Charming Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina is one of my favorite cities in the entire world. Every time I visit, I always want to stay longer and whenever I leave, I can’t wait to go back. For me, part of the city’s enchantment is that it’s so different from where I grew up in New England (it’s the Lowcountry, y’all!), but by the same token, there are a number of ways it reminds me of home. Everyone there seems so sunny- natives and visitors alike. People say “hello” to one another on the street and when dining, both waitstaff and fellow patrons are always quick to strike up a conversation with strangers.
There are many reasons why I am so enamored with Charleston, including the friendly people, the endless variety of great food and all of its rich history- but one of the most charming (and while I hate to overuse it, this really is the single best word to describe the city) things about it is the architecture. There is no shortage of color here, as proven with the downtown street that’s appropriately been coined “Rainbow Row.”
The “Charleston Single House” is the signature architectural style most associated with Charleston, SC. These stately and spectacular homes are typically one room wide as they stand tall on deep, narrow lots, extending back the distance of several rooms. They often have beautiful double-covered verandahs and are found exclusively in the Peninsular section of the city. The cobblestone pavers found in this area arrived as ballast in the hulls of sailing ships during the 1800’s.When it comes to landscaping, especially in the Battery district, Charleston’s homeowners are impeccably attentive to detail. Each home has a lawn and/or patio area that is perfectly manicured and inviting. Dressed in colorful flowers with greenery galore, the exteriors of these houses are something from a spread in Architectural Digest (many have actually been featured in the magazine). As icing on the cake, period gas lamps line the streets throughout the city and burn bright around the clock. While Charleston is so different from the Ocean State, certain streets downtown are reminiscent of their contemporaries on the East Side of Providence.
If you’re taking a stroll through town, notice the ornamental wrought iron gates around the city. Each with a different beautiful and intricate design, the majority of these gates were first crafted by blacksmith Christopher Werener in the 1800’s and then in the 20th century, by Philip Simmons. Blacksmiths, who had once worked primarily on horseshoes and wagon wheels, started expanding their creativity experimenting with patterns and scrollwork. These attractive gates are everywhere and I was even able to find myself a pair of earrings with the design from one that encloses my favorite house in East Battery!
As always, we had a number of great meals at some fantastic restaurants during our stay in the “Holy City.” Charleston has quite the reputation as a “foodie” destination and has become a real culinary center over the last couple of decades. Among our favorite meals were those at Sermet’s Courtyard on Daniel Island, where we had an out-of-this-world dinner (try the eggplant or scallop risotto!), Cru Cafe on Pinckney Street for a scrumptious and hip, yet casual lunch (the Chinese chicken salad-hold the chicken- for vegetarian ole’ me, was superb), and Fleet Landing on the Charleston Harbor for some great water views and a cool downtown atmosphere. Fleet Landing is housed in a 1940’s retired naval building and the food is something to write home about (I had an excellent pesto-vegetable pasta which was surprisingly tasty, especially since we were in a non-Italian restaurant). The drinks here are also delicious- and STRONG. If you’re looking for breakfast, both Breizh Pan Crepes on George Street (the owners are French so the food is très authentique) and Toast on Meeting Street (do yourself a favor and get the stuffed french toast) are well worth the visit! Oh, and if you need a jolt of caffeine before taking on the town, or are in the mood for a local brew, Kudu Coffee And Craft Beer Bar is the place to go… My latte came with the most beautiful little milk/foam/espresso design I’d ever seen.
There is so much to love about this Southern, coastal town and I recommend it to friends and family all of the time. When you visit, be sure to ditch the car and explore the ins and outs of the city by foot – perhaps with a horse drawn carriage ride along the way- and have your camera and your appetite ready. If considering a second home with a climate that’s a bit warmer than that of the Northeast, it’s a quaint and relaxing alternative to explore.
A traveler since childhood, Juliana Fraioli Wilson has always had a love for exploring. She is a published writer and an accomplished business owner with a background in music and art. Join Juliana, her husband Ryan, and their two kids in Wanderland! Follow along as they share tips, tricks, recipes and reviews from some of the most beautiful travel destinations in the world.