Charleston is America's favorite city and an internationally renowned gem for many reasons. Few are more important than its respect for its own history. Matter of fact, in 1783 Charleston established itself as a municipal government with the motto: "She guards her customs, buildings, and laws." And we are all the better for it. Are you ready to go back in time?
1. Discover the oldest museum in the United States. Founded in 1773 and a key cog of the city’s unique Museum Mile, the Charleston Museum, “has been discovering, preserving, interpreting, celebrating, and sharing ever since. Our collections, exhibitions, educational programs, and events are designed to inspire curiosity and conversation.” Don’t miss out!
2. Take a carriage tour. The leisurely pace, combined with proud, highly trained guides, make for an outstanding way to travel back in time through the streets of Downtown Charleston. Bring your camera and listen attentively. Better still, ask questions. After all, this is the South and patience dominates. My personal favorite happens to be the one that has been in Charleston the longest…Palmetto Carriage Works.
3. Bring the family to Boone Hall Plantation. Find out for yourself why USA Today recognizes Boone Hall as the #1 plantation in the Charleston area. They offer a wide variety of tours that educate and inform. Top it off with an ice cream from nearby Boone Hall Farms Market!
4. Tour Charleston from the water. Consider hopping aboard the Carolina Belle, the pride of Charleston Harbor Tours. In just 90 relaxing minutes, you will see more than 75 landmarks and points of interest. Much of the region’s history revolves around the water, so plan to do more than just look.
5. Walk the city’s streets with a knowledgeable guide. Get up close and personal with Rainbow Row, the historic waterfront Battery, hidden gardens, courtyards and graveyards as well as century-old courtyards. I suggest 2 hours of enjoyment with Bulldog Tours leading the way.
6. Enjoy Holy City history. You could easily make a day discovering for yourself why Charleston has long earned the name the Holy City. It is home to countless historic places of worship. Each possesses its own unique character and architectural brilliance. Regardless of your beliefs, you will be awed by structures that go back as far as the 1700’s. Each tells a story about the search for religious freedom, an unwavering principle held dearly to this day.
7. Become extra observant. Read the signs that tell about the region’s history. Don’t just walk by them. Take the time to observe the unique nuances of the city’s structures. Ask questions about the big bolts on the sides of historic homes or the front doors to nowhere that adorn a Charleston single. You are in Charleston. Soak it all in.
8. Break INTO jail. The Old City Jail. With the help of Bulldog Tours, you can roam the inside of this eerie structure that dates back to the start of the 19th century. After hearing and seeing for yourselves, you will quickly realize that its inmates were not exactly treated to country club amenities. You may even opt to take in an evening Haunted Jail Tour. You can make that historic decision on your own.
9. Don’t skip nearby Summerville. With over 700 historic homes and buildings and trees saved by the country’s first preservation law, the city known as the Birthplace of Sweet Tea tells a great deal of the eras gone by. As for a secret worth discovering…spend an afternoon visiting the Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site before grabbing a sweet tea for yourself in Summerville’s historic downtown.
10. If 300 years isn’t far back enough…the majestic and spectacular Angel Oak tree in John’s Island will capture your attention. Much history has been made reflecting and celebrating under the 2,000 square yard natural canopy. Awe-inspiring, it’s worthy of its own Top Ten list!
Great food. Wonderful weather. Gregarious residents. Beautiful beaches. Water sports. Great golf and tennis. Endless fun. Fabulous food. Charleston has it all.
But, respecting its own history is what sets it apart. It’s quite a story to be told. And appreciated. Don’t miss out on the chance to go back in time, in the best low-tech kind of ways!