Everyone has said that Charleston is not to be missed -- and they were right! Under 100,000 people, historic preservation going on since the 1920's, a height restriction on buildings, and a wonderful Southern hospitality, all make for a lovely experience.
The AAA book indicated that even in the winter the hotel prices were high. We once again stopped at the local Visitors Information, and they again knew where the secrets were! We wanted to stay in the historic district (quite large) because the streets are very narrow and confusing. She found us a wonderful historic Day's Inn for $59 -- right in the heart of everything. We have really come to depend upon the Visitors Centers -- they are usually very helpful, and know what is going on.
We signed up for a walking tour the next day with a guide named Butler--first name. Hmmm. Turns out she was a cute, knowledgeable Charlestonian with a lovely southern accent. Butler is a family name, and she also named her daughter Butler -- really fit her. We had a great morning learning about the history of the area. She pointed us to a few more things to see, and we were off on our own. A fabulous lunch at 82 Queen St. -- She Crab Soup to die for! Had to walk our lunch off, so went shopping, of course!! Bought a couple of souvenirs -- a sweet grass basket for $40 from a street vendor, and a couple of watercolor prints for $35. We saw some sweet grass baskets later in a gallery in Beaufort for over $200!! They are really lovely.
We really enjoy the food here -- shrimp, of course, but also grits, fried green tomatoes, hushpuppies, "greens" of every kind, fish, and all kinds of seafood. This is really a town of great restaurants. But don't check your cholesterol!! Everything is fried, or sauced, or grilled!! Even Fried Spinach -- delicious - paper thin like chips!!
As we said goodbye to Charleston, we had to take in one of their Mansions -- we had seen a couple of the "Single" and "double" houses (one room wide or 2 rooms wide -- the houses are oriented to the side, with the "single" room end facing the street -- allows for lovely sideyard gardens, verandas, and cool breezes to offset the humidity of the summer) and wanted to see a real Plantation. We choose Magnolia due to it's size and gardens. Even now, a few things in bloom -- Camellias, Nandina, Pansy's, etc., but we could imagine when the dogwoods, Magnolias, and Azaleas are in bloom in March and April. They also have an ominous swamp -- fortunately the alligators are hibernating at this time of year!