Many have romanticized Charleston’s history, overlooking the flawed strokes that are an integral part of the portrait. Yet, even with those blemishes, there’s no denying Charleston of her beauty. Though you have the option of carriage and bus tours, walking through downtown Charleston by foot is your best bet for an up close view of what the city has to offer. Romantic hidden passageways — Photo courtesy of T. Browne Smith
Charleston is made up on twenty densely-packed neighborhoods, many of which house well-preserved antebellum buildings. Of late, Charleston has been recognized as a foodie’s town. East Bay Street used to be filled with small shops; now it’s the city’s new “restaurant row,” complete with young chefs making a gourmet meal of the pauper’s shrimp and grits. Mix a food tour with a walking tour and you’ll get a look into not only the city’s history and culture, but also the cosmopolitan characteristics of downtown Charleston. The spot for fresh Southern pralines — Photo courtesy of T. Browne Smith
Follow the smell of fresh sweet Southern pralines to Market Street and you’ll come across the Customs House and the Old Market where you’ll find dozens of vendors selling everything from sweet grass baskets to salt water taffy and everything in between. Market Street runs into East Bay Street where some of Charleston’s newest hot spot eateries have taken shop. Cypress, Magnolias, and Amen Street Fish and Raw Bar rule the block and attract droves of visitors and accolades. Lowcountry menu — Photo courtesy of T. Browne Smith
If you walk perpendicular to East Bay Street, south of Market and north of Broad, you’ll run into Chalmers Street, located in the French Quarters. Chalmers Street is the longest cobble stone street in the city of Charleston. The cobble stone served as a ballast for ships traveling to the ocean. On Chalmers, you’ll also find the Old Slave Mart Museum, a museum of African and Afro-American arts, craft and history. Also in the French Quarters is Church Street where you can browse art galleries, theaters and, well, churches. Rudimentary map of old Charleston — Photo courtesy of T. Browne Smith
Traveling west on Chalmers Street, you’ll run into Meeting Street where Museum Mile runs. This easily navigable, one-mile section of Meeting Street, clusters many of Charleston’s cultural sites. On the path, you’ll find five historic homes, several houses of worship, six museums and the oldest public building in the city. Museum Mile takes you right through the middle of downtown Charleston, where you can get the most bang for your walking buck. Sweet grass baskets — Photo courtesy of T. Browne Smith
Perpendicular to Meeting Street is King Street, where you’ll find clothing stores and shops, and can end your exploration of Charleston with a meal at your pick of restaurants. If you still have the time or energy, be sure to take a break at either Waterfront Park or the Battery, where you can view more of the city’s architecture, several well-preserved mansions and dozens of stately homes that characterize the landscape of romantic historic Charleston.