Blessed with a warm climate and a rich history, Charleston offers a wonderful vacation experience whether you're interested in golf, relaxing on long sandy beaches, taking in the frequent festivals, or exploring the unique ambiance of this charming southern city. This has long been the cultural capital of the American Southeast -- a warm, relaxing city that is one of the top ten vacation destinations in the nation. Charleston's cultural roots go back beyond the British settlement, to the Native Americans who lived here -- fishing in the warm waters and building mound communities.
The first English settlers came to the area in 1670, taking up land grants given by King Charles II, and naming it Charles Towne. It was seriously involved in the Revolutionary War, falling to the British before being liberated in 1783. Then, the city became a hub of secession activity, which led to the Civil War. The first shots fired in the War between the States were felt at nearby Fort Sumpter. After the war, the city suffered from neglect, taking a long time to rebuild after the war's devastation.
It was only in the 1920s, when the city found a new life, thanks to the many artists, writers,and musicians who settled here, and development of an architectural renaissance which saw to the restoration of hundreds of historic buildings. World War II brought industry to the region, and Charleston never looked back -- except to its history, which still provides the focus of its growing tourist status
The second-largest city in the state (Columbia is the largest), Charleston boasts a warm year-round climate with comfortable daytime temperatures and a bracing sleeping climate three seasons of the year. The summers are hot and humid with temperatures rising to 100 degrees. Spring is considered the top season for visiting Charleston -- with abundant flowers (azalea, wisteria), and just the right climate for seeing the area.
The cultural hub of the Southeast, Charleston offers a symphony orchestra, ballet companies, and theater groups. You'll see art exhibitions at the Gibbes Museum of Art, and a host of galleries. It's a city of festivals, topped with the Spoleto Festival USA, and Piccolo Spoleto, held concurrently each May.
It is in Charleston, set at the end of a peninsula, that you will experience the amazing history and architecture of the area, including vintage homes and commercial buildings, and parks which look like they've been here forever.
Set across the Cooper River from Charleston, with two bridges joining the communities, Mount Pleasant is a city of 40,000 but retains the feel of a small town. It is here that you will find the aircraft carrier Yorktown, part of the Patriot's Point maritime and naval museum complex. From here, you can take a tour boat to visit Fort Sumpter National Monument, the site where the first shots in the Civil War were fired. As in the other communities, golfing is a prime activity, for residents and visitors alike. Patriot's Point Links is a top-rated public course. Founded in 1680, the city also has a fair share of historic buildings.
South of Mount Pleasant and the Intracoastal Waterway, this is one of several barrier islands which offer vacation resorts and fine beaches. You can get to the island by taking Highway 703 south from Mount Pleasant, or Highway 517 from the Isle of Pines. This is a community of old summer homes, dating back more than 100 years, plus more modern beach houses. You'll find a few places to stay, and several restaurants and pubs on Middle Street.
Fort Moultrie is a popular destination. Operated by the U.S. Park Service, the fort is a relic from the Revolutionary War, used until the end of World War II.
Isle of Palms
This resort island is set along the coast, north of Mount Pleasant, and reached by driving on Highway 17, The vacation population of the island can be ten times the residential population of 5,500. With mile of sand beach, and many hotels and motels, this is a prime destination for vacationers who want a relaxing beach experience.
The famed Wild Dunes Resort, is located at the northeast end of the island, with two championship golf courses, a large tennis center, and an excellent marina in the Yacht Harbor. The resort has restaurants, fitness facilities, and deluxe accommodations. It's also a popular conference center.
North of Charleston
The city of North Charleston is a much newer community -- without the historic roots of Charleston, and with a strong business focus. The regional airport is here, and you'll find other major features including the North Charleston Coliseum and large convention hotels. In all, there are more than 4,000 hotel rooms in the city. Many tourists stay in North Charleston, because of the reasonable hotel and motel rates.
Farther north is Berkeley County, a fast-growing area fueled by industrial development, and farming. Francis Marion National Forest occupies the northern and eastern parts of the county, offering recreational activities in the thick pine forests. The Intracoastal Waterway continues along the coast, separating the mainland from several barrier islands. Cape Roman National Wildlife Refuge is located near the northeast end of the county, east of the waterway.
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