Our trip to the seaport city of Charleston was relatively short as we arrived mid-afternoon and stayed for only one day before continuing south to Georgia.
This was one stop of many during our long awaited road trip as we went by some of the most well-known southern cities on our way to Missouri.
A true tale of love at first sight - Charleston's historical charm coupled with its warm, southern hospitality quickly made this town one of our favorite destinations during our entire trip.
An Afternoon in Old Charleston
The oldest city in South Carolina, Charleston was founded in 1670 as Charles Towne in honor of King Charles the II. Its history was deeply influenced by the Civil War and its remaining forts and former plantations tell the story of the town’s prosperity to its economic decline.
The town definitely has many stories to tell and it was fun to discover them as we made our way through the city.
Showcasing Georgian, Federal, Greek revival and Italianate architectures, Charleston still retains much of its old charm since many of its buildings and houses were spared from damage during the Civil War.
As soon as we arrived, we quickly grabbed a map and started exploring the town.
In a hurry to dive right in, we bypassed the several walking, carriage and trolley tours offered throughout town and decided to lose ourselves inside the small cobblestone streets that cut through the city’s thoroughfares.
King Street, the Fashion and Antiques Districts and the Old City Market, were some of the few spots we were able to see before nightfall.
Plantations and A Giant Oak Tree
The next morning, we set out to tour some of the historical plantations located just outside of the city. There are three plantations located along the Ashley River Scenic Byway: Middleton Place, Magnolia Plantation and Drayton Hall.
We only visited Middleton and then headed east to tour the famous Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens.
Middleton Plantation is one of the most beautiful landscaped gardens I have ever visited. We spent one hour exploring its grounds even though we knew we could easily stay a whole day touring all of its 65 acres.
Visitors can also tour Middleton’s 18th century mansion and listen to the costumed interpreters that work in the stable yards near the main house.
Almost one hour east of Charleston is Boone Hall Plantation, recognized for its famous Avenue of Oaks which leads into the entrance of its colonial mansion.
We decided to take a guided tour of the manor and then stay longer to appreciate the plantation’s history - this included learning more about its former slaves and their homes still present at the farm.
After spending almost two hours touring the farmland, we had one more stop to do before heading back to Charleston.
We drove west this time to visit a giant oak tree, better known as Angel Oak. The tree is regarded as one of the oldest living oaks in the country, dating more than 1500 years.
Getting Lost in the Historical Streets
Back in Charleston, we headed east towards the town's waterfront park and walked along its brick-laid footpath facing the calm waters of the Cooper River. Going south towards the tip of the city, we reached Rainbow Row which, as the name suggests, is lined with colorful historical houses.
A quick walk down East Bay Street brought us to Battery Park near the waterfront. The streets around this area - south of Hansell and Beaufain Streets - are where the bulk of the city’s historical homes can be found.
Calhoun Mansion, Edmonton-Alston House and Nathanial Russell House are some of the mansions opened for touring.
We chose to visit the Calhoun Mansion and were amazed at its preserved architecture and exquisite interior decor. The highlight of the tour was its history - the influence these families had over Charleston and how the city progressed from a Colony to present day.
Nearby is Meeting Street, lovely for a stroll due to its stunning historical homes, but also for connecting with interesting streets such as Gallery Row and the cobblestoned Chalmers Street.
If you are one to enjoy a nice sunset, Charleston is the place to be.
We spent our last evening in town watching the sunset. While Boston was having a huge blizzard, we were in Battery Park sitting on one of its benches and enjoying a 70 degree breeze with not a care in the world.
KEEP IN MIND
The Wrap-Up: Charleston is not only a place to relax but also a town filled with history. Even if you come to town not interested in its former past, it will be hard to escape: It is present along its cobbled streets, on its open markets and inside its numerous historical homes.
The Restaurant: Poogan's Porch Restaurant is located on Meeting Street, in the heart of the old town. Situated inside a revitalized historical home, this chef inspired restaurant may require a reservation. We were lucky we found a seat on a Tuesday afternoon in March - The place was packed! Their menu is focused on southern food, but with an upscale touch.