The Holy City: We Take On Charleston

Holy City Oaks
Holy City Oaks

One of the most beloved and frequently visited places in the country, historic Charleston, South Carolina, is just a simple three hour drive from Charlotte. The town is as classically Southern as it gets: friendly locals with their pleasant drawls, large front porches that wrap around grand antebellum homes, humid weather that makes you move slow like molasses, cobblestone streets that echo the sounds of horses pulling carriages, and elegant plantations only read about in books or seen in films  — making it the perfect summer destination this year!

Charleston is a region saturated with idyllic tidal salt marshes, ports, and barrier islands.  Downtown Charleston is located on a peninsula that is formed by two rivers that meet at the Atlantic Ocean: the Cooper and the Ashley.  West of the Ashley River is West Ashley and east of the Cooper River is Mount Pleasant. Beyond these popular areas are the gorgeous beaches of Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island, and Folly Beach.  The summer months can be swelteringly hot in the “Holy City,” thus a visit to the beach every day is a necessity in order to properly cool down.

A landmark in the Lowcountry is Charleston Place Hotel, as it is a welcoming haven of old-world charm and glamour.  It is situated in the epicenter of the city and if you want to be walking distance to all of the major attractions, this is the property for you.  Charleston has a reputation for having hotels with small rooms, however these deluxe rooms are spacious and the Southern-inspired design, soft color palate, and classic furniture found within make them incredibly inviting.  The ensuite bathrooms feature Italian marble and brass fixtures with matching his and her vanity sinks.  Also included are luxurious Gilchrist & Soames bath products.

On the rooftop at the Charleston Place Hotel is the property’s spa with a horizon-edged saltwater mineral swimming pool that is heated year-round and when weather allows its glass roof retracts bringing in fresh sunlight.  Additionally, there is plenty of comfortable indoor and outdoor seating available and a gym with impressive locker rooms.  The sweeping city view looks especially nice around sunset.

A quick stop in to the Charleston Visitors Center is a great way to familiarize yourself with your surroundings.  It is a unique tourist attraction in itself, since it found within a former railway station.  You will discover copious maps and itineraries, as well as a friendly and knowledgeable staff that is genuinely interested in helping plan your time in town. You can also watch an introductory film to Charleston to get your bearings straight and visit a small museum inside.

Just like a quaint European city, Downtown Charleston is best experienced by foot.  A leisurely stroll around the residential areas will reveal secret gardens and alleyways, colorful nineteenth century mansions, and intricate iron gates by master craftsmen.  Amidst your wanderings you might notice an architectural typology that originated in Charleston called the Single House.  One room wide with its narrower façade facing the street and its wider façade facing a piazza; this style home was developed due to the hot summers pre air-conditioning.  The windows on the piazza side are opened for maximum ventilation.
After exploring the neighborhoods, meander over to King Street for a shopping fix.  This long, main street found in the middle of the peninsula is the center for retail commerce and is divided into three distinct parts: Lower King is the antique district, Middle King is the fashion district, and Upper King is the design district.  Along the way you will discover locally owned shops, trendy restaurants, and diverse boutiques.

Carriage tour

If art is what you are interested in, the French Quarter neighborhood is home to over thirty galleries.  On the first Friday of every month there is a free art walk where the galleries keep their doors open late and offer hors d’oeuvres and wine.  Nearby, the City Market is four blocks of open-air buildings where vendors sell everything from original artwork to jewelry to souvenirs.  You will even encounter Charleston’s famous sweetgrass baskets that are handcrafted in the same tradition as ancestor’s centuries before.  The Saturday Farmers Market in Marion Square also features artists and craftsmen in addition to the freshest fruits, vegetables, and baked goods.

Dining in Charleston is taken very seriously and it is almost impossible to not have a sensational meal wherever you choose to eat.  It is first-class in its culinary endeavors and has recently emerged as one of the best foodie destinations.  The talented chefs, many nationally recognized award-winners, have worked tirelessly to reinvent Lowcountry cuisine by updating the traditions of Southern food and blending them with other influences, especially Caribbean and Gullah.  They use only the finest local ingredients and quite a few of the restaurants are farm-to-table.  

Charleston is the capital of Southern hospitality.  It has been repeatedly voted “the most polite city in America”, and once you experience it for yourself you will immediately understand why.  How could anybody be rude or unpleasant with such picturesque surroundings, sunny weather, and rich culture and history, and some of the best food on the planet?