5 things Charleston is known for, from history to Southern cuisine

Published Date: January 17, 2023

Skyline in South Carolina
Charleston is a charming, culture-filled South Carolina destination that seems to get more and more popular every year. Some 7 million visitors are drawn to the subtropical weather, an incredible food scene, nearby beaches and the 17 championship golf courses within swinging distance. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a regular, here are five things you should definitely know about Charleston, nicknamed the Holy City for its history of religious tolerance and numerous places of worship.

1. Being full of firsts 

Dating from 1736, the Charleston Stage Company's Dock Street Theater is touted as America’s first theater and has since been revived after the Great Fire of 1740, the Civil War and again in 2010. Today, it’s at the heart of Charleston’s artistic scene, hosting over 100 performances each year. Charleston is also home to the nation’s first city-supported college, the College of Charleston, founded in 1770. And just three years later came the Charleston Museum, inspired by the world-famous British Museum and now commonly regarded as America’s first museum.

2. Its many haunted spots 

Many believers of the paranormal profess Charleston to be one of the most haunted cities in the United States. Multiple companies offer walking tours of some of Charleston’s spookiest sites, including the Old Exchange Building, which has an underground dungeon used as a prison during the American Revolution and once housed the notorious pirate Blackbeard. Less than a mile away, the Old City Jail is a popular stop on ghost tours, and it’s been featured on the TV series “Ghost Hunters” and “Paranormal State.” The jail once housed the city’s most notorious convicts, including the first convicted U.S. female serial killer, Lavina Fisher, who was publicly executed there, wearing her wedding dress. 

3. Incredible local food

Foodies from near and far head to the South for the food scene, and Charleston offers a culinary experience all its own. With a combination of European, African and Native American influences, the cuisine in Charleston has a long history — and plenty of flavor. You can find iconic local dishes like shrimp and grits and cornbread all over town. Fried green tomatoes make a popular appetizer, and boiled peanuts are so loved, they’re called the “caviar of the South.” You’ll find she-crab soup at many local restaurants — a rich, bisque-like crab soup that’s called “she-crab” because it contains orange crab roe, found only in female crab. For a hearty dinner, try frog-free Frogmore stew — named for the South Carolina town where it originated. This one-pot meal has shrimp, corn on the cob, new potatoes, and smoked sausage. Wash it all down with a glass of Planter’s punch, a cocktail invented at the historic Planters Inn in downtown Charleston.   

4. Rich history

History buffs can’t get enough of Charleston’s historic buildings, monuments, museums and walking tours. Charleston celebrated its 350th anniversary in 2020, and the city’s most storied historical sites span the centuries. Start at the famous Angel Oak, a live oak tree believed to be over 400 years old. At 65 feet tall and with branches spanning to 180 feet, it creates an incredible 17,000 square feet of shade. Then, check out the 1713 Powder Magazine, the last remaining structure from Charleson’s original walled city from pirate times. The Old Slave Mart Museum is the best place to learn about the tragedy of the once-booming slave trade in Charleston. At one point, as many as 35 to 40% of slaves entered the United States through Charleston. A visit to Fort Sumter is also a must, as you’ll learn more about how the Civil War started, right in Charleston. 

5. Proximity to beautiful beaches 

Just 15 miles from downtown Charleston are some of the East Coast’s most gorgeous beaches and five distinct beach towns to explore. Folly Beach is the closest to Charleston and features an action-packed boardwalk, wonderful locally owned shops and restaurants, white sands and crystal-clear waters perfect for watersports. Isle of Palms is a barrier island located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway. With broad sandy beaches, resort communities, watersports and multiple golf courses, it’s a popular vacation destination for families. Just south of Isle of Palms is Sullivan’s Island, a laid-back beach town popular with locals and visitors alike, and home to the Revolutionary War site of Fort Moultrie. Kiawah Island is the most luxurious of the bunch. It’s a private resort island where you’ll find 10 miles of beaches and the famous Kiawah Island Golf Resort. Finally, Seabrook Island has a serene and secluded feel and ample ways to soak up the South Carolina sunshine, whether your idea of a good time is fishing, golf, tennis, horseback riding or a nature walk to explore the maritime forest and marshlands.   

What will you love most about Charleston?

There’s so much to discover in Charleston and so many ways to spend your time. Whether you love history, art and culture, outdoor activities, food or a little bit of everything, you need ample time to explore. Become a Charleston local when you buy a Pacaso second home.

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Jen Lyons

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