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How to spend a day in Charleston, South Carolina

Compelling, compact and cool, Charleston offers a dynamic culinary scene, important historical monuments and iconic waterfront bars on South Carolina’s coast.

Published 27 Oct 2021, 06:00 BST
 

Beneath the stained-glass dome of its beaux-arts building, the Gibbes Museum of Art showcases an astounding ...

 

Beneath the stained-glass dome of its beaux-arts building, the Gibbes Museum of Art showcases an astounding range of Southern art.

Photograph by AWL Images

9am: Meet the neighbours

The Queen Street Grocery — complete with corner-store vibe and breakfast crepes — is a good spot to begin a morning walk through a welter of wealthy residences in South of Broad. Check out the ice cream-coloured terrace of Rainbow Row and the view at White Point Garden that looks out to Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the American Civil War were fired.

10am: Upstairs, downstairs

The flying staircase may provide the wow factor at Nathaniel Russell House Museum — set in the lavish, former home of a 19th-century slave trader — but what’s even more startling are the contrasts revealed between the lives of the wealthy white family that lived here and the Black slaves who served them. 

11.30am: Southern art

Beneath the stained-glass dome of its beaux-arts building, the Gibbes Museum of Art showcases an astounding range of Southern art, from 17th-century portraiture to Gullah sweetgrass baskets.

1pm: Feed your soul

The crab-and-shrimp rice at Hannibal’s Kitchen is well worth a trip up Charleston’s east side, perhaps in an eco-friendly bike taxi. This hole-in-the-wall joint may look unassuming, but its soul food dishes — from seafood to fried chicken — are cooked to perfection by the family who’ve run the place for the past 40 years.  

3pm: Shop like a King

The mile-long stretch of King Street in downtown is three centuries old and it’s  still buzzing. Studded with independent boutiques, booksellers, antique shops and restaurants, it’s the cultural heart of the city. 

6pm: Sundowner with a view

The Dewberry Charlton’s rooftop bar, the Citrus Club, is one of Charleston’s most chic hangouts, its views as mouth-watering as the hibiscus mojito and chicken lollipops.

8pm: Pub crawl in Nomo

No one heads north of Morrison Drive (NoMo) for its industrial scenery — they go for the energetic food and drink scene. There’s Peanut Butter & Jelly beer on tap at Edmund’s Oast, duck-fat fries at the Tattooed Moose and whipped feta with honey at Butcher & Bee

Published in the October issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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