Elegant and edgy, Charleston is sure to capture your attention… and your heart. Less than 300 miles from Ocala, it’s a short trek to a magical getaway. Think gardenia-scented antebellum charm, toss in windswept shoreline, culinary delights and lively nightlife, and voila! You’ve got all the ingredients for a deliciously-varied vacation.
Charleston’s famous Historic District is replete with stately mansions, historic churches, intriguing museums, antique shops, world-renowned restaurants and unbridled grace, history and tradition. Take a horse-drawn carriage ride along cobblestone streets or go on a guided walking tour at dark through Charleston’s most haunted sites. Embark on Charleston’s finest home tours for a taste of what it was like to live in the low country during the Civil War. Referred to as the Holy City, it provided a haven to those who fled religious persecution. Church spires line the cityscape, and represent a myriad of faiths.
Known as “The Edge of America,” Folly Beach is a seven-mile-long barrier reef located just eight miles south of Charleston — the closest beach to the city. Calm and relaxed, Folly Beach is arguably the best beach in South Carolina and one of the most in-demand surfing spots on the East Coast. It’s is a great place to splash in the waves, collect seashells and see the Morris Island Lighthouse. A fishing pier and sun swept views make it one of the last authentically rustic beaches in the area. If you’re a history buff, Folly abounds with Civil War historic and cultural sites. Sullivan’s Island and Isle of Palms are more upscale and boast warm waters and gentle surf… ideal for a relaxing swim.
Charleston is known for seriously great Southern dining, with festive dockside oyster roasts, high-end restaurants, outdoor cafés and fresh-from-the-dock seafood. Old-fashioned favorites such as low country boil, she-crab soup and pralines share center stage with New Southern Cuisine; young local chefs are earning raves for imaginative dishes like deep-fried pig ear appetizers and grits with foie gras. Just north of the historic downtown near the College of Charleston, the Upper King area is a bastion of urban cafés and edgy boutiques. At the tip of a peninsula, the city’s historic downtown only covers a small geographic area, but it’s so densely packed with museums, restaurants…See More and bars, you could easily spend a week or more here.
Charleston’s too-quaint-to-be-true cobblestone lanes and antebellum mansions almost seem made for the movies. So it’s no surprise that several famous films have been set here; The Notebook, The Legend of Bagger Vance and The Patriot, among many others. The opera Porgy and Bess, about poor African-Americans struggling to exist in 1920’s Charleston, gave the world the song “Summertime”, among many others. Modern-day musicians include pop-folk singers and country rockers. Step out on the town to also discover a variety of jazz bands and classic quartets who play live on any given night in the city’s many fashionable bars, lounges and hotel lobbies.
If you like theater, you’ll love Charleston. In 2010 it was listed as one of the country’s top 10 cities for theater, and one of the top 2 in the South. The most famous of them all is The Dock Street Theatre, America’s first. Home of the Charleston Stage Company, it’s South Carolina’s largest professional theater company, presenting a full season of plays, musicals and theatre-for-youth productions.
Check out Charleston, a beautiful Southern Belle with a trendy twist. It’s just miles away but worlds apart. For more information, call 843-853-8000 or visit www.charlestoncvb.com.
Words by Lisa Codianne Fowler
Reprinted from What’s Up Ocala Magazine (c) 2011