Simply Smart Travel

By Jeffrey R. Orenstein | jorenstein@SimplySmartTravel.com

Charleston regularly shows up as a highly preferred destination among smart travelers and consistently scores high in magazine and travel site polls. Based on our exploration of this gracious and historic Southern city, its reputation is deserved.

Charleston’s Embassy Suites Historic District is the original site of The Citadel.

Charleston’s Embassy Suites Historic District is the original site of The Citadel.

Whether it is Charleston’s rich history, its contemporary resilience from tragedy, its delightful vestiges of Gullah culture, its panoply of good restaurants, its extensive collections of galleries and museums, its picturesque architecture, its surrounding Lowcountry charms, or its bustling port, Charleston has a lot of offer.

Antebellum mansions, a fabulous historic district, Southern cuisine, nearby beaches, a mild climate and generally friendly people combine to make this a good choice for simply smart travelers.

Before You Go

Check Charleston.com and charlestoncvb.com.

Read a book about the city by Karen White, such as “The House of Tradd Street” or “The Girl of Legare Street.”

Getting There

Charleston is easily accessible by plane, train, ship and car.

Charleston International Airport (CHS) is served by major airlines and is 11 miles away via Interstate 26.

Many cruise ships make Charleston a port of call.

A Charleston Harbor Tour includes Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired.

A Charleston Harbor Tour includes Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired.

The closest Amtrak station is 10 miles away in North Charleston, served by the Palmetto, with daily service to New York and Miami.

By car, the city is on I-26, close to Interstate 95. It’s about 300 miles from Atlanta.

When You Are There

Any visitor to Charleston should:

  • Explore the many old churches and buildings in the city’s extensive historic district.
  • Learn about the city’s history dating back to the 1600s.
  • Discover Gullah culture and sweet-grass baskets.
  • Enjoy dinner at Halls Steakhouse, which is pricey but excellent, if you don’t keep kosher.

The top options if you have only two or three days:

  • A tour of the historic district, preferably using the hop-on, hop-off bus.
  • The Charleston Harbor Tour, which includes a close look at Fort Sumter.
  • The historic City Market.
  • The free trolley on any of the three routes.

If you have additional days, check out:

  • The South Carolina Aquarium.
  • More of the city’s historic churches and buildings.
  • The Lowcountry and its distinctive cuisine along the coast.

    Craftsmen all over Charleston sell hand-woven sweet-grass baskets, a symbol of Charleston’s African-inspired Gullah culture.

    Craftsmen all over Charleston sell hand-woven sweet-grass baskets, a symbol of Charleston’s African-inspired Gullah culture.

At a Glance

Mobility level: The city’s brick streets and steps can prove challenging.

When to go: The weather is good year-round, but summers are hot and humid. Frost can happen in January and February. April, May, September and October are good choices.

Where to stay: The best choice is in the historic district because of its location. Prices are fairly high but worth the proximity to attractions. The Embassy Suites Historic District is the site of the original Citadel and is close to everything.

Special travel interests: U.S. Revolutionary War and Civil War sites, history, and Southern cuisine.