I couldn’t tell you anything about the entrance to Charleston, South Carolina, or even the surrounding area. I spent the latter half of the 12-hour drive to South Carolina asleep, only a thin pillow separating my face from the cool glass of the car window.
As a result, waking up in Charleston felt like waking up in another world. The city is bustling, a stark contrast from my sleepy suburban hometown.
Charleston doesn’t even feel like a Northeastern city; it’s nothing like New York City or Boston. There’s something indescribably different, something about the sun and architecture that continuously reminded me I wasn’t near home. It almost seemed like we crossed an imaginary line discerning northern and southern America.
By day, Charleston is home to numerous historical sites and museums.
The Charleston Museum hosts a collection of fascinating exhibits. Patrons can explore Charleston’s role in the Revolutionary War through the “Becoming Americans” exhibit, which includes a rare soldier’s cartridge box and a button celebrating George Washington’s inauguration. Another popular exhibit is the “Bunting Natural History Gallery,” which is home to dozens of prehistoric skeletons, some of which used to live in the Charleston area. My personal favorites include a cast of a Megalodon shark jaw and an 18-foot prehistoric crocodile skeleton.
The nearby Aiken-Rhett House offers historical tours. Affluent Charleston Gov. William Aiken Jr. and his wife expanded this estate in the mid-1800s. The Historic Charleston Foundation notes that this home has remained virtually untouched and preserved since the 19th century, providing insight into urban life and the harsh realities of slavery.
By night, Charleston offers an eclectic nightlife.
King Street is dotted with high-end stores, like Anthropologie and E. Blackhurst. These shops are packed well into the evening and right up until closing. As a result, shoppers towing their stuffed paper bags back to their hotels or homes is a familiar sight.
The area is also home to numerous restaurants and bars.
The Ordinary is a popular seafood restaurant and bar on King Street. The high ceilings, modern décor and huge windows provide a unique dining experience. At night, the Ordinary relies on lowlights and candlelight, making the ambiance even more distinctive. Customer favorites include the Edisto hushpuppies and the Creole seafood gumbo. Personally, I love the Brasstown steak tartare.
Indaco, another King Street locale, offers quality Italian food. This wood-paneled storefront, iconic painted sign and open kitchen invoke memories of traditional rustic Italian meals. Popular menu items include the focaccia antipasti and the whole wheat rotolo.
For those interested in a more casual location, Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit is a fantastic café. This famous shop spawned countless pop-up eateries and food trucks around the country, but the Charleston location proves that sometimes, the original is best. I love the bacon, egg and cheese biscuit sandwiches. When I’m in the mood for a snack, I crave the birthday biscuit, complete with frosting, sprinkles and a birthday candle.
A unique atmosphere, one-of-a-kind historical sites, bustling nightlife and a host of delicious restaurants makes Charleston the perfect place for an adventure. I would encourage any tourist or traveler to visit. Don’t forget to bring back a biscuit from Callie’s!