Charleston is a "living museum" and history comes alive around every corner with cobblestone streets, narrow alleys and magnificent mansions. To get a good feel for the rich history of this city, your first stop should be the Historic District. Walk around, peeking in garden gates, soaking up the incredible architecture and feeling the sea breezes that come off Charleston Harbour.
It really is all about the architecture here. We have more 18th Century structures than any other city in the US. Charleston architecture covers everything from the early, early colonial to the grand antebellum. I would insist on a tour of the Nathaniel Russell House (c. 1808) with its round rooms, oval rooms and free-flying stair case up the center of the house. St. Michael's Church, where George Washington worshiped, is circa 1761. Tiffany stained glass windows, old box pews, and two signers of the Constitution of the US are buried in the churchyard. City Hall Council Chamber with its portraits of George Washington (done by John Trumbull), Andrew Jackson and President James Monroe is a beautiful room with the original councilman's desk from 1818.
After thoroughly exploring this district, I would suggest heading out to one of the plantations, about 25 minutes from the City. The closest is Boone Hall with its amazing avenue of oaks (almost 1 mile in length) and original slave cabins. Drayton Hall, Middleton Place (Arthur Middleton was a signer of the Declaration of Independence) and Magnolia Plantation are also nearby. The Plantations are what made Charleston the 4th largest city and the wealthiest (per capita income) by 1760. Visitors who traveled through Charleston often referred to the city as "Little London" in the new world. The merchants and tradesman were also prospering and made fortunes here. This success is reflected in the grand architecture throughout the city.
You can take a fabulous harbour tour to Fort Sumter (where the first shot of the American Civil War was fired). Charleston also has Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum just across the Ravenel Bridge in Mt. Pleasant. The USS Yorktowne (Fighting Lady of WWII) aircraft carrier is a museum. The Medal of Honor Winner's Museum was moved from New York to this ship seven years ago because so many WWII vets visit Charleston. We also have the Charleston Museum and a Confederate Museum.
As for shopping, we are becoming the "Palm Beach" of South Carolina with many, many boutiques offering antiques, fashion, jewellery, décor, etc. Most of these are on lower King Street. And Charleston has restaurants galore! Lowcountry Cuisine is our specialty and is a dressed up word for "soul food".
Clearly there's a lot for people to do in Charleston! If you’d like to chat with Linda about her city, you can get in touch with her here: Linda’s Private Charleston Tours.