Imagine this place – century-old, massive live oak trees, with sprawling branches, draped with silver-hanging moss. Over one thousand significant historic buildings and churches with over 400 steeples that dot the skyline. Regal historic homes that boast all the color palettes of the rainbow. Stately mansions and vast plantations. Rich in history – the city where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. Deep South warm and welcoming Southern hospitality. Exceptional accommodations and impressive, mouth-watering Lowcountry cuisine. There’s no wonder why Charleston, South Carolina is consistently voted one of our nation’s most beautiful cities and one of America’s favorite vacation destinations, year after year.
This southern girl decided I needed to check out this place because it just sounds magical and had all the things I love. It also sounds like the perfect romantic getaway, friend vacation, or mother-daughter trip.
Where to stay – we stayed at the luxurious Loutrel which is located in the heart of the historic French Quarter. The Loutrel is a new luxury boutique hotel. It has The Veranda Lounge, a private club room for guests, and a picturesque rooftop with spectacular city views. Here they serve hand-crafted cocktails and appetizers daily near sunset for guests. The botanical inspiration lends itself to a curated trendy décor. We enjoyed a beautifully appointed spacious room, delicious breakfast, outstanding staff, and the Loutrel’s captivating signature scent.
The activity choices are endless. As always, first on my list is to take a tour to get a broad-brush idea of the area and understand the lay of the land. Palmetto Carriage Works was ideal. In a horse-drawn carriage, we saw antebellum mansions, historic landmarks, and beautiful parks at a leisurely pace.
The iconic Pineapple Fountain at Waterfront Park is a must-see. This park is an eight-acre linear park and pier along the waterfront at Charleston Harbor. It features scenic tree-lined walkways, spectacular views of the harbor, and the famous Pineapple Fountain! The pineapple is a southern symbol of hospitality and it can be found on numerous wrought-iron gates, doors, and houses around Charleston.
Nearby are thirteen frequently photographed colorful homes in Charleston’s famed Historic District known as Rainbow Row. They look like a pretty watercolor painting and are an indelible part of the city’s character. The signature colors include shades of pink, yellow, green, and blue. And there are even more picturesque homes just down the road in an area called “The Battery.”
Charleston Plantations were an important aspect of the Southern economy, especially before the Civil War. Most of these plantations used slave labor to grow cotton, indigo, rice, and tobacco. Many of these century-old properties still exist today and are excellent places to learn about the past.
- Most well-known plantation – Boone Hall
- Best and oldest landscaped gardens – Middleton Place
- Best wildlife – Magnolia Plantation
- Best preserved plantation house – Drayton Hall
- Most unusual plantation – Charleston Tea Plantation
- Quick and free – Charles Pinckney National Historic Site
- Best of the best – McLeod Plantation Historic Site
It didn’t take long to determine why Charleston’s restaurant scene is ranked as one of the best in the country. Charleston has over 200 restaurants to choose from with several featuring James Beard Award-winning chefs and many earning AAA Four Diamond ratings. So, know you need to make your reservations early.
While historic Charleston is indeed a veritable living museum, it is also a bustling epicenter of culture, invigorating outdoor activity, and sumptuous dining that welcomes visitors from around the world, southern style. Charleston is truly charming!