South Carolina’s largest city, Charleston is a portal back in time with its antebellum architecture, horse-drawn carriages and storied Southern hospitality. It played a key role in American history, with the first shots of the Civil War fired at Fort Sumter. There are also several islands off the coast of this port city, which are home to some of the most picturesque beaches in the United States.
Home to over 2,800 historical buildings across eight distinctive architectural styles, Charleston is an open-air museum for architecture lovers. Take a stroll along the cobblestone streets of downtown’s French Quarter, where you can admire the pastel-painted houses of Rainbow Row and the Greek Revival facade of Charleston City Market. At the tip of the peninsula lies The Battery – a defensive seawall and promenade lined with ornate mansions.
From sprawling plantations to manicured parks, Charleston is dotted with several pockets of green where you can unwind on a lazy afternoon. Take in the Pineapple Fountain at Joe Riley Waterfront Park, where you can enjoy sunset views over the Charleston Harbor and the Cooper River. For a glimpse of old world charm amidst tranquil nature, you can head to plantations like Middleton Place – home to America’s oldest landscaped gardens – and Magnolia Plantation & Gardens, overflowing with gorgeous blooms. Elsewhere, the Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens is well worth a visit simply for its kilometre-long avenue of moss-draped oaks that served as the spectacular setting for iconic Hollywood movies and celebrity weddings.