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Guide to Charleston

By Becca Hensley

This story originally appeared in the March/April 2018 issue of Elite Traveler.

When you long for somewhere nostalgic, a place removed from the blaring news, cultural homogeneity and bustling urbanity of many of today’s major cities, Charleston can be your escape. There aren’t any skyscrapers dotting the skyline or towering over its historic district, and there isn’t the threat of one being built in the future. The sprawling historic district in this Southern bastion by the sea is one of the largest in the world, second only to Rome. That’s right. Rome. Although it has been besieged by earthquakes, fires, wars and hurricanes, Charleston never gave up its identity or put its legacy at risk. Through the years it has doubly embraced its heritage (which dates back to 1670), architecture and unique cultural characteristics, thus keeping its textured personality intact. Generations of African slave descendants (today known as Gullah) heavily influenced the city’s culture through their folklore, food, language and artistry. Charleston also cherishes Old Southern manners, elegance and charm. Horse-drawn carriages are a frequent sight on cobblestoned streets that are adorned with ironwork balconies, Doric columns, colonial buildings and classic plantation-style mansions. This harbor town has verdant groves of palmetto palms and gardens of magnolia, wisteria and jasmine woven into its old-world framework. A maze-like place that brims with beauty, mystery and grace, Charleston offers a distinct cuisine known as Lowcountry, which is also interpreted with sophistication by award-winning chefs. For a romantic weekend, mosey down to the Battery to watch a sunset, sip she-crab soup, or wander the antique treasure troves along King Street. With golf resorts and beaches on its outskirts, a penchant for a well-crafted cocktails at any time of day and an understanding that the point of manners is to make other people feel comfortable, this magical historic city has much to show you.

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