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Charleston (South Carolina)

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Introduction

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

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Charleston, South Carolina, is a great destination for those seeking to explore the rich history of the Southern United States while enjoying all the comforts and hospitality of South Carolina's Low Country. Founded in 1670 [1], this city symbolizes the motto of "Don't tread on me" quite literally, in that it has been disputed and occupied by the British, the French, and the Spanish, and was also controlled by both the Confederacy and the Union during the American Civil War [2].

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Sights and Activities

Charleston, or Charles Towne (named for King Charles II [2]), offers a wide variety of venues for tourists and visitors to explore. Museums, historical tours and sites; arts and entertainment, casual and fine dining, shops and more are all easily accessible to the traveller via automobile or on foot. One of the many delightful experiences offered to visitors of Charleston is a horse drawn carriage tour, which can be either public or private (for a slightly higher price). These tours take various routes around the city and often include a detailed and insightful history of Charleston, recited by the carriage host. There are many sights and sounds to take in, one of which being the architecture and buildings in The Old City, whether it be the plethora of churches and cathedrals such as St. Michael's, the merchant houses on "Rainbow Row", or many of the Colonial and Victorian residences scattered throughout the city.

Another great thing about Charleston is its location, the heart of The Low Country. There are many places of interest surrounding the Charleston area, some of which being the many plantations and private gardens such as Drayton Hall, Boone Hall, and Middleton Place. The Low Country is also home to several wildlife preserves and has both within its city limits and nearby a number of public beaches to enjoy, including Folly Beach, Sullivan's Island, and more. In addition, there are several small islands within just an hour or two of Charleston, including Edisto Island and Hilton Head, both within 2 hours driving time.

  • The South Carolina Aquarium - Featuring the geological history and wildlife present in South Carolina, from the rivers and tributaries, brackish coastal areas, and oceanic waters. Typically includes a seasonal exhibit and has a wonderful gift shop.
  • Patriot's Point and Fort Sumter - Both offer a look at Charleston and America's military past, from The Civil War at Sumter, to the U.S.S. Yorktown and various naval vessels permanently docked at Patriot's Point. A great trip for the young and the young at heart.
  • The Markets (City Market or The Marketplace) - Here you'll find any and every kind of thing for sale. There are many of the usual tourist items - the printed t-shirt, the hat, the seashell necklace - but some more unusual and exotic pieces as well. Flanked on either side of the markets are a vast collection of shops, galleries, and dining spots to suit almost any taste. Stop by the Market Street Bakery and Cafe and get a pick me up (their chocolate croissant is awesome) to keep from losing steam as you wander through the market. In summary, the markets are the go-to place for bringing back a great souvenir!

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Events and Festivals

  • The Spoleto Festival- An arts and entertainment festival featuring works and acts from The Low Country and around the world. This festival is held yearly, and lasts for 17 days during May/June. The festival features both accomplished and emerging artists of opera, dance, theater, classical music, and jazz.
  • Piccolo Spoleto - held concurrently with Spoleto, is "the official companion festival to Spoleto Festival USA, is operated by the City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs. Whereas Spoleto Festival USA features artists and performers of national and international renown, Piccolo Spoleto highlights outstanding local and regional artists with several hundred performances throughout the city. Piccolo Spoleto is "the perfect complement to the international scope of its parent festival and its 700 events in 17 days transform Charleston into an exhilarating celebration of performing, literary and visual arts." [3]
  • Annual Southeastern Wildlife Exposition (SEWE) - Held in February, this is the nations largest wildlife art expo showcase. The 29th annual Southeastern Wildlife Exposition will be a three-day all out celebration of nature's delicate creatures. The Southeastern Wildlife Expo will feature unique presentations, original art pieces, dinners, and plenty exhibits for the entire family to explore and relish. This Charleston event started as a small winter gathering has grown to become the largest annual event to take place in Charleston, South Carolina and one of the most popular and successful events in the country. The Southeastern Wildlife Exposition (SEWE) attracts over 35,000 visitors and is an important part of the annual calendar of events in Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston has been ranked #4 in a list of “Best Destination Cities” in North America by Travel and Leisure Magazine, one of the main reasons The Southeastern Wildlife Exposition has been visiting Charleston for the past 28 years. [4]

For more information, or to see a complete list of festivals in Charleston, visit the Charleston Visitor's Bureau website.

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Weather

Charleston has a subtropical climate with hot and humid summers and mild winters. Temperatures in summer are mostly around 30 °C or more with balmy nights. Winter days are mostly in the 15-20 °C range though sometimes can drop below 10 °C. Frost and snow are possible but not a regular thing.

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Getting There

By Plane

Charleston International Airport (CHS) offers flights to/from New York, Newark, Dallas, Miami, Houston, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Boston, Detroit, Baltimore, Chicago, Nashville, Washington, D.C., Charlotte and Philadelphia.

By Train

Several Amtrak trains stop in Charleston:

By Bus

Check Greyhound for information about buses, like regular connections with Savannah.

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Getting Around

By Car

Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

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Sleep

Budget

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
AAE Charleston Economy Inn5020 Rivers StreetHostel-
Charlestons NotSo Hostel156 Spring St.Hostel83
Fulton Lane Inn202 King StreetGuesthouse-

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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References

  1. 1 http://www.sc-heritagecorridor.org/sites/lowcountry-region/
  2. 2.1 2.2 http://www.ccpl.org
  3. 3 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spoleto_Festival_USA#cite_note-0
  4. 4 http://www.charlestoncocktail.com/event_seweexpo.html

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This is version 36. Last edited at 13:37 on Jul 11, 13 by Utrecht. 3 articles link to this page.

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