Rebecca Mah

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Charleston City Guide

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What to see

At the southernmost point of the city there's a small park called White Point Gardens (most locals call it The Battery), which has large shady oak trees, a gazebo, and a very distant view of Fort Sumter. Along the perimeter of the park are some of the city’s most affluent homes. 

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If you walk north from the park on East Battery for about half a mile, it'll lead you to Rainbow Row (which you'll probably recognize because it's one of the most photographed parts of Charleston). Rainbow Row, named for the thirteen historic houses painted pastel colors, is actually the longest cluster of Georgian row houses in the United States. 

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Head east of Rainbow Row for about a block and you'll find yourself at Waterfront Park, an eight-acre park looking out along the Cooper River. The park features the iconic Pineapple Fountain and a pier with some lovely swing benches. 

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If you have time, I would absolutely recommend visiting Angel Oak, which is about a 25 minute drive outside of the city. Angel Oak is a Southern live oak tree estimated to be 400-500 years old. It's by no means the oldest tree on the east coast, but the span of the branches is quite remarkable. Its longest branch distance is 187 ft in length and, as a whole, the tree produces shade that covers 17,200 square feet.


Where to eat

Groucho’s Deli
A low-key but quality sandwich shop on King Street. We were surprised to learn that many of the original recipes for potato salad, cole slaw, and various salad and sandwich dressings, were thought up during Harold “Groucho” Miller's childhood in Philadelphia.

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The Griffon
Described by many as the quintessential dive bar, The Griffon is unique by the fact that it is plastered with over 20 years worth of dollar bills signed and decorated by passing customers. There's no official count of how many cover the walls, but we heard estimates ranging from 10,000 to 30,000. 

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Fleet Landing
Once the home of the Cooper River ferry many decades ago, Fleet Landing is a seafood restaurant that boasts beautiful views of the river and Waterfront Park pier. Ordering hush puppies is a must and you might as well get the crab bruschetta while you're at it (it was SO delicious). 

We spent just a day in Charleston, so these were the only places we had time to visit. If you're staying longer and looking for ideas, I've heard that The Darling Oyster Bar, Le Farfalle, Lewis Barbecue, Little Jack's Tavern, and Charleston Grill are also very good. 


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Where to shop

King Street is this city's main shopping strip, made up of three informal districts: Lower King (Broad to Market) is the Antiques District; Middle King (Market to Calhoun) is the Fashion District; and Upper King (Calhoun to Spring) is the Design District. Since we had limited time to spend in Charleston, we didn't do much shopping. However, there was one store I heard great things about and had to visit: Candlefish. The store was founded by experienced candle makers in Charleston and is now home to a library of 100 handcrafted scents. They also sell beautifully designed paper goods and housewares.

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TravelRebecca Mah