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Category: Mt. Pleasant

Experience the Holidays in Historic Charleston

Holidays in Historic Charleston, College of Charleston

The holidays in historic Charleston are full of festive parades, Christmas lights, and holiday art performances!  If you’re planning to visit Charleston during the holidays, you’ve made the right choice.

Visiting Charleston in the winter is a great way to escape the cold, and there is no shortage of fun holiday activities for the entire family to enjoy. Whether you want to relax in a beach vacation rental and sip hot cider or explore historic Charleston and take part in the seasonal festivities, the city is a great place to usher in the magic of the holiday season.

Ready to kick off the holiday season, Holy City-style? Here are some of the best ways to experience the holidays in Historic Charleston:

Charleston Holiday Parades

Craft brews, delicious food, live music, and family-friendly activities can all be found at one of the many holiday parades in Charleston this year. Here are a few that can’t be missed:

City of Charleston Holiday Parade
When: December 3, 2017 at 3:00 p.m.
Where: Colonial Lake, Broad Street, King Street, and concluding at Marion Square

The Holiday Parade is one of Charleston’s best traditions. Hosted by the City of Charleston and the Charleston Fire Department, the parade will feature bands, performers, floats, and other entertainment to celebrate the season and get your family into the holiday spirit.

Holidays in Historic Charleston, Boat Parade

Holiday Parade of Boats
When: December 9, 2017, 5-8 p.m.
Where: Charleston Harbor

Another beloved Lowcountry tradition, the 36th Annual Holiday Parade of Boats offers a dazzling display of lights as boats decorated for the season sail past the viewing docks.
Part of the fun is attending the parade’s official viewing party! Located at the Charleston Maritime Center, guests can snack on festive foods and listen as their favorite holiday carols fill the air.

Small Town Beach Parades
Are you staying in a cozy beach vacation rental? You’ll want to experience at least one beach town parade during the holiday season.

One that can’t be missed is the annual Christmas Parade on Folly Beach. On December 9th, Santa will parade through the streets of Folly Beach as candy and other goodies are handed out to the kids.

Staying in the Town of Mount Pleasant? Check out their quaint parade. A tree-lighting and fireworks display will kick things off before more than 100 floats parade down Coleman Boulevard, delighting all who attend.

28th Annual Holiday Festival of Lights
There is no doubt about it—Charleston has some of the best festivals in the country. From Spoleto to the Lowcountry Oyster Festival, there is always something to look forward to, and the Holiday Festival of Lights is no exception.

Now in its 28th year, the Annual Holiday Festival of Lights is back and promises to deliver more excitement than ever before. Held at James Island County Park, the event is known for its three miles of stunning, multicolored light displays, and it has been named one of the “10 Best Holiday Light Shows in America” by USA Today.

The festival is more than just a driving tour; the Holiday Festival of Lights organizers welcome visitors to park their cars and explore the large, decorated walking path, visiting shops and partaking in holiday activities along the way.

The event runs from November 10th to January 1st, giving you ample opportunities to experience a magical evening that will create cherished memories for years to come.

Tree-Lighting Ceremonies in Charleston

Tree-lighting ceremonies mark the beginning of the holiday season for many people, and Charleston kicks things off with multiple tree lightings. From the official Charleston tree lighting to the celebration of Chanukah, the following tree-lighting ceremonies are sure to dazzle and delight the entire family:

Holidays in Historic Charleston, Marion Square

Charleston Official Tree Lighting
When: December 3, 2017 at 4:30 p.m.
Where: Marion Square
If you thought Charleston’s church steeples were a beautiful sight, imagine a 64-foot lighted tree against Charleston’s skyline. Attend early to experience the festive performances from music and arts organizations in Marion Square, which will culminate the lighting of the 64-foot Holiday Tree of Lights.

Chanukah in the Square
When: December 17, 2017 at 4:30 p.m.
Where: Marion Square
This festive party is free and features music, dancing, and, of course, the lighting of the nine-foot Menorah. Charleston’s local Holocaust survivors continue the tradition of lighting the Menorah in this special Jewish celebration.

With special treats, including potato latkes and other traditional Chanukah foods, you will want to bring your appetite to this event!

Kwanzaa Kinara Lighting
When: December 26, 2017 at 5:00 p.m.
Where: Marion Square
For more than 40 years, Charleston has kicked off Kwanzaa celebrations with a special lighting of the Kwanzaa Kinara in downtown Charleston at Marion Square. Join the community in the celebrations and enjoy music, dancing, and readings from Lowcountry Kwanzaa leaders.

Light the Lake
When: December 1, 2017 at 5:30 p.m.
Where: Colonial Lake Park
Stop by one of Charleston’s most popular parks for the Colonial Lake Christmas Tree Lighting! Enjoy food trucks and hot cocoa and a DJ playing your favorite holiday tunes as the famous Charleston Christmas Tree is lit in the middle of the lake, glimmering for all to see.

Holiday Performing Arts

Charleston has boasted a thriving arts scene for years. From improv comedy to musical performances, the Holy City always has fine performances being held in one of its historic venues.

The holidays are the perfect time to catch a festive show with the family. Whether you want a family-friendly musical performance or wish to celebrate the season with your significant other, these shows are sure to be a delight:

Annie – Dec. 1 – 17
For a family-friendly performance, be sure to catch Annie at the Footlight Players Theatre on Queen Street. This musical will warm everyone’s heart with the tale of a little orphan girl’s quest to find her family.

A Christmas Carol –  Nov. 29 – Dec. 20
Presented at the historic Dock Street Theatre, the Charleston Stage brings the critically acclaimed musical adaption of Charles Dickens’ classic holiday tale to life this year. Prepare to be dazzled by colorful costumes, a live orchestra, and a professional cast that will help you ring in the holidays.

Holidays in Historic Charleston, Santa

A Christmas Story, The Musical –  Dec. 22 – 24
Laugh along with the entire family with the hilarious tale of Ralphie Parker’s desperate quest to get an official Red Ryder Carbine-Action 200-shot Range Model Air Rifle. Directed by Tony Award winner John Rando, this new Broadway musical will be coming to the North Charleston Performing Arts Center just in time for Christmas.

Holiday Strings –  Dec. 13
The Charleston Symphony Orchestra (SCO) string quartet is sure to get you into the holiday spirit with Holiday Strings, a performance featuring your favorite holiday tunes. Held at the historic Charleston Library Society on King Street, don’t miss your chance to mingle with the musicians at the reception following the concert.

Nutcracker – Dec. 2 – 3
This holiday classic has become synonymous with Christmas and is now a treasured holiday tradition for fans of ballet. Take in the magical sights and sounds at the Charleston Gaillard Center this December and witness the adaptation of Tchaikovsky’s famous composition.

Holiday Cabaret, Dec 1-22
Stuffed with your favorite holiday songs, Charleston’s best original Christmas show is bound to get you singing along. Hosted by the Charleston Performing Arts Center, this cheery cabaret brings C-PAC’s signature Reindeer for pure, holiday fun. Check out their “Dinner and a Show” tickets for a mouth-watering 3-course dinner at Edison, followed by the show at the theatre!

Holiday Runs for Charity Organizations

The holidays are a time to partake in charitable giving. What better way to give back than by signing up for a holiday race?Get some healthy exercise and give back this holiday season by participating in one of these holiday runs:

4th Annual Cocoa Cup 5K
Presented by Fleet Feet Sports, the 4th Annual Cocoa Cup 5K is charitable fun for the entire family. Whether you’re running with your kids in the one-mile kid’s fun run or tackling the 5K, you’ll get a warm feeling inside at the end of the race. Whether this feeling is from the complimentary hot cocoa you get at the finish line or from supporting the Lowcountry Food Bank, we can’t be certain.

27th Annual Reindeer Run – Dec. 2
Run through the lower peninsula of downtown Charleston in this family-oriented, pet-friendly race! Presented by Half-Moon Outfitters, the 5K run/walk starts near the corner of East Bay and Queen Street, taking participants along the beautiful Charleston Battery. Funds generated from the Reindeer Run will help build the new MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital that will open in 2019.

2017 Jingle Bell Run – Dec. 9
Support the Arthritis Foundation this holiday season by racing in the Jingle Bell Run. This run will help raise awareness and funds for America’s #1 cause of disability.
Held at Riverfront Park, you can run with a team of friends and family or fly solo, with 100 percent of your registration fee going toward a great cause!

Other Holiday Happenings

It’s impossible to list all the fun events during the holidays in historic Charleston.  If you’re looking for a few more festive events to do in the Holy City, these are some of our recommendations:

Holiday Market at Marion Square
Take advantage of Charleston’s mild weather and venture through the Holiday Market at Marion Square. In addition to the regulars, holiday vendors will feature festive foods, art, and produce. Listen to the live band, take part in the Christmas carols, and let the kids get free visits and photos with Santa.

Holidays in Historic Charleston, Edmonston Alston

Christmas 1860 at the Edmondston-Alston House
On a regular day, stepping inside the Edmondston-Alston House will have you feeling as though you’ve traveled back in time. On Dec. 1 and 8, the historic house will be decorated like it would have been in 1860, allowing you to experience Christmas in Charleston just before the beginning of the Civil War.
For history buffs, this one is a can’t miss. The theatrical performers are adorned in period costumes and shed light on what life would be like before their lives would forever change.

Family Yuletide in the Stableyards
On Saturday, December 15, historic Middleton Place presents “Family Yuletide in the Stableyards,” a holiday favorite for families in Charleston. Gather around a warm fire for a night of storytelling, caroling, and craft demonstrations. The live nativity scene featuring the plantation’s animals is always a favorite feature, along with the delicious hot cider and seasonal refreshments.

Holiday Market and Craft Show
Whimsical crafts, baked goods, and homemade preserves can all be found at the annual Holiday Market & Craft Show at the Mount Pleasant Farmers Market Pavilion. Stop by on December 9 and find a treasured, holiday keepsake ornament to take home with you from one of the many local craftsmen and artists.

Wine Under the Oaks at Boone Hall Plantation
Looking for a fun date night activity? Buy your tickets to Wine Under the Oaks at Boone Hall and celebrate the season with delicious food and wine pairings, along with wine and cooking demonstrations by some of the finest chefs in Charleston. The plantation looks stunning with all its holiday decorations, making it a night you’ll always remember.

Holidays in Historic Charleston, Christmas Parade

Final Notes

With its mild weather and lighter crowds, the holidays are the perfect time for you to explore everything that Charleston has to offer. Whether you are a local or simply visiting the Holy City, there are many holiday activities that will bring joy to the entire family.

Best Family Activities in Charleston

family activities in charlestonPlanning a family vacation in Charleston? You’ve made the right choice. Named No. 1 city in the world by Travel + Leisure magazine, this jewel of a city has become a top tourist destination in the United States.

With its reputation for incredible food, pristine beaches, historic buildings, and beautiful parks, you probably know that there is an unending number of things to see and do in the Holy City, but which family-friendly activities should you consider for your next vacation?

To make things easier, we’ve rounded up a list of the best family activities in Charleston that will make your trip unforgettable. Whether you want to get a taste of Colonial history or splash around in the famous Pineapple Fountain, the Holy City is guaranteed to be a hit with the entire family.

Before your family explores the beautiful city of Charleston, make sure to stop by the Visitor Center downtown and pick up a free passport for the kids. They will have a blast collecting stamps at the most popular attractions in the area!

activities in charleston

Beat the Heat at the South Carolina Aquarium  

Charleston summers can get hot, but you can escape the heat by visiting the South Carolina Aquarium. Though it may be small, it is well-curated, and you should expect to spend a couple hours here to see everything it offers visitors.

Along with some great educational exhibits that the entire family will enjoy, the aquarium also has fun hands-on exhibits, including a touch tank for kids and knowledgeable staff members around to answer all of their questions.

Highlights of the South Carolina Aquarium are the albino alligator and the sea turtle rehabilitation center. And, fair warning—the price of admission may seem a little steep to some, but it is completely worth it if your kids love aquatic animals.

family activities in charleston

Photo Credit: Instagram User @explorecml

Explore the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry

With nine interactive exhibits, there are plenty of ways to play and learn at the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry. Located in downtown Charleston next to the Visitor’s Center, the museum is another opportunity to cool down during the hot summer days.

Whether your kids want to be a knight or princess in the museum’s two-story Medieval Castle or maybe even a pirate looking for treasure aboard a pirate ship, they are guaranteed to have a blast at the Children’s Museum.

Parents will love watching your children interact with the many hands-on exhibits and see their creative sides blossom in each of the museum’s themed rooms. If you have little ones, this is a nice way to take a break from the more adult activities in Charleston.

family activities in charleston

Photo Credit: Instagram User @charlestoncoastvacations

Swim and Play at Folly Beach County Park

Charleston is known for its beautiful beaches, and your trip isn’t complete unless you’ve been to at least one of them. It can be hard to know which one suits your particular needs.

If you’re going with the entire family, then Folly Beach is a favorite for good reason. Located on the west end of Folly Island, Folly Beach County Park is a wonderful place to take the kiddos for a fun day at the beach. Consider getting a Folly Beach vacation rental to take in the entire island!

At this park, you can rest easy knowing that seasonal lifeguards are present. Restrooms are also available at the park, which can be a rarity at the beach.

Need to wipe off the sand and sea after a day of fun in the sun? There are also outdoor showers on site to clean everybody up before they get into the car!

family activities in charleston

Photo Credit: Instagram User @charlestonfarms

Wander Around the Farmer’s Market

There is nothing quite like the Charleston Farmer’s Market. Voted No. 5 Best Farmer’s Market by Travel + Leisure magazine, the Charleston Farmer’s Market brings in roughly a thousand people each Saturday.

The Market is over 20 years old and has changed significantly over the years. As the Holy City’s tourism industry began to boom, the Market eventually expanded to accommodate the many tourists that visit Charleston each year.

While some farmer’s markets only serve produce from local farmers, the Charleston Farmer’s Market features local artisans as well. Held at Marion Square, you will find beautiful arts and crafts in addition to mouthwatering food and produce.

Live music and performances are always present at the Farmer’s Market, and there are a few fun activities for the kids to partake in as well.  In addition to tasting some delicious samples from local vendors, you can take the kids to nearby Marion Square Park to relax or play on its expansive greenspace.

activities in charleston,fort sumter

Travel Back in Time at Fort Sumter

History buffs from all over the world travel to Charleston for its many historical sites and buildings. When you have children, getting them excited to see some of these historical places can be challenging. Fortunately, visiting Fort Sumter can be an absolute blast for parents and kids alike.

Fort Sumter can only be accessed by boat, which means that you will need to purchase a ferry ticket to get there. Tour boats leave from two docks—at Liberty Square in Downtown Charleston and Patriot’s Point on the Mt. Pleasant side. If you leave from Liberty Square, your family can explore the interesting exhibits at the Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center before you board the ferry.

The boat ride includes a 35-minute narration of the Civil War and Fort Sumter. This may not interest the younger kids much, but they will still enjoy the boat ride nonetheless. If they look closely, they will be able to see local wildlife, including dolphins, manatees, and more.

Fort Sumter has a Junior Ranger program, where kids can pick up an activity booklet onsite and begin an educational adventure to earn their Junior Ranger badge. The knowledgeable staff love getting questions from the kids and will tell you all about the history of South Carolina.

activities in charleston

Splash in the Fountains at Waterfront Park

Located in the French Quarter of Downtown Charleston, the Waterfront Park is a popular destination for both tourists and locals. This gorgeous park not only offers some breathtaking views of the Charleston Harbor and the Cooper River, but it’s also the perfect place to snap some photos.

There are plenty of fountains along the palm-tree lined path of Waterfront Park, including the famous Pineapple Fountain where the kids can get wet and get a break from the heat. The Grand Fountain is another one that the kids are sure to enjoy.

When everyone is splashed out, you can settle under the shade of a giant oak tree or find a sheltered swing to enjoy the breeze. Grab a bite to eat or some gelato ice cream from Belgian Gelato, then head out onto the pier to see a few bottle-nose dolphins swimming in the harbor.

The Waterfront Park is one of Charleston’s most visited parks for a reason. This family-friendly park is meticulously maintained, and we promise that you won’t regret visiting here, even if it may be difficult to grab a good parking spot!

family activities in charleston

Photo Credit: @patriots_point

Walk Through the USS Yorktown

Even if your kids aren’t old enough to appreciate the history of the USS Yorktown, they will love walking through this historic WWII aircraft carrier, which is also the focal point of the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum.

Named after the Battle of Yorktown during the Revolutionary War, the USS Yorktown is one of 24 Essex-class aircraft carriers built during WWII and is now a National Historic Landmark. While parents will find the backstory of the USS Yorktown fascinating, the kids will have a great time exploring the flight deck, seeing the numerous planes, and participating in the museum’s cutting-edge flight simulators.

While the star of the show is, no doubt, the USS Yorktown, the Medal of Honor Museum inside the ship is a well-curated collection. This museum recognizes Medal of Honor recipients from the Civil War up to the present day and tells the stories of the men and women who have received the nation’s highest military honor. As it is the only museum in the nation that honors these esteemed recipients, it is a must-see on your Charleston vacation.

family activities in charleston

Relax on the Beaches of the Isle of Palms

With miles of beautiful beaches and an endless amount of family-friendly activities, the barrier island of the Isle of Palms is a popular destination for those who want a beach vacation getaway.

Located roughly 12 miles from downtown Charleston, the Isle of Palms is a quaint seaside town that has so much to offer active families. Many choose to get a vacation rental on the Isle of Palms to enjoy the stunning oceanfront views and be close to nearby amenities, including golf courses, tennis courts, biking and walking trails, and more.

Whether your family loves getting out and being active or relaxing on the beach, then you will find no better place to vacation than the Isle of Palms. Here, you can paddleboard on the waterway, enjoy a casual meal or let the kids play on beachfront playground at the county park.

activities in charleston

Visit Magnolia Plantation

A trip to one of Charleston’s historical plantations is a staple option for many families. If you’re hesitant to tour a plantation, rest assured that there is plenty of fun available at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.

Founded in 1676, the Magnolia Plantation is not only rich with history but also possessed a distinctive beauty. These Romantic-style gardens have flowers that are in bloom year-round so that you are guaranteed to experience the full beauty of Magnolia Plantation.

While you’re there, don’t forget to take the rice field boat tour that glides along Magnolia’s old flooded rice fields. Rice is no longer grown on the premises, but there is plenty of engaging nature to enjoy, including gators, egrets, and frogs.

The children will also love the petting zoo, which has domesticated creatures that are native to the Lowcountry. Their animal adventures don’t have to stop at the petting zoo. The Zoo & Nature Center has numerous exhibits for them to experience, including a reptile house that features snakes, lizards, and even venomous snakes.

family Activities in Charleston

Charleston—Fun for the Entire Family!

If you’re looking for a vacation that is jam-packed with family-friendly activities, then Charleston is the place to be. Well-maintained parks, miles of beaches, delicious cuisine, and interactive history exhibits make the Holy City one of the best places to visit any time of the year.

Plantations Near Charleston, A Stroll Through History

Plantations Near Charleston

The city of Charleston is bursting with culture and history that begs to be explored, but if you venture a little farther outside of Charleston, you’ll unlock an essential piece of Lowcountry history. The plantations near Charleston offer more than lush gardens and stunning architecture. They provide visitors a glimpse into the South’s complicated past, in addition to the old customs and traditions of the Lowcountry.

Whether you’re lucky enough to call Charleston home or you’re merely visiting for a few days, meandering through the Lowcountry’s famous plantations is a must. Take a stroll through the following plantations to experience their undeniable beauty and get a unique look into the intricate history of the South.

Plantations Near Charleston

Magnolia Plantation

As one of the oldest plantations in the South, the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens should not be missed. Founded in 1676 by Thomas and Ann Drayton, this majestic and historical landmark has been occupied by the same family for over 300 years and has witnessed many notable moments in the history of the United States.

However, the plantation’s history isn’t the only thing that draws thousands of tourists to Magnolia each year. The gardens have a rich history of their own, and their luscious beauty makes the Magnolia Plantation one of the top wedding destinations in America.

History of Magnolia Plantation

In 1676, Thomas Drayton and his wife Ann traveled from Barbados to make a life in the new English colony of Charles Towne (later to become Charleston). They built the Magnolia Plantation and a small garden along the banks of the Ashley River, which provided them with immense wealth through the cultivation of rice.

When you take a guided tour of the plantation, you will hear how African Americans brought rice with them to the Lowcountry, transforming the agriculture and economy of Charleston. There are also four slave cabins, where African American slaves lived and worked on the plantation during this time.

The Magnolia Plantation has withstood many difficult times and witnessed prominent events in America’s history. During the Revolutionary War, the Drayton sons would fight as soldiers against the British. Later, the family would undergo hard times when the Civil War broke out and threatened the future of the plantation.

By opening Magnolia Plantation and Gardens to the public in 1870, the Drayton family was able to preserve the plantation and their livelihood.

The Romantic Magnolia Gardens

As the oldest and one of the most famous gardens in America, the Magnolia Gardens are teeming with stunning horticulture. Explore over 100 acres of Romantic-style gardens that offer something special no matter what time of the year you visit.

You can thank Reverend John Grimké Drayton for much of the beauty seen in the Magnolia Gardens today. To make his wife feel more at home after relocating from Philadelphia, he introduced the first azaleas in America and planted the first outdoor variety of camellias as well.

His ministerial career motivated him to recreate the Garden of Eden, and anyone who tours these gardens can see that he did a spectacular job. With its unrivaled beauty and extensive collection of native flora, the gardens are largely what saved the Magnolia Plantation from financial ruin.

Additional Attractions and Tours

After exploring the Drayton house and the gardens, nature-lovers can take a boat or train tour that takes them through the cypress wetland habitat and the location of the old rice fields. On these tours, you’ll get to see plenty of wildlife that call the beautiful Magnolia Plantation home.

In addition to these tours, don’t forget to take the kids to the plantation’s petting zoo and nature center. The zoo contains both domesticated and wild creatures, many of which are native to the state, including the gray fox, beaver and bobcat.

Plantations Near Charleston

Middleton Place

If you’re looking for the perfect combination of natural wildlife and history, Middleton Place should be on your list of places to visit in Charleston. Nestled on the banks of the Ashley River, Middleton Place is home to America’s Oldest Landscaped Gardens, abundant wildlife and historic plantation stables.

It’s easy to feel like you’ve been transported back in time at Middleton Place. Costumed craftspeople work on-site, and heritage animal breeds are present in the stable yards. Handcrafted carriages transport visitors around the carefully preserved plantation, providing an authentic experience.

History of Middleton Place

Built in 1705, Henry Middleton came into possession of the house through his marriage to Mary Williams in 1741. Since then, the plantation has remained under the same stewardship for 320 years.

From colonial times to the years following the Civil War, the Middleton family have played significant roles in American history. Many family members were influential political figures, beginning with Henry Middleton, who was the second president of the First Continental Congress. His son Arthur was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and Arthur’s son was the governor of South Carolina and the Minister Plenipotentiary to Russia.

William Middleton, an ardent secessionist, signed South Carolina’s Ordinance of Secession in 1860. In 1865, the plantation was occupied by Union troops, who burned the main house and northern wing. William lacked the funds for major restorations, and the small restorations that he did manage were upset by the Charleston Earthquake in 1886.

The following generations dedicated themselves to restoring the plantation and gardens to their original splendor. In the 1920s, the family opened the gardens to the public, and the plantation was added to the National Register of Historic Places. It officially became a National Historic Landmark District in the 1970s.

Life at Middleton Place

The House Museum and Eliza’s House should not be missed during your stroll on the plantation. Both places give visitors a special glimpse into the lives of the Middleton family, the freedmen who served them, and the many enslaved people who worked on the plantation.

The House Museum includes fascinating artifacts donated by the Middletons, including paintings, books, furniture and documents that date back to the 1740s. The house itself is a sight to see, as it is the only portion of the plantation that retains its original structure.

Eliza’s House is a freedmen’s dwelling that depicts the stories of over seven generations of slaves who occupied the plantation’s grounds up until the Civil War. Named after its last occupant, Eliza’s House offers tours to discuss the domestic life of slaves and freed people, in addition to their laborious work out in the rice fields.

Touring the Grounds and Gardens

To experience the beauty and functionality of Middleton Place, seeing the grounds and famous gardens are a must. The plantation’s plentiful land gives visitors the chance to imagine how Middleton Place functioned during the 18th and 19th century. In fact, many of the animal breeds you see at the plantation today were the same ones used to work the land centuries ago.

You can also take a self-guided tour through America’s Oldest Landscaped Gardens, which contains centuries-old camellias, azaleas, magnolias and other flora that cover the beautiful grounds.

Plantations Near Charleston

Drayton Hall

Situated on the Ashley River about 15 miles south of Charleston, Drayton Hall is the oldest preserved plantation in America, retaining nearly all its original structure and historic landscape.  Built in the 1740s, the stunning George Palladian plantation also features a Memorial Arch that represents one of the oldest documented African American cemeteries in the country.

Drayton Hall also happens to be located just down the road from the Magnolia Plantation, making it easy to visit both in a single day if you are feeling ambitious. Whether you dedicate a full day or a half-day, Drayton Hall is a must for those who want to unlock a major piece of African-American and Lowcountry history.

History of Drayton Hall

As the third son in the family, John Drayton knew that inheriting his birthplace at Magnolia Plantations wasn’t likely. The 37-year-old widower decided to purchase property along the scenic Ashley River in the 1730s, where he constructed an elite mansion during the late 1740s.

This architectural masterpiece was inspired by the Renaissance influences of Andrea Palladio and sits on over 630 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds. Drayton Hall is the only plantation that wasn’t destroyed during the Revolutionary War, making it a rare gem of the South.

Drayton Hall served as the hub for John Drayton’s enormous plantation empire. He owned over 100 plantations that spanned across South Carolina and Georgia, where thousands of slaves grew rice, cotton and indigo, as well as mining for phosphate.

The profits generated from the phosphate mining largely contributed to the Drayton’s ability to recover from the Civil War. Drayton Hall passed through seven generations of the Drayton family and was acquired by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1974. In 1977, it was opened to the public, and many of the Drayton family artifacts can be seen by all.

The African-American Cemetery

In addition to touring the stunning Drayton mansion, the plantation is also home to one of the oldest documented African-American cemeteries in the nation. Dating back to about 1790, the cemetery serves as the final resting place for over 40 people, both freed and enslaved. Some of the graves are named, but most are unknown.

Although touring the cemetery can be a heavy undertaking, it is a necessary stop if you want a true plantation experience. The cemetery grounds have been left in a natural state to comply with the wishes of Richmond Bowens, whose ancestors were enslaved at Drayton Hall. The cemetery and the plantation itself has largely remained unaltered, giving visitors a sense that they have truly stepped back in time.

Plantations Near Charleston

Boone Hall

Venture through the beautiful Spanish-moss-draped live oaks and gorgeous gardens of Boone Hall, and you’ll understand why it’s the most photographed plantation in the country. Located in Mount Pleasant (roughly 10 miles away from Charleston), Boone Hall is also the oldest operating plantation in the Lowcountry and has a thriving modern market.

The enchanting grounds of Boone Hall attract thousands of visitors each year, not only for its spectacular beauty and year-round activities, but also its rich history. Boone Hall’s enthralling exhibits and tours featuring Gullah culture and black history are the best of any American plantation.

History of Boone Hall

Boone Hall Plantation was founded in 1681 when Theophilus Patey was granted 470 acres on Wampacheeoone Creek, otherwise known Boone Hall Creek. It is believed that Patey gave his daughter Elizabeth and her husband Major John Boone about 400 acres as a wedding gift.

John Boone was one of the original settlers of the South Carolina colony and held several prestigious positions, including tax assessor and highway commissioner. The exact date of his death is unknown, but the will he created in 1711 left a third of the estate to his wife and divided the rest divided amongst his five children.

The plantation remained in the Boone family until 1811, when the property was sold to Thomas A. Vardell for $12,000. Boone Hall would have many owners, some of them leaving lasting impressions on the plantation.

When Henry and John Horlbeck came into possession of Boone Hall in 1817, the brothers would begin planting the famous Avenue of Oaks. The brothers were in the brick business, and many buildings in downtown Charleston feature their bricks, including Stephen’s Episcopal Church and St John’s Lutheran Church.

Boone Hall was purchased by Harris and Nancy McRae in 1955 and opened to the public in 1959. Now owned by William McRae, the historic grounds of the plantation can be toured by the public, while the other half of the plantation is used to produce crops such as strawberries, peaches, tomatoes and more.

Gullah Culture and Black History

What sets Boone Hall apart from other plantations is its amazing exhibits and performances featuring Gullah culture and black history.

Their Black History in America exhibit offers visitors the chance to take in educational and entertaining performances that take place in the nine original slave cabins, each built between 1790 and 1810.

Boone Hall is also the only plantation to feature live presentations from contemporary Gullah people who share their unique story and culture with visitors. Taking in a performance at the Gullah Theater is an experience that you won’t soon forget.

Boone Hall Farms Market and U-Pick Operations

Boone Hall has been providing crops and produce for the Lowcountry since the 17th century when John Boone first inherited the land, making it the oldest operating plantation in the nation.  Their continued success has allowed them to establish Boone Hall Farms Market, which officially opened in 2006, and the Boone Hall Farms U-Pick fields.

Boone Hall Farms Market features reasonably priced produce that is always fresh and local. Taking part in the U-Pick fields is a fun activity that you can do with the entire family, and you’ll take home a juicy basket of produce that you harvested in these historic farm.

The plantations surrounding Charleston, SC offer stately, historic homes, lush gardens, and an abundance of learning opportunities about early American life. If you’re planning a trip to Charleston, visit a historic plantation site for a rewarding experience that your whole family will enjoy.

Charleston Market Statistics through April 2017

Charleston Market Statistics through April 2017

The employment landscape and wages have both improved over the last few years, allowing for more people to participate in the home-buying process. When the economy is in good working order, as it is now, it creates opportunities in residential real estate, and right now is a potentially lucrative time to sell a home. Houses that show well and are priced correctly have been selling quickly, often at higher prices than asking. New listings were down 2.6% and inventory shrank 16.8% while median sales price was up 3.1%.

 Although there is a mounting amount of buyer competition during the annual spring market cycle, buyer demand has not abated, nor is it expected to in the immediate future unless something unpredictable occurs. While strong demand is generally considered a good problem to have, it creates an affordability issue for some buyers, especially first-time buyers. And yet, prices will continue to rise amidst strong demand.

Charleston Market Statistics through April 2017

Places to Grab a Cup of Coffee in Charleston

Coffee — for most of us it’s an everyday necessity, so where can you find the best cup of coffee in Charleston? Whether you need the perfect place for meeting with your real estate agent, need caffeine on the go, a place to plug in your laptop, or a quiet corner for reading, Charleston’s variety of local coffee houses has you covered — and caffeinated! Here are a few of our favorite neighborhood spots.

Collective Coffee, Mount Pleasant

Coffee in Charleston, Collective Coffee Co

Photo Credit: Instagram User @collectivecoffeeco

This upscale, hipster coffee shop is pretty cool indeed with its loft-like, airy space and tasty breakfast (pimento cheese biscuit is life-changing) and snack (avocado toast) items. We love the friendly service here at Collective Coffee along with the ample outdoor seating, community table, comfy corner seating, and plentiful parking, assuring that you and whoever you’re meeting up with will have plenty of places to perch your coffee cups and your cars. Not the cheapest place but they do take pride in preparing your lattes, we can assure you. They’re delicious. The wifi is free, and laptops are welcome here.

Orange Spot, Park Circle North Charleston

For the most adorable coffee experience, head to Park Circle. Orange Spot is nestled in a cute little house and consists of two rooms with plenty of tables, power outlets, cushioned seats, and sunlight. A spacious backyard patio means they can put on events, like mini markets and art openings, since they line their walls with local art. Wifi? Yep, and it’s free. Pro tip: get the the Cha Yen.

Classic Coffee, Avondale, West Ashley

Coffee in Charleston, Classic Coffee Avondale

Photo Credit: Instagram User @classiccoffeecharleston

Avondale residents love strolling on foot over to Classic Coffee for their caffeine fix, and it’s perfect for all kinds of situations. There are couches that make for cozy book-reading nooks, plus outdoor tables, a bar with bar stools, and several inside tables for all your meeting-up purposes. We also love their quiches, which come from nearby Wildflour Pastry, in-house roasted coffee, and fruit smoothies. Parking is a pain at times, though, be ye warned.

Normandy Farm, South Windermere, West Ashley

If you really want to feel fancy and French when you hit the coffee shop, make Normandy your new favorite. Visions and smells of fresh-baked breads, tarts, cakes, pies, and more will have you drooling, but the prices will make you stop in your tracks. Normandy, a light-filled space, is the most affordable coffee shop in Charleston — its pour-it-yourself in-house roasted coffee is only a buck-fifty. The only downside of this place is that the bathrooms are in the back, meaning you have to walk through the kitchen to get there. If you’re having lots of coffee, this can make you feel a bit self-conscious, but, really, they don’t mind at all. Oh and there’s free wifi.

 Kudu Coffee and Craft Beer

Coffee in Charleston, Kudu Coffee

Photo Credit: Instagram User @kuduchs

Kudu discourages folks from working on computers by denying guests their wifi password. So save Kudu for those days when you want to meet up with people (friends or clients) or you simply want to sit in their lovely courtyard and enjoy a book al fresco style. They serve coffee by the cafetiere and have a slew of great local craft beer selections. Kudu is also perfect for downtowndwellers; otherwise you’ll be circling the block in search of parking for an eternity.

Starbucks, Multiple Locations

  1. Starbucks gets a lot of slack for being corporate, and while supporting local is always best, Starbucks isn’t so bad. They treat their employees pretty wonderfully actually, offering benefits to even part-timers. In West Ashley and Mt Pleasant you’ll find Starbucks with drive-thru windows, which is key for busy moms who can’t just unbuckle all three kids and run in and grab a quick coffee. (There is no such thing as a quick coffee when you’re a mom, unless there’s a drive-through!). Plus if you need to do some work on your laptop, at Starbucks you’ll find all you need for that: plenty of outlets, free wifi, lots of two-top tables and community tables. Starbucks is literally made for all of you laptop workers — be it freelancers or students.  AND most locations stay open until 9 p.m., while most other places shut down much earlier (5 or 6 p.m.).


What’s your favorite local coffee shop?

Charleston Market Statistics through March 2017

Charleston Market Statistics through February2017

We can comfortably consider the first quarter to have been a good start for residential real estate in 2017. There was certainly plenty to worry over when the year began. Aside from new national leadership in Washington, DC, and the policy shifts that can occur during such transitions, there was also the matter of continuous low housing supply, steadily rising mortgage rates and ever-increasing home prices. Nevertheless, sales have held their own in year-over-year comparisons and should improve during the busiest months of the real estate sales cycle.

The U.S. economy has improved for several quarters in a row, which has helped wage growth and retail consumption increase in year-over-year comparisons. Couple that with an unemployment rate that has been holding steady or dropping both nationally and in many localities, and consumer confidence is on the rise. As the economy improves, home sales tend to go up. It isn’t much more complex than that right now. Rising mortgage rates could slow growth eventually, but rate increases should be thought of as little more than a byproduct of a stronger economy and stronger demand.

Charleston Market Statistics through February2017

Daniel Island  |  Downtown Charleston  |  Folly Beach

Greater North Charleston  |  Kiawah Island  |  Johns Island

James Island  |  Isle of Palms/Wild Dunes  |  Lower Mount Pleasant

West Ashley  |  Upper Mount Pleasant  |  Upper Charleston Peninsula

Sullivans Island   |  Seabrook Island

Shop Local in Charleston this Spring

We love to shop, but more importantly we love to shop local! Charleston wasted no time this year — the warm days are upon us and it’s time to do some spring cleaning with the closet. Here are a few places where you can shop unique finds while also supporting local businesses. We’ve even included a place to take your wardrobe’s remnants from years past!

Bashful, 36 Windermere Blvd. West Ashley
There really is no such thing as window shopping at Bashful. The boutique stocks limited amounts of unique, trendy women’s wear, jewelry, and handbags, so you have to buy before it goes “bye!” You may remember it from its old location in Avondale, but the shop has upgraded now to more space in S. Windermere shopping center.

Shop Local Charleston

Consigning Women & Men, Photo Courtesy of Instagram User @consigningwomenandmen

Consigning Women, 21 Magnolia Road, West Ashley
Consigning Women & Men, 1055 Crickentree Village, Mt. Pleasant
A Charleston tradition since 1989, Consigning Women stocks only high-quality, name-brand, currently stylish clothing for a fraction of the original price. Bring in your own gently used clothes and not only will you be doing your once-chaotic closet a favor, but you’ll also get in on a very economic exchange. The shops are good for your wallet, but they’re great for the planet!

MOSA Boutique, 420 King Street, Downtown Charleston
From slinky sundresses to lace mini dresses, MOSA on King also has an in-store bar, complete with craft beer on tap, wine, and mimosas — mimosa, MOSA, get it? They’re stocked on both booze and spring styles, and their comfy seating area will ensure the spouse and kids have a place to rest while you shop.

Channels, 507.5 King Street, Downtown Charleston
Channels arrived to King Street in 2014, combining the surf and skate styles that the owners embrace in their everyday lives. You can expect to see a long list of quality brands here, including Citrine Swim, Reef, Boho Me, and Chucktown Inc. Summer styles range from cute and casual to cool and sporty, and their line of sunnies and swimwear is not to be missed.

Shop Local, Candy Shop VIntage

Candy Shop VIntage, Photo Courtesy of Instagram User @candyshopvintage

Candy Shop Vintage, 9 Cannon St, Downtown Charleston
Since 2009, Deirdre Zahl has sold incredible vintage jewelry and vintage-inspired jewelry as Candy Shop Vintage. Her own Candy Shop Collection consists of vintage-inspired jewelry that reflect the quality and craftsmanship of the vintage jewelry she has collected for many years. Zahl also introduced her own Charleston rice bead necklaces as an homage to flapper-style costume jewelry she’d discovered in her antique store digs. We think the whimsical colors and fun lengths make for a playful spring accessory.

Holy City Vintage Market
Holy City Vintage Market is a roaming pop-up market where many local vintage vendors who typically have online Etsy shops set up for the day and show you their latest wares. The market only pops up every two months or so, and the vendors can vary — and the vendors’ stock always varies! Each shop has a different eye/style so you’re sure to find something that’s you – from Runaround Sue’s vibrant 1960s style to Red Rose Vintage’s (a shop that travels in an updated vintage airstream) casual 80s gear to the boho, floral styles of Little French Dress. The next HCVM is on Easter Sunday April 16 at Park Cafe (730 Rutledge Avenue, downtown Charleston), so you can sip mimosas from the outside bar and shop while you wait for a brunch table!
Where will you shop this spring?

Dog-friendly Charleston: Where to eat and drink with your pups

In search of dog-friendly Charleston? Dining in the culinary haven of Charleston is always a treat, but it’s even sweeter when you can bring your furry best friend along.  We’ve found that there are several places particularly cool with pet customers, with some even providing water bowls so your pooch can stay hydrated in the Lowcountry heat.

Dog friendly Charleston Fuel @fuelcharleston

Chilling on the Patio at Fuel, Image Courtesy of Instagram User @fuelcharleston

Here are just a few of the spots we love the most — because they love the furry company we keep.

Downtown:

Fuel, 211 Rutledge Avenue

Formerly a gas station, Fuel is a fun spot for Caribbean-fused cuisine and comes complete with an outdoor bar, where pets and customers delightfully mingle.

Taco Boy, 217 Huger Street

An off-the-beaten-path local favorite, Taco Boy boasts delicious tacos, frozen screwdrivers, and a massive patio perfect for drinking in the sun with your pooch.

Kudu, 4 Vanderhorst Street

Kudu is known for its killer coffee and craft beer, and it’s particularly loved for its patio, where college kids, young, artsy professionals and more spend afternoons socializing or reading alone — with a pup in tow.

Mt Pleasant:

Two Blokes Brewery, 547 Long Point Road

Relatively new to the beer scene, Two Blokes Brewing serves not only well-crafted local brews, but on  the weekend it’s wild with both kids and dogs — so if you’re looking for a family friendly spot to consume an adult bev, this is a great spot.

Triangle Char & Bar, 1440 Ben Sawyer Blvd.

You may have to wait for a seat at brunch at Triangle, but at least your pooch can sit with you on the restaurant’s sun-blessed patio.

Dog friendly Charleston Poes Tavern @poestavern

Image Courtesy of Instagram User @poestavern

Sullivans Island:

Dunleavey’s Pub, 2213 Middle Street

What’s better than an Irish pub in a beach town? Not much. There are so many reasons to love this family-owned traditional pub, but great burgers, cool pints of Guinness, and dog-friendly outdoor seating top the list.

Poe’s Tavern, 2210 Middle Street

You may think an Edgar Allen Poe-themed bar and grill sounds a bit dark, but the lively, fun atmosphere of Poe’s Tavern will quickly change your mind. Nothing better than taking your four-legged kiddo for a walk on the beach and then heading to Poe’s for delicious fish tacos or one of their gourmet chicken sandwiches. Well-behaved dogs are regularly resting on the patio.

Folly Beach:

Lost Dog Cafe, 106 W Huron Avenue

Most Charlestonians don’t need a list of dog-friendly places to know about Lost Dog — this place was literally made for dogs. Well, the menu is very much for humans (and it’s all delicious) but you’ll see about a dozen dogs here on any given day — and more during Sunday brunch, which is basically our idea of heaven.

Jack of Cups, 34 Center Street

Also on Folly, Jack of Cups serves up Asian-infused food that’s so good you’ll leave satisfied and somewhat speechless. Their beer selection is top notch and ever-changing, and their backyard, as well as their front patio, complete with water bowls, are the reasons why you should bring your pups along.

Dog friendly Charleston The Barrel @thebarrelcharleston

Photo Courtesy of Instagram User @thebarrelcharleston

James Island:

The Barrel, 1859 Folly Road

If Lost Dog is first on everyone’s dog-friendly list, the Barrel is either tied or a close second. This is a great little spot for excellent craft beer pours, but the backyard is where it’s at. Unleashed dogs run free here, and there’s even a small pen for your tinier pups.

Bohemian Bull, 1531 Folly Road

Not far from the Barrel, the Bohemian Bull offers great food and cocktails but with a cool, outdoor, bohemian vibe where four-legged friends are always welcome.

West Ashley:

Home Team BBQ, 1205 Ashley River Road

The wings alone are reason enough to visit Home Team today and often, but nothing’s better than happy hour wings on the patio as you sneak a pork rind to your furry best friend.

Tin Roof, 1117 Magnolia Road

Tin Roof has always been dog-friendly, but it’s become increasingly so of late, with the back patio open for business with a back bar, so you can have a High Life while living the high life with your unleashed pups. Just don’t forget to clean up after them.
Where is your favorite spot to dine in dog-friendly Charleston?

 

Charleston Market Statistics Through February 2017

Market Stats blog image
The start of the year ushered in a wave of good news about a hot stock market, higher wages and an active home sales environment. At the same time, housing prices have continued to rise, and the low inventory situation and affordability crunch has been particularly hard on first-time buyers struggling to get into the market. Nevertheless, buyer activity is easily outpacing seller activity in much of the country, culminating in relatively quick sales and low supply. Demand definitely remained strong this month.
Closed Sales + 14.9% |  Med. Sales Price + 1.8% | Months Supply – 27.9%

Charleston Market Statistics through January 2017

Charleston Market Statisticss thru  Jan 2017
Charleston Market Statistics Show January Home Sales Exceed 1k For The First Time in A Decade!  
January brings out a rejuvenated crop of buyers with a renewed enthusiasm in a new calendar year. Sales totals may still inevitably start slow in the first half of the year due to ongoing inventory concerns. Continued declines in the number of homes available for sale may push out potential buyers who simply cannot compete for homes selling at higher price points in a low number of days, especially if mortgage rates continue to increase.
Wages are on the uptick for many Americans, while unemployment rates have remained stable and relatively unchanged for several months. The system is ripe for more home purchasing if there are more homes available to sell.
Closed Sales + 5.9% |  Median Sales Price + 9.9% | Months Supply – 27.9%
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