Charleston, SC – So good it had to be included on a NC roadtrip blog.

30 03 2011




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What to do when the weather in Durham is unseasonably cold and Duke gets prematurely knocked out of the NCAA tournament? Jump in the car and drive south – south of the border, that is.

This weekend I did just that, taking a somewhat impromptu trip to Charleston, SC for the weekend (the pictures above were actually taken on my iPhone).  Despite the fact that this blog centers around North Carolina road trips, I deemed that Charleston still merits an entry.  At just over 4 hours away, Charleston is closer than some in-state destinations, and provides an experience that I could best describe as similar to Wilmington, but better.

Charleston is famous for its rich history and unique culture, blending Southern American, French, West African, and English traditions.  A walk through the downtown historic area will lead you past multiple grand city churches, stunning Southern mansions, and vibrantly-colored townhouses with flowered window boxes (be sure not to miss the famous “Rainbow Row” of majestic, multi-colored homes).  The cobbled streets are shared by cars, pedestrians, bikes, and horse-drawn carriages.

Home to the pristinely-dressed, preppy College of Charleston, this destination allows you to embrace your inner Southern belle or gentleman – if only for a few days.  Renown as “The Cradle of Southern History and Charm” and once named the “best-mannered” city in the country by Marjabelle Young Stewart, the highly-published expert in etiquette, Charleston begs that you leave the sweats in the car and break out your sundresses and hats.  If you don’t have a sun hat, not to worry – I picked one up at an open-air shopping mall upon arrival.

Compared with some of TRLT’s more adventurous excursions, a trip to the city of Charleston demands that you slow down and relax.  The most active thing you’ll likely do is take a bike ride – people in Charleston love to bike, especially on city streets, sidewalks, and piers.  Grab a swinging bench on the pier and gaze out upon the marshy water and the sailboats passing beneath the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, the longest cable-stayed bridge in this hemisphere.  Enjoy long, drawn-out brunches – beware, Toast of Charleston offers bottomless mimosas with brunch – and delectable dinners of traditional Southern style or seafood (my personal favorite was Cru Cafe, a tasty and reasonably-priced restaurant tucked inside a historic home, somewhat like Four Square here in Durham.)  As you meander the evening streets, it won’t take long to stumble upon one of the many bars or pubs – check out Big John’s Tavern, a dive bar featuring one of the most extensive beer selections I’ve ever seen.

The upcoming weekend weather in Durham isn’t looking too good either, so try this one yourself!


The wrap-up:

  • Distance from Duke: 4.5 hours
  • Recommended trip duration: long weekend
  • Recommended season: Spring/summer



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