Charleston, the darling of the South

Charleston is often called The Holy City because of the multitude of steeples that are part of the downtown skyline and because it was one of the only cities in the 13 original colonies that advocated religious tolerance.

Charleston has something for everyone. In addition to looking at antebellum plantations and beautiful architecture, you can get your supernatural fix by visiting the spooky old jail or cemetery on a walking ghost tour. If you want a vacation filled with waves and sand, you can travel 15 minutes from downtown historic Charleston and visit Folly Beach. Deciding where to start can be tough, so here are three elements that help make this South Carolina city a favorite Southern destination.

The Battery & White Point Gardens

White Point Gardens, originally named Oyster Point for its white oyster bank, is full of history and beautiful scenery. Sometimes referred to as Battery Park or simply the Battery, this waterfront promenade at the southern tip of the city provides an ideal setting to unwind or get your Civil War fix. The park provides a great view of Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War rang out. Infamous pirates like Stede Bonnet were hanged here in centuries ago. It also houses cannons and statues, and the area also has stately mansions.

Museum Mile

Founded in 1773, the Charleston Museum holds the title of America’s first museum. The museum houses an impressive collection of historic textiles and clothing, as well as artifacts representing the cultural and natural history of the area. Formerly a slave auction gallery, the Old Slave Mart Museum is thought to be the only remaining building related to its original purpose left in South Carolina. Charleston was once the South’s center of commercial activity, giving it strong ties to the slave trade business. Old Slave Mart was part of a complex that also contained a slave jail, kitchen and morgue. The museum now recalls the city’s role in interstate slave trade and the history of the building.While walking along Museum Mile, you can also view the home of the South Carolina Historical Society. You should also stop at the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, which was an important exchange and customs house as well as the prison that held pirates and American Revolution martyr Isaac Hayne. You can tour what is considered to be one of America’s most historic colonial public buildings.


Museum Mile is capped off by two historic mansions – the neoclassical Nathaniel Russell House at the southern point and the Aiken-Rhett House at the northern end. The Aiken-Rhett House gives an idea of slave life for urban slaves in Charleston. The kitchen, slave quarters and work yard still uphold their late 1850s appearance. The Nathanial Russell House features a seemingly free-flying spiral staircase and ornate interior.The area is full of lavish examples of antebellum life.

Located eight miles from downtown Charleston, Boone Hall Plantation and Gardens is one of the oldest working plantations in America, still producing crops after more than 320 years.Once called the “premier garden of the thirteen colonies,” the Magnolia Plantation, which was founded in 1676, has been enchanting visitors with its gardens since 1870. Middleton Place, another plantation favorite, includes America's oldest landscaped gardens, a house museum and stable yards.