Having lived within the Charleston and Low Country area for most of my life, one would think that visits to the downtown area would eventually become mundane. To the contrary, whenever I have the opportunity to walk the downtown streets, I experience the same sense of wonderment and anticipation that I experienced as a youth; if not more so. As an adult, my appreciation for this city's beauty and historic significance continues to increase year after year. There is so much to see, do, and experience here. It is no wonder that for three years running now, Charleston has been named "#1 City in the US" by Conde Nast Traveler Reader's Choice Awards. Charleston has always been #1 in my book.
There are numerous parks and gardens in and around the City of Charleston. Two of our favorites, also happen to be two of the oldest; White Point Garden and Hampton Park. It could be that our affinity with these parks may have something to do with the giant majestic old Live Oaks that nearly dominate them. It may also be the band stands that were erected in both parks during the early 1900s, which have served as venues for numerous live performances and weddings since that time. As I stand now gazing at the White Point Garden bandstand, I begin to imagine being here in the 1920s for a Sunday afternoon Concert; the band perhaps playing John Philip Sousa marches... White Point Garden and Hampton Park are just two of the many beautiful parks and gardens within the City of Charleston; and for the history buff, these two parks offer a glimpse into the past that completely captivates the imagination.
The history of this city dates clear back to the 1600s. Whether it's your first or one hundredth visit; the historic tours are by far the best and most entertaining way to learn all there is to know about Charleston, SC. There are: harbor boat tours, bus tours, walking tours, cycling tours, home tours, horse drawn carriage tours, and the list goes on... I have been on several of them, and look forward to going on more. All the tour guides I've personally encountered have been informative as well as entertaining; usually with a historic anecdote or tidbit that's not commonly known.
The dining experience in Charleston, is without a doubt one of the city's most appealing attributes. Whether it's elegant, informal, or kick-back relaxed; Charleston is home to some of the world's most unique and outstanding cuisine. Some of the locally owned restaurants, of which I have had the pleasure of dining, offer locally harvested seafood and produce; prepared and served in a manner that inspires a lasting and loyal patronage. The decor and atmosphere of many of these downtown establishments are as unique as they are warm and friendly. Quite a few of them offer live entertainment as well; usually in the form of a small jazz ensemble or folk band.
When it comes to live entertainment in downtown Charleston... there is something going on all the time. Performance stages (indoor and out) are all over the city, providing a venue for performing arts of every genre. There are several live theaters located on the peninsular; the most notable of which is Doc Street Theater - the first theater in the US to be built for the sole purpose of live play performances. Charleston is also home to the world renown Spoleto Festival. Since 1977, for 17 days and nights from the last part of May through the first part of June, the entire city becomes the perfect venue for performing artists from all over the world. The Spoleto festival has become one of Charleston's top entertainment attractions. Every type of performing art imaginable is in full swing all over the city; plays, musicals, concerts, ballets, opera. There is something for everyone.
Future articles will focus more on specific locations and/or events around the city, such as: the old city jail, Doc Street Theater, Wentworth Mansion, the Hunley, and Spoleto... to name just a few.