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One full week in Charleston, SC?

One full week in Charleston, SC?

Old Jan 15, 17, 7:16 pm
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Join Date: Jul 2010
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One full week in Charleston, SC?

I've booked 7 nights at Wentworth Mansion for next fall, over the week of Thanksgiving. I've never been to Charleston before, but I've read that it's similar to New Orleans (one of my favorite cities in the world) in some respects (namely the architecture and food!) and it's often referred to as one of the jewels of the South.

I had originally planned to do a 2.5 week road trip from Jacksonville to Charleston, stopping in St. Mary's and Cumberland Island Nat'l Seashore, Jekyll Island, Savannah and Beaufort; then flying back out of Charleston.

As I began thinking about our annual Thanksgiving weekend getaway and planning for travels throughout the year, I thought, why not do something completely different and fly down to Charleston to spend a full week? I'd considered Savannah as well, but Charleston just seemed better suited for the occasion; probably in large part due to the "destination-worthiness" of Wentworth inn. I think Savannah would probably work better as part of the longer roadtrip I'd previously planned for; this will also make that eventual trip much more feasible since we'll have already gotten to know Charleston and won't need to set aside as much time.

Anyhow, as mentioned at the start of this thread, I've already booked a full 7 nights in Charleston. I really don't know anything about the size of the city or it's attractions, and I just wanted to get some feedback on the length of our trip. I basically booked it because we have that exact amount of time off... plus there are a handful of restaurants that I wanted to make sure we ticked off the list. Does it seem like a reasonable amount of time for the city? Not too long? I'm not sure if it's fair comparison, but we spent two full weeks in New Orleans last spring and the time flew by. We were never short of things to do and we're already eager to return. Should I expect the same from Charleston? Also, does Charleston's historic district(s) extend as far as New Orleans, or is the standstill architecture really just concentrated to certain areas? Any tips or suggestions that you can offer given the amount of time we have to visit?

Last edited by OliverB; Jan 15, 17 at 7:24 pm
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Old Jan 16, 17, 5:39 pm
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Charleston, overall, is nowhere near the size of New Orleans in population, but it's absolutely packed with things to do. I'm a native South Carolinian and can always find a ton to do. So many great places to eat, historic sites to tour, sightseeing cruises, Ft. Sumter, the plantations, the islands, shopping, museums, it's just endless. The historic part of the city is concentrated and very walkable, but has a lot of depth. So many beautiful alleys and hidden gardens. I suggest a walking tour at least one of the days.
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Old Jan 17, 17, 12:15 am
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Thanks MissJ.

Is there much going on in the evenings in the way of arts & culture? That's one of the big draws of NOLA for us: the live music! Does Charleston have a thriving local music/arts scene?

I could be entirely mistaken as I know very little about Charleston, but for some reason I get the sense that it seems to be a very commercial-driven city which feels less diverse (multicultural) than other places in the South, which probably has something to do with its economy and demographic. I guess it's unfair to judge a city from YouTube videos and TripAdvisor photos though!

Anyhow, I'm pretty sure we're all set on the food and drink end of things. Shopping isn't really our thing, unless it's high quality vintage shopping. Well, my wife might disagree with that, but I'm sticking to it, hehe.

Are the aforementioned historic sites mostly appreciated from the street in passing, or do they offer scheduled tours that are worth doing? We'll definitely visit the plantations, as we did in NOLA. What will the islands be like in November and is it considered "off season" for beaches? Do you have a list of favorite museums that you consider "must visit" for Charleston?

We definitely plan to do a lot of walking (hoping we won't need to rent a car except for the plantations) and we'll plan for at least one or two neighborhood walking tours.

It sounds like I needn't worry too much about keeping ourselves occupied for the week. It's too early to really start planning ten months in advance, but I'll dig a little bit deeper as the months roll on. I just wanted to get some basic feedback to get a better feel for the city, which I think I now have.
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Old Jan 17, 17, 2:48 pm
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It is getting a little more commercial, but still maintains so much local flavor. Take King St. for example, I still feel odd seeing Gap and Williams Sonoma there, but it's okay. The local shops are still thriving. There is a ton of local art. A lot of small shops with locally made goods and galleries. Just looking around my own house, I see two locally made Charleston items hanging on my walls. Music, I can't say off the top of my head. I always went to a lot of shows at Music Farm, but that's different from what you are looking for. I spent a lot of times at the various beach-front bars when I was in college and there were always bands playing.

I love beer, wine, and liquor so I always go to Wadamalaw Island to visit the Firefly Distillery and relax. Westbrook is a fantastic brewery and good wine selections are great at many of the restaurants downtown.

I can't say a ton about tours, I've never visited as a tourist. Well, I did do a Charleston Footprints with an out of town group that was visiting once and it was great. I haven't been to the Charleston Museum since I was a kid or the Aquarium since it opened when I was a kid, but they were both great from what I remember.

Beaches can be hit or miss. I was home for Christmas and it was in the 70's. Definitely okay for a stroll.
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Old Jan 21, 17, 4:16 pm
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I'm also a Charleston native, and I concur that there is plenty to enjoy in and around Charleston in a week.

Since you mentioned your interest in Cumberland Island, I will recommend that you do a day trip to Bull's Island, a wildlife refuge just northeast of Charleston. A ferry goes there four days a week. Chances are you will find yourself alone or virtually alone on a pristine, six mile long beach. There aren't too many places you can have that experience. You just need to have a day with decent weather, which is likely in November. You will also have chances to see dolphins, alligators and many varieties of birds, etc. You would need to rent a car to get to the ferry.

I concur with MissJ about the Charleston Footprints walking tour.

Beaches will be fairly quiet in November, as it too cold to swim. But nice for walking. Sullivan's Island has Fort Moultrie, a revolutionary war fort. Folly Beach is very eclectic.

You can see a lot just by walking around the peninsular city. Whether you want to tour the inside of any of them is personal preference. You will be staying inside a historic mansion, so you will already have a good idea what they are like.

Don't get too hung up on the commercial side of what you see online. Charleston's history and beauty existed for hundreds of years before many tourists discovered it. When I grew up there in the 50 and 60s it had almost zero restaurants, and not too many hotels. Tourists came mostly in the early Spring for the gardens. My point is that all that Charleston offers has been there for centuries. If you are willing to do some exploring, you could enjoy lots of stuff for very little $.
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Old Feb 11, 17, 4:59 am
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Charleston is a great place to spend a week. Lots of museums, historical sites, and there is shopping in a variety of places. The aquarium is a great place to visit as well. There are tours of the city that are very informative. You will be glad you spent a week in Charleston.
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Old Feb 15, 17, 5:51 pm
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Very nice & usefull thread, thanks! I'll be near Charleston for 6 nights (saturday to friday) at the end of April. I decided to rent a car & stay on James Island. It will be my first visit.

Of course planning to go to downtown Charleston & the historic district. Most likely will start visiting the visitors center and taking the Charleston footprints tour, wondering if i should also take a carriage tour and/or the Charleston Harbor Tour?
After that just roaming around the historic district/downtown Charleston/the Battery & White Point Garden.

Also on my to do list:
Ft. Sumter

Mount pleasant/Sullivan's Island:
Ft. Moultrie
Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum

North Charleston:
H.L. Hunley

And some relaxing at Folly beach

Didn't decided yet if i also should visit a plantation. Noticed Magnolia plantations & gardens, Boone hall, Middleton place. Visiting more then one may be overkill. If you had to choose 1 plantation, which would you pick? Any recommendations?
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Old Feb 15, 17, 6:10 pm
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Charleston is the most stunning city of contrasts. It was the birthplace of religious liberty in North America, and yet 40% of the slave trade came through Charleston.

The original colony's founding papers promised religious freedom, and French Heugenots and Sephardic Jews began communities there among the earliest settlers.

Kahol Kadosh Beth Elohim (KKBE) is the oldest continuously operating Jewish Reform Congregation in America, and its history is deeply entwined with that of the city (and the Confederacy), and their tours are wonderful. Strongly recommended for everyone.

I'm not sure if the Heugenot Church has tours, but theirs is a similar history of people freeing religious persecution and becoming an integral part of this remarkable town.

Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church has always held a special place, as the founding African Methodist Church, among people of faith, and especially among African-Americans. The unspeakable tragedy that occurred there last year led them to end their daily tours and limit days of hours of visitors. There still are tours, but you should check ahead for dates and times.

They don't call it the Holy City for nothing.

I can't wait to get back there this spring for yet another walking tour. I learn more and more with each different tourguide.
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