Category: Interesting Charleston Facts
Charleston, S.C. is one of the hottest travel destinations in the entire country right now, and after people visit once, they want to stay forever. If you’re looking for a truly unique place to go to college, Charleston is the city for you. With three beaches within a few miles of the campus and a bustling downtown scene with more bars and restaurants than you can count, you’ll love the atmosphere almost as much as the campus itself.
You’ll find gorgeous Spanish moss draped from ancient live oak trees almost anywhere you go on the College of Charleston campus along with historic buildings used as offices and classrooms. If you’ve never visited Charleston, find out all the reasons you should add this to your list of places to apply for school.
Reasons Charleston, S.C. Is a Great College Town
Southern Hospitality Is Real
For those who didn’t grow up in Charleston, S.C., it may come as a surprise that Southern hospitality is more than just a stereotype. As you walk around the downtown area, you’ll find yourself smiling and greeting strangers who are genuinely interested in how your day is going. For many northerners, this is an unfamiliar custom, but it makes it really easy to get comfortable in a new place when everyone you encounter is smiling and friendly.
Voted Most Beautiful Campus in the U.S.
We’re not the only ones who think that the College of Charleston has a stunning campus. Travel + Leisure voted this campus as the most beautiful in the entire country in 2017. The unique Roman architecture gives the impression that you’re stepping back in time as you walk through the sprawling campus. The cistern is the most photographed area of the college, which is where graduation is held each year. A large outdoor area, the cistern is filled with huge live oaks that are covered in enchanting Spanish moss. Perhaps the most unique aspect of the campus is the history and mystery that surrounds it. Professors’ offices can be found at the top of spiraling staircases connected to traditional Charleston single-style homes or even tucked away inside the arches that lead to the cistern.
Experience an All-American City
While many large universities have many forms of entertainment offered by the college itself, the College of Charleston is located right in the middle of the bustling city, providing students with access to the best activities in the area. From campus, students can walk through the streets admiring the brightly painted, Antebellum-style houses on their way to the tip of the peninsula known as the battery. Here, you can watch boats sail through the ocean or have a picnic at the White Point Gardens. You’ll find plenty of beautiful outdoor places to sit and enjoy the weather—from Marion Square, where the weekly farmers market is held, to Hampton Park.
For college students, there’s also no shortage of great bars and restaurants to check out. King Street is the hub for great dining, and you’ll find every type of food you could want—Italian, Vietnamese, classic Southern and so much more. On the weekends, King Street is flooded with young people bar hopping, exploring the best rooftop bars, hanging out in some of our favorite dive joints and listening to live music. It’s nearly impossible to be bored when you’re living right in the heart of historic Charleston, S.C.
Students living in Charleston are amongst the luckiest college kids in the country because not only do you have access to the city, but you can easily head to the beach on any day of the week. And, because of the area’s pleasant year-round weather, you can explore all of the Charleston beaches during any season. It’s not uncommon to see people heading to the beach in the middle of winter for a walk along the shore. Our climate may be mild, but you will still need to bring a jacket along for the stroll.
From downtown Charleston, S.C., students have three options when it comes to going to the beach—Folly Beach, Sullivan’s Island or Isle of Palms. The Isle of Palms is the furthest from the campus but has one of the most popular beach bars in the area, The Windjammer, which hosts live music and beach volleyball competitions each summer. Sullivan’s Island is much closer to downtown but also located in Mount Pleasant. This charming little beach area is the Charleston beach with the best selection for food. Order mimosas and oysters for a fancy brunch at Obstinate Daughter, or head to HomeTeam for some Southern-style barbecue and their famously potent alcoholic drink, the Game Changer. The last of the three Charleston beaches, Folly Beach is located on James Island and gives off more of a bohemian beach vibe. Many students opt to go here because of the laid-back atmosphere and bars along Center Street.
The Football Team Is “Undefeated”
A running joke amongst current CofC students and alumni, the College of Charleston football team is notoriously undefeated—because they do not exist. For some, the lack of a football team might be problematic, but Charleston is just two hours from Columbia, S.C., home of the Gamecocks, meaning you can easily drive up for the weekend to catch a game. Although Charleston does not have a football team, there are frequent basketball games at the TD Arena with BYOB tailgates beforehand, baseball games at Patriot’s Point and our olympic-level sailing team. In fact, sports are a major part of the College of Charleston community. Students can even opt to take sailing or yoga as a class during the year.
Achieve a Liberal Arts Education
In today’s world, your major doesn’t necessarily make or break your future career path, and getting a liberal arts education can provide you with a well-rounded knowledge of many subjects so you can use your skills in multiple fields. Liberal arts schools try to cover humanities and social and natural sciences, as well as mathematics to give students some insight into many different areas before they select a major. People with degrees from a liberal arts school are attractive to employers after graduation because they have been taught how to implement their skills across multiple areas of study, making these employees self-sufficient and adaptable.
Colleges in Charleston, S.C.
The College of Charleston
The most popular school in Charleston, S.C., the College of Charleston is a liberal arts school located in the heart of historic downtown with a variety of excellent programs and a knowledgeable staff of professors. For those who aren’t quite sure what career they would like to break into after graduation, the College of Charleston is a great choice because the liberal arts program will set you up to explore a variety of classes and industries. Most students at CofC live in one of the many dorms during their freshman year before moving off campus into a downtown apartment. Because the downtown area only covers a few miles, it’s easy to find an apartment near the campus. For those looking to get a top-notch education and stay close to the beaches and city, College of Charleston is an excellent choice.
Trident Technical College
Trident has both a downtown and North Charleston campus. The main location in North Charleston is much larger and offers a greater variety of classes, but some students elect to take as many classes as they can at the downtown location to stay close to all that the city has to offer. Trident is a two-year school, which makes it an excellent choice for anyone trying to save money on out-of-state tuition. Many students come to Charleston, S.C., attend Trident for two years and then transfer to the College of Charleston. This is such a common process that the two schools have a seamless system for transferring students over.
Charleston Southern University
This small Baptist college is located in North Charleston, not far from the downtown area. Overall, the college welcomes about 3,600 students each year. For those who thrive in an environment with more direct instruction and smaller classes, Charleston Southern is a great option. This school also implements a liberal arts program, but because it is a private university connected with the South Carolina Baptist Convention, the curriculum tries to tie in religion and spirituality.
Medical University of South Carolina
One of the top medical schools in the South, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) is also located right in downtown Charleston and is known for its outstanding programs. Many people seeking a career in the medical field will choose to attend the College of Charleston for a bachelor’s degree and then stay in Charleston and continue their education at MUSC. This school is located on the west side of the peninsula in a quieter, more residential area then the College of Charleston.
Charleston’s military college was established in 1842 as part of a state-organized military to educate young people and train them for service simultaneously. Over the last century, the college continues to incorporate its military origins with many of the students intending to serve in some branch of the military after graduation, though some students simply attend the college for a more rigid type of higher education.
American College of the Building Arts
Located in downtown Charleston, the American College of the Building Arts is a unique college in the city that focuses on more hands-on artistic avenues of education, such as different types of architecture, masonry and plasterwork. This is a great option for students who have an interest in this specific career path and are ready to jump into a curriculum designed to train them to move directly into their line of work after graduation.
Downtown Charleston is broken into 11 different neighborhoods that stretch across the peninsula from the affluent South of Broad, which houses many of the mansions located on The Battery, to Wagener Terrace and Hampton Terrace on the northern end of the city, featuring more family residential areas. For students attending a school downtown, staying near the campus is important because you’ll have quick and easy access to classes and all that Charleston’s nightlife has to offer. Here are some of our top neighborhoods for students and young working professionals.
Much of the College of Charleston campus is located within Harleston Village, making this the most desired area of town for younger residents. You’ll be able to walk to almost every building on campus within 10 minutes, and you’ll find tons of great restaurants nearby. This area of town is also just a few blocks from King Street, where nearly all of the most popular establishments are in the city. From coffee shops to dive bars, college students will find everything they need in Harleston Village.
This area is probably the second most desired neighborhood in downtown Charleston for those attending school. Cannonborough/Elliotborough is a few blocks further from campus than Harleston Village, which means many students living in this area will ride bikes or skateboards to get to class more quickly, though it’s still within 25 minutes to walk to the college. Here, you’ll find easier access to those same upper King Street bars and restaurants, but you’ll also discover a wave of new and eclectic spots that have been popping up in the neighborhood. In the evenings, you can grab tacos from the well-loved Charleston restaurant Fuel or check out the intriguing menu of Asian Fusion options at Xiao Bao Biscuit.
Though both Wagener Terrace and Hampton Terrace are not highly populated by college students, this neighborhood is great for young professionals looking to settle down after graduation without having to leave the peninsula. Further north than many of the other neighborhoods, both areas are more laid-back with many families choosing to settle in this part of town. Here, you’ll find far fewer traditional Charleston single homes that have been split into apartments and more quaint, cottage-style houses. The best part of this neighborhood? The beautiful nearby Hampton Park, where events like outdoor yoga are frequently held. You’ll also be closer to places like Moe’s Crosstown Tavern, a dive bar with killer burgers, and The Park Cafe, a charming little place for brunch or lunch.
So many people are attracted to Charleston, S.C., because of the city’s many options for college students, but once young people have experienced the beauty and excitement of our unique city, they never want to leave. Whether you’re interested in getting a liberal arts education from the College of Charleston, a more religiously oriented study program at Charleston Southern or a hands-on experience at the American College of the Building Arts, Charleston has many diverse options for every type of student. Pick the college that speaks to you most and come experience all that Charleston, S.C. has to offer.
Thinking about launching your career in Charleston, SC? You’ve chosen the right city. With its diversified economy, low unemployment rate and robust job growth, the Charleston-metro region offers plentiful job opportunities for those seeking employment.
On top of it all, Charleston is simply an incredible place to live. In addition to bountiful job opportunities, the Holy City’s coastal location also provides gorgeous beaches, scenic views and an endless array of recreational activities. Not to mention the city’s globally renowned food scene and rich history, which further contributes to the economy with its vibrant tourism.
If you’re ready to enter the job market, where you live can make all the difference to your success. Let’s take a deeper look into what makes Charleston one of the best cities for job hunters.
Charleston Labor Statistics at a Glance
Finding a job and settling down in Charleston, SC could be easier than you think. According to the SC Department of Employment & Workforce’s latest Charleston Community Profile, the Holy City’s low unemployment rate is outperforming both the state and the nation.
South Carolina’s monthly unemployment rate was at 3.3 percent for March 2019, while Charleston’s was at 2.8 for the same month. With the nation’s monthly unemployment rate at 3.9 percent, Charleston beats it by more than a whole percentage point.
Here are a few additional facts and figures from the report:
- Monthly Unemployment Rate (unadjusted): 8 percent
- Unemployed: 5,830
- Employed: 204,462
- Population in 2010: 348,370
- Projected Population for 2020: 366,380
- Notable Employers: The Boeing Company, Medical University of SC, The Citadel, Comcast
Why Job Seekers Are Flocking to Charleston, SC
There is no doubt about it: the Charleston job market is hot. A growing number of job seekers are turning to the Holy City for steady employment due to the region’s thriving economy, ideal port location and ongoing support from the local community.
As you could probably guess based on the labor market statistics above, Charleston’s economy is fueling job creation and contributing to the city’s prosperity. According to the Milken Institute’s Best Performing Cities index, Charleston’s economy ranked 16th-best in the nation, jumping six places up from last year.
What’s behind the city’s economic growth? The following economic trends are playing a significant role in Charleston’s economic expansion:
- Job Growth: Charleston’s job outlook is promising. According to a Talent Demand Study by the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, the city will add nearly 35,000 jobs by 2022. The report stated that 80 percent of this job growth will be in 10 specific occupations.
- Fast-Growing City: Job seekers—especially millennials—are flocking to Charleston. Attracted by the area’s lifestyle and promising job growth, young professionals are now scooping up homes in Charleston and contributing to the overall health of the economy.
- Promising Outlook: A healthy and diverse economy is essential to any metro region’s future success. Fortunately, Charleston boasts a diverse and flexible economy that is fueled by tourism, its vibrant shipping industry, retailers, airlines and more. This diversity is critical to reducing the potential negative impact of future recessions.
- Capital Investment: Thanks to its business-friendly atmosphere and innovative workforce, companies are continuing to invest heavily in Charleston. From the new Mercedes-Benz plant in North Charleston to Boeing, capital is an essential component for cities to grow—and Charleston has it in spades.
Prosperous Port City
Charleston’s coastal location plays an enormous role in its economic boom and prosperity. The region has benefited from the wealthy seaport dating back to the 1800s when Charleston first rose to prominence as a hub for Atlantic trade.
Today, the Port of Charleston is a key player in the city’s economy and providing hundreds of thousands of jobs statewide. According to an Economic Impact Study by the South Carolina Ports Authority (SPCA), the Port of Charleston provides an estimated $53 billion in annual economic activity, 187,600 jobs and $10.2 billion in labor income.
The Port of Charleston—which is owned and operated by the SPCA—is continuing to pave the way towards a brighter future for Charleston. Not only did the SPCA report a record-breaking year for container shipments in 2018, but the Port of Charleston is also unveiling new infrastructure to accommodate “super ships.” With this major milestone, the Holy City is continuing to grow its presence in global trade and laying the groundwork for a booming manufacturing economy.
Job Seeker Resources and Assistance
Charleston residents and lawmakers have strived to create government agencies and organizations that can help job seekers and business owners achieve their life goals. If you’re currently searching for employment in the Holy City, be sure to make use of the resources available to you:
- Charleston Job Network: Job opportunities, resume and cover letter writing help, career events, webinars, etc.
- Charleston County Public Library: Job opportunities, technology learning services, business resources (printing, copying, scanning), one-on-one business counseling, etc.
- Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce: Networking events, expert panels, professional career development, etc.
- SC Works: Job opportunities, employer/employee resources, career coaches, veteran assistance, etc.
- Charleston Regional Development Alliance: Resources for entrepreneurs and established companies, connecting them to organizations such as Charleston Digital Corridor and Holy City Collective.
- Charleston, SC SCORE: Business-to-business mentoring, online workshops, local guidance and other assistance for entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Strong and Supportive Community
There is little doubt that Charleston’s economic success is bolstered by its tight-knit community. Whether you’re a transplant or you were born and raised in the Lowcountry, the locals embody true Southern hospitality and are willing to go the extra mile to help their neighbors out.
This is especially true for those who wish to launch a business in the Holy City. The community is incredibly supportive of startups, entrepreneurs and small business owners, with residents making a conscious effort to shop local. From supporting Small Business Saturday to participating in the Charleston Art Walk, locals regularly support businesses large and small.
Top Industries in Charleston
As a coastal city with a deep port and a busy, international airport, it probably comes as no surprise that Charleston is teeming with business activity. While not every profession within an industry will have the same job outlook, you can maximize your chances of employment by launching your career in one of the city’s top-performing industries.
Charleston’s tourism industry is a huge driver of the economy and job opportunities in the region. According to CHS Today, tourism accounted for 20.1 percent of sales in 2017 in the Greater Charleston Metro and resulted in an economic impact of $7.4 billion for the same year.
It’s no big surprise, given the city’s vast amenities and offerings. Charleston has been voted the best U.S. city by Travel + Leisure Magazine for six years running and consistently ranked in the magazine’s ‘best cities in the world’ category as well.
What’s not to love? With the city’s historic houses, vibrant culture and award-winning food, Charleston has remained a hot travel destination for all types of adventure-seekers, from retirees and families to single ladies throwing bachelorette parties.
The hospitality and tourism industries often go hand-in-hand. After all, the millions of people who visit Charleston each year need somewhere to stay and eat as they explore everything the city has to offer.
The hospitality industry (which includes things such as restaurants, lodging, parks, transportation and travel) has plenty of open positions for job seekers. In fact, Charleston’s growing tourism industry has led to a staffing shortage as business owners struggle to fill positions in their restaurants and hotels.
Whether you’re a chef hoping to start a restaurant in Charleston or you want to work as a concierge at one of the city’s many hotels, the industry is ripe with opportunities.
Almost a decade ago, Boeing chose North Charleston as its new production facility, driving up the city’s aerospace sector along with it. Since then, other manufacturing companies have followed suit, including auto manufacturers Volvo and Mercedes-Benz.
The manufacturing industry has long been contributing to Charleston’s economic growth. In addition to tax-friendly policies and pro-business climate, the region has supported the advanced manufacturing sector through its workforce strategy. From rethinking school curriculum to apprenticeships and internships, the city has made a conscious effort to reduce the skills gap and produce a qualified workforce.
If you’re a nurse or physician, finding a job in Charleston is almost guaranteed in the current economic climate. Home to top-notch facilities such as the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and Roper St. Francis, the Holy City boasts a diverse concentration of healthcare talent that is growing all the time.
As the need for healthcare services grows, Charleston is once again finding itself in a staffing shortage crisis for certain positions. If you’re a qualified nurse or physician, chances are good that you’ll easily land a job in the city.
Forget Silicon Valley—Charleston’s new nickname, ‘Silicon Harbor’ reflects its thriving tech scene that has been steadily growing in the past decade. Fueled by the increasing number of millennials moving to the region, Charleston’s tech scene is now home to more than 500+ tech companies and offers a vast array of job opportunities and resources for tech workers.
If you’re searching for a job in the tech sector, be sure to check out the Charleston Digital Corridor. Launched more than a decade ago, the community-backed initiative aims to attract and nurture tech workers in the Greater Charleston Metro area and grow the city’s sizeable talent pool.
Finding a Home in Charleston, SC
After securing employment in a new city, the next logical step is to relocate. If you’ve landed your dream job and are now ready to start searching for a home in Charleston, SC, you’ll no doubt want to explore all the options available to you.
Explore Charleston’s Diverse Neighborhoods
From its vibrant and historic downtown area to the small-town appeal of Mount Pleasant, each area around the Charleston coast has something unique to offer residents. Depending on where you’re at in life, some areas may appeal to you more than others.
Are you a retiree looking for privacy and relaxation? If so, life on Kiawah Island or Sullivan’s Island could be right up your alley. Searching for the best place to raise a family? Check out the award-winning schools on Mount Pleasant and see if it’s a good fit for you and your little ones.
Remember that buying a home is one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll ever make. To ensure that you make the right choice, be sure to talk with Charleston real estate experts who can give you the inside scoop on what it’s like to live, work and play in the Lowcountry.
Spend a Few Weekends at the Beach
If you love white sands and the sound of crashing waves, consider relaxing on Charleston’s pristine beaches for a weekend. Spending time at one of the city’s gorgeous beaches is an excellent way to find your ideal beach—and choose a home in close proximity to it.
From the family-friendly shores of Isle of Palms to the unspoiled beaches at Seabrook Island, Charleston’s varied beaches are as beautiful as they are unique. Book a vacation rental and spend quality time with the family as you discover your ideal beach.
Historic Home or Modern?
One of Charleston’s key attractions for tourists and homeowners alike are its historic homes. Full of charm and beauty, historic homes can be a dream come true for some homeowners—and a total nightmare for others.
If you’re considering the possibility of buying a historic home, make sure that you consider the rules and regulations that the city has put in place. Renovations can be a tricky process that may not be worth the charming qualities and features.
To sum it all up, Charleston’s thriving economy and vast array of amenities has transformed the city into a haven for job seekers and entrepreneurs. Whether you want to try your hand at a career in the restaurant industry or take advantage of the growing opportunities in the technology sector, moving to Charleston could be the key to launching your career.
If you’re a true history buff, you’re sure to be fascinated by the long and rich military history in Charleston. Nearly 350 years old, Charleston has a long and turbulent past. From the arrival of early English settlers in 1670 to the Civil War and beyond, the Holy City has been defending her shores and showing her military might for centuries.
Charleston has played pivotal roles in the nation’s most significant wars, and the city has no shortage of iconic military sites and artifacts to prove it. To put it simply, it’s a military-history-lover’s paradise.
Ready to explore 350 years of military history in Charleston? Although nothing beats visiting the Holy City in person, we’ll give you the rundown of the city’s exciting military history and prepare you for your next Charleston vacation.
Charles Towne Landing
When it comes to exploring Charleston’s vast military history, start from the beginning at Charles Towne Landing. A group of about 120 English settlers arrived here in 1670, and they made the site their first permanent home in the Carolinas.
Located on the west bank of the Ashley River, Charles Towne Landing became a valuable trading post, as well as a village. Originally named for King Charles II of England, the settlement became known as Charleston in the late 1700s after the Revolutionary War.
Today, Charles Towne Landing is a state historic site with numerous attractions for the entire family to enjoy. The Exhibit Hall is where history lovers can learn about the founding of Charleston and how the city came to be, as well as its early history of fending off pirates and marauders.
Other popular attractions at Charles Towne Landing include The Adventure, a floating exhibit and full-scale replica of a 17th-century ship which both adults and kids will enjoy. Visit on the third Sunday of each month and you’ll see 17th-century cannons being fired for demonstrational purposes.
Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum
You can’t leave Charleston without stopping by Patriots Point. Located in the charming town of Mount Pleasant, this impressive naval museum offers visitors a glimpse into Charleston’s rich maritime history.
Patriots Point Museum is the fourth largest naval museum in the country and the only maritime museum in the state. The museum is perhaps best known for being home to USS Yorktown, a WWII Essex aircraft carrier which participated in the Pacific Offensive against the Japanese in late 1943.
The USS Yorktown was turned into a museum ship in 1975 after being decommissioned in 1970. Although it is the museum’s centerpiece, Patriots Point is also home to two other monumental battleships: the USS Laffey, and the USS Clamagore.
The USS Laffey is the only surviving Sumner-class destroyer in North America. The ship was given the nickname, “The Ship That Would Not Die” after surviving multiple Kamikaze attacks and D-day bombings.
Currently, visitors can also see the USS Clamagore, a GUPPY III Submarine which served for more than 30 years during the Cold War. However, plans are underway to have the vessel sunk off the coast of Florida and turned into an artificial reef.
In addition to these impressive battleships, visitors will find numerous collections worth exploring at Patriots Point. One that should not be missed is the Vietnam Experience Exhibit. This interactive experience honors Vietnam veterans and tells the stories of those in the Brown Water Navy and the Tet Offensive.
Those interested in the Civil War will enjoy a trip to Fort Sumter, the famous sea fort where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. Built in 1829 as a coastal garrison, Fort Sumter was still unfinished when Confederate forces fired more than 4,000 shells upon the island fortification on April 12, 1861.
The attack came after President Abraham Lincoln announced plans to resupply Fort Sumter. Confederate General P.T.G. Beauregard initiated the 34-hour bombardment, which resulted in Union forces surrendering on April 13. While little blood was shed during this battle, it marked the beginnings of the deadliest conflict in American history.
Confederate troops held Fort Sumter for nearly four years, fending off bombardments by Union troops. General Beauregard finally abandoned the fort when General William Tecumseh Sherman marched through South Carolina and captured the city of Charleston.
Fort Sumter is only accessible by ferry, but history lovers likely won’t mind the 30-minute ride. A voice-recorded history of Fort Sumter plays gently in the background for the duration of the ride.
Upon arrival, you can explore the grounds and see damage to the fort caused by the second battle at Fort Sumter in 1863. Tours last just over two hours, giving you plenty of time to explore the fort in all her war-ravaged glory.
Fort Moultrie may not be as grand or well-known as Fort Sumter, but history buffs will love it all the same. One of the first forts on Sullivan’s Island, and one of the oldest on the Eastern Seaboard, Fort Moultrie boasts over 170 years of seacoast defense history.
The fort holds significance not only for its important roles in the Revolutionary and Civil War, but also because it’s where South Carolina’s flag originated. The blue flag with its white palmetto tree symbolizes the state’s long history.
On June 28, 1776, Colonel Moultrie and his force of Patriot soldiers stood ready behind a series of unfinished palmetto logs walls, determined to protect the city from incoming British warships. When British forces attacked the fort, it didn’t matter that the log wall was unfinished—the soft palmetto logs absorbed the cannon attacks, allowing colonial forces to fend off the British army.
Although the fort was badly battered after the attack, it was a decisive victory for the troops and a stunning display of bravery. The fort was named for the brave colonel, and the state officially adopted a blue flag with a white palmetto tree in his honor.
Fort Moultrie isn’t large, but it’s still an important piece of American history that shouldn’t be missed!
As the first combat submarine to sink a warship (the Housatonic) the H.L. Hunley had a short, yet successful career in the Civil War. However, the deaths of the Hunley crew continues to capture our interest more than 150 years later.
The 40-foot long Confederate submarine was raised from the ocean in 2000 and can now be viewed at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston. In addition to the impressive submarine, you can also see salvaged artifacts from the Hunley and learn more about the eight-man crew.
While the deaths of the crew have long remained a mystery, recent breakthroughs have uncovered new insight. According to researchers at Duke, it was the blast wave from the torpedo fired by the ship that caused the immediate deaths of the crew.
Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon
One of South Carolina’s most historic buildings, the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon has served multiple functions over the years. Perhaps most notably, the cellar of the building was used as a Provost dungeon by British forces during the American Revolution, and it held pirates in the early 18th century.
Now a museum, the building has more history outside of its dungeon. The great hall in the building was the place where the South Carolina Convention ratified the United States Constitution in 1788. George Washington held several meetings here, and the Old Exchange has served various functions in major wars, such as the Civil War and World War II.
For a deeper look inside South Carolina’s colonial military history, walk through The Powder Magazine in Downtown Charleston’s French Quarter neighborhood. Originally used to store gunpowder, The Powder Magazine was built in 1713 and is the state’s oldest surviving building.
When South Carolina was a British colony, it didn’t have the luxury of a standing army or navy. Charles Towne was surrounded by walls guarded by 100 cannons. The gunpowder was stored in The Powder Magazine, arming the city with much-needed protection.
Although the building itself has an incredible amount of history, there are historical treasures to be found inside the museum as well. With interesting military artifacts, interactive exhibits, and models of the original walled city, both adults and kids will enjoy visiting The Powder Magazine.
Boone Hall Plantation
Boone Hall Plantation is steeped in history. Founded in 1681, this working plantation is one of the oldest in America, and it has weathered some of the nation’s most turbulent moments in history.
One of the most popular attractions at Boone Hall is Slave Street, which features nine pre-Revolutionary War slave cottages, built of brick and well-preserved. These brick cottages were home to skilled slaves, including cooks and house slaves.
Boone Hall has various exhibits, including “Black History in America,” which chronicles the struggle of African-Americans over the centuries. Their “Exploring the Gullah Culture” performance tells a powerful story and features the unique culture adopted by African slaves in South Carolina.
The Charleston Museum
Founded in 1773, The Charleston Museum is the oldest museums in the United States.
As one might expect from a long-standing museum, it boasts many eclectic artifacts and cultural objects of interest, including military relics. British and other foreign ships brought countless treasures to Charleston, sparking curiosity from those who view them.
“The Armory” exhibit will surely be of interest to military history buffs. This permanent exhibit features weaponry dating back to 1750 and up to the 20th century. Explore the exhibit, and you’ll discover Revolutionary War and Civil War-era swords, along with weaponry and equipment from WWI and II.
White Point Garden
White Point Garden is not only a great place to take in views of the Charleston Harbor and Fort Sumter. The 5.7-acre park is also home to striking monuments and interesting military relics.
Located at the tip of the Charleston peninsula, White Point Garden is situated at the end of the Battery, Charleston’s defensive seawall and promenade. Memorials commemorating the city’s most prominent figures are scattered throughout the park, including the infamous pirate, Stede Bonnet, and celebrated general William Moultrie.
Stroll through the park, and you’ll also encounter numerous real Revolutionary and Civil War-era cannons and one replica It has become something of a game for visitors to try to guess which cannon is the imposter.
If you have enough time, consider stopping by The Citadel, Charleston’s historic military college. Graduates from this notable military college have fought in every American war since the Mexican War of 1846.
There is a museum located on its campus, which offers a deeper look inside The Citadel’s long and storied history. Visitors can learn about the founding of the school in the 1800s, in addition to the many notable alumni who have passed through its ranks.
Of course, be sure to visit on a Friday to catch its afternoon dress parade. Watch as cadets march in formation as drums and bagpipes fill the air, continuing one of its long-held military traditions.
Why read about American history when you can witness it for yourself? Charleston has no shortage of local reenactments for spectators to watch, from the early pirate years to the Civil War and beyond.
If you’re visiting Charleston in April, you can’t miss Legare Farm’s annual Battle of Charleston Reenactment. Head down to John’s Island to watch locals recreate Charleston’s most significant moments in military history through the centuries.
Whether you’re a Revolutionary War aficionado or you’re interested in the city’s more recent military operations, there is something for every kind of history lover in Charleston. The Holy City has such a long and rich history that it is impossible to cover it all in a single trip.
If you’re like most visitors, planning another Charleston vacation will be on your to-do-list before you even leave the city. That’s because people can’t help but fall in love with everything Charleston has to offer, from the award-winning cuisine to world-class golf—and, of course, her beautifully preserved architecture and history.
For your next Charleston vacation, live like a local and rent a vacation house on the beach. That way, you can explore the city’s storied history by day and relax at night listening to the gentle surf of the Lowcountry.
There’s so much about Charleston we can take pride in, like its beauty, charm, and history. And speaking of history, Charleston is credited with many of our nation’s firsts, like the first museum, and first theater. Want to learn more? Here are five firsts that Charleston can take all the credit for, and they’re five more things you can be proud of as a Charlestonian.
America’s First Woman Editor and Publisher, Elizabeth Timothy
You need to know her name: Elizabeth Timothy. One of the world’s first female journalists, she was also the first female newspaper editor and publisher. Of course in addition she also took on the role of being a mom and homemaker — a juggle the modern woman knows all too well. She was also a widow. In other words, she’s like a real life superhero. She immigrated tjo America with her French Huguenot family in 1731, arriving in Philadelphia from London. The family eventually moved to Charleston (then Charles Towne) so her father could take over the South Carolina Gazette. When her father passed away at an early age, none of his sons were old enough to take over but Elizabeth was — she had six kids by the time she became a partner. Although — the paper’s publisher had to be listed as a male, her brother Peter, who was 13, even though she in fact was the publisher. As publisher and editor she certainly had a large role in shaping the city and was inducted into the SC Press Association Hall of Fame in 1973. The South Carolina Gazette lived on Vendue Range, where there is now a plaque there on the bay recognizing her. She was inducted into the SC Business Hall of Fame in 2000.
America’s First Theater, Dock Street Theater
The Dock Street Theater is America’s first theater and where America’s first opera was performed. The theater opened in 1736 with The Recruiting Officer. About 64 years later, the theater turned into Planters Hotel, where Planter’s Punch was invented, and the hotel remained there until almost a 100 years. Dear old Dock Street was reconstructed in 1936. Today it’s a beloved local treasure showing theatre favorites and originals fro traveling companies during special times like our annual Spoleto Festival.
First Municipal College, College of Charleston
Established in 1770, the College of Charleston is the oldest municipal college in the nation. It’s also the 13th oldest institution of higher education in the country. Chartered in 1785, CofC’s founders include three (at that time) future signers of the Declaration of Independence — Edward Rutledge, Arthur Middleton, and Thomas Heyward — as well as three future signers of the US Constitution: John Rutledge, Charles Pinckney, and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney. Today the college continues to carry out its original mission, which is to “encourage and institute youth in the several branches of liberal education.”
America’s First Submarine, H.L. Hunley
The H.L. Hunley is a hand-cranked Confederate submarine that torpedoed the USS Housatonic in the Charleston Harbor on Feb. 14 1864, during the Civil War, making it the first submarine to sink a warship. With it being the first combat submarine to sink an enemy warship, that move altered naval warfare from that point forward, demonstrating the advantages, and the dangers, of undersea warfare. Invented by Horace Lawson Hunley, the Hunley was nearly 40 feet long and was built in Mobile, Alabama. The beast was discovered in the sea in 1995 and on Aug. 8, 2000 it was raised out of the ocean, just 3.5 nautical miles from Sullivan’s Island outside the entrance to Charleston Harbor, where a crowd of proud Charlestonians and history buffs loudly applauded.
America’s First Museum, Charleston Museum
Located on Meeting Street, the Charleston Museum was founded in 1773. It was inspired by the British Museum and established by the Charleston Library Society the day before the American Revolution. Oddly enough the museum didn’t open to the public until 1824 but closed again due to the Civil War. Although the original collections are widely varied and even include Egyptian artifacts, its main focus is still on the South Carolina Lowcountry. The collections include materials from natural history, historical material culture and both documentary and photographic resources.
There is a a long list of Charleston firsts, and these five only scratch the surface. Check back soon for another post with more information about trailblazers in our historic city.
The buzz about Charleston right now is all about the total solar eclipse — the Holy City is in the path of totality, and it’s all happening on the afternoon of Mon. Aug. 21. In fact, Charleston is the last place in the country to see it. Where will you be?
If you care to celebrate somewhere away from home, we have explored some of those options for you below. But no matter where you witness this once-in-a-lifetime event, one thing’s for sure: it will be memorable. Enjoy it, no matter where you are!
1. Riverdogs Game
Joseph P. Riley Park, 360 Fishburne Street
The Riverdogs play the Augusta GreenJackets on the 21st at 4:05 p.m., but the stadium is opening its doors at 1 p.m. so everyone can be in their seats to enjoy the sky go dark at 2:46 p.m. Special guests from NASA will be there as well to talk a little about how the solar system works.
2. MUSC Health Stadium
1990 Daniel Island Drive
Gates open at 11 a.m. at the MUSC Health Stadium on Eclipse Day, where a family-friendly event will take place complete with astronomy-related activities, a science-based kids zone, local food vendors, drinks, entertainment, and more. Tickets are $8 for adults, and kids under 12, first responders, and military personnel get in free. Tickets include solar eclipse glasses!
3. Eclipse on a Warship
USS Yorktown, Mt Pleasant
Eclipse on a Warship lets history and science buffs come together for an all-day event full of presentations from NASA scientists and more as well as space-focused kids’ activities. The first 3,000 people on the ship get a free pair of specialized eclipse glasses. Get your tickets on the day of the event at the ticket window beginning at 9 a.m.
4. Eclipse on the Atlantic
Pier 101, Folly Beach
From 1 to 4 p.m., do the eclipse Folly style at Pier 101 Restaurant & Bar. Local act Band of Brothers will perform, and eclipse glasses will be provided. Considering the overall bohemian nature of Folly Beach, this seems like a great place to do celebrate an occasion so cosmic.
5. Get Eclipsed on IOP
Front Beach, Isle of Palms
Ring in the eclipse with your feet in the sand and your ears tuned into the sounds of DJ Natty Heavy behind the Windjammer. Plane Jane takes the stage following the eclipse, and children’s activities will available at the Isle of Palms County Park. Attendees get eclipse glasses while supplies last, and the event is on from 11:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
6. Free Eclipse Extravaganza
Citadel Mall, West Ashley
Don’t feel like leaving West Ashley? No problem. Head to Citadel Mall for a free celebration from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. in the parking lot by Planet Fitness. Free eclipse glasses go to the first 500 to arrive, and there will be kids’ activities, food trucks, entertainment, and more. Educational materials from NASA will be provided. Any cash donations collected via the inflatable hamster ball maze, sports arena inflatable, and dunk tank will benefit nonprofit Darkness to Light.
7. Dark Side of the Sun
Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina, Mt Pleasant
Next door at Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina is the Dark Side of the Sun party on Harborside Beach with music from local reggae stars the Dubplates plus concessions, games, and more. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids 12 and under.
8. Solar Eclipse Festival
Yonderfield, Bowman SC
Head to Bowman, just an hour north of Charleston, to celebrate in the new festival grounds of Yonder Field. The day will include the Great Inflatable Race obstacle course as well as music from Uncle Kracker, Edwin McCain, and Corey Smith. Local food trucks will be onhand, and first-run movie will close the night. The best part? You can camp there, too, between Aug. 20 and Aug. 22.
Where will spend the afternoon of Mon. Aug. 21?
We recently introduced you to Philip Simmons, the wrought-iron artist who furthered Charleston’s ornamental gate tradition with his signature masterpieces seen throughout the city. If you recall, the craftsman passed away in 2009, but his workshop remains open on Blake Street downtown, where family members continue to keep his name and skills alive by crafting more memorable works. It’s also now a museum and book shop, so folks can still learn about Simmons and his contributions to the city.
That’s why we’ve included the Philip Simmons House as the first stopping point in this guide, although the rest of this list will concentrate below Calhoun Street (don’t worry- we’ll explore more of his works, including some north of Calhoun Street in a later post). Of these stopping points, some are quite grand, while others are easy to pass by if you don’t know what you’re looking for. There are no plaques nearby for these works and there’s not much fanfare. Some have become part of folks’ everyday lives, whether they know it or not – especially South of Broad, where you find ironworks on many if not most houses. His works blend into the scenery beautifully, but if you know where to look, Mr Simmons’s signature stamp can be seen in every neighborhood on the peninsula.
The Philip Simmons House, 30.5 Blake Street
At the Philip Simmons house, apprentices and family members continue their mission to preserve Simmons’s legacy. He created hundreds of hand-wrought iron fences, gates, and more, and he did it all from his little garage at his modest home on Blake Street. Here, you’ll get to have a short, free, informative yet informal tour that will leave you with a better understanding and a deep appreciation of the great importance of a man so beloved by his neighborhood and by all of Charleston.
91 Anson Street
Stroll over to 91 Anson where you’ll find St John’s Reformed Episcopal Church and its decorative gates bearing a wrought-iron heart and cross. There you can also wander beyond the gate and inside the Philip Simmons Garden. The entrance gate was designed by Philip Simmons, and crafted at his shop by Carlton Simmons (nephew) and Joseph Pringle (cousin). The original drawings Simmons made for the gate are kept in the Avery Research Center at the College of Charleston and can be viewed online thanks to the Lowcountry Digital Library. The gate is magnificent, but the gardens behind the gate are equally lovely and worth a stroll.
313 King Street
At 313 King Street is Simmons’s first walkway gate, the Krawcheck residence, which we discussed in an earlier post. You may remember that 313 King is actually the storefront address of the Grady Ervin clothing store, and if you ask the kind folks who work there nicely, they will point you to a door in the back of the store that leads to this beautiful, historic work. This is said to be Mr. Simmons’s very first commission in Charleston.
138 Wentworth Street
At 138 Wentworth Street, the grand driveway gate of the Edwin L. Kerrison House (circa 1838) towers high above the fence and exudes elegance. The house was restored in the 1970s and that is presumably when Simmons created the gate, which includes examples of his signature perfect spirals.
45 Meeting Street
The railings and window grills at 45 Meeting Street are attributed to Simmons. The walkway gate that opens to the front yard also exudes the Simmons aesthetic with a beautiful swirling floral pattern.
2 St. Michael’s Alley
One of Simmons’s most famous and photographed works is the Egret Gate at 2 St Michael’s Alley. The alley is a quiet, short street just south of St Michael’s Church between East Bay and Meeting Streets. The gate separates the back of the driveway from the backyard and when cars are parked in the drive, it’s hard to see the full gate. This design features an egret in the center standing atop the letter R.
78 East Bay Street
78 East Bay is an example of one of Simmons’s works you may easily pass without noticing. Many of the porch railings, window grills, and especially the gates are prominently displayed in front of residences. The subtle archway detail above the door blends nicely with the building’s facade, but it’s a signature Simmons piece.
Stolls Alley, between East Bay and Church Streets, is so narrow on the East Bay end that many people miss it all together. There are five separate gates designed forged by Philip Simmons gates along the alley, so a stroll down this shady, hidden spot is highly recommended.
Philip Simmons is a household name among Charleston architecture enthusiasts. As a Lowcountry blacksmith, the renowned artisan spent his life, or 78 years of it, crafting everyday objects like horseshoes, tools, and fireplace pokers — most from his workshop at 30 1/2 Blake Street in downtown Charleston.
Simmons passed away in 2009 at the age of 97 and left his signature everywhere from the Smithsonian to Paris — but especially in Charleston. When he died, the city honored him by tying white ribbons on all of his known works throughout Charleston.
He lived here all his life, and it was on his walks to school that he became intrigued with ironwork, which would change his life. His first apprenticeship with a blacksmith began when he was only 12 years old. His supervisor was the grandson of slaves, and so the skills he learned had been passed down from several generations of African American artisans.
What Simmons is most remembered for are his stunning wrought iron gates and other ornamental work that can be seen throughout Charleston. His gate work began in the early 1940s when he met a businessman named Jack Krawcheck, who commissioned a wrought iron gate for his King Street store. Simmons had to source his materials from scrap iron since the demand for iron during World War II made iron scarce to come by.
But the result was impressive enough for the Krawcheck family to commission more than 30 more iron pieces throughout Simmons’ career. And over the course of the following seven decades, Simmons made a living with his newfound calling, creating over 500 decorative home pieces including iron balconies, window grilles, fences, and gates.
So where can you learn more about Simmons today? His craft continues to be honored in his shop on Blake Street thanks to apprentices and his family — Carlton Simmons (Nephew) and Joseph Pringle (cousin). His home is a museum house with a book shop that opened the year after his passing.
His family and colleagues want to merely fulfill Simmons’ last wish, and that is to make sure his trade is carried on, which is why engineer John Paul Huguley founded the American College of the Building Arts. Simmons was the “inspirational founder,” Huguley told the Post & Courier two years ago. The school restored one of Simmons’ most significant gates, the coiled rattlesnakes at 329 East Bay Street.
The Philip Simmons Foundation also ensures that his legacy lives on via everything from sterling silver jewelry fashioned in shapes inspired Simmons’ memorable works.
But you don’t have to stop in the Blake Street shop or shop for jewelry online to see his handiwork. Take your very own walking tour around the peninsula to behold his works everywhere from the Philip Simmons Garden at 91 Anson Street to the driveway gate of the mansion at 138 Wentworth Street to Simmons’ very first walkway gate at the Krawcheck residence at 313 King Street. Today 313 King houses the gentlemens’ shop Grady Ervin & Co. where the folks are nice enough to direct you to gate behind the store. They also sell a belt that includes this gate design, so shop around while you’re in there! It’s a lovely store.
We’ll talk more about his works you can find around Charleston over the next few months in upcoming posts dedicated to #wroughtironwednesday and the late, great Philip Simmons.
Planning 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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
You’ve seen them — African-American women, men, and children sitting on corners of the City Market, or at Saint Michael’s Church on Broad and Meeting streets, or along Highway 17. No matter the season, 100-degree sun be damned, these folks remain steadfastly focused on their craft: sweetgrass baskets.
An intricate work of art, the sweetgrass basket is a sought-after piece of memorabilia. Tourists visiting the Lowcountry see the baskets woven before their own eyes and are given a glimpse of the history behind them. It’s impossible to come away thinking these sweet-smelling masterpieces (think fresh hay) are anything less than special.
The sweetgrass basket wasn’t always a piece of art – they were made out of necessity. Today, the folks you see crafting them are Gullah, descendants of slaves taken from West Africa and brought to the coast of South Carolina and Georgia in the 1700s to work on plantations. In addition to free labor, plantation owners gained a wealth of knowledge and skills, such as basketry.
So what are the baskets made from? Nowadays, sweetgrass. But the skill was honed in the early days using marsh grass, or also known as bulrush. Using the needly marsh grass, slaves were able to coil extremely sturdy work baskets that came to be known as fanners. Fanners were used in the rice fields for winnowing, the process of tossing hulls about so that the chaff could separate from the rice. Work baskets also held veggies, shellfish, and cotton.
It was in the early 1900s that sweetgrass was employed to weave with, in addition to pine needles and palmetto fronds, which added flexibility and bend to the creations and allowed for more intricate designs, such as loops.
The Evolution of a Basket
You can find sweetgrass grown wild in moist, sandy soils near the sea, hence the aplenty supply in the Lowcountry. In the fall, the grass is a beautiful purple before fading to white.
When it’s time to collect the grass, you simply grab the green grass by the handful, with one foot on the root, and pull it from the ground. Then it’s time to lay the grass out in the sun to dry for three to five days, which is when it shrinks and becomes a more beige color.
On average, a good-sized basket takes 10 hours to weave, not including the time it takes to source and dry the materials. The price on a larger piece? About $350, which isn’t a lot considering the labor that went into creating it. You can also find simpler designs for $40, or elaborate ones for thousands. However if you’re really on a budget, you can always also find a sweetgrass rose, which are not only below $5 but also simply gorgeous little works of art — just like the baskets.
To learn more about this incredible tradition passed down through so many generations and to have a chance to weave a basket yourself, follow basket maker Sarah Edwards-Hammond on Facebook. She frequently conducts basket classes for both adults and children.
Where have you spotted sweetgrass weavers in the Lowcountry?
The lighthouses of Charleston have intrigued visitors and locals alike for years. You have to admit it, there’s something so charming and endearing about a lighthouse. More than a beacon for sailors, lighthouses fill folks with awe and wonder — whose paths have they lit?
Charleston is home to two historic lighthouses: the Morris Island Lighthouse and the Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse. Here are their stories.
Morris Island Lighthouse
We love lighthouses so much so that we find ourselves fighting to save them, as many Charlestonians have done with the Morris Island Lighthouse — a much beloved part of the Holy City’s history.
Though every lighthouse that has stood on the island survived the elements, they were defenseless against other forces like the Civil War. The lighthouse you can still see today, accessible via Folly Beach, was constructed in 1873. But a lot has changed since then. The lighthouse is no longer active, although in 2016 it was lit momentarily to mark the 140th anniversary of its first lighting in 1876.
Once upon a time, Morris Island was once made up of three islands. But erosion eventually led to the three becoming one, large singular island, which you can see today. The lighthouse was originally surrounded by 1,200 feet of shore but by 1938 it had reached the water’s edge. Due to erosion and the constant changes to the Folly Beach coastline, it’s now in the middle of the water, accessible only by boat at low tide.
Save the Light: In 2007, an organization was formed called Save the Light. Its mission? To preserve the decaying Morris Island Lighthouse, a cause many locals feel passionately about. After all, it’s become a part of our landscape. After a year, stabilization for the structure was achieved, with the first phase of the operation costing a cool $3 million. Now in phase three, the lighthouse is sure to stay a cherished part of Charleston’s history thanks to the valiant efforts of SaveTheLight.org.
Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse
The lighthouse on Sullivan’s Island was put there by the U.S. government back in the 1960s. Designed by a triangle obsessive named Jack Graham, the lighthouse itself is shaped like a triangle — with one of its points aimed at the ocean, which allows it to withstand 125 mph winds. On January 7, 2009 a 74-year-old Graham, and his wife, ventured up to the top of the lighthouse for one last look.
The first time they saw the light of the lighthouse was in 1962. Inside, lighthouse keepers enjoy modern conveniences like AC and an elevator (it takes 74 seconds to reach the top!). But the lantern room at the tip-top must be accessed via another trip up a 25-foot ladder.
When first activated, the lighthouse featured a terrific 28-million candlepower light made possible by carbon arc lamps ($900 a pop), and it was the second brightest light in the western hemisphere! Lighthouse keepers had to adorn asbestos welding suits when accessing the lantern room. Due to annoyed neighbors, the light was downgraded eventually to barely over a million candlepower.
Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse is still in beautiful working order today and is visible from 26 miles.
The lighthouses of Charleston may (for some) be reason enough to visit our coast, but for most of us they are everyday beacons, iconic symbols that add to the allure and history of our town. They stand tall, watching over this magical place we call home.