Fun Things to do in Charleston • Tour Travel Hotels
For about six or seven consecutive summers, my family drove the car from our home in the DC suburbs of Charleston, SC. While my dad’s family was from the Boston area, my mom’s family had southern roots and the summers when we couldn’t visit both sides of the family, we alternated. I’ve always loved these trips to South Carolina – see five of my favorite experiences below.
Where to stay
Planning a trip to Charleston? The Liberty Place Club by Hilton Club is central, feeling regal and a great reflection of the city’s elegant charm. They offer spacious and modern one- and two-bedroom suites, positioned to explore the cobblestone streets and colorful townhouses of the nearby historic district.
Get inspired by Rainbow Row
Let’s start with a walk along my favorite row: Rainbow Row. Named after Charleston’s set of 13 colorful historic homes that boast Georgian architecture, Rainbow Row will literally add color to any cloudy day. Rainbow Row will likely be included in any Charleston walking tour, as it is close to the historic waterfront dating from 1748 to 1845.
My grandmother on my mother’s side grew up in Charleston and one of these houses has been in our family for generations. The house has since been sold to a young couple, but it’s good to know that it has been enjoyed by so many family members over the years.
While no one knows the exact reasoning behind the brightly colored houses, some believe it was to get the attention of drunken sailors who might otherwise have gotten lost on their way home.
Walk along the battery
I grew up in a military family – my father was a colonel in the Marines (reserves) – so visiting military sites was always part of any travel itinerary.
The Battery is a defensive seawall and historic promenade in Charleston. It is bordered by the Ashley and Cooper rivers which join together to form Charleston Harbor and well, the view is breathtaking. Loved walking along the promenade on those hot summer days and enjoying the cool breeze from the lower shores.
There is also a bit of family history now attached to this famous sea wall. This is not just where my father proposed to my mother so many years ago; this is also where my brother-in-law proposed to my sister, because he wanted to follow the tradition.
Visit the College of Charleston campus
During most of my high school years, I dreamed of attending the College of Charleston. Life is funny, though, and even though I was accepted in my senior year, at that point I didn’t want to go to a school outside the state anymore. Having said that, it’s still one of the nicest college campuses I’ve seen, and I’ve seen quite a few.
During my family summers in Charleston, we always spent a few hours a day exploring the streets of downtown. The campus is located right in the heart of the historic city center but has such a private and secluded feel. Founded in 1770, it is the oldest educational institution in southern Virginia; it is even considered a national historic monument.
Another reason I love the College of Charleston campus is that it hosted one of my favorite high school movies – O (for Othello), with Julia stiles and Josh Hartnett. Swoon.
Marvel at the Spanish moss
While you enjoy the College of Charleston campus, take a break under one of the trees covered in Spanish moss. It can get very hot in the summer and you will learn to enjoy the shade as much as possible. Of course, you can see Spanish moss in other parts of the state, as well as other southern cities like Savannah, Georgia.
It has a pretty romantic name, but in fact Spanish moss is not moss at all, nor Spanish. Its Latin name is Tillandsia usneoides, which actually belongs to the pineapple family. In the past, it was called Itla-okla (“tree hair”) by the Native Americans and Spanish beard (“Spanish beard”) by the French and this is the name that has come to prevail.
Charleston Boat Tour
One of my favorite ways to see Charleston is by boat. As a kid we would take the ferry to Fort Sumter for a few hours and then come back in the evening. In addition to the ferries that transfer you to and from, you can also opt for a historic boat that takes you to sites like the Ravenel Bridge. Alternatively, there are more luxurious offerings that include cocktails and a more ambient vibe.
Other ways to see Charleston
If you have a few extra days in Charleston, I recommend that you immerse yourself in local art, food and cocktails. Here are some recommendations:
* Taste the classic Mint Julep
This is something I couldn’t do as a kid, but I’m definitely planning to do on my next trip. A classic mint julep is made with mint leaves, a sprig for garnish, simple syrup, granulated ice cream, and bourbon. It is a popular drink in the south and especially in Charleston. It definitely has a kick out of it, but it’s such a good balance of sweet and sour. Thirsty just thinking about it!
* Discover a Charleston Oyster Roast
Yes, you read that right. I’m a big fan of oysters and I can’t imagine a better low country meal than a bunch of hot oysters on my plate. For reference, the Netherlands is an area stretching from below Myrtle Beach in South Carolina to Amelia Island, Florida. Understandably, the oyster roaster is an art form at many Charleston dining establishments.
* Learn the facts … and the legends
Whether you believe in ghosts or not, ghost tours are one way to see Charleston. Depending on which tour you book, prices typically start around $ 25 and last around 90 minutes. You will likely stop at one of Charleston’s old cemeteries and at night, so be prepared if you get scared easily. Alternatively, if you are less keen on supernatural legends, opt for a historical walking tour instead.
* This article is in collaboration with Hilton Grand Vacations.
Hilton Grand Vacations knows that planning a trip takes a lot of research and patience, and they’ve created a robust website to help you out. The Club Membership website is a great resource to help owners learn how Hilton Grand Vacations timeshare works and plan a vacation to remember. And, if you’re not yet a member, read what real owners have to say about vacation ownership on the Hilton Grand Vacations blog.