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A Week-end Getaway in Charleston, SC

I admit I’ve kinda got a crush on Charleston, SC.  Its got everything I look for in a city:  beautiful architecture, the ocean, public transportation, excellent dining choices, friendly folks, and ghosts.

Say what?  Yea, I’m into haunted history.  If strolling down a picturesque block I spy an old church with a creepy looking graveyard, I can’t resist a tour.  And in Charleston – one of the oldest cities in our nation, there are plenty of those to peak my interest.

Last week-end Scott, our girls and his parents had a week-end getaway to visit historic Charleston.  We planned to enjoy some low country cuisine, tour the historic district and waterfront, and hit the beach (Folly Beach).  As our tour guide, I downloaded an e-book, (get yours on Amazon here The Ghosts of Charleston by Julian T. Buxton III), for Tour Charleston LLC.  It tells the tales of the haunts around the city — the perfect way to learn the history and see the famous sites.  I love the author’s southern sounding name!  So here are some cool spots we visited, and why you should check them out even if you don’t believe in ghosts 😮

Day 1 we arrived Friday evening just in time for an 8:30 reservation at Anson.  A rec from a foodie friend, I’ll be dreaming about those bacon prepared shrimp and grits for a long, long time.  No ghosts that night, but after dinner we took a stroll through the Open Air Market between Meeting and E Bay Streets.  We perused everything from jewelry to pottery.  Nightlife was still hopping when we headed home at 11 PM.

Day 2 Saturday AM the plan was to tour the historic district using an audio tour to compliment my e-book.  After downloading free files from Trek Exchange Tours to Scott’s Mac, then to i-phone, we had a narrator talking us through local attractions.  If you’d rather have an in person guide not audio, a variety of carriage and walking tours are avail – Palmetto offers free parking and a petting zoo to start your journey, and coupons in kiosks all over town.

We began our tour at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church on Meeting Street.  A church has existed on this spot since 1681.  An adjacent graveyard includes tombstones from people who lived and died as early as the Revolutionary War.  John Rutledge, a signer of the US Constitution, lies here.   The church is a lovely whitewashed building with stained glass windows and chiming bells tolling the hour.  While I didn’t spy any ghosts in the graveyard, I did ‘hear’ a firm voice stating “don’t walk this way” in my head as I considered a certain grassy path.  Not sure if it was my intuition, an otherworldly tip, or the second cup of java I had that morning.  But I moved on and left that path untouched.

We made our way along Meeting Street and ended up at the Exchange Building, which used to house a Revolutionary War dungeon.  We didn’t take the tour, but the hostess informed us that George Washington was a regular there and held a ball of some sort on the second floor.

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We also toured the historic neighborhood.  One home, formerly of Dr. Joeseph Brown at 59 Church Street, is a fab example of the Charleston Single House style decorating the city.  With a long porch on the side and a colorful exterior, it’s the perfect example of what makes Charleston unique.

And guess what – its haunted!  Brown lost his life in a duel — you know, walk 40 paces then turn and shoot to kill! The Dr. didn’t die immediately   from a gunshot, but rather from the blood poisoning that resulted. We took a quick snap as we admired the lush grounds and architecture. If his ghost was anywhere nearby, I’m certain my chatterbox kids scared him away.

By then we were thirsty, and already thinking about part 2 of our day – a trip to the beach.  First we stopped in at the Brown Dog Deli for a tea, and then made our way over to the Blind Tiger Pub for some brews.  And then, after some sips and nosh, we were ready to hit the sand.

Are there ghosts at the beach?  I didn’t fancy we’d see any during daylight, but according to local legends, they are there.  One story is about a ghost pirate (pirates were huge in 1700’s Charleston – ever heard of Blackbeard?) who scared some Confederate soldiers away from stealing his treasure.  But all we saw that day was a big enough break in the surf for boarders to hit the waves.  We made sand shapes and took naps!

That evening we walked over to 72 Queen Street  for dinner at Poogan’s Porch.  Click here for Poogan’s story.  As we passed the Wagenor Building, a huge crowd was being served in the brew pub named East Bay Trading Co.  It’s a prominent site with a well known haunt.  As I looked up to the third floor I tried to imagine the ghost of George Poitier swaying on the noose where he hung himself, but I kept that to myself.  My girls and mother in law were already getting a little creeped out by the dark streets as we trekked through side streets and dark alleys.

Poogan’s Porch is a wonderful venue for ambience, and low country cuisine.  It’s a converted home, and yes, its supposed to be haunted too!  The ghost of Zoe Saint Amand, a resident school teacher and spinster made this her home.  Apparently, she didn’t realize her old home had been converted into a Southern restaurant when she drifted in, spooking a waitress.  Sometimes people see her waving from an upstairs window.  But Poogan’s is not the least bit haunted feeling — the pace is leisurely, the attire dressy cas, and the biscuits are divine.  Scott enjoyed the Shrimp and Grits and I had a Plantation Fried Chicken plate (stuffed with collard greens and sided with green beans simmered with ham).

Day 3 – Sunday AM, our last, we toured Waterfront Park and the Fort Sumter Museum.  The huge pineapple fountain gave us plenty of great pictures, and we even stopped in the art gallery behind it.  The weather was perfect for a stop into one of many gelato shops before heading home!

Moving to the South has been an amazing experience for our family.  Its given me an enhanced perspective on not just the Southeast, but of our country entirely.  And Charleston is a gem I will have to visit again.  History is definitely calling you!

Want more about South Carolina beach towns?  Check out a review of Hilton Head.

Questions or feedback?  Shoot me an email:  Amy@PlanCoolTrips.com

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