If you have friends in Charleston, go visit them immediately. If you are a first timer, the following are insider tips from my Charleston friends about how to enjoy the city they love. You’ll be happy walking everywhere in Charleston but you’ll need a car to get out of town to the historic houses.
Charleston is old. What happened here? Who lived in those houses?
Begin your visit with a private walking history tour with one of these two knowledgeable women.
For the DYI visitor, here is a link to a self-guided walking tour South of Broad.
Famous Charleston Hospitality
Charleston Cooks offers two kinds of cooking classes so that you can entertain friends around your own table at home:
- Participation class – you’ll dice, chop and stir under the direction of top Charleston chefs, or
- Demonstration class – you watch the pro’s make their specialties
Either way, you get generous samples of the results.
The Charleston Museum, founded in 1773, may have been the first museum in America. Get a taste of Charleston’s history.
Historic Charleston Foundation, Museum and shop. They sell reproductions of the best of Charleston furniture and housewares.
Gibbes Museum of Art. 1915 to 1940 is described as the Charleston Renaissance in painting. Gibbes has a large collection.
The Old Slave Market offers a sad reminder of the slave auctions and lives of Africans in America. Run by the National Park Service.
Drayton Hall plantation survived the American Revolution. It is nine miles northwest of Charleston. Go to for the architecture and the history, but take the time to be a little proud of what those early American’s created.
The Gardens at Middleton Place offer 65 acres of America’s oldest landscaped gardens. Henry Middleton began the gardens in 1741. Thirty minutes from Charleston by car.
John Pope Antiques Check out the upstairs.
Bands in Charleston (recommended by a young local journalist)
The Dead 27’s (Like Black Crows)
Big John Belly (Blues)
Fowler’s Moustache (Jazz)
Books and films about Charleston
- The Lords of Discipline (based on Pat Conroy’s experiences as a cadet at The Citadel)
- South of Broad, Pat Conroy
- The Great Santini, Pat Conroy
- Gershwin’s Play, Porgy and Bess 1959 Play, DVD,
- Porgy and Bess, 1193 Glyndebourne Opera
- Galilee, Clive Barker’s novel
- Scarlett, The 1991 sequel to Gone With The Wind.
- The Notebook, was filmed in Charleston in 2004. The American Theatre on King Street was Allie and Noah’s first date spot.
- Virals and Seizure both by Kathy Reichs. The books’ venue is Charleston.
- Falling Skies, TNT TV show is set predominately in post-apocalyptic Charleston in the second season onwards.
- Army Wives, Lifetime TV Show is set at a fictional Army post in Charleston and mostly filmed on location in the City of Charleston and in the City of North Charleston.
Can you believe that I left this category until last? I wandered through lots of fun shops. I especially liked the causal jewelry, both ‘faux bling” and semi-precious stones. I am told that Elizabeth Locke lives nearby.
The antique stores are full of gracious mahogany tables set with silver and crystal. You’ll be inspired to go home and invite friends to dinner and ‘get out the good stuff’.
The heart of the antiques district is lower King Street.
Upper King is the place for contemporary design in lighting, jewelry and clothing.
Ben Silver sells bow ties, special blazer buttons and the clothing to go with them.
A hint from the Planter’s Inn, George C. Birlant & Co. is now run by fourth generation owners, this is arguably the most respected local purveyor of 18th and 19th century furniture, silver, china, crystal, and brass; however, what’s really grand is the Charleston Battery Bench—a one-of-a-kind hand cast bench is beautifully engraved with the motifs of indigenous flora and fauna indicative of Lowcountry wildlife and sporting lifestyle.”
I arrived in Charleston for a board meeting and the weather turned cold. I needed a pair of black shoes. Yes, I had a shoe emergency. The nice owner of Bob Ellis Shoe Store, opened his door on a Sunday morning and got me just what I needed. Charleston hospitality carries over into retail!
All things Indigo are featured since Charleston was the center of the indigo trade.
A friend offers her nomination for ‘husband of the year’ for a bracelet he found for her at Graffito!