Living in the Lowcountry, one never loses sight of the fact that Charleston is one of the most beloved vacation communities in the world. Historic downtown, a world renown restaurant scene, pristine beaches, cultural events, festivals, fishing, golf, boating and beautiful parks is just a short list of activities and attractions that Lowcountry residents have access to year-round.
Charles Towne Landing
The English settled up the Ashley River in Charles Towne. Ten years later, deciding that the point of the peninsula would be easier to defend and better for trade, they moved to the edge of the marsh. Eventually a wall was built around the town. Today, much of the area South of Broad is “made land” (landfill).
When the English sailed by this peninsula in 1670, the tip was marshy and covered in blanched white oyster shells, which is why it’s called white point.
When the Carolina and her passengers set sail from England to colonize Carolina, they stopped in Barbados, where they encouraged plantation owners and others to follow them to the new land. That is why we have many of the same plants and vegetation as Barbados.
Charleston Single House
Houses are only one room wide. Ceilings are painted blue to deter nesting insects. Joggling Boards are seen on porches. Good for courting couples and for rheumatism. Piazzas face South or West for breezes. Piazza floors are sloped down for rain to run off. After the earthquake of 1886, homes were retrofitted with long metal rods running the length of the building and capped with rod covers.
After the Civil War, there was little money for sprucing things up. It’s said that the North donated black paint but locals were hesitant to use the Yankee Paint. They found that mixing 2 parts “Yankee” black and 1 part “Rebel” yellow produced a dark green that has become Charleston’s signature color, especially for shutters.
Before landfill was added, these merchant stores were on the wharf. Back then it was a seedy, dangerous place. In the 1920’s, people began restoring the rundown buildings, painting the exteriors in pastel colors. This project led to the restoration of the rest of Charleston and the birth of the Charleston Preservation Society, which was the first in the nation.
A symbol of hospitality. Legend has it that sea captains sailing the Caribbean came home with exotic fruits. A captain would spear a pineapple on his fence post to let friends know he was home safely and to please visit. He would then serve food and drink, and regale visitors with tales of the high seas.
Charleston calls itself the “holy city” because of its many places of worship and skyline full of church steeples. It was one of the few cities in the original thirteen colonies to provide religious tolerance, albeit restricted to non-Catholics. Many Huguenots found their way to Charleston. Charleston was also one of the first colonial cities after to welcome Judaism.
St. Philip’s and St. Michael’s Episcopal Church
St. Philip’s was “the” church for the first settlers. Those not of Anglican faith were “dissenters”. St. Michael’s split from St. Philip’s after the parish became too large, and St. Philip’s was rebuilt in its present spot. Many famous people were buried here and across the street in the “strangers churchyard”. Even in death, John C. Calhoun kept falling in and out of favor and was moved back and forth across the street.
Meeting Street is where all the original non-Anglican Churches were founded as “meeting houses.” Charleston is the Holy City because of it’s historic tolerance for all faiths, but the regulations at the time forced them to only have one official “church” in town.
Four Corners of Law
At the intersection of Meeting and Broad Streets is the Courthouse (state law), City Hall (civil law), U.S. Post Office (federal law) and St. Michael’s Church (God’s Law).
Language, made official in 1939, is a creole-based language with English as its main base. African Americans in the Lowcountry created this language and culture, and the word may have come from the Gola or Gora Tribes of Angola.
African Americans brought basket-making skills to the plantations from West Africa. Sadly, sweetgrass is becoming scarce and the young aren’t eager to learn the tradition.
The first battle of the Civil War took place at Fort Sumter in the Charleston Harbor. The war is known to Charlestonians as the “War Between the States”, “War of Northern Aggression”, “War for Southern Independence”, “Recent Unpleasantness”, and “The War of Great Difficulty”.
The Exchange and Provost Building
The Exchange and Provost was built in 1767. The building features a dungeon which held various signers of the Declaration of Independence and hosted events for George Washington in 1791 and the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1788.
Horse Drawn Carriage Ride
Walk the Battery and Soak in the History
First Friday Art Walk
Sullivan’s Island to Sit Outside at Poe’s Tavern
Double Header: Aquarium and the Children’s Museum
Catch a Concert at the Cistern during Spoleto
The Finale of Spoleto at Middleton Plantation and Fireworks
People-watch, Shop and Eat Hot Pralines Along the Market
Rent a Kayak and Spend the Day Exploring the Rivers and Marshes
Shop the Boutiques on King Street
“Bar Hop” at Shem Creek
Surf and Fish at Folly Beach
Golf at Kiawah Island (The Ocean Course, of Course)
Cocktails at a Rooftop Bar
Watch a Fully-Functioning Container Port (nerds only)
Attend an Oyster Roast
Mimosas, Jazz and Sunday Brunch at High Cotton
See a Charleston Battery Soccer Match at Blackbaud Stadium
Stroll Through the Gardens at Middleton Place
Take in the Family Circle Tennis Cup on Daniel Island
Take the Boat to Fort Sumter
Have Tea at Charleston Place in the Thoroughbred Room
Rent a Boat… and Explore for a Day
Watch the Sun Set Over Bohicket Creek
Catch a Free Family Movie at Waterfront Park
Sunday Service at a Historic Church Downtown
Spend a Night in the Wentworth Mansion Hotel
Swim in the Rooftop Pool at the Mills House
Spend the Day at the Charleston Air Show
See the Holiday Festival of Lights at the James Island County Park
Take in a Game at “The Joe” and See the RiverDogs
Sample the Menu at the Bar at McCrady’s
Tour a Historic Mansion and Hang Out in a Secret Garden
Get Invited to a Party at a Mansion on the Battery
Start Your Day on Daniel Island and End Your Day on Seabrook Island
Friday Afternoon Military Dress Parade Featuring the South Carolina Corps of Cadets