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Sandra Scott Travels: The City of Spires Has Much To Offer

City of Spires

City of Spires

Last week I asked: What U.S. city is called City of Spires?

City of Spires
City of Spires

Charleston, SC

Heading south?

Consider stopping in Charleston on the way.

Charleston has survived wars, fires, earthquakes and hurricanes – and despite it all, retained both her beauty and dignity.

With more than 130 churches Charleston has been dubbed “City of Spires.”

1.     Forever Charleston: At the Visitor Center the staff will book tours and help find accommodations.  It is home to “Forever Charleston,” a 36-minute multi-image presentation that offers insight into the city’s history. Charleston’s citizens tell about the city in their own words.

The Charleston Museum
The Charleston Museum

2.     Museums: The Charleston Museum founded in 1773 is America’s first museum. It has a replica of the Hunley and exhibits featuring the cultural, historic and natural history of Charleston and the South Carolina Lowcountry.

3.     Touring: The Gray Line city tour is the best way to learn about Charleston.

Fort Sumpter
Fort Sumpter

Several tour options are available including one that offers the city tour plus a stop at Charleston’s Battery and a choice of a cruise to Fort Sumter or one around Charleston Harbor.

4.     Fort Sumter: Decades of growing strife between North and South erupted in the Civil War on April 12, 1861, when Confederate artillery opened fire on the Federal fort in Charleston Harbor.

While waiting for the scenic boat ride to the island fort on-shore historical displays set the stage for a visit to the fort where the history is explained more completely.

Gibbes Art Museum
Gibbes Art Museum

5.     Gullah: African American heritage, the Gullah culture, is an integral part of life in Charleston.

An estimated 40 to 60 percent of all enslaved Africans entered the United States through the Lowcountry. Gullah Tours offer an introduction to the African American culture with a stop at the workshop of Philip Simmons, Charleston’s most celebrated ironworker.

6.     Churches: The Circular Church was organized in 1681. Fire and earthquakes caused it to be rebuilt many times until it reached its present configuration.

Take a carriage ride around Chaleston
Take a carriage ride around Charleston

Once a week, visitors are invited to “Yeddy dat music,” (Gullah for “hear the music”). During the free musical presentation visitors are encouraged to “clap yo’ hans’ an’ stump yo’ futs.”

7.     Houses: The distinctive single-style houses with the long side porches called piazzas are found on homes of working-class families as well as the huge Grandes Dames of Charleston.

Rich or poor, most of the porch piazza ceilings are painted “haint” blue because it was thought to keep away the evil spirits. Many historic homes are open for tours including the 1803 Joseph Manigualt House, which is a premier example of federal architecture.

USS Yorktown
USS Yorktown

8.     The water: Besides visiting the fort and taking water tours, the Hunley submarine and USS Yorktown are part of the history of Charleston and the United States.

The Hunley, a Civil War submarine, is housed in a specially designed tank of freshwater and tours of the USS Yorktown, a Ticonderoga-class ship operational from 1984 to 2004 are also available.

9.     Plantations: The very words Charleston and Lowcountry evoke images of live oaks lining the way to columned plantation houses.

Explore the antebellum culture with a visit to one of the many plantations open for visitors, including Boone Hall and Magnolia Plantation.

A view of history
A view of history

10.            Dining:  Seafood lovers will be spoiled for choices from white-tablecloth dining to the quirky Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, inspired by the film, “Forrest Gump.”

The restaurant has a unique paging system consisting of two license plates on the tables marked “Run Forrest Run” and “Stop Forrest Stop,” famous quotes from the film.

Trivia Tease™: What president was born in Plymouth Notch, Vermont? Look for the answer next week.

Sandra and her husband, John, have been exploring the world for decades, always on the lookout for something new and unique to experience. We have sailed down the Nile for a week on a felucca, stayed with the Pesch Indians in La Mosquitia, visited schools in a variety of countries, and — to add balance to our life — stayed at some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. Let the fun continue!