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Charleston, with its fragrant jasmine courtyard gardens, antebellum mansions and warm hospitality, remains one of the South's most gracious cities. Soak up three centuries of history, sample its savory Low Country cuisine, and toast with a mint-julep to a South Carolina city that has braved hurricanes, fires, earthquakes and the Civil War. Or visit Folly Beach or Sullivan's Island for Victorian cottages and fresh seafood. Charleston is the ultimate place to unwind.
Things to Do
Slow down to the city's pace -- and drawl -- in a horse-drawn carriage. The Battery, with its landscaped parks and columned mansions fronting the harbor, is made for strolling. The South Carolina Aquarium is the place to survey the state's aquatic life, from mountain trout to coastal sharks. You can delve into history on a narrated harbor cruise to Fort Sumter, where the first shot was fired in the U.S. Civil War, and by visiting any of the nearby plantations. Framed by oaks and unspoiled by electricity, plumbing and central heating, Drayton Hall is one of America's finest example of Georgian-Palladian architecture.
Walk down King Street, named (like the city) after King Charles II of England, window-shopping its upscale antique stores for museum-quality curios and European treasures, or wander over to Charleston Place on Market Street for international designer wear. Everyone browses the Old City Market, where bargain-priced kitsch vies with one-of-a-kind local items, such as Low Country sweet-grass baskets. On Saturdays (except in winter), farmers fill stalls with cut flowers, plump fruit, fresh veggies and local rice and spices in the park at Marion Square.
Nightlife and Entertainment
Sip a Carolina peach martini on the rooftop of the Vendue Inn and watch sailboats crisscross the harbor as the sun sets. Live music, from blues to bluegrass, thrives at neighborhood venues like Home Team BBQ, a local favorite. If you're determined to party, bar-hop at the beach, beginning on the sprawling porch of Poe's Tavern on Sullivan's Island. Although nothing compares to summer's Spoleto Festival, the Dock Street Theatre's year-round productions preserve Charleston's well-earned reputation as a cultural center in the American South.
Restaurants and Dining
Charlestonians are obsessed with the latest and greatest restaurants, and the best are often downtown or over the Cooper River bridge in Mount Pleasant. Feast on sherry-spiked she-crab soup; the rich slurry of shrimp n' grits n' gravy; crisply fried okra; collard greens and cornbread; and fresh local seafood, especially wreckfish. Don't forget to have dessert. A big, gooey slab of pecan pie should do.
Our selection of American Airlines flights to Charleston makes it convenient to explore the city, whose 300-year history is beautifully preserved with architectural and historical treasures. There's no shortage of fascinating things to do in Charleston, whether you're bringing the entire family or just getting away for a quick weekend with friends. The mild climate ensures that many of the outdoor activities in Charleston can be enjoyed year-round, from visiting beaches and battleships to touring plantations or playing a round of golf.
On the top of our list of things to do in Charleston is a stop at Fort Sumter National Monument, which marks where the Civil War began on April 12, 1861. It's only accessible by boat, with ferries available at the Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center located in downtown Charleston. The nearby Fort Moultrie, on Sullivan's Island, was part of the Revolutionary War. It has been restored to highlight its involvement in major battles since it was first attacked in 1776, and today it is the only unit of the National Park System where the entire history of American defense can be traced. It is accessible by car (please note that you cannot get to Fort Sumter from Fort Moultrie).
Another one of the most popular historical activities in Charleston is a visit to Magnolia Plantation. This 17th-century estate features America's oldest gardens, which can be traced back to1680. You can see blooms all year long and can also view the Pre-Revolutionary War plantation house, antebellum cabin, wildlife observation tower and more. It's a beautiful site with many picturesque photo opportunities. Add a stop at Boone Hall Planation to your list of things to do in Charleston, because you won't soon forget its awe-inspiring entrance along the Avenue of Oaks. This plantation includes live presentations and an exhibit on Black History in America. If the surroundings of Boone Hall look familiar, that's because it's known as the country's most photographed plantation, and it has been the setting for many television shows and movies.
Don't leave town without visiting the South Carolina Aquarium, with interactive exhibits the kids will love. You'll be able to see loggerhead turtles, stingrays, sharks, moray eels, alligators and more.
With American Airlines, you can fly to Charleston for an entertaining time that also features a healthy dose of historical education. Use the tools here to start planning your getaway today.
|Spoleto Festival||24 May - 9 Jun 2013 (annual)||Charleston|
|Piccolo Spoleto Festival||May - Jun 2013 (annual)||Charleston|
|Annual Fall Tours of Homes and Gardens||Sep - Oct 2013; Thu, Fri, Sat, and Sun only (annual)||Charleston|
|Battle of Secessionville Re-enactment||Nov 2013 (annual)||Boone Hall Plantation|
|Lowcountry Oyster Festival||Jan 2014 (annual)||Boone Hall Plantation|
|39 Rue de Jean||French||Around Town||2||2|
|82 Queen||American Regional||Around Town||2||2|
|A. W. Shucks||Seafood||Around Town||1||2|
|Anson||American Regional||Around Town||3||4|
|Carolina's||American Regional||Around Town||2||2|
|Charleston Grill||French||Around Town||4||4|
|Circa 1886 Restaurant||French||Around Town||4||3|
|Fig||American Regional||Around Town||3||3|
|Grill 225||American||Around Town||3||2|
|Gullah Cuisine Lowcountry Restaurant||American Regional||Nearby Places||2||2|
|High Cotton Maverick Bar & Grill||Steaks/Chops||Around Town||2||3|
|Hominy Grill||American Regional||Around Town||1||2|
|Hyman's Seafood Company Restaurant||Seafood||Around Town||1||2|
|Jestine's||American Regional||Around Town||1||1|
|Magnolias||American Regional||Around Town||2||1|
|Peninsula Grill||American Regional||Around Town||4||3|
|Robert's of Charleston||American||Around Town||4||3|
|S.N.O.B. (Slightly North of Broad)||American Regional||Around Town||2||2|
|See Wee||American Regional||Nearby Places||2||2|
|Sunset Grille||Seafood||Around Town||2||1|
|The Boathouse on East Bay||Seafood||Around Town||2||1|
|The Old Post Office||American Regional||Around Town||2||1|
|The Red Drum||American||Nearby Places||3||4|
|Blind Tiger Pub||The Club & Music Scene||1|
|Chai's||The Club & Music Scene||2|
|Club Habana||Bars & Pubs||1|
|Dudley's||Gay & Lesbian Bars||1|
|Déjà Vu II||Gay & Lesbian Bars||1|
|First Shot Bar||Bars & Pubs||1|
|Henry's||The Club & Music Scene||1|
|Kaminsky's Most Excellent Café||Late Night Dining||1|
|Patrick's Pub & Grill||Gay & Lesbian Bars||1|
|Roof Top at the Vendue Inn||Bars & Pubs||1|
|The Brick||Bars & Pubs||1|
|Vickery's Bar & Grill||Bars & Pubs||1|
|CSA Galleries||Specialty Shopping||1|
|Charleston Crafts||Arts & Crafts||1|
|Croghan's Jewel Box||Jewelry||1|
|Geiss & Sons Jewelers||Jewelry||1|
|George C. Birlant and Co||Antiques||1|
|Lucas Belgian Chocolate||Food||1|
|Old Charleston Joggling Board Co||Sporting Goods||1|
|Preservation Society of Charleston Bookstore||Bookstores||1|
|Scents of Charleston||Perfume & Cosmetics||1|
|The Shop of the Historic Charleston Reproductions||Housewares & Furniture||1|
|Aiken-Rhett House||Historic Site||4|
|Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens||Historic Site||1|
|Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site||Museum||4|
|Drayton Hall||Historic Site||3|
|Edmondston-Alston House||Historic Site||4|
|Fort Moultrie||Historic Site||1|
|Fort Sumter National Monument||Historic Site||4|
|H.L. Hunley Confederate Submarine||Historic Site||4|
|Heyward-Washington House||Historic Site||4|
|Joseph Manigault House||Historic Site||2|
|Magnolia Plantation and Its Gardens||Historic Site||4|
|Middleton Place||Historic Site||4|
|Nathaniel Russell House||Historic Site||4|
|Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon||Historic Site||2|
|South Carolina Aquarium||Zoo/Aquarium||2|
|The Charleston Museum||Museum||3|
|The Citadel||Historic Site||2|
|The Gibbes Museum of Art||Museum||2|
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