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Charleston, South Carolina is the state’s oldest city and the second largest in terms of population. Served by Charleston International Airport, it’s a popular destination for a weekend getaway or family vacation. Nicknamed the Holy City for the many church steeples that dot the skyline, Charleston is a photographer’s dream with copper lanterns, intricate ironwork, gorgeous parks, and majestic antebellum mansions that will take your breath away. Architecture buffs can explore the 1876 Calhoun Mansion, the Gov. William Aiken House and Magnolia Plantation among other buildings of interest.
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The Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site is a good place to learn about the city’s past. Spanning 664 acres, the site preserves the state’s first English settlement, founded in 1670. Stroll through Historic Charleston, the National Historic Landmark District, and along Charleston Harbor. The Charleston Museum, established in 1773, was the first museum in the United States. It offers exhibits on the city’s founding, the American Revolution, Civil War, and artifacts of cultural and historic significance. War historians love the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum, and gun collectors enjoy exploring the Powder Magazine Museum housed in the oldest building in the state.
Other popular attractions include the South Carolina Aquarium, Fort Sumter National Monument, the Citadel, and the Gibbes Museum of Art. Tour the city in a horse-drawn carriage, or explore the many art galleries and quaint shops scattered along pedestrian-friendly streets. Enjoy a cocktail at a rooftop bar overlooking the city, or stop by one of the local breweries for a glimpse of the city’s rapidly expanding craft beer industry.
Charleston loves to celebrate and offers a variety of fun events year-round. The Spoleto Festival in the spring features theater, dance, jazz, and opera performances for 17 days at locations throughout the city. Mingle with locals and other visitors at the Lowcountry Oyster Festival, the Cooper River Bridge Run, or the Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island County Park. Be sure to save time for the Charleston City Market, where a wide variety of vendors have been delighting shoppers since 1841.
Play in the sand on nearby beaches during the day and come back to the city in the evening to enjoy Southern hospitality at its finest and award-winning cuisine.