10 Reasons to Visit Charleston, South Carolina

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By Mark A. Leon

There are many reasons to come to Charleston, South Carolina.  From family vacations to weddings, to a little tinkling of Southern Charm.  Charleston is a city rich in history, culture, exquisite dining, family friendly attractions, watersports and just a relaxing escape under the sun.

For some, it is the spiritual connection with the ocean as they surf the waves, the historic setting of the first shots of the American Civil War fired, award winning dining, festivals, boating, golf or just a few days away to enjoy carriage rides or a beautiful sunset.

We have compiled ten wonderful reasons to visit Charleston, S.C. for those that have not yet made the decision to experience Southern Living at its finest and friendliest.

10 Great Reasons to Visit Charleston, South CarolinaThe beautiful

  • Arthur J. Ravenel Bridge (Cooper River Bridge) – Why would a bridge be a reason to visit a tourist destination? This 2 ? mile suspension bridge is a work of architectural majesty.? Its design, views of the Charleston Harbor and haven for runners, bikers and walkers have helped it become an attraction all its own.? With the addition of the Mount Pleasant Waterfront Park which offers musical and movie events, fishing and romantic walks and swings, the Cooper River Bridge is a full day event and truly picturesque.
  • Three waterfront area attractions in one pass:S.S Yorktown, South Carolina Aquarium and Water Taxi. With the introduction of this new single pass for three of our biggest harbor based attractions, families can enjoy oceanic life, a deep understanding of our military history and feel the cool breeze of being on the water in the Charleston Harbor.? This convenient pass with make Mom, Dad and the kids happy all day long.

  • Craft Beer Fan Dreamland – The Lowcountry is now home to over 30 unique craft beer breweries and has quickly become one of the top beer producers in the Southeast. With careful craftsmanship and dedicated passion, the brew masters have helped to create a culture of fine beer.? Partnering with local area restaurants, the ability to get a taste of the Lowcountry is right at your fingertips.

  • Mouthwatering Dining – From Southern Living to Conde Nast to The Washington Post, the reputation of Charleston dining has been an area of spotlight for several years and continues to gain in credibility as more and more flock to experience a truly eloquent dining experience. Make sure you bring an appetite with your visit and do your research as we have so many great restaurants to choose from.? If you need another reason, check out the Brunch Guide with 114 options.

  • Four Area Beaches – How many cities can boast 4 area beaches with each having its own personality and breathing ecosystem. Charleston offers Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island, Folly Beach and Edisto Beach all within 45 minutes of historic downtown Charleston.? It is hard to turn down city and beach life all in one visit.
  • Nature Photographer’s Paradise – If you are a nature photographer, a sunrise/sunset chaser or bird photographer, you will not find a better place to beef up your portfolio. From Birds of Prey to the most spectacular sunrise and sunsets you will find, Charleston offers photographers a place of magic to capture and remember.

  • Embrace History – Charleston has built a wonderful set of attractions celebrating the history of the Lowcountry and the United States. Some of the most beautiful and educational attractions include. From Charlestowne Landing to Magnolia Cemetery, the Lowcountry is so rich in history and the emphasis on remembering and celebrating it.

  • Nature Walks and Parks – Charleston has put a tremendous amount of funding and effort to develop and maintain a strong system of trails and parks for exercise, picnics, walks or working. All Charleston County Parks now offer free Wi-Fi (Great for remote workers).? There are many short and long nature trails to see wildlife and get some outdoor exercise (Ex:? West Ashley Greenway, Caw Caw Interpretation Center, Wannamaker Park).

  • Festivals Galore – Not only is Charleston known for some of the largest festivals in the Southeast and the nation including Spoleto, Festival of Lights, Annual Oyster Festival, and SEWE Festival, but festivals are just a part of who we are. This area loves to celebrate by gathering together, having fun and enjoying the great outdoors.? We also understand the importance of helping others.? So many festivals are aligned to fund raising activities to help those in need.? Come on out for a few festivals and let us keep you company.

  • Genuine Friendly Culture – Some places preach its friendliness, but we live it every day. When you walk the streets, we wave and say hello (to everyone).? If you are lost, we help you find your way.? If a dog needs a home, we adopt it.? If your car is stuck in flooded waters, we help you push it.? That is just the way we do things.

Three Charleston Harbor attractions offering one convenient pass

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The South Carolina Aquarium, Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum, and the Charleston Water Taxi announced a new, joint promotion: the Charleston Waterfront Pass. For the first time, the three organizations have partnered to create a special pass that is perfect for families and visitors who want to see two of the top Charleston-area attractions and enjoy a boat ride across the harbor.

Passholders can choose to begin their waterfront adventure at either the South Carolina Aquarium or Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum and then take in breathtaking views of the Charleston Harbor while riding the Charleston Water Taxi to the remaining attraction. Visitors may show each attraction’s ticket staff their pass, and it will be redeemed for one standard admission ticket. Visits to each attraction are not required to take place on the same day, but must be used before the expiration date noted on the pass.

The Charleston Waterfront Pass is available exclusively through the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and can be purchased at its four staffed visitor centers:

? Downtown Charleston at 375 Meeting St.

? Kiawah Island at 4475 Betsy Kerrison Pkwy.

? Mount Pleasant at 99 Harry M. Hallman, Jr. Blvd.

? North Charleston at 4975-B Centre Pointe Dr.

The combined price of the pass allows visitors to save nearly $15 off the price of visiting each participating attraction on its own. Pricing is as follows:

? Adults (ages 13+): $52.95

? Children (ages 6-12): $38.95

? Children (ages 3-5): $26.95

For more information, media may contact South Carolina Aquarium Public Relations Manager Bethany Morgan (bmorgan@scaquarium.org) or Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum Public Information Officer Chris Hauff (chauff@patriotspoint.org).

About Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum:

Located on the Charleston Harbor, Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum is the top attraction in Mount Pleasant, SC and includes a fleet of National Historic Landmark ships, 28 historic aircraft, and the only Vietnam Support Base Camp in the United States. The museum is also headquarters to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society and the agency’s official Medal of Honor Museum. Visit www.patriotspoint.org for more details, or find us at @patriots_point on Twitter and Instagram, and Facebook at www.facebook.com/PatriotsPoint.org. Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. The museum is only fully closed on Christmas Day and closes early (at 3:30 p.m.) on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and New Years Eve.

About the South Carolina Aquarium:

The South Carolina Aquarium, Charleston’s No. 1 family attraction, features thousands of aquatic animals from river otters and sharks to loggerhead turtles in more than 60 exhibits representing the rich biodiversity of South Carolina from the mountains to the sea. Dedicated to promoting education and conservation, the Aquarium also presents sweeping views of the Charleston harbor along with interactive exhibits and programs for visitors of all ages. The South Carolina Aquarium is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. the Aquarium is closed Thanksgiving Day, half day Dec. 24 (open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) and Dec. 25. Visit www.scaquarium.org for more information.

14 Great Charleston, S.C. Blog Articles You Should Be Reading

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Whether you are a tourist of local, we have found some of the best blogs celebrating Charleston, South Carolina that you will need to fill your mind with ideas to last you through the weekend, year or years to come.? Celebrate the cultural, historical, beautiful and festive life that is Charleston.

To all the bloggers, thank you for your dedication and providing some great area content.

Happy Reading.

Great Charleston, S.C. areas blog articles

Make the most of your vacation or staycation in Charleston by getting versed with these fantastic blogs focused on the memorable city of Charleston, South Carolina.

 

Southeastern Wildlife Expo sets record in South Carolina

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The Southeastern Wildlife Exposition says it had record sales for a second consecutive year in South Carolina.

The annual three-day event wrapped up Sunday in Charleston.

Organizers estimate about 45,000 people attended. That’s ahead of last year’s estimate of 43,000. Last year’s attendance broke the record of 42,000 set in 1993.

Expo Chief Executive Jimmy Huggins said Monday he hopes the event heralds a good tourism season for Charleston this year.

Organizers said there had been a 15 percent increase in advance ticket sales and a 40 percent increase in weekend art sales.

Charleston, South Carolina is not “everyone’s” #1 Travel Destination

By Mark A. Leon

There has been social chatter, word on the street and much much self proclamation that Charleston, SC is the #1 travel destination in the United States and the World.? I think we need to take a moment to clarify this.

This distinction has come from a single publication, which the city of Charleston pays to be a part of.? When major publications compile data and provide lists, there is often a fee to participate in the ranking analysis.? Cities are not just randomly picked, analyzed and rated.? There is a process of participation.? That is a key piece of information that is relevant to the Travel & Leisure annual list of Top Vacation Destination Cities.

Next, we look at some other lists to see where Charleston falls.

  1. ?Travel Channel Top 10 Vacation Spots – #1 Paris, Italy, #2 New York City, New York, #3 Rome, Italy, #4 Cancun, Mexico, #5 London, England, #6 Miami, Florida, #7 Orlando, Florida, #8 San Francisco, California, #9 Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, #10 Branson, Missouri
  2. 25 Best Places to Visit / Worlds Best Vacations – US News and Worlds Report – US Cities to make the list:? #9 New York City, New York, #10 Maui, Hawaii, #15 Yellowstone, Wyoming, #19 Washington, D.C., #20 Grand Canyon, #23 San Francisco, CA
  3. Top 25 World Destinations – Raters Choice – Trip Advisor – US Cities to make the list:? #5 New York City, New York
  4. Best in Travel 2017 – US Destinations – Lonely Planet – #1 Asheville, North Carolina.? Charleston did not make the top 10
  5. 21 Best Budget Destinations for 2017 – Forbes – US Cities to make the list: #16 Moab, Utah
  6. 15 Best Places to Take a Big Trip in 2017 – Thrilllist – US Destinations:? #8 Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee
  7. 50 Best Vacation Destinations – VacationIdea – US Destinations on the list:? Las Vegas, New York, Florida, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Texas and National Parks
  8. Top 10 Places to Travel in 2017 – Vogue – US Destinations on the list:? #7 Idaho
  9. Summer in the US:? 20 Best Vacation Destinations – Frommer’s –? Charleston, South Carolina was not on the list
  10. Ten Most Affordable Vacation Destinations – Mercury News – Charleston, South Carolina was not on the list
  11. 29 of the Best Vacation Destinations for Couples – Buzzfeed – #17 Charleston, South Carolina
  12. 10 Best Places to Visit in the United States for Young Couples – InsiderMonkey – #1 New York City, New York.? Charleston, South Carolina was not on the list
  13. Best Vacation Spots for Couples Trying to Conceive – The Bump – Charleston, South Carolina not on the list
  14. 13 Best Family Vacations in the US – US News – #1 Grand Canyon, #9 Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.? Charleston, South Carolina did not make the list.
  15. Top 10 Fall Travel Destinations for 2017 – Clark.com – #1 Orlando, FL, #2 Rome, Italy, #3 Anaheim, CA, #4 Honolulu, HI, #5 New York City, #6 Las Vegas, NV, #7 London, England, #8 Dublin, Ireland, #9 Boston, MA, #10 Cancun, Mexico
  16. Top 10 Cities to Visit in 2018 – Lonely Planet – #1 Seville, Spain, #2 Detroit, MI, #3 Canberra, Australia, #4 Hamburg, Germany, #5 Kaohsiung, Taiwan, #6 Antwerp, Belguim, #7 Matera, Italy, #8 San Juan, Puerto Rico, #9 Guanajuato, Mexico, #10 Oslo, Norway
  17. World’s Happiest Places – National Geographic – #1 US Destination – Boulder, Colorado.? Charleston did not make final list.

It is nice to praise one self.? There is a sense of accomplishment, value and prestige to be honored.? There is also a certain nobility to humbleness.? It is an acquired taste and one that is not often enough used.

Enjoy the annual Travel & Leisure honor, but let us not assume, we are on everyone’s top list.

?Fort Sumter Tours Unveils New Mobile App to Enhance Visitor Experience

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Fort Sumter Tours Unveils New Mobile App to Enhance Visitor Experience

CHARLESTON, S.C. – Visitors to Fort Sumter National Monument may now experience an 1800s historical site using state-of-the-art technology. Fort Sumter Tours – family owned and operated since 1961 – has launched a new Fort Sumter mobile app. The app is available for free in Apple’s App Store or in Google Play by searching “Fort Sumter.”

Fort Sumter Tours worked with Charleston-based netGALAXY Studios, a web design and mobile app development company working with businesses around the world, to develop the app. When visitors are at Fort Sumter, they will receive push notifications prompting them to learn more about specific areas of the fort.

While way signs and markers at Fort Sumter provide general information about the fort, the app provides visitors a more in-depth experience. Fort Sumter Tours collaborated with Fort Sumter National Monument staff to include stories of the fort that visitors may not get anywhere else.

The app also uses augmented reality technology in a “view finder” feature that visitors access as they ride to and from Fort Sumter on the tour boat. Simply point your smartphone at one of eight points of interest in the Charleston Harbor, such as Fort Moultrie or the Charleston Battery, and visitors will receive a pop-up notice with additional information on the selected landmark.

“We were looking for a way to enhance the visitor experience and appeal to a younger generation that is accustomed to using technology and smartphones for almost everything they do,” Ian Harris, director of sales and marketing. “This new mobile app offers visitors more details and historical facts that supplement everything they see while at Fort Sumter National Monument.”

Other app features include:

  • A 360-degree virtual tour of Fort Sumter, which is especially useful for visitors who may have difficulty navigating the steps that lead to certain areas of the park.
  • A “time machine” feature that shows photos of Fort Sumter now and when it was a functioning military fort in the 1860s.
  • Details on the tour boats complete with floor plans.
  • Virtual postcards for sharing on social media.

Download the free mobile app by searching “Fort Sumter” in the app stores or visit fortsumtertours.com.

About Fort Sumter Tours
In 1961 the Campsen family of Charleston founded Fort Sumter Tours to provide daily excursions to the Fort Sumter National Monument. Today, Fort Sumter Tours and partner SpiritLine Cruises provide daily access to this living monument, along with other memorable experiences for residents and guests of Charleston. For more information, visit fortsumtertours.com.

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Downtown Melodies: Song of Charleston rings all around

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By Jessica Edwards

This past week, The American Theater downtown declared on its marquee that Charleston had been named one of the world’s top travel destinations. Though I am relatively new to this city, and am very fond of it, this particular bit of news was a surprise. I immediately thought, “Why?” and, “What about London, New York, Tokyo, Paris, Istanbul, Rome, Sydney?”

I am a South Carolina native, so even though I have just moved to Charleston, it has been a known fixture, at least geographically speaking, for my entire life. Up until the past few years, I had only spent wayward afternoons here, a quick hop through the market, then on to Folly for a handful of hours in the sun.

Then when I went to college, I went to Converse in the upstate and several of my friends went to College of Charleston, which prompted a series of more lengthy stays and a solid comfort level with the city, but these were vacations, simply refueling at a local treasure. Even my recent move to Charleston was meant to be temporary, one last post-grad summer hurrah before I went on and changed the world.

As they typically happen, my world changing plans have been modified, and I decided to make Charleston home. It was an easy enough decision–I had a few friends down here, some connections, a place to stay while I found something more permanent. Plus, there were beaches, a cool local art scene, and good shopping. What more could a twenty-something woman ask for?

Once I made this announcement public to my friends and family, I was met with an overwhelming chorus of, “Wow! We’re so proud of you–what a city!” and that also confused me. I was moving a hundred miles southeast within state lines, not cross country, and to a place that almost everyone I know has been to several times.

There is no mystique here, at least, not the kind that anyone I know has access to. Sure, the carriage tour guides point out the haunted cemeteries and Civil War markers, but this only serves to unshroud the mystique–our ghosts and our history are alive and open for business.

Several times a week, I walk several blocks down King to my place of employment. During that ten minute promenade that I’ve taken many times now, I have seen plenty of things that remind me that Charleston is a place like any other city. In the past month, I’ve witnessed at least four hit and runs while cars pull out of their parallel parking spots. I’ve been approached by homeless people for money or cigarettes. Construction seems a constant in Marion Square, where a large machine hammers its way into the earth, hissing out steam like a dragon each time it gets closer to its goal.

Then something happened, something that echoed across the country–the Charleston Shooting. At this point, everyone knows the details, so I won’t rehash them here. I will, however, say that that tragedy is what began to make me realize how special Charleston is.

People held hands in a country where this type of violence has led to massive rioting, looting, and further violence, I am living in a city where that violence led to mourning, led to discussions, led to prayer.

Sometime after the shooting, I was walking to work just before noon. The construction was still going on in Marion Square. The sun was high overhead, zeroing down on me. Tourists asked me where the good bars were, or where to get a good bite to eat.

Perhaps that is when I really understood how special this community is. Less than a month into living here, I was already a local. I was home.

A few weeks later, I saw the sign at the American Theater. And I did ask myself, “What, here?” but upon further contemplation, I realized it made perfect sense, because in a great wild world filled with unhomed millennials milling around, trying to figure out where they belong or what they’re doing, Charleston makes them feel at home.

I am not a particularly well-traveled young woman, but I have been to enough places to begin to understand the feeling a city possesses. Like people, cities are made up of thousands or millions of different emotions, need constant physical maintenance, and contain unfathomable memories.song3

Charleston is a very old city, and has harbored millions of lives, thousands of businesses, and on its land walks the ghosts of America. Not all of the memories are pleasant ones, but these memories are not hidden. One of Charleston’s biggest tourist attractions is the Market, which was once a slave market, and now houses local vendors selling pieces of Charleston’s history.

Maybe this is what makes this city so special. Sure, we don’t trade on mystique, or bury the un-pleasantries. We hold hands together and shut down roads in acknowledgement. We do not hold the legends of this land hostage–we set them free, and send them home with anyone who will listen.

Speaking of listening, on my walks to work, all I needed to do was close my eyes and listen. Patterns emerge, set to the rhythm of the construction:? Melodic steps of locals, harmonic questions of tourists and musicians playing their saxophones and keyboards, dueling with the keening cicadas.

When it’s time to open my eyes again, the music persists, and I step into the melody, becoming a part of the song of Charleston, swallowed whole and willingly; walking with a sure stride down King Street.

 

 

 

Top Reasons Charleston Is Choosing Tourism over Basic Resident Livability

By Mark A. Leon

In a destination? city environment, the municipality walks a fine line between catering to the tourists and the local community.? It is a challenge to balance the needs of one without neglecting the other.? A number of factors play into the decisions around how each group is treated.? Often times, perception plays a part in people’s reactions to some decisions that may affect one group adversely.? We have looked at perception and reality and determined that is there a strong sentiment that local residents are losing the battle to tourism.

The separation point of perception and reality is data.? Data will always provide substantiated evidence.

We have looked at some data points, daily observation and chatter to compile a list of the reasons we feel the city is choosing tourism over resident livability.

  • Multi-million dollar investment firms from out of state and locally are monopolizing on an opportunity to reduce the historic footprint and create a new hospitality center focused on boutique hotels, luxury stay experiences and high end shopping and dining.? These investments range from small to large, including a group of New York investors that purchased the building housing Blind Tiger on Broad Street and the new $100M complex that is being planned for Spring and King.? In between, we are showered by the Dewberry, Spectator, Grand Bohemian, Zero George, Hyatt, Holiday Inn Suites and Hotel Bennett that are changing the face of historic Charleston.? When you have a hotel that can charge $600 a night while you still have issues around waste management and homelessness, it is time to re-think strategy.
  • Generation old local business are being forced out or into retirement due to urban pressures and rising rents.? 2016 saw the end of Hughes Lumber, Bob Ellis Shoes, King Street Grille and Morris Sokol.?? Those four foundations closing their doors speak volumes.? Even this past week, we heard that Fish will be closing on Upper King Street.
  • Limited improvements in roadway infrastructure.? A recent article in the Post and Courier indicated that Charleston residents are paying $1850 annually on average for car repairs due to the poor road systems as a result of the increased traffic in the surrounding counties.? In the cross town we added an aesthetically pleasing divider, yet there are cones, cranes and construction throughout the entire span with some projects taking us through 2020 and beyond.
  • Cost of dining and entertainment have forced many locals to reduce the amount of leisure activity.? With a 10.5% dining food tax and 15% alcohol and increased base prices across the board, the dining experience is shifting from a locals experience to a tourist luxury.
  • Increases in the price of parking garages and more opportunistic valet options.
  • Corporate transition of downtown Charleston – Hyatt, Vans, Forever 21, West Elm, 3 Starbucks on King Street alone (8 total downtown), Panera, Walgreens, Carolina Ale House, Chipotle, Five Guys Burgers, Chik-fil-a, Subway, Williams-Sonoma, Urban Outfitters and Earthbound.? The local names and generational families businesses are losing out to corporate brands.
  • Removing the only neighborhood grocery store in the Northern central part of the peninsula where most of the East Side would shop and masking the concern by funding short term busing options for the residents to get groceries out of the city limits.
  • A poorly managed parking meter system and mass transit service.? There are a few groups that are working hard to change the culture and promote a change in thinking around mass transit, but that isn’t enough.? When cities like Beaufort and Asheville have credit card meters and apps where you can pay, we are lagging far behind.
  • No monthly or annual subsidized parking for employees who work in downtown Charleston.
  • Limited enforcement of jaywalking laws and thus increasing risk of injury.? Limited proposals and implementations around increased biking options for residents.

These are a few of the major reasons, the emphasis is on the tourist and local residents are faced with daily challenges that will continue to mount over the upcoming years.

What Not to Do In Charleston

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By Minta Pavliscsak

It seems everywhere you look these days there are blogs popping up about what to do in Charleston. Having information about what to do and where to go is great, but sometimes it is good to know what not to do. Fear not! We have you covered. So enjoy your time in Charleston, but please keep in mind the following things not to do in Charleston, South Carolina:

– Do not stop in the middle of the road to take pictures of the big, beautiful houses. Again, that goes for cars and pedestrians, although we see it happen mostly with cars. Simply pull over and park, get out and walk around. You will get much better photographs and see so much more!

– Do not block the sidewalks. We all have places to go and people to see. While this is the south and time does seem to run a little slower here, we are still in a rush to get to where we need to be. Please be considerate of those behind you when walking down the sidewalk and make sure they have plenty of room to get around you.

– Do not let the door slam on the person walking in behind you. We are taught at a very early age to “hold the door” for others, especially southern gentlemen. When you don’t, it is nothing personal, but we take it as such. And it’s simply rude.

– Do not stop in the middle of the intersection. This goes for cars and pedestrians. The light stays green for only so long, and trust me it’s not very long. If you are unsure of where you are going, just get out of the way and then figure it out.

– Do not eat at Hymans. With so many other amazing options, try not to fall prey to the hype. But you definitely don’t have to take our word for it.

– Do not walk in the bike lane when walking across the Ravenel Bridge. The bikers will warn you that they are coming up behind you, but they will also come pretty dern close to running you over if you are in their lane.

– Do not pay for a taxi when getting around downtown. You have a couple of free options. The city has the DASH, a free downtown shuttle that has different routes that will get you all over the peninsula. There is also Scoop Charleston, a free electric taxi service that will get you anywhere you want to go in downtown Charleston.? The Rickshaw is just a fine Southern tradition and cozy way to get around town.

– Do not get to the bar late if you do not want to pay a cover charge. Going out at night? Try upper King Street or hit up the Market and East Bay area. However, be warned that there will be lines and cover charges.

– Do not bring alcohol on the beach. Folly Beach was the last beach in the area that allowed drinking on the beach. They banned alcohol on their beach in 2012 following a last straw Fourth of July incident. Some say just be smart about it; we say why risk it?

– Do not forget that everyone has their bad days. Sure, Charleston has been named one of the friendliest cities but whether you are a local or a tourist, things like what are listed above can -and will- bug anyone from time to time. Just be patient, smile, and remember the golden rule for in the end we all want our Charleston experience to be a great one.

A New Zealand Couple Share Their Special Story of Their Time in Charleston, SC

By Jhovaan Reinds

Hello Charleston

And thanks for having us in your town!

Four years ago, in New Zealand, my husband and I got the email. ‘You’ve been selected for further processing for the United States Diversity Visa’. We freaked out, and went to our local bar. We were not big shots. I worked in a picture framers and he manned the phones for a health insurer. We’ll never get this opportunity again, we said. Let’s do it!

Today, I write to you from the beautiful James Island. We’ve been here for one week, staying with some very patient and loving locals. Squirrels chat outside in the warm sun under a gorgeous blue sky. Are we sure its winter here? This is not winter where I’m from!

People wave at us from the road edge while they push strollers and walk dogs. There are no sidewalks here but the residents seem happy to share their front yards with the public. From the trees hangs a beautiful moss, making them look cuddly and inviting. Until my host points out that bugs live in there and to not touch it.

We’ve seen Folly Beach, our first glimpse of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a stunningly calm cobalt colour in comparison with the Pacific. I’ve seen my first dolphin in person, hanging out with huge pelicans begging for shrimp from the trawlers at Shem Creek. We’ve walked along the waterfront, admiring the historic buildings and famous Pineapple Fountain. We’ve taken the time to discuss the engineering feats of the Ravenel and Don Holt bridges. The Angel Oak in Johns Island has awed us and provided much quiet contemplation in the company of curious, laughing children.

What has really struck us though, is the hospitality of the people. Whether in Cory’s Grilled Cheese on Maybank, or Queology in downtown, or The Mill in Park Circle, everywhere we go we are treated as friends. That’s different for us, and knowing that a kind, helpful person is waiting to help with coffee and ‘biscuits with grits’ makes waiting at the DMV all the more worth it.

So thank you again, Charleston. We are looking forward to getting to know you more, and contributing to your vibrant community. You have special people here and a care for your heritage like nothing we’ve seen before. In the meantime, we are available for car washing 7 days a week (well, I might send the husband! He’s great with a sponge).

Yours for the indefinite future.

Jhovaan and Nicholas.