With Spring just around the corner, I wanted to launch my new series of exploring your military town with my personal favorite: Charleston, South Carolina. For those of you who have visited or resided in this breathtaking Low Country town, you know how hard it is not to fall in love with its charm and hospitality. Between the notorious Pineapple Fountain and Rainbow row, Charleston provides many hidden (and not so hidden) treasures for locals and tourists alike.
Magnolia PlantationSouth Carolina is known for its rich southern history, including various plantations that are spread across the Low Country. The most popular of these is Boone Hall, which is the most photographed of them all. But located about 30 minutes west is Magnolia Plantation: home of America’s most beautiful gardens. The grounds are truly breathtaking, and you can easily spend an entire day exploring the history and beauty within its gates.
Magnolia Plantation offers multiple activities for children and adults, including carriage tours, a walk through the main house, boat tours of the rice fields, a swamp tour, and a walk through their wildlife zoo. Whether you’re looking to learn some history of the south, or just want some awesome scenery, Magnolia Plantation is a great place to get an understanding of the rich southern culture that created Charleston. You can find ticket pricing here!
The Angel Oak
It may seem strange to drive 30 minutes outside of Charleston for a tree, but trust me, it’s worth doing atleast once. The Angel Oak is located on John’s Island, and it’s estimated to be between 400 and 500 years old. Its roots dive deep into the mossy ground and reemerge in various spots, making it just as strong as it is old. Being around as long as it has, you can imagine it has been through a lot! That includes countless hurricanes, storms, and yes, getting struck by lightning a time or two. I highly recommend bringing a lunch and spending a few minutes beneath this shaded beauty.
Located on the downtown waterfront in Battery Park, Rainbow Row is one of the most photographed and painted sites in Charleston. Rainbow row dates back to 1740 and used to be considered the “slum” of town until many years later, when some of the homes were purchased and painted a pink hue to brighten things up. Over time, neighboring homes joined in painting their houses various pastel colors, thus creating Rainbow Row. Now people come from all over the world to stand before this 13-home stretch and snap a picture, and it has become one of the most valued pieces of real-estate in the area.
Firefly is located about 30 minutes south of Charleston, and the drive is half of the adventure. This “little” distillery is hidden within the 48-acre plot known as Irvin House Vineyard, home of Muscadine Vodka. They premiered their now-famous vodka back in the early 2000s and Marth Stewart herself has given it the stamp of approval. They’ve expanded their selections quite a bit since then, and they still host daily tasting sessions and tours of their beautiful property. If you have a chance to visit, I highly recommend their Sweet Tea Vodka!
Like any true military town, Charleston is home of this World War II treasure nestled permanently inside of Patriot Point. The USS Yorktown is now decommissioned, and its open for those who want to explore its many rooms and corridors, including the flight deck. The aircraft carrier is also the home of the Medal of Honor Museum which features special tribute for American heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice, dating from the Civil War to the War on Terror.
Outside of the USS Yorktown is the Vietnam experience exhibit, which is a walk-through simulator including helicopters, sleeping quarters, and machinery used during the war in Vietnam. We visited on a rather windy day, so we ducked in here to escape the breeze and were really impressed with this exhibit. This easily takes a full afternoon, and they have a great military discount!
South Carolina Aquarium
We didn’t originally plan to go, but on a rather chilly day in March, we decided to take a break from walking around town and visit the aquarium. And I must say, we were all really impressed. I’m an animal lover, so I probably would’ve been excited either way. But this is the most interactive aquariums I’ve been to, and even though it’s not as large as some facilities, they had a huge array of species. They feature an otter exhibit that allows you to see the otters diving deep into the tank through their various tunnels, rather than most exhibits where you can barely see anything. In addition to the otters, they have a Dogfish tank where you can “pet” the fish as they swim by. Very cool! I think this is a great place for kids and adults. You can find tickets here.
The French Quarter
Similar to New Orleans, Charleston has its very own French Quarter that’s made up of tons of shops and restaurants. Surrounding the area are beautiful homes, all of which left me dreaming of building our own house in the south someday.
This Holy City is one of my favorite places in the world, and I highly recommend visiting at some point. As for us, we’re headed there in May for strawberry season, and I’ll be sure to share some new favorite sites!
What’s your favorite military town? Have you stayed in Charleston, SC?