Charm. It’s the thing that always gets me here. Every time I visit Charleston I find myself surprised once more by its fascinating fusion of old and new. Blessed with beautiful Colonial heritage, it is enriched by the past while embracing 21st century life. There’s a quiet energy that fuels innovation, yet Charleston has foregone the usual trappings of modernity – the sprawls of skyscrapers and carbon-copy malls. This is a city that moves to its own beat, and one that can’t fail to draw you in with its heady mixture of contemporary creativity and old-world Southern charm. Here is my list of the top five things to do to really get under the skin of this magical place.
Sunrise over the Waterfront
Slip out for a dawn run around Waterfront Park. Soaking up the quiet of the city before it wakes allows you to take in Charleston’s history-steeped streets. Like a blushing southern belle, watch the sun gently rise over the water. I always pause to take in the view of Arthur Ravenel Jr Bridge, appreciating the juxtaposition of this colossal contemporary gateway into a city known for its historic charm.
Lunch at Home Team BBQ
For a full serving of authentic South Carolina atmosphere with the signature Charleston buzz, I always go to Home Team BBQ. Classically trained chefs passionately create delicious Southern fare, with the approbation of natives and out-of-towners alike. The chef’s creative daily specials are usually my choice, with tempting dishes rooted in Southern flavours such as house-cured bacon or smoked seafood.
Oyster bar crawl
Make the most of Charleston’s coastal position and forward-thinking food scene with an oyster bar crawl. Bustling street life forms the backdrop as you spend a few hours sampling different oysters at some of the best haunts. My favourites include the eclectic Pearlz Little Oyster Bar, the beautifully restored Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar and the airy, chic Oyster House on Market.
Drinks at Zero George
Zero George is the perfect embodiment of Charleston’s unique mix of old and new. This charming boutique hotel seamlessly blends its Colonial building with fresh, contemporary décor. And on the subject of blending, this is the perfect spot for pre-dinner cocktail in its shady garden courtyard.
Live music at Hall’s Chophouse
This family-run, old-world steakhouse gives you access to the heart and soul of Charleston. Dedicated to what the South does best – food and music – after an evening here you will feel like you really understand the city. The live jazz is some of the best you’ll find. And for something truly original, try the Sunday Gospel Brunch, with its ebullient live chorus and delicious plates of deep-South fare.