We went on a very enjoyable and informative called the Tea Party Walking Tour, lead by a native Londoner named Marianne who has lived in Charleston for about 40 years. She lead us on a historic tour of the old part of Charleston, through gardens and courtyards, into historic buildings and churches, giving us new perspective on the different eras of Charleston life, through pre-Revolutionary to the War between the States and to modern day preservation efforts.
It was kind of funny, I think there is more than a little competition between tour guides, as far as who is allowed accessibility to which courtyard or garden, for example. In an old theatre a Ghost tour guide and her group came by, and our guide made some mildly disparaging remark.
We learned a lot about Charleston, with a lot of personal touches, and the tour ended up with sandwiches and tea served in Marianne's nice garden courtyard.
There are so many tours available in Charleston - walking tours; carriage tours; museum and historic house tours; ecotours by kayak or boat exploring the shoreline or salty marsh .... Anyway, I would strongly recommend taking some kind of tour, and can personally recommend the Tea Party Walking Tour.
During the harbor cruise portion of your tour, you?ll enjoy the panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean and entrance to Charleston Harbor, where Charlestonians are fond of saying, ?The Ashley and the Cooper Rivers meet to give birth to the Atlantic Ocean.?
Go over the bridge from Charlston to Mount Pleasant. Turn off on the "IOC" Isle of Palm Connector.
Book in Advance: BARRIER ISLAND ECO TOUR
We had a wonderful 3 hour tour.
I highly suggest this is a MUST DO
NOt that Charleston is famed for its beaches, they do have some on the no9rth and south ends of the city. Some are not that popular for out ofstate tourists, and some look like they need to be "spiffed up". I think a fair number look dreary and drab looking, and the sand is grey color.
We were wandering back into town from the battery when we came across the Calhoun Mansion, it's sparkly leaded glass windows beckoning us from the street. We saw a couple of people leaving from a tour and asked if it was worth the admission price and they gushed "oh, yes!" We caught the last tour of the day at 4:30pm, the tour takes you through the 1st and 2nd floors of the mansion with it's jaw dropping collection of antiques. My favorite room was the music room with it's stunning skylight ceiling, according to our guide the skylight was covered over for many years.
The 35 room mansion was built in 1876 and remains the largest single family home in Charleston. It has had several uses since the original owner died in 1903, George Williams was a blockade runner during the Civil War and obviously had quite a bit of money. Williams' daughter Sarah married Patrick Calhoun which is why it's called the Calhoun Mansion. They lived there until they lost their fortune in the stock market crash in 1929. In between 1930 and 1976 when Gedney Howe III bought the mansion for a mere $220,000 and restored it, the mansion was used as a B&B, a luxury hotel and used by the Navy for boarding. At one time the upstairs was converted into showers for them and painted in that hideous navy blue-gray. They had proposed to eliminate the impressive wood staircase, after seeing it you will wonder at the absurdity of that.
The current owner was not named, only that he was living there by himself with his dogs and cat who freely roam the rooms after the tours end for the day. The antique collection is his, the guide said that he was an international attorney. As a cat owner, this was an incredible notion as I know my cats would be knocking over antique vases and priceless antiques on a daily basis.
The regular 1/2 hour tour is $15 per person, there's another 90 minute tour for $50 per person that tours the entire mansion. No pictures are allowed in the interior but you can take them in the garden.
This is a part of Charleston's history that is unsavory, but important to mention. In the mid-1800's traders came to this mart to buy and sell enslaved blacks.
This interstate trade brought wealth to Charleston, South Carolina and the entire region.
However, at a later point in history slaves could only be traded or sold locally and it was not permitted to import them. Considering that South Carolina offered Rice*, Cotton and Indigo to trade or sell, cheap man power was a necessity.
Although our walking tour brought us to the Old Slave Mart Museum, we did not get to go inside. If you are interested in black history it could be a very informative visit!
*Middleton, was a good example of a successful rice plantation (see earlier tip).
**Hours are Mon.-Sat. 9am-5pm; Closed Sundays, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and NY Day. Admission is $7 for adults; $5 for seniors 60 up and Youth 5-17; Children under 5 free.
As in many historic areas, an option for seeing the grand homes and interesting architecture is by horse and carriage. In Charleston, you might try Palmetto Carriage Company, located right across the street from THE MARKET (Market and Meeting Street).
One evening we were hoping to take a ride about town after dinner in one of these conveyances, but it was near closing time and we were out of luck. Don't wait until the last minute as we did!
We were able to obtain information about the costs while we were there, though. A carriage ride which could include up to 16 people was $20 each; a private carriage for up to 4 people cost $120. Needless to say, most people we saw were taking the larger carriage.
Your tour will take you through 25-30 blocks of Charleston's most historic district--can anything be finer than seeing a picturesque city by horse and carriage?
Hours are daily from 9am-7pm
When first arriving in Charleston, it might be very helpful to stop at the Visitor's Center. A number of sightseeing tours can be booked from this point*. Inside you'll find a gift shop, restrooms and brochures on sites around the area.
We already had our tours scheduled elsewhere, so we paid $2 each to see a 30 minute film on the city's history called Forever Charleston.
Here's a sampling of the tours, but not all:
Tour B--a 90 minute ticket included a complete tour of the historic city, ride through Citadel Military College. See historic mansions, Rainbow Row, Catfish Row, Old City Market, Old Citadel, lovely gardens and churches. Includes a stop at the Battery to view Fort Sumter. Leaves every 30 minutes from the visitor's center. Daily--$22 for adults; $12 for children under 12
Tour C--A two hour tour includes: a complete historic city tour (same as Tour B), but in addition you'll see the inside of a beautiful Southern mansion, lovely antiques and architecture. Leaves every 30 minutes from the visitor's center. Mon.-Sat. $29 adults; $17 for children under 12.
Tour D--There is also a combination bus and boat tour which takes ticket holders to Fort Sumter, which leaves every 30 minutes from the visitor's center. Daily--$35 for adult; $22 for children under 12.
For other tours please go to the website: www.charlestoncbv.com. Hours are 8:30am-5pm. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year's.
*Tours depart from the visitors center, but a bus can also pick ticket holders up at their hotel or B&B for $2 extra pp
The city's black history can be appreciated and better understood by taking the popular GULLAH TOURS. These tours were devised by Alphonso Brown, who takes great pride in the contributions of his fellow Charlestonians.
You'll see some African-American churches, slave quarters, old paddy wagon, sweetgrass market and other sites. You'll hear about hexes, customs, the underground railroad and blacksmith Phillips Simmons, who is declared to have been a National Treasure by the Smithsonian.
The only stop the tour made was to Simmons' old blacksmith shop, where you'll see the tools of his trade and meet one of his relatives still working the business. Simmons' unique gates decorate many a garden pathway in Charleston. They are deemed so valuable, that some people take their garden gates with them when re-locating.
*Black History Tours $18 per adult. Times are Mon.-Fri. 11am-1pm; Saturday 11am, 1pm & 3pm. RESERVATIONS REQUIRED--for a two hour tour on a 21 passenger air-conditioned bus.
As we were planning which tour of Charleston to take, our B&B hosts strongly recommended TOMMY DEW'S Walking History Tour. It was Tommy Dew who personally guided our group of about 14 or so throughout the historic neighborhood.
It was a very enticing history lesson with many early sites and buildings pointed out to us. We were led along sidewalks and onto narrow alleyways, passing manicured gardens, gated courtyards, beautiful residences and steepled churches--Charleston's cultural heritage was laid before us--it was so informative!
The tour covers the Colonial period, tidbits from the War Between the States and Charleston's later Reconstruction and the current Renaissance for this city.
*Tours begin at 11am and last for approximately one hour and 45 minutes. Cost is $22.00 per adults and $15.00 for children 12 and under (Spring and Fall tours available at 2pm). RESERVATIONS REQUIRED and size is limited.
Being a history?maritime archaeology geek, a trip to see the remains of the confederate submarine "Hunley" was high on my list. The Hunley waged the first successful submarine warfare by sinking the Housatonic here in Charleston during the Civil War. The history of the Hunley and the extraordinary story of its recovery make it worth a visit.
Not an all day affair by any means. Plan on spending maybe an hour or so.
The ghost tour was fun! Poogans Porch was a nice place to eat. Bring a camera. One of my favorite things to do was the carriage ride. It took you all over downtown. Then we could kinda decide where we wanted to walk from there.
"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away." Here is an example of one of those moments - Sunrise Over Folly Beach Travelogue or check out the You Tube Video of the Sunrise here (sorry You Tube took off the music).
We took this photo above as we walked down Folly Beach after watching the sunset. There was a band called NeedToBreathe putting together a video and they were obviously on a break when I took this shot on the beach. We stayed around for a little while watching them film the video, but if you have ever seen a video or film shoot there is a lot of down time so after we took a couple of pictures and some video we left to go have breakfast.
East Battery street starts at the southeastern tip of the historic city. Its southernmost portion is a boardwalk from which you get a view of Charleston Harbor to your right and a great view of elaborate mansions to your left. Once the street veers from the water its name changes to East Bay Street and if you follow it, you'll get to Rainbow Row, the famed block of painted houses that adorn so many souvenir items. Walking on these streets allows you to see the many architectural styles of Charleston.
If you've never visited Charleston then walking the historic district is a must. This is where the Battery, house mansions and museums, Rainbow Row, White Point Gardens, the famous Churches (St. Michaels, St. Phillips and French Hugenot Church) the Market, King Street and much more.
To see all of these landmarks and more, The Charleston (Self-Guided) Walking Tour includes a route map with 100 numbered points-of-interest, color and vintage photos. It's 28 pages and is 4.5 x 11" (tall and slim). To get a hard-copy it's only $5.95 and you can also download the digital ebook version and print it out yourself for $3.95. To see a list of where they are sold in town visit their website. Guided walking tours are $20 per person, with a self-guided tour you can go at your own pace and don't have to worry about keeping up with the group. Below are a few pictures of landmarks on the tour. Hopefully this helps and you have a great time in Charleston! The tour could also could be taken by bicycle or in a car serving as a driving tour.
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