Living in a Tourist Destination
I have been fortunate to live in two distinctly different tourist destinations. For ten years I lived in the remote and romantic Martha’s Vineyard. The Vineyard was hard to reach and therefore attracted people from all over the world to enjoy its distinctive small towns, architecture, and pristine beaches.
15 years ago, I moved from an island reachable only by ferry or plane, to one with two bridges – Johns Island. Both places are rich with scenery and even richer with great food! It’s great fun sharing such treasures, so expect a lot of company. Family and old friends around the country will always remember that you live in Charleston.
Having company means learning to entertain for your guests’ particular interests. My sister is not an adventurous eater, so when she comes, I make sure to suggest restaurants with widely varied menus and not those with 5 highly curated entrees – saving those for my foodie friends. I also like to avoid the extremely popular tourist offerings and seek out locations where everyone can enjoy a great meal, hopefully sit outside, and get a taste of the Lowcountry topography – it’s what makes us special.
Because our beaches are so unique, it can be important to know what your visitors love about going to the beach. I want to sit in the shade beside the Kiawah dunes with a good book. Others may prefer the fun and funky atmosphere of Folly or lively atmosphere of Isle of Palms. When people come, I want to give them a sample of more than one. The best part is, you can enjoy them through most of the year!
Guided and self-guided tours must work for their personal mobility as well as their interests. Temperature and time of day are always factors in our hot and humid climate. Don’t forget to add in free and low cost activities when you can. And, remember that everyone in the party doesn’t have to do the same things. Splitting up and doing separate activities makes for lively conversation when everyone returns.
We live and die by our tourist economy and most of us really want to share everything that is great about Charleston. There is one thing, however that happens when you find yourself among people on vacation. You begin to realize that perfectly reasonable people who are high functioning in their regular lives, tend to lose their minds a little on holiday. Smart people step into the street without looking, no parking signs become optional, and one – way streets can confuse the best of us. But, with a little patience and a recognition that I might be that person when I leave the Lowcountry, we can continue to encourage people to fall in love with Charleston.