Charleston's historic skyline
Charleston's historic skyline / iStock.com / Sean Pavone
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Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve
Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve / iStock.com / skiserge1
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Carriage tour of downtown Charleston
Carriage tour of downtown Charleston / iStock.com / Rolf_52
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Shrimp and grits
Shrimp and grits / iStock.com / bonchan
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Sweetgrass Baskets
Sweetgrass Baskets / iStock.com / Mjudy
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Charleston architecture
Charleston architecture / iStock.com / suebee65
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Charleston, South Carolina
Our Review
Deal Expert / Travel Blogger

This enchanting Southern city is one of America's gems. It draws on a rich history that reaches back to antebellum days, but don't let that mislead you: It's also modern in its own way, with a passionate citizenry devoted to art, food, and culture. Ocean going cruise ships dock right downtown near the historic district. The city is also included on river cruises along the Intracoastal Waterway.

What We Love

Folly Beach: If you want to find locals on a gorgeous summer day, chances are they'll be here soaking up the sun. The premier beach is only 12 miles from downtown, and home to 6 miles of sand plus a long wooden fishing pier, mom-and-pop restaurants, and a laid-back Southern vibe.

Shopping: All along historic King Street, tidy brick-front buildings house everything from collector-grade antique shops to chic fashion boutiques. For local crafts, folk art, and iconic sweet-grass baskets, head to the historic City Market, which dates back to 1804.

Best Known For

Architecture: Charleston is one of America's prettiest cities, especially in the historic district south of Broad Street, full of antebellum homes with gabled roofs, paneled wainscoting, and side piazza porches. Or take a tour to Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, the oldest public gardens in the U.S.

Who It's Best For

History Buffs: The first shots of the Civil War were fired in Charleston, from what is now called Fort Sumter National Monument. The city also has a rich African-American heritage and unique Gullah culture, created by descendants of original slaves. Home tours are a natural, with period interiors shedding light on the past.

Foodies: Low country cuisine is an art unto itself. You'll find traditional dishes including she crab soup, rice perlau, and shrimp and grits served in fine restaurants and local dives, each putting their own spin on the region's natural bounty.

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

You'll Be Shoulder to Shoulder: The splendid weather, rich history, pristine beaches ... no wonder the city gets packed in high spring season. Plan ahead for hotel rooms, tours, and restaurant reservations.