Charleston, South Carolina was the last stop on my East Coast road trip. I didn’t really plan anything other than leisurely walks to soak in the 2,500 historic buildings and all the blooming flowers. I thought the open fruit stands and pastel-painted structures completed the charm of Charleston, but I soon learned that the Charleston charm is nonstop.
I observed large group tours and private walking tours were in abundance. Perhaps on the next visit, I’ll try a private tour. A carriage ride through the historic downtown seems romantic, however, I saw one horse carrying 17 people in 95°F heat. I will pass on the animal abuse here. #justsayneigh
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The Charms of Charleston in 48 Hours
I spent less than 48 hours in this charmer of a town. And I do declare, “I would be happy to visit here over and over and over!” I love the architecture and all the cute alleyways and perfectly manicured gardens. And the charm — like the Spanish Moss, it is everywhere, hugging Charleston and its visitors 24/7.
What to Do in Charleston, SC?
Here is the required shot of a visitor (me in a white summer frock!) on a path lined with trees dripping with Spanish moss. This was taken at Charleston Waterfront Park. The photo has not been altered … the scenery is that pretty. It’s cool under the Spanish Moss.
Looking Into the Four Red Doors
Gorgeous storefront, right? It’s not alone! Charleston’s streets are filled with artfully arranged exteriors. Each one beckoning to some inside and poke around. (Careful not to enter a residence!)
Follow the Red Brick Everything
Red brick is another symbol of Southern graciousness. Not only is it pleasing to the eye, but it is durable, lasts for generations, and masonry is a highly honed skill requiring patience and accuracy.
Southern Blues in Charleston
I think the best way to uncover a city’s soul is on foot. That’s how I came upon this blue beauty. Simple and eye-popping at the same time.
This nautical design accent fits perfectly with the building’s “tabby” construction material. Tabby is made from burnt oyster shells mixed with water, ash, and sand. It was used by early settlers along the southern eastern coast.
Those pastel-painted structures I mentioned earlier? This photo is worth at least 5,000 words. Would you call the hue on the left ecru or beige? Maybe biscuit because we’re in the South? Second to left, I’d call cream, or maybe linen or sand. What do you think? Considered a slum area following the Civil War, Rainbow Row, as this area now is called, began growing its colors in the early 1900s thanks to Susan Pringle Frost, who bought six of these homes and founded the Society for the Preservation of Old Dwellings, which is now known as the Preservation Society of Charleston. Concurrently, another woman, name unknown, bought and began renovating about 100 homes and painted them pastel pink. More fascinating history is available at Rainbow Row.
A Flair for the Modern, too
Don’t think Charleston’s design is all magnolia and mint julep inspired. This edifice reveals a modern sensibility that blends perfectly into the town’s traditional look. Notice the exposed brick layered with the concrete and lath.
Breakfast is the Most Important Meal of the Day
Millers All Day celebrates local eats, and breakfast is served all day. After all, it’s the most important meal of the day. Millers is a delightful place with its gleaming white décor and blue plate specials of Southern Hospitality. I enjoyed chatting with the bartender, who recommended the Blackberry Bellini cocktail. Definitely include Millers All Day when visiting Charleston and be sure to make reservations for the restaurant as far in advance as you can. This popular place books up over a month in advance! Try your luck at popping in for the Blackberry Bellini.
Whoa! — Hold Your Horses — NOT Charming
The clip-clop of horses on the Charleston streets is part of the area’s charm. And a carriage ride is a must-do for some visitors. It’s not uncommon to see horse stables in the city limits. That was fun and different. Equine sightings are common in New York City’s Central Park and mounted rangers or police patrol other towns and cities. Still, I found a special sweetness to Charleston’s horses and stables.
As you may well know, I am committed to responsible travel. Participating in this kind of activity went against my grain and thought it best to help prevent it. Has something upset you on your travels? Feel free to share. We all can learn from it.
If you have been to Charleston or when you do go, let us know what your favorite color of building is. And if you tried the Blackberry Bellini. Have a great trip! See you on the road.