Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

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Charleston Area Tours Carriage offers a slower paced visit. Photo: Charleston Area CVB

The history, well-preserved architecture and mannerly people make Charleston, South Carolina, one of the most adored cities in the world. Locals call it the Lowcountry—because the city is either at or below sea level—or the Holy City since no building can be taller than the tallest church steeple. Charleston’s accolades by well-known travel periodicals include being crowned the “Top Destination in the World,” and for three consecutive years it was named the “Top U.S. City.” Within ten miles of downtown exist three charming beaches: Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island and Folly Beach. If the radius is extended by ten miles tack on Kiawah and Seabrook Islands, two world-class golf destinations.

Charleston is the Cooperstown of American history—throw a rock and you’re bound to hit a notable Revolutionary or Civil War landmark. Charleston’s calendar is full with goings-on—sometimes triple booked—so a popular activity for Charlestonians is “staycationing.” April brings four major events, three of which occur on the first weekend of the month: the Family Circle Cup, a WTA Premier Event; the Cooper Bridge Run, the biggest and best organized 10K race in the world; and the Flowertown Festival, one of the largest arts and crafts festivals in the South. A week later is Charleston Race Week, one of the best-known regattas in the country.

To vacation in Charleston and not explore her waterways is just wrong—it’s tantamount to counting your layover in the Atlanta Airport as your one and only visit to the South. Charleston’s waterways are paradise. To the south is the Ashepoo-Combahee-Edisto (ACE) Basin, while to the north is the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. The ACE Basin is the largest estuary on the Eastern Seaboard. Half of the 66,000 acres in the Cape Romain Refuge are ranked as a Class I Wilderness, a designation reserved for the most pristine places. Boat a little further south or north of these areas and you’ll be in one of Charleston’s Sister Cities, Beaufort or Georgetown, the second and third oldest cities in South Carolina, respectively.