Charleston is that rare southern city that has retained the charm of its past while reinventing itself for the new millennium. This is a wonderful weekend getaway chocked full of great places to stay and eat and plenty to do. It is also one of those great walking around cities because you can discover something interesting down every alley and around every corner. Every time I go here, I stumble upon a new restaurant or boutique or gallery I never saw before. The anticipation of new discoveries makes this a delightful place to visit. The city is steeped in history, the Civil War started here at Fort Sumter, and a stroll through town, down cobblestone streets, among stately mansions evokes thoughts of days gone by.
Despite its charm and southern sophistication, Charleston has a bit of a quirky personality as well. How else do you explain that it’s against the law to cook a hamburger any way other than medium well? Or that the liquor in all the restaurants and bars used to be the little ones served on the airlines? The best reason we heard, true or not, for that was that Seagram’s makes all the little bottles and they were a major contributor to Strom Thurmond’s Senate campaigns…you can guess the rest. When he passed on, so did the little bottles!
My favorite Charleston quirk though, is the system for regulating where the horse drawn carriages go. Once the carriage is full, the driver pulls up to a gatehouse. The gatekeeper puts a little ping pong ball in an air bin (like the lottery) and the number that comes up is the area of the city the carriage can go to. They even put a special license plate on the carriage indicating where the carriage can go. I asked the gatekeeper how I would be able to get to a certain part of the city and he said, “gotta wait for that number to come up.” I said, “what if it doesn’t”, he said, “you gotta wait longer”, I said, “you mean I could come and pay 10 times and still not go where I want?” and he said, “yup” and I said, “doesn’t that seem a little strange to you,” and he said, “nope.” Ah, the South, you gotta love it.
What is wonderful about Charleston is that one visit isn’t enough. Even two or three wouldn’t allow you to enjoy all the area has to offer. Our hotels and restaurant recommendations are so pleasurable that you’ll want to enjoy them more than once.