In our "Travel Guide to the South" series, staff at Alliance partner hotels and others in-the-know give their recommendations on what to see, what to do and what to eat in the South.
Oft considered the South’s crown jewel, Charleston is a city that leads with its past. Here, refined manners, Southern hospitality and historic preservation reign supreme. “Charleston is a modern-day city that functions in an 18th-century environment,” says John LaVerne of Bulldog Tours. “It is impossible to be in Charleston and not be aware that you are surrounded by history.” With its candy-colored antebellum mansions, centuries-old buildings and restored plantations, the city’s three centuries of history are on display at every turn, making it a veritable living museum.
“In Charleston, history is not relegated to a plaque on a landmark,” says Larry Spelts, manager at Planters Inn. “Instead, it is a sense of place—a connection to the past—that lives in the hearts of locals, is apparent in regional traditions, graces the facades of homes, punctuates the vernacular and seasons the food.”
“The key to Lowcountry cuisine is the heirloom ingredients that we’ve been using for more than 300 years,” says LaVerne. Born of regional ingredients, such as Carolina Gold rice, grits, okra, heirloom tomatoes and seafood, Spelts recommends local favorites pimento cheese, she-crab soup, fried green tomatoes and tomato pie.
The first decisive battle of the Revolutionary War was fought in Charleston, and Fort Sumter was home to the first shots of the Civil War.
For views of the city from the harbor, Howard recommends a visit to Fort Sumter. “You get to be on the water and then you step onto the grounds, steeping in history from the Civil War.”
This article was originally featured in the Traveler magazine.