Below you will see some pictures of historic downtown of Charleston. There are so many historic palmetto-lined streets and lovely homes and buildings to admire. We were lucky enough to take tours of five of these homes, which is something I truly recommend if you ever visit the city. It's amazing to see the care, time, and money that goes into the restoration of these homes, many of which date back to the 18th century before the United States existed. It's also amazing to be in houses where so much history took place. For example, we toured a house where George Washington stayed for a week and walked the same staircase he did. If you are a history buff like my husband, this city is truly for you!
If you travel just a little ways outside downtown Charleston, you will also discover several lovely plantations. One such plantation, Boone Hall, is home to the longest avenue of oak trees in the country, as you see below. It truly makes for a spectacular and grand entrance! In addition to the oak trees and lovely gardens, one can tour the colonial revival plantation house, picturesque gardens, and the grounds that still produce crops such as strawberries, peaches, and cotton. Also, if you are a fan of the movie The Notebook, it, along with other films and TV series were filmed here. (Believe it or not, I have yet to see The Notebook. Sorry, Ryan Gosling!)
Another plantation we visited was Magnolia. This is a wonderful place for families, as there is a petting zoo, wildlife tours and other family friendly activities going on all day. I think my favorite thing about Magnolia plantation was this red bridge that looks like the one where my husband and I were married. I made my husband renew his vows to me on the bridge here! (I guess, even though I haven't seen The Notebook, I am a hopeless romantic at heart!)
Here are some of my recommendations for things to do, see and eat in the Charleston area if you ever find yourself in that neck of the woods. I hope to go back to finish up the things on our itinerary that we didn't get to!
Stay: The John Rutledge Inn Bed and Breakfast
This amazing historic house is within walking distance of almost everything in historic Charleston. Not only will you be served a delicious breakfast of your choosing each morning in the location of your choosing, there is also an elegant ballroom where tea, brandy and appetizers are served in the afternoon and evening. The staff is also extremely friendly and accommodating.
Eat: Halls Chophouse
Almost every local I talked to in Charleston raved about the new "foodie" scene in Charleston. While there are many exquisite restaurants featuring a variety of cuisines, most of which we were unable to sample due to our short stay, I am a fan of classics, especially good old fashioned steakhouses, which is exactly what Halls is. Halls will treat you like family. (They even sent us a handwritten thank you note after our visit!) Even though Halls sticks to classic steakhouse fare, they definitely elevate it to the next level with a large variety of cuts and kinds of steaks and chops and sides from which to choose. For example, I ordered a bison fillet with truffles and a cast iron skillet of pepper jack creamed corn as a side and both were exquisite. (I couldn't finish either, so we took them to go.)
See: Boone Hall Plantation and Rainbow Row
I think one my husband's favorite parts of the trip were all the historic forts we visited. (Okay, we only saw two forts, but it seemed like a lot to me!) However, I am someone who likes colorful and aesthetically pleasing things, so the stretch of colorful homes called Rainbow Row was more my style. We both enjoyed touring the exquisite home and gardens of Boone Hall, which was right up both our alleys. I didn't include any pictures of the forts here, as I didn't think they'd be of much interest to my readers, but you can view pictures of Rainbow Row by seeing my post Strolling Through Rainbow Row.
Do: Ride in a Rickshaw
When we first arrived in Charleston, we couldn't believe two things: how bad the heat and humidity were and all of the rickshaws taking tourists from place to place in the city. The concierge recommended one rainy evening that we take a rickshaw to our restaurant. At first I was reluctant, but it turned out to be a fun way to see the city, avoid the rain/humidity somewhat and get the inside scoop from a local. I give major props to the guys who pull the rickshaws on their bikes, especially given the heat and humidity, which is why I would also suggest being generous in your tip!