The first time this sun-kissed road took me to Charleston in 2008, it was a trip that changed the trajectory of my life in ways that are coming to light still. So much has transpired since, yet so much remains constant. Traveling to Charleston always feels like coming home.
Falling in love with the Lowcountry lifestyle
A friend scoops us from the neighborhood dock and we motor down river, passing the yachts at Bristol Marina, Battery Park and Fort Sumter. A stop at Morris – an island only accessible by boat – might include a band party atop a barge or a Slip ‘n Slide obstacle course sponsored by Red Bull. Finale: dockside dinner at Red’s on Shem Creek followed by a ride home under the star-studded sky.
The annual oyster roasts at Boone Hall Plantation, Spoleto Festival, Family Circle Cup, Cooper River Bridge Run and French Quarter art walks offer a glimpse into local interests, but most tourists never see Charleston’s best aspect – its boating community. Plush, green riverbanks are most beautiful in contrast with the dark blue water from the seat of a boat in the harbor.
Lengthy dinner parties are common, with lightning bugs dancing in open windows and cicadas singing along with Ray LaMontagne-esque music in the background. There’s something so attractive about watching a southern gent preparing venison from last season’s hunt or fresh mahi from last weekend’s offshore fishing expedition. The night may lead to a downtown jaunt or aperitifs on the porch – either way, a good time will be had by all.
Going out for a date may mean private surfing lessons or an impromptu motorcycle ride down the back roads. Post-work happy hour involves watching the sun set over Sullivan’s Island beach. There’s peacefulness in the air, lulling you into a calm happiness.
Carriage rides, City Market, “south of Broad” historic estates and fine dining are great attractions, but the local lifestyle and natural landscape make Charleston a truly desirable place.
Sunset on the Ashley
“Southern” is a culture, a way of life, a point of pride for many folks living in America’s deep south.
South Carolinians love their state flag. It’s a symbol indicating you are part of the local club, and it’s displayed prominently like a favored sports logo. I was a Charlestonian for only two years, yet the South Carolina state flag always has a place in my home because it represents a way of life I intend to maintain wherever I go.
Southern charm is a real thing, and it’s more evident in Charleston than in any other city. It’s displayed in the sweet disposition of a “Southern belle”; the slow drawl of a classic Charleston aristocrat; and the enthusiasm of a Chubbies, Ray Ban and swooping hair-wearing gent at the helm of a Regulator. Local heritage is valuable asset, as the “good old boy network” often influences business and the direction of civic progress. Being southern is as much a part of a Charlestonian’s identity as his or her religion.
Although there will be other stops first, I wholeheartedly hope to end up in Charleston once again, for the long-haul.