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“Beautiful Place to Visit”
Review of Charleston

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Level Contributor
2 reviews
7 helpful votes
“Beautiful Place to Visit”
Reviewed October 25, 2008

Any person would be hard struck to find a place more filled with history than Charleston. From the start of the Civil War, to some of the finest old homes in the south. There is a wealth of things to do in and around Charleston. I will try to hit on just a few things to see that are interest to most visitors. The first thing that we noticed when getting to the heart of the city was its dedication to restoring the past splendor of the homes and buildings. In the area known as "SOB", or south of Broad St. are some of the finest homes that I have ever seen in one area. Considering the damage that was done to the area just a few years ago by hurricane Hugo the city is in great shape. The area seen in the picture here is adjacent to Battery Park. So named for the fortifications that were there during the Civil War. A few of the old cannons, and mortars can still be seen there. And the park is one of the most pleasantly appealing ones that I have seen with its sprawling oaks and cooling shade. One could enjoy an afternoon picnic there. A lot of things are in general vicinity of the park which is on Charleston harbor and the Ashley river. From the park you can see off in the distance Ft. Sumter where the first shots of the Civil war were aimed. Across from the park and up edge of the harbor is a row of houses that is called Rainbow Row for the many colors used there. Many of the most spectacular homes are near the park with a few open to the public for viewing. One of the most elegant homes open to view is the Calhoun Mansion on Meeting St. This 24,000 square foot Victorian manor was built in 1876 and features a 75 ft. domed ceiling with stairway. It is now owned by a local lawyer who bought the house 15 years ago for the price of $200,000. Why so cheap? Well it seems that the original owners son-in-law, the Calhoun that the house is named after squandered the fortune away. Eventually the house was sold to pay debts. After that it went through a series of owners. Each time being converted to a boarding house, a hotel, and even a officers quarters in WWII. The present owner has spent $15 million to renovate and furnish the home with some of the correct period furniture. It is open Thur.-Sun. 10-4 and there is an admission. Another is the Nathaniel Russell House also on Meeting St. Built in 1808 by a wealthy merchant the home features ornate interior detailing, and a "free flying" circular stairway along with lavish furnishings.

The Old City Market is another side trip that can't be missed. Built in 1841 it features small shops, lots of popular restaurants, and a flea market. Many a great bargain can be found there on paintings, antiques and souvenirs. Also in the Market area is where most of the horse drawn carriage rides start from. These rides take you through the historic area of Charleston and are quite relaxing and informative. You can also take a tour of the Ghosts of Charleston here. Getting away from the city you might want to take a ride to see some of the former plantation homes that are still in the area and are open for viewing. The one plantation that you might have seen in some part without ever having been there is Boone Hall. This 738 acre estate got its name from Major John Boone. A member of the first fleet of settlers who came from England in 1681. Major Boone received the land grant from the Lords Proprietor. Boone Hall was a cotton plantation in the 18th and 19th centuries, and covered more than 17,000 acres. It was once one of the world's largest pecan groves. Brick and tile used in the construction of the house, cotton gin house, slave cabins, walks and walls were handmade on the plantation. The famous 1/2 mile avenue of massive Spanish moss covered oaks is unsurpassed anywhere. The first trees were planted in 1743 by Capt. Thomas Boone. Although the house is not the original it is a copy of it built in 1935. Nine of the original brick homes that make up "slave street" still stand. Also some of the people still working there are the direct descendants of the slaves that once worked the plantation. Ok your saying to yourself, where have I seen this house before. Well probably a lot of places. One of the most visible was in the mini series North And South Parts I and II. This was the "Mount Royal Plantation" of the Maine Family. And the northern Hazards home was the before mentioned Calhoun mansion. The house has also been featured in National Geographic, Life, The Encyclopedia Britannica, a Disney documentary and a few more films making it the most photographed plantation in America.

Other Plantations in the area are Magnolia Plantation and Gardens which is adjoining Drayton Hall Plantation. Drayton Plantation was started in 1671 when Thomas Drayton came there from Barbados. The home dates from the 1870s and is open for tours. There is the home of Henry Middleton, President of the First Continental Congress; his son Arthur, a signer of the Declaration of Independence; his great-grandson Williams, a signer for the Ordinance of Secession. It has the oldest formal gardens in America. The house was built in 1755. One can see demonstrations by a blacksmith, potter, weaver, and carpenter in the stable yards there.

Also in the area is Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum. Here you can see the aircraft carrier Yorktown, the second aircraft carrier of its name. It is the length of three football fields, and houses exhibits of bombers and fighter planes on the hanger deck. You can also tour the submarine Clamagore, the Coast Guard cutter Ingham, the destroyer Laffey, a re-creation of a Viet Nam naval support base, and the Medal of Honor Museum there.

Other places to tour are Fort Moultrie, and Fort Sumter. Both are run by the National Park Service. Fort Moultrie is a $5 charge. It is a self guided tour of the fort that was in operation right up until the end of WWII. Fort Sumter has a fee for the boat tour to get there. You can also visit The Citadel during the school year on Fridays for the dress parade, there is also a museum of military artifacts there.

If staying in the city is not on your mind you might want to check out the many resort condos and rental homes on the surrounding islands. We have stayed on both Mount Pleasant, and Isle of Palms. Hotels in the area are reasonably priced and seem to be kept up nicely. There are a lot of homes to rent by the week, or month on, or near the ocean. Many condo rentals can be had in the gated community of Wild Dunes. This area features 2 golf courses, tennis courts, and miles of beautiful beach to relax on. Prices for these places start at around $1,400 and go up a lot for a week here, but you get what you pay for. Rental homes on the islands also start in the same price range and can be as high as $20,000 a week depending on location and size. Sounds like a lot but some of the homes can sleep as many 20 people. Now when it comes time to eat many people just cook there own meals in the homes kitchens. What a shame. Vacation is a time to try new things, and new foods. The area is famous for its low country cuisine. There is no shortage of places to try it at. Also many of the restaurants feature fresh caught seafood which seems to be crab. Yummy!! Just about anywhere you go there will be crab cakes and she crab soup on the menu. Shrimp and mahi mahi are also in abundance. Many of the meals feature rice, or grits. Such as shrimp and grits very tasty. There are quite a few places to eat in Mount Pleasant in the area of Shem Creek where some of the fishing boats dock. You can eat inside, or out at most places. You can even drive right up with your boat to eat. So if your looking for a bit more of a relaxed vacation Charleston and the outer islands could be your spot.

7 Thank travelerbum297
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
cincinnati ohio
Level Contributor
32 reviews
35 helpful votes
“a nice place to live...and visit.i didnt want to come home”
Reviewed September 5, 2008

i would have to say i loved charleston.never been to SC before.i would have to say though that i wish i would have brought bug spray.got eaten alive at the USS YORKTOWN.
but other than that everything was ok.had a wee bit of hurricane fay.
i loved the market...rainbow row, the many different places to eat.i would have to say i loved poogans porch.
the carriage rides were awesome too.they took the time to tell us about the city and certain movies that were shot in charleston.
the people that live there were very friendly.hopefully go back when its not so hot.went in august.
i would have to say the only problem i thought was seeing ft sumpter.we were only allowed one hour at the fort.there wasnt enough time to see the museum.we had to skim thru it.which im an avid civil war lass and to skim thru that was disappointing.didnt have time to see everything.but next time we will see what we missed this time.i loved the southern food....why cant we have that in the north? loved the houses down there on slightly north of broad or north of broad.
i did see alot of people walking their dogs.all friendly people too.

we did alot of walking.we stayed on east battery row so we had a perfect area to walk to our dinner.we didnt need to go out for breakfast since we stayed in a B&B.ironically we stayed in a haunted one.i didnt know that when we booked it.did experience something but it wasnt scary just heart warming.

the B&B served wine and cheese from 4 to 6.lemonade,cookies and cake served after breakfast.all day long too.
we had eggs,grits,bacon,toast,yogurt,cereal,coffee,tea,oj,bisquits...which to me was the best.....
when going to the palmer house look for the history of the house.they have a book about it.very interesting.look for the secret passageway.

talk to me if you want to know more about it.i give charleston 5 stars.


5 Thank civilwarbuff72
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kennebunkport, Maine
Level Contributor
9 reviews
10 helpful votes
“Charmed by Charleston”
Reviewed August 20, 2008

We were absolutely charmed by Charleston.

Charleston claims many “firsts” throughout history, founded in 1670, making it a true educational vacation – you can visit real plantations and trace the Revolutionary and Civil wars. And there is still plenty of time to hit the sandy beach or go boating along the southern coast...

Whether you are captivated by pirate antics and haunted houses, fascinated by armed forts and aircraft carriers, awed by antebellum mansions or just lured by local seafood – Charleston plays to all those times and tastes. History buffs – this is your haven. Charleston was “first” in key battles of the Revolutionary and Civil wars, inventions like the cotton gin, even exports of peanuts to pecans and tea originated here. Flower lovers will enjoy walking the brick and cobblestone streets ablaze with dogwoods and wisterias, or touring centuries-old estates featuring the country’s first formal gardens and grand old shady trees.

Bring your sneakers and a smile – Charleston is a great walking city, and probably the friendliest destination our family has ever visited (another first!). The folks here just ooze hospitality with their “sweet as pecan pie” southern accents.

We only had a week to dive into this delightful southern destination – not enough time to see all the sights - the plantations, historic homes and war batteries, but we packed a lot in since everything is close – with no crowds.

You must visit “the most photographed” Boone Hall Plantation – have your cameras ready for the grand half-mile entry, the splendid canopy of live oaks draped with Spanish moss transports you to a bygone era. Our kids were enticed that movies like “The Notebook”, “North and South” and Alex Haley’s “Queen” with Halley Berry were filmed here. But the elegant estate house, the crowded slave houses, with accompanying narrative about the work conditions on a true 17th century plantation, enthralled them. I too was amazed that this one plantation had exported everything from indigo, rice and cotton, brick and tile from the clay river beds, to pecans, grapes, berries and peaches.

Next we toured an authentic urban plantation in downtown Charleston, the Aiken Rhett House. Here our kids could glean what city life was like for a wealthy child in the 18th century, and conversely – what child slaves endured. Charleston’s past is one of pride and prosperity, while in the shadows are the roots of human bondage. Charleston was nicknamed “Ellis Island of Africans” as the port of entry of almost four million African slaves.

The Old Exchange Building and the Provost Dungeon in town tells the tales of Charleston being stormed by the British, French and Spanish in Revolutionary times. The Carolinians claim the Revolutionary War started here - Northerners have similar proclamations (let’s not go there again). South Carolinians plotted their succession from the Union here, the first state to do so, sparking the first shots of the Civil War (another Charleston first).

Mother Nature has also brought fury to this fine coastal community with earthquakes, fires, and Hurricane Hugo in 1989 – the destructive storm that locals now use a time reference: “before and after Hugo.” In spite of her turbulent past, Charleston remains as graceful southern lady - fanning off the havoc and bombardments she’s seen with a parasol and a tall pitcher of sweet iced tea.

Middleton Place, along the famed Ashley River, offered us more insights to 17th and 18th century plantation life of one of the wealthiest families who owned over 800 slaves. The beauty of the landscaped grounds and reflecting pools (which today hosts a family of alligators) speaks to the incongruities of our American history. More irony, our slave tour was led by a cheery blonde Chicagoan who stepped out of a Talbot’s catalogue – not the African American cultural immersion we had hoped for.

At the end of the slave tour, there was begging - from starving children, our own. All this talk of hardship made them hungry for Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Charleston’s memorabilia-filled eatery based on the movie “Forest Gump,” our family’s favorite flick.

Charleston has heaped a shrimp-boat size pile of food awards, the “low country” southern style fixins of crab, oysters and shrimp – y’all just have to try ‘em. Note: diet before and after your charge through Charleston. Savor a helping of She crab soup, gumbo, or the obligatory gravy-laden shrimp and grits - just like Washington did on his 1791 southern Victory tour.

Charleston also claims to be the most haunted city, an evening ghost and graveyard tour dishes more chills and shrills than any scary amusement park ride. For battle buffs, go to Patriots Point where you can tour the Yorktown aircraft carrier, battleships and a submarine. Then board the harbor tour to Fort Sumter- its a “muster.”

When the kids start to glaze over from too many history lessons, head to the islands, so to speak. Just a 15-minute ride from Charleston, over the longest cable stay bridge in the U.S. (The $700-million Ravenel Bride opened in 2002), and you are on the barrier islands surrounded by sandy beaches and palm trees.

We found Isle of Palms to be a great place to stay and play. The beaches are long and wide on the sea side, and the sunsets over the inter-coastal shore are splendid whether you’re at Morgan Creek’s rooftop bar, or on a boat rented from the local marina. There is plenty to do from riding bikes, paddling kayaks on the waterways, or swimming in the warm surf here or on neighboring Sullivan’s Island and Folly Beach.

When to go? The friendly South Carolinians told us that April and May, along with October and November are the best times to “beat it down” to Charleston. 75-degrees and sunshine is just right to walk these legend-filled streets, or step back in time with a horse drawn carriage ride along the picturesque painted homes of Rainbow Row.

If Disney’s been done, and you crave a bit more substance to your sojourn – check out charming Charleston. It’s an education vacation; the history here is rich and deep –like the southern drawl you’ll hear. You can have your beach-time too. And did I mention the friendliest people on the planet?

5 Thank SkiTravelLady
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Charleston, South Carolina
Level Contributor
17 reviews
8 helpful votes
“wonderful small town feeling”
Reviewed June 23, 2008

I have now lived/worked in Charleston for over 20 years and still love this place. Charleston is truly a small town when it comes to the people. Speak to a complete stranger in a bar or restaurant and you will know a person in common or be related somewhere down the line.

We have history. We have art. We have the water (ocean, rivers, creeks, harbor, etc). I do not recommend jet skis as you will miss so much of the beauty Charleston and its surrounding areas offer. When exploring the downtown historic district, walk or you will again miss so much. Definitely take a carriage tour. Visit a plantation. Take the harbor tour to Ft. Sumter. Go to the SC Aquarium. Definitely visit some of our sea islands. We have so much to offer.

We also have some of the best restaurants on earth. We have our own culinary school here and all the students work in our many local restaurants. If you can dream up an idea, someone here has already created it 10Xs better than you ever imagined. Those of us who live here have difficulty when trying to decide where to eat. :o)

4 Thank CitadelMom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Detroit, Michigan
Level Contributor
49 reviews
46 helpful votes
“Wonderful, Charming and Friendly City”
Reviewed April 22, 2008

They say this is the friendliest city in the United States. We did not come across one rude person the whole time we were there. Even the people who lived in the beautiful, historic houses were really nice to you if you were looking at the outside of their homes. It has to be one of my favorite places to visit. I will probably go back, and I normally don't just because there are too many places to visit.

The people that live there are very proud of their historic city. It is one of cleanest I have visited.

2 Thank DawnE
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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