One of America's five largest and wealthiest cities during the Colonial era, dignified and well-preserved Charleston rewards you with history that you actually want to see: antebellum art and architecture as well as important sites related to the Revolutionary and Civil wars and the nation's early commercial and maritime histories. At the confluence of the Ashley and Cooper rivers, this city of 125,000 is flanked by a series of barrier beach communities abundant with swanky golf and spa resorts. This is the heart of South Carolina's fabled Lowcountry, a sweeping coastal landscape of undulating sand dunes and reedy salt marshes that's noted for its African-American Gullah culture and a beloved seafood-driven cuisine that combines Caribbean, African, and Southern traditions.
Charleston has won another travel honor.
Travel + Leisure Magazine on Monday named Charleston the friendliest city in the nation. The magazine also named the city tops in bed and breakfasts, inns and antique stores.
Last month, Charleston was listed among the nation's top destinations by readers of Conde Nast Traveler magazine. Charleston placed second behind San Francisco.
About 4 million people visit Charleston each year.
Charleston and the rest of the South Carolina coast are the heart of the state's $18 billion tourism industry.