As I mentioned a few posts back, we loved New Orleans. And Savannah was as wonderful as they come. But Charleston – with its Southern charm, deep history, lovely homes, overflowing window boxes and coastal location – it won us over BIG time.
We started our tour of the city with a carriage ride through town.
We learned from our time in Savannah that getting a quick lay of the land and abbreviated history lesson is the best way to be introduced to the city. Our driver was a licensed tour guide who grew up in Charleston and was full of knowledge. I just soak up these types of talks. I could listen all day long. My kids, however, get a little bored so we try to mix it up.
From the carriage I snapped a million photos. It seemed like everywhere I looked there was another perfectly historic home.
Here’s a random thing I learned: all of the homes were built with brick (made at a local brick plantation with slave labor, sadly) but stone was perceived as more en vogue. So the builders covered the brick with plaster or stucco and drew in lines to give the appearance of a stone exterior.
After our carriage tour we walked through the old street market where these sweetgrass baskets are plentiful.
We ate so well in Savannah and had heard such great things about the restaurants in Charleston but we just were not in mood for fancy food that day. It was super hot, the kids needed a less-refined dining experience and so rather than Magnolias where we were planning on doing lunch, we hopped over to Fleet Landing.
The food was good, and the atmosphere was fun and friendly.
Fleet Landing is down on the water where there is a gorgeous park with benches and trees and a couple of fountains.
Next we made our way over to The Old Exchange Building – the old center of town where all of the trade came in and out and where politicians met, entertained and performed business.
The Old Exchange Building now houses a terrific museum. We met a docent who was so knowledgable about the early Colonists, the Revolutionary and Civil Wars and how Charleston tied in with it all and he encouraged us to check out the museum.
It ended up being so informative and enjoyable. There is a dungeon under the building that was at one time a prison for pirates, at another a secret storehouse for gun powder while under British control and the whole place was soaked in history.
Outside the Exchange Building is where much of the slave trade occurred. Just standing at the tree marking the square was so gripping. Its so hard to even imagine what those scenes must have been like. A sad part of American history, for sure and for a girl from the Pacific Northwest where slavery feels so removed, it was powerful to hear stories and stand in places where history happened.
We took one more walk through the beautiful streets lined with gracious homes before declaring that we will for sure be back for another visit.
Probably next time without the kids :)
What a lovely city. We truly can’t wait to return.