo.
If beaches remind of you giant sand bunkers, then don’t forget your irons. Charleston was the site of America’s first golf club in 1786, with 19 local courses now wrangling players from around the globe. Players find the relaxing pace at these courses ideal, for with fewer golfers than in golf-specific destinations, players find choice tee times and an easygoing environment.
For those who believe that golf courses are just not green enough, then you’ll enjoy Charleston’s abundance of plantations and gardens. These horticultural delights offer a fascinating glimpse into the history and natural beauty of the low country, as the area around Charleston is known. One of the most palatial gardens can be found at Middleton Place, where 65 acres of landscaped terraces, ornamental ponds, and garden rooms are laid out with precise symmetry and balance, making this fabled land the most unique and grand garden of its time.
With so much to see and do around Charleston, contacting a travel agent is the best way to see and do it all. Historical sites and antebellum plantations next to resort-like beaches and championship golf courses—Charleston is two vacations in one.
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