Most Popular Streets to Explore in Charleston

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For those who enjoy walking a city, Charleston’s historic downtown offers  the perfect opportunity to explore. I arrived via an airplane flight and did not rent a car. And I didn’t need one, for what I wanted to do. Other than the transport to and from the airport, everything except the tour of Magnolia Plantation was within walking distance of my accommodations, Meeting Street Inn. I rode a tour bus to the plantation that departed from the Charleston Visitor Center.

The historic district is laid out with beautiful streets that invite the explorer to walk slowly, taking in the sights, and to linger in parks and green spaces. While there’s no wrong street to wander down, these most popular streets to explore in Charleston provide unforgettable experiences.

Most Popular Streets to Explore in Charleston title meme

Most Popular Streets to Explore in Charleston

Grab your walking shoes and a hat to protect from the sun and discover what historic Charleston has to offer, on foot.

Meeting Street

Considered one of the oldest streets in Charleston, Meeting Street features historical and architectural sites. This street served as the western boundary, when the city was walled, with the entrance into Charleston located at Meeting and Broad…over a drawbridge and moat.

The street name comes from the Circular Congregational Church, established in 1686, when it was called the White Meeting House. Meeting House…on Meeting Street.

The intersection of Meeting and Broad is known as the Corner of Four Laws. The four laws include ecclesiastical – St Michael’s Church, federal – US Post Office and Federal Court, state – Court House and city – City Hall. The locals say you can “get married, get divorced, pay your taxes and get locked up” in that intersection.

This picturesque street, lined with gorgeous homes in the South of Broad neighborhood, continues to the tip of the peninsula, ending at White Point Garden.

Most Popular Streets to Explore in Charleston meeting
Most Popular Streets to Explore in Charleston – Meeting Street

Broad Street

Broad serves as the main business thoroughfare in the old city. Initially, apothecaries, silversmiths and merchants provided services here. Now it houses banks, lawyers, art galleries and cafés. Broad Street marks the boundary of the old city and the beginning of affluent neighborhoods to the south.

Originally called Cooper Street, the name changed after Charleston residents proudly boasted about their “broad” 72 foot wide street.

The John Rutledge House at 116 Broad…now a hotel…belonged to a signer of the constitution. The drafters of the US Constitution spent many hours in the drawing room.

And the John Lining House, at 106 Broad, dates back to the early 1700s. It is the oldest frame residence in Charleston.

Most Popular Streets to Explore in Charleston broad
Most Popular Streets to Explore in Charleston – Broad Street

Church Street

Pretty Church Street does indeed house a church. St Phillip’s Episcopal Church was built in the 1830s. The adjoining graveyard contains the resting places of signers of the Declaration of Independence and Dubose Heyward, author of Porgy.

The nation’s first playhouse, Dock Street Theatre, resides on Church Street. And the narrow winding lane is home to many historical houses including Theodosia Burr’s house and the Heyward-Washington House where president George Washington stayed while in the city. Cabbage Row is here too, the inspiration for Heyward’s book, Porgy.

Most Popular Streets to Explore in Charleston church
Most Popular Streets to Explore in Charleston – Church Street

East Bay Street

This street along the Charleston Battery features one of the most photographed sites in the city. Rainbow Row, a block of 13 pastel colored houses built in the 1740s, symbolizes the southern charm and beauty of Charleston.

Opposite the historic homes lining East Bay is the Battery, the seawall promenade along Charleston Harbor.

Most Popular Streets to Explore in Charleston east bay
Most Popular Streets to Explore in Charleston – East Bay Street

King Street

Named one of the top ten shopping streets in the nation, by US News and World Report, King Street offers unique shops and restaurants. Lower King houses the antiques district and Middle King the fashion district, while Upper King is the contemporary design and dining district.  This busy street is where Charleston’s past and present combine.

Initially, King Street served as the primary road in and out of the city. In the late 18th century, the lane evolved into a thriving retail and commercial street full of specialty shops and boutiques. Today it also offers trendy restaurants, an active nightlife and fun events and festivals.

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Most Popular Streets to Explore in Charleston – King Street

Queen Street

Foodies adore Queen Street. It’s home to some of Charleston’s most popular restaurants, including Husk, 82 Queen, Queen Street Grocery & Café and Poogan’s Porch. Poogan’s diners might even encounter the restaurant’s friendly dog ghost! Read Charleston ghost stories HERE.

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Most Popular Streets to Explore in Charleston – Poogan’s Porch on Queen Street

Chalmers Street

Wandering down Chalmers Street, one of eight remaining cobblestone lanes in Charleston, gives a peek into the past. The second oldest residential house in Charleston, the Pink House, sits at 17 Chalmers.

And stop by the Old Slave Mart, at 6 Chalmers. This African American slave museum provides a glimpse into the dark world of slave trading and Charleston’s role in it.

Most Popular Streets to Explore in Charleston chalmers
Most Popular Streets to Explore in Charleston – Chalmers Street

Tradd Street

The lane that drew me to Charleston, Tradd Street runs west to east in the South of Broad area. It’s named after Robert Tradd, one of the first babies born in Charles Town.

The beautiful little street is famous for its historic homes, the Tradd Street series of books by author Karen White and as a filming location for the movie The Patriot. Rent The Patriot HERE.

Wander in Charleston and Get a Little Lost

I loved my time in Charleston. My favorite cities are those rich with history and culture. And my favorite way to get to know those cities is by exploring on foot.

Wander down any of Charleston’s streets…veering off occasionally into hidden alleyways…and you’ll discover beauty, history and delightful surprises.

Have you explored Charleston? What street is your favorite?

Most Popular Streets to Explore in Charleston tradd
Tradd Street, the street that brought me to Charleston.

 

This fun historic map of Charleston, from Amazon, accompanied me on my trip. Click photo for more info or to order.

 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

 

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

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On my last full day in Charleston, I boarded a bus headed to the oldest tourist site in the Lowcountry. This historic property also lays claim to the oldest public gardens in the US.

Was I excited? Not exactly. I felt…cautiously curious. Thirty other people chatted as we bounced along in the air conditioned bus. I remained quiet and introspective. The truth is, I almost didn’t join this tour, making a last minute decision late the day before to go.

Why?

Our destination was Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. While I looked forward to walking in the gardens, slavery is a huge issue for me. I wasn’t sure what the energy would feel like at the plantation and how that would impact me as an intuitive empath.

However, the city of Charleston is deeply connected to slavery. I discovered as I explored the city, listened during historic tours and talked to the people of Charleston that this city does not shy away from its complex history. Rather, they’ve expanded their history, instead of hiding it, glorifying it or ignoring it,  which is something I appreciate. Charlestonians tell their stories and make sure all of the past is talked about openly.

I decided not to shy away from Charleston’s history either. My first plantation choice was no longer reachable by tour bus. And while that one seemed like a “safer” choice, I chose another plantation, feeling a strange draw to that one for reasons I did not understand at the time.

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Magnolia Plantation and Gardens History

The Draytons

The plantation dates back to 1676, when Thomas and Ann Fox Drayton built the house and a small formal garden on almost 1900 acres along the Ashley River. During the Colonial Era, the plantation thrived, growing and accumulating wealth due to the cultivation of rice by enslaved people brought in from Barbados in the 1670s.

In 1825, upon the death of the great grandson of the first Drayton, the plantation passed to his daughter’s sons, Thomas and John Grimke. As there were no male heirs, the stipulation was that the grandsons must assume the last name of Drayton.

The elder brother Thomas died tragically a short time later on the steps of the plantation house, from a gunshot wound while hunting. Younger brother John, an Episcopal minister, unexpectedly found himself the owner of Magnolia Plantation at the young age of 22.

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens live oak
There are live oak trees at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens that are hundreds of years old.

The Creation of the Magnolia Gardens

It was John Grimke Drayton that created the informal romantic gardens at Magnolia. His young wife, whom he met and married while attending seminary in New York, grew up in Philadelphia. John hoped the gardens would make Julia feel more at home in South Carolina.

The stress of managing the plantation and pastoring a congregation in a nearby church led to John developing tuberculosis. Working in the gardens, expanding them and tending to the plants, became John’s therapy. And it appeared that he responded well to being outdoors. Until his death, 50 years later, John devoted himself to creating an earthly paradise for his wife.

Magnolia Plantation an Gardens red bridge
Magnolia Plantations and Gardens – red bridge in the gardens

Surviving the Civil War

The first and second plantation houses burned, the first time due to an accidental fire and the second time, during the Civil War. Like the rest of the plantation owners in the Lowcountry, John emerged from the war low on funds and with many repairs to make. The rice cultivation stopped. Some of the former enslaved chose to stay on the plantation as free people, working in the gardens for a good wage, and continuing to live in cabins on the property.

To raise funds, John sold off most of the acreage, retaining 390 acres. And in 1870 Magnolia Plantation and Gardens opened to the public, receiving visitors as a way to restore and preserve the historic property.

John Grimke Drayton died in 1890, leaving Magnolia to his daughter, Julia Drayton Hastie. The estate remains in the Drayton Family, 15 generations of descendants from the first owner, Thomas Drayton. It is currently managed by a board of directors that includes members of the Drayton/Hastie family.

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens gravesite
Gravesite of the Drayton Family, in the gardens.

The Magnolia Gardens

Our tour began in the magnificent Magnolia Gardens.

Included in these wild gardens are the Barbados Tropical Garden and the shrub maze based on England’s famous Hampton Court Maze. The Eden like gardens draw visitors from around the world.

John Drayton’s legacy here are the azaleas that bloom in the spring. He introduced these flowering shrubs to the United States. His camellia gardens were celebrated by horticulturalists as pioneering.

Although the gardens are most spectacular in spring, plants bloom year around, offering beauty to visitors who wander the extensive paths.

I could have spent the whole day walking in these gardens.

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens in bloom
Magnolia Plantation Gardens in bloom

Magnolia Plantation Swamp and Marshes

Audubon Swamp

The Audubon Swamp at Magnolia Plantation originally served as a basin to store freshwater to flood the rice fields. Today the swamp occupies about 60 acres of the plantation. Cypress and Tupelo trees stand in the water, providing homes for waterfowl and wildlife, including alligators.

This section of the plantation requires an extra fee to enter. While I was there, they were working in that area and the swamp was closed to visitors. My tour group rode a tram through the marshes and we got a peek into the swamp. To my surprise, I found the swamp beautiful, with its green water and abundance of flora and wildlife.

This swamp served as the inspiration for Shrek’s home, in the animated film.

Audubon Swamp
A glimpse of the Audubon Swamp at Magnolia Plantation.

Magnolia Marshes

The 45 minute tram ride takes visitors through the surrounding woods and along the river, lakes and marshes, for a interesting look at the natural beauty found in the wetlands. The knowledgeable tour guide, who also drives the tram, shares history about the plantation as well.

We drove by the former slave cabins, fully restored, that are now part of the Freedom Tour.

And we saw egrets, herons and a large owl, along with turtles and alligators who seemed to enjoy the gentle rain.

Visitors can choose to walk in these areas too, along paved paths that hug the marshlands. Although our guide assured us there has never been an alligator attack on plantation grounds, he advised us to remain alert and aware.

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens marsh
The marsh at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
Alligator on a sunning board in the marsh
Alligator on a sunning board in the marsh.

The Magnolia Plantation House

After a quick lunch at the onsite cafe, my group gathered on the large covered veranda at the plantation house. Our guide informed us that no photos are allowed inside, due to the age of many of the furnishings and art pieces.

Ten rooms are open to the public in the plantation house. The family no longer resides here, living instead in houses built a short distance away. The current house, built in 1870 after fire destroyed the second home, features Doric columns, a gabled roof and dormers and a two story stucco tower.

The 30 to 45 minute house tour includes history about the Drayton Family and plantation life. Each room features early American antiques, art, porcelain, quilts and family heirlooms.

I enjoyed the quiet beauty of the house. It was not difficult to close my eyes and imagine a different world that changed through necessity and then through intention.

The Grimke Sisters

John Grimke Drayton’s aunts, Sarah and Angelina Grimke, born in 1792 and 1805 respectively, abhorred slavery. The sisters spent their adult lives as activists for abolition and for women’s rights.

Outcasts in the south, they moved to Philadelphia where they continued to fight for social justice until their deaths.

I also learned that the Draytons treated their enslaved people better than most, caring for them and providing education for the children even though it was illegal to do so. While that does not make enslaving others acceptable in any way, I’d rather hear that people were cared for than the opposite.

And finally, our guide shared that all descendants of Magnolia’s enslaved and freed people are welcome to work for above average wages and live free of charge at Magnolia (not in the former cabins). There are typically eight to ten or more descendants living on the property, working in the gardens or as tour guides.

Magnolia Plantation House
Magnolia Plantation House

I’m Glad I Visited Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

The night before my scheduled tour of Magnolia Plantation, I slept fitfully, feeling restless and unsure about my decision to visit the plantation and also the Slave Mart Museum.

But I wondered if my reluctance to visit was a way of keeping my eyes averted…of refusing to look at the issue of slavery head on?

As I dozed in that alpha state, between being fully awake and fully asleep, I had a visitor. It’s common for me to see spirits while in this state. This night, a very old woman approached me. She appeared as a Gullah woman, descended from enslaved West Africans, her gray hair long and curly, and wearing beads around her thin neck.

She put her face very close to mine, peering deeply into my eyes. Although she didn’t speak, she slowly smiled at me…and then faded away. I didn’t sleep much after that, but I determined to visit both the plantation and the museum, encouraged by the intensity in the Gullah woman’s eyes and her smile. It was the right decision and, as it turned out, the right plantation to visit.

Finding Who I am in Charleston

I’m grateful that I toured both places. I have African heritage, according to my Ancestry DNA results…from Nigeria in West Africa. I don’t know anything about my ancestor. However it is very possible that he or she passed through Charleston.

I appreciate that Magnolia Plantation and Charleston recognize the importance of acknowledging the crucial role enslaved people played in Lowcountry history. It’s important to me to hear their stories and to remember and honor those who labored in the houses and fields in this area.

I no longer fear what I will feel. What I experience is as complicated as the history in the south and that’s okay. I want to know all that I can and someday perhaps I’ll find a clue that leads me to my ancestor.

It’s even possible that I met her, in that space between worlds, and she smiled at me.

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens small white bridge

Learn more about Magnolia Plantation HERE.

 

 


 

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Charleston Gates and Hidden Alleyways

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While in Charleston, one of my favorite activities was wandering the streets of the historic district. For this first visit to the Holy City, my primary goals included getting to know the history and stories of Charleston and exploring the neighborhoods South of Broad.

I accomplished those goals, with great intention and joy. For months before my trip, I explored the city in my imagination. It felt surreal to recognize the familiar streets and then get to know them in a deeper, richer way.

The Charleston Historic District is famous for many things, including ornate iron gates in front of the houses and the beautiful secret alleyways tucked between streets.

I made it my mission to capture photos of both as I explored. Here is a sampling of Charleston gates and hidden alleyways.

Charleston Gates

On my first full day in Charleston, I walked more than seven miles, exploring the neighborhoods South of Broad. As I left the shops and businesses on Broad Street behind, I encountered houses built in the 1700s and 1800s. I admired the architecture, the beautiful side gardens and the wrought iron gates unique to each property. The gates featured in this post stood guard in front of houses on Meeting Street, Tradd Street and Stoll’s Alley.

Meeting Street Gates

Meeting Street is one of the oldest streets in Charleston. It is shown on a 1704 map of the walled city. The name comes from the white brick Presbyterian Meeting House…or church…that once occupied the spot where the Circular Congregational Church now stands.

I stayed on this street, at the Meeting Street Inn, and used this avenue to orient myself while exploring the city. Meeting Street continues south and connects to South Battery Street at White Point Garden, at the tip of the peninsula.

Strolling slowly along Meeting Street, I snapped photos of houses and their fascinating gates. These are my favorites on this tree lined street.

Charleston Gates and Hidden Alleyways 41 meeting street
Charleston Gates and Hidden Alleyways – 41 Meeting Street
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Charleston Gates and Hidden Alleyways – 23 Meeting Street
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27 Meeting Street
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3 Meeting Street

Tradd Street Gate

Tradd Street is named for Robert Tradd, supposedly the first European child born in Charles Town. It’s famous for its gorgeous architecture, narrow street and the mystery book series written by Karen White. The movie The Patriot filmed scenes on this charming street.

And Tradd Street drew me to Charleston. Karen’s books so intrigued me that I desired to experience Charleston for myself. After walking Meeting Street to South Battery, I walked north until I crossed Tradd Street and then walked it back to Meeting Street.

This is my favorite gate on Tradd Street, gorgeous with flowers and greenery gracing the top.

Charleston Gates and Hidden Alleyways 62 tradd street
Charleston Gates and Hidden Alleyways – 62 Tradd Street

Stoll’s Alley Gate

Named for Charleston blacksmith Justinus Stoll, this beautiful alleyway…also mentioned below in the hidden alleyways section…is lined with brick houses. Five of the houses in Stoll’s Alley feature gates by ironworker Philip Simmons.

Philip, an African American artisan and blacksmith, spent 78 years crafting decorative iron work. At the beginning of his long career, Philip focused on practical household objects such as horseshoes. By the time he retired, his craft was considered art.

Philip apprenticed with Peter Simmons…no relation…a former enslaved man. At age 26 Philip opened his own smithy. Charleston business man Jack Krawcheck commissioned a wrought iron gate from Philip, for the back of his store located on King Street. Due to the demand for iron during WWII, Philip created the commissioned gate from scrap iron. Although this was his first decorative iron piece, it was not his last. Krawcheck commissioned 30 additional iron pieces from Philip. Ultimately he created more than 500 pieces, including iron balconies, gates, window grilles and fences.

In 1976, Philip created a star and fish gate for the Smithsonian Institute. And in 1982 the National Endowment for the Arts awarded him a National Heritage Fellowship.

My favorite gate in Stoll’s Alley, a Philip Simmons masterpiece.

Charleston Gates and Hidden Alleyways 7 1/2 Stoll's Alley
A Philip Simmons gate at 7 1/2 Stoll’s Alley

Charleston Hidden Alleyways

Before my trip, I made a list of the city’s hidden alleyways. I didn’t use GPS to locate them. Rather as I explored, I looked for them. Of the 11 on my list, I came across six of them, although I failed to photograph St. Michael’s Alley. That leaves five  more to discover when I return!

These narrow lanes intrigued me. In my city, the alleyways are typically gravel roads lined with trash bins. There’s nothing charming or beautiful about my alleyway. However, the Charleston alleys delighted me.

Price’s Alley

The first alley I came across, Price’s Alley was once swampy marshland. The lane connects King and Meeting Streets and it is the earliest known landfill project in the city’s history. Once called Sommers Lane, the name changed after Hopkins Price purchased the land in 1749.

The alley housed a tannery and later became home to Irish immigrants and African American tradesmen.

Charleston Gates and Hidden Alleyways prices alley
Charleston Gates and Hidden Alleyways – Price’s Alley

Bedon’s Alley

Located between Tradd and Elliott Streets, this lane originated early in the city’s history, a place for chandleries, counting houses and mercantile shops. It’s name comes from merchant George Bedon, son of an English couple who arrived on the first ship to Charles Town in 1670.

The small brick buildings on the east side once served as outbuildings for the now famous Rainbow Row on Bay Street. Fires ravaged the alley in 1740 and again in 1778. Today the former shops are carefully restored and function as private homes.

Charleston Gates and Hidden Alleyways bedons alley
Bedon’s Alley

Stoll’s Alley

This picturesque alley between East Bay and Church Streets was originally called Pilot’s Lane. Harbor pilots walked this path to reach their boats. Later the name changed to Stoll’s Alley, after Justinus Stoll, who built the house at number 7 in 1745.

The Church Street end of the alley is much wider than the East Bay end, where it narrows to five feet in width. As noted above, this alley features five Philip Simmons gates, some of his earliest commissions.

Charleston Gates and Hidden Alleyways stolls alley
Stoll’s Alley

Four Post Alley

Also called Gadsden Alley, this narrow, twisting lane truly is hidden! It connects Broad Street to Elliott. Our historic tour guide Therese led us down this charming alley. I don’t think I would have found this one on my own.

Charleston Gates and Hidden Alleyways four post alley
Charleston Gates and Hidden Alleyways – Four Post Alley

Unity Alley

Once a narrow alley, this passage way between East Bay and State Streets was widened in 1810. It housed merchants, tradesmen and artisans in the late 1700s. At number 2 stood Edward McCrady’s Tavern and Long Room where President George Washington was entertained in 1791.

The tavern changed hands multiple times until it was renovated into a restaurant in the 1980s. Unfortunately, the pandemic closed this historic building in April 2020.

Have you explored the Charleston gates and hidden alleyways? Which alleys did you find?

This beautiful, historic city is full of stories…and surprises. I’m excited to announce that I am returning to Charleston next spring. More about that adventure later. I can’t wait to see what else I discover.

Charleston Gates and Hidden Alleyways unity alley
Unity Alley

Check out this Philip Simmons book from Amazon. Click photo for info.

 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ghost Stories from Charleston

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It’s October! And that means every Friday this month is a Ghost Stories from…post. I started this series last October and it was so fun to write. Readers enjoyed the posts as well, encouraging me to feature a new series of ghost stories this year. (Check out the first post in last year’s series HERE.)

I’m excited to lead off this year with Ghost Stories from Charleston.

Charleston, South Carolina, with its long history spanning 350+ years, possesses its share of ghost stories. I just recently returned from a fun trip to this beautiful city. Those stories are fresh on my mind!

Ghost Stories from Charleston title meme

A City Full of Energy

Through the centuries, Charleston experienced battles, sieges, fires, malaria, pirates, hurricanes and earthquakes. It was also a major hub for the trading of enslaved peoples. The citizens of Charleston continue to learn and grow as a result of their complicated history. And specific sites in the city continue to carry energy from those past situations and circumstances.

That swirl of energy that impacts a place is typically called a haunting.

I collected a number of ghost stories while in Charleston and had a few paranormal experiences myself while there. After much deliberation, I narrowed the stories down to five for this post. Here are the Ghost Stories from Charleston.

Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon

Located at 122 East Bay Street in Charleston, the Old Exchange’s story is intertwined with all the eras of the city’s history. Today the Old Exchange and the dungeons below are a museum, offering daily tours.

Built in the late 1700s, the Exchange stood on land previously occupied by the Half Moon Battery and the Court of Guard. The dungeons below received its first pirate captives in 1718.

That summer the pirate Blackbeard blockaded Charleston Harbor, holding local citizens captive until the city agreed to provide medicine for the pirate’s crew. Stede Bonnet, known as the “gentleman pirate”, joined Blackbeard in pillaging the city. Eventually Captain Rhett of Charleston captured Bonnet and  his crew and imprisoned them in the damp, dark dungeon where they remained until their deaths by the noose. Other prisoners were left chained to die in the dungeon, sometimes by drowning when water flooded the underground rooms.

Unsurprisingly, there are many accounts of ghostly activity in the dungeon. Visitors report hearing cries, screams and moans. Old chains swing by themselves, people step into inexplicably cold spots and they capture orbs darting about. Some people even report being pushed, choked or scratched.

Upstairs in the Exchange visitors sometimes see men dressed in Revolution style clothing. These specters disappear when approached.

Ghosts Stories from Charleston provost dungeon
Ghost Stories from Charleston – Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon

White Point Garden

This park at the tip of the Charleston peninsula offers the shade of beautiful live oak trees and spectacular views of Charleston Harbor. However, before the park opened as a public space in 1837, it was the city’s execution site for criminals and pirates.

Stede Bonnet and his pirate crew imprisoned in the dungeon? This is where they were hanged, in the oak trees at White Point.

After a guilty verdict for Bonnet and 30 members of his crew, the pirates were hung in the trees, their bodies left there for weeks as a grim warning to other pirates. Eventually their decomposed bodies ended up in the nearby marsh.

Those pirate souls haunt the park and the surrounding area, especially at night. Reports include floating apparitions, screams and the sight of swaying bodies hanging from the trees. The story goes that if you stand on Water Street and look down, you can see the faces of the executed pirates staring up from the water’s surface.

Ghost Stories from Charleston white point garden
Ghost Stories from Charleston – White Point Garden

Poogan’s Porch

Charleston is famous for its Lowcountry cuisine. Foodies from around the world travel to the city to experience award winning restaurants.

This famous restaurant at 72 Queen Street, Poogan’s Porch, offers fine southern food and one of the city’s friendliest ghosts.

Poogan was a small stray dog that roamed the neighborhood. When the restaurant was still a residence, the pup stopped by often for food, water and a chance to rest on the covered front porch. When the house transitioned into a restaurant, Poogan became a regular there, greeting diners on the porch and weaving among the tables inside, looking for scraps of food on the floor.

Poogan died in 1979, at a ripe old age. He’s buried in the front yard of the restaurant. However, diners claim the little dog’s spirit still roams the restaurant. They feel him brush against their legs under the tables, while eating.

And there are reports of another ghost wandering about in Poogan’s Porch. A former resident of the old house, Zoe, walks around the restaurant, searching for her sister who died many years ago. This ghost supposedly knocks over water glasses, slams doors and calls out her sister’s name.

Ghost Stories from Charleston poogans porch
Ghost Stories from Charleston – Poogan’s Porch

Dock Street Theatre

On this site at 135 Church Street, the historic Dock Street Theatre was built in 1735. (Read more about its history HERE.) The original theatre burned to the ground in the Charleston Fire of 1740. Another theatre took its place and then in 1809, the building became the Planter’s Hotel.

After the Civil War, the once luxurious hotel fell victim to neglect and later suffered damage during the 1886 earthquake that rocked the city. For 50 years the grand building sat vacant before renovations brought it back to life in the 1930s and 40s as a theatre again.

After another round of major renovations in the 2000s, the theatre serves as a cultural hub for the city. It also serves as home to numerous ghosts.

Theatre guests report seeing ghosts in the rafters and apparitions on the stage. While many sightings occur all over the building, two spirits are seen more often than others.

Junius Booth

Junius Booth, who performed at the former hotel with his troupe, appears frequently. He is the father of presidential assassin, John Wilkes Booth. It’s rumored that he once got into an argument with the hotel manager and tried to kill him. He is seen walking around on stage and wandering the hallways.

Nettie Dickerson

The spirit most often spotted at Dock Street Theatre is Nettie, a beautiful prostitute who visited the Planter’s Hotel during the 1840s. The story goes that Nettie, angry at Charleston high society and her station in life, stepped out onto the second story balcony during a storm. Wearing her best red dress, she shouted out her frustrations. A bolt of lightning struck Nettie, killing her.

People claim to see Nettie, wandering around the theatre, still wearing her vibrant red dress, although it appears tattered now. They say the woman no longer appears beautiful but more zombie like.

Ghost Stories from Charleston dock street theatre
Ghost Stories from Charleston – Dock Street Theatre

St Philip’s Church and Graveyard

Originally built in 1681, this church burned in the Fire of 1835. They rebuilt the current church in 1838 with the steeple added in 1850. A graveyard surrounds the structure and a cemetery sits across the street.

Many notable people rest in the graveyard and cemetery including signers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Not all of those buried are at rest though, which is why this church is known for its ghosts.

The most famous of the St Philip’s ghosts is Sue Howard.

Sue, who attended church at St Philip’s, gave birth to a stillborn baby on June 10, 1888. She died six days later, from complications from the delivery. The grieving mother cannot rest as she mourns for her child. Sue’s ghost was captured in a famous photo, taken in 1987, kneeling over the grave of her child. Other visitors claim to hear the sound of a crying baby in the cemetery.

Ghost Stories from Charleston
Ghost Stories from Charleston – St Philip’s Church and cemetery

The October Ghost Series

I’m sharing ghost stories from five different cities this month. Check back every Friday, for a new post.

There are many more ghost stories associated with Charleston. Perhaps I’ll share more stories soon or include a Ghost Stories from Charleston 2 next year. I highly recommend Ghost City Tours, when you visit Charleston, for a wonderfully entertaining and informative nighttime tour.

While exploring this gorgeous city I had a few experiences of my own, including feeling dark, heavy energy in White Point Garden and near the Old Exchange. And I saw several spirits in different locations. I’m an intuitive though, who has seen ghosts since early childhood. Most people don’t see or hear the spirits that are, actually, all around us. They sense them though, on a subconscious level, more than they realize.

Do you believe in ghosts? By the end of this month, you just might!

Ghost Stories from Charleston dock street theatre
Ghost Stories from Charleston – interior of Dock Street Theatre

 

Charleston Finds from Amazon:


 

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Fun Things to Do in Charleston

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I recently returned from a solo trip to beautiful Charleston, South Carolina. Although I’ve experienced solitary getaways within 100 miles from home and flown solo across the US to meet up with other people, this was my first big solo adventure. For the first time, I explored a city I’ve never visited before…on my own.

It was a wonderful experience and one I’ll never forget.

I have a wealth of information and photos to share from my trip. I’m starting this series with Fun Things to Do in Charleston.

Fun Things to Do in Charleston title meme

Charleston South Carolina

Charleston is a port city in South Carolina, founded in 1670 as Charles Town. It soon became the fourth largest city in the colonies and the wealthiest.

Charleston is known for its cobblestone streets, horse drawn carriages, antebellum houses and a rich history that stretches back to the Revolutionary War. The downtown historical district includes the French Quarter, the South of Broad neighborhood, the Battery promenade and Waterfront Park that overlooks Charleston Harbor.

Why Charleston as a destination for my solo adventure?

I felt drawn to Charleston after reading a series of books by author Karen White. Her Tradd Street Series, set in the historic district, features an endearing cast of characters, ghosts and mysteries to solve. Karen writes so beautifully about Charleston that I felt compelled to see the city for myself and wander the streets South of Broad.

With the help of my travel agent Ken, from Galaxsea Cruises & Tours, my solo trip came together for September.

Fun Things to Do in Charleston

While in no way a complete list of fun things to do, these activities are a great way to get to know Charleston, especially for first time visitors.

Begin at the Charleston Visitor Center

A great first stop, after arriving in the city, is the Charleston Visitor Center. You can request a Visitor’s Guide online before your trip and find a wealth of information about the city, including itineraries, first time visitor guides and hotels and lodgings.

Located at 375 Meeting Street, the visitor center is housed in an old railroad building, constructed between 1840 and 1856. The center is open daily, from 8:30 – 5:00. Helpful staff offer city maps, the DASH Trolley map and suggestions, plus they can make reservations for tours and attractions. The tour buses depart and return to the center.

The DASH Trolley is a free transportation system for the downtown area. It is very similar to a hop on/hop off bus that makes numerous stops on its circuit around historic downtown. You can board the trolley at the Visitor Center and get off…and back on…at any of the stops around town. While I enjoy walking a city, the trolley was extremely helpful when I wanted to get across town quickly.

Currently, masks are required when riding the trolley.

Fun Things to Do in Charleston trolley
Fun Things to Do in Charleston – Visitor Center and free Trolley. You can see part of the brick visitor center reflected in the trolley windows!

Shop the Historic Charleston City Market

One of the stops on the trolley route is the Historic Charleston City Market.

Charleston’s number one most visited attraction is the City Market. Located at the corner of Meeting and Market Streets, this is the nation’s oldest public market and the cultural heart of Charleston.

Three hundred vendors sell their wares there, ranging from traditional sweetgrass baskets to clothing and jewelry to arts and crafts to food. The city market is the perfect place to pick up a souvenir from Charleston or to get a feel for the community.

The market stretches down Market Street, with three long open air sheds and an enclosed air conditioned Great Hall.  There are public restrooms available on site. The city market is open daily from 9:30 – 5:30.

Currently, masks are required inside the city market.

Fun Things to Do in Charleston city market
Fun Things to Do in Charleston – City Market

Pineapple Fountain Photos

This iconic landmark in Charleston is located in Waterfront Park, next to the harbor.

Waterfront Park is a 12 acre park featuring walking paths beneath live oak trees, benches, wharfs and two fountains. One is attractive to children as a place to splash and play. The other, Pineapple Fountain, draws visitors with cameras ready to snap photos.

Pineapples are a common symbol in Charleston, representing hospitality. Children and adults are encouraged to wade in Pineapple Fountain. Because of its popularity with families, tourists and photographers, you may have to wait to get that perfect shot. Or visit early in the morning, before parents bring the kids to play.

I timed my photos carefully, snapping pictures when kids disappeared around the other side of the fountain!

Fun Things to Do in Charleston pineapple fountain
Fun Things to Do in Charleston – Pineapple Fountain photos

Walk Along the Battery

After snapping photos at Pineapple Fountain, walk the Battery located alongside Charleston Harbor.

Gorgeous harbor views draw the eye on one side of the Battery while parks and pastel antebellum houses vie for attention on the other side.

The Battery is a defensive seawall and promenade, paralleling East Bay Street as it heads south to the end of the peninsula. Fort Sumter is visible out in the harbor, as is Pinckney Castle, the World War II aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, Fort Moultie and Sullivan’s Island.

The Battery is a refreshing place for a morning or evening stroll, with the breezes blowing in from the harbor.

Fun Things to Do in Charleston the battery
Fun Things to Do in Charleston – walk the Battery

Explore South of Broad

South of Broad is the neighborhood literally south of Broad Street in the historic district, at the tip of the peninsula. This neighborhood of tree lined streets features magnificent 18th and 19th century houses and churches.

South of Broad housed Charleston’s original residential area for wealthy planters. There are so many historic structures here, including the Heyward-Washington House where President Washington stayed for eight days while visiting the city.

Spend an afternoon strolling this neighborhood. There are pretty hidden alleyways to wander down, cobblestone streets to explore and impressive wrought iron gates to oooh and aaah over. It’s a beautiful area that includes Tradd Street, my inspiration to visit Charleston.

Fun Things to Do in Charleston
Fun Things to Do in Charleston – explore South of Broad

Photograph Rainbow Row

While in the South of Broad area, head back toward East Bay Street for one of Charleston’s most famous block of houses, Rainbow Row.

Located from 79 – 107 East Bay Street, these colorful houses have a unique history. Built in the 1740s, the 13 townhouses originally featured drab colors. Merchants ran their businesses on the ground floors and lived on the top floors.

After the Civil War, the area became run down and neglected. All that changed in 1931 when Dorothy Porcher Legge and her husband Lionel Legge purchased a section of the houses. She restored the homes, painting them in pastel colors to brighten up the area. Owners of the other houses on the block followed Dorothy’s example and painted their houses pastel colors too.

Rainbow Row is another spot frequently visited in the city. Because the houses are occupied, with cars parked along the front sidewalk, it can be difficult to get a clean photo. I found that snapping one from the corner, down the row of houses, worked best for me.

Fun Things to Do in Charleston rainbow row
Fun Things to Do in Charleston – photograph Rainbow Row

Shop and Dine on King Street

If shopping is your thing, take a walk up and down King Street, located one block over from Meeting Street.

King Street offers hotels, shopping, dining, nightlife, fashions, arts and antique stores in the historic district. At more than 300 years old, King Street is the second most historically and architecturally significant street in Charleston, after Meeting Street.

King Street features some of the city’s trendiest restaurants plus art galleries, flourishing businesses, exceptional shops and a robust nightlife. The street is divided into three districts: Lower King is the antiques district, Middle King is the fashion district and Upper King offers dining.

The free trolley makes several stops along King Street. I dined there several times, at different vegan cafes, riding the trolley to my destination and then walking back to my accommodations.

Fun Things to Do in Charleston king street
Fun Things to Do in Charleston – shop and dine on King Street

Learn About Charleston with a Historic Tour

There are many, many tour options available in Charleston. You can take a horse drawn carriage ride, take a city tour bus or participate in a walking tour.

Personally, I prefer a walking tour as it seems to me the best way to really get to know a city. How interesting it is to walk the city with a knowledgeable guide who can tell the stories that make up the history of Charleston.

I highly recommend Two Sisters Tours. Join sisters Therese and/or Mary Helen, seventh generation Charlestonians, on a two hour walking tour of the city. These ladies, both retired attorneys, know their city intimately.

I enjoyed this tour on my second day in Charleston, with Therese as the guide.

Therese is energetic, personable and extremely knowledgeable about Charleston. She didn’t recite a memorized list of facts about Charleston. Therese knows Charleston and tells the old city’s stories with humor and a heart for her community. I learned so much about Charleston from Therese and appreciate her passion and enthusiasm.

Click link for more info about Two Sisters Tours.

Fun Things to Do in Charleston historical tour
Fun Things to Do in Charleston – historical tour with Therese of Two Sisters Tours

Scare Yourself with a Ghost Tour

For a journey into Charleston’s darker side, schedule a nighttime ghost tour through the city. Again, many such tours exists, from horse drawn carriage rides to tour buses to walking tours. You just can’t beat walking next to those graveyards and spooky old houses at night though.

I joined tour guide John, with Ghost City Tours, after my first full day in Charleston. Due to its long history, the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, pirates, fires and hurricanes, Charleston is considered one of America’s most haunted cities. Ghost City Tours offers two tours, one for adults only, with more macabre themes and stories, and one for families with slightly more tame stories suitable for all ages.

I chose the family ghost tour simply because it began earlier, at 7:00 PM rather than 10:00.

John guided us expertly through Charleston’s more tragic sites, with intriguing stories of the restless undead. He told us at the beginning of the tour that his job wasn’t to convince us that ghosts exist. His job was to share the stories and let us make up our own minds. John didn’t need to convince me. I already believe in ghosts! I highly recommend this tour. Click link for more info.

Fun Things to Do in Charleston ghost tour
Fun Things to Do in Charleston – ghost tour with John of Ghost City Tours

Educate Yourself at the Old Slave Mart Museum

There is no denying that slavery and Charleston are intricately entwined. It’s a part of Charleston’s history that is difficult. I appreciate that the city does not gloss over this dark past or attempt to downplay its significance.

Rather, Charleston seeks to expand the stories of the enslaved people who helped to make the city what it was in the past…and what it is today.

On Chalmers Street is the Slave Mart Museum, the place where traders brought people to sell and trade them from 1856 – 1863. The Old Slave Mart is the only known such building still in existence in South Carolina. Auctions of the enslaved ended November 1863. The property changed hands many times until 1938 when Miriam Wilson bought it and opened  a museum featuring African and African American arts and crafts. The city acquired the building in 1988 and opened it as a historic site and museum in 2007.

The museum features displays that chronicle Charleston’s role in the international slave trade and the domestic trade within the south. It is often staffed by individuals who can trace their history to Charleston slaves.  While it is a painful history to learn more about, I believe it is so essential that we do so. I spent a solemn hour there, studying the displays, pondering the significance and feeling all of the emotions.

The Old Slave Mart Museum at 6 Chalmers Street is open Monday – Saturday, 9:00 – 5:00. Currently a mask is required while inside.

Fun Things to Do in Charleston slave mart museum
Fun Things to Do in Charleston – educate yourself at Old Slave Mart Museum

Visit a Plantation

There are several plantations in the Charleston area, accessible by car or by tour bus. The good people at the Charleston Visitor Center can help set up the tour of choice.

I originally wanted to visit the tea plantation, owned and operated by the Bigelow family, because that’s the brand of tea I drink. Alas, this plantation is far enough away from Charleston that it’s difficult to get there…and get back…without a car.

So with the help of a staff member at the Visitor Center, I chose a Magnolia Plantation and Garden tour, primarily because of the acres and acres of wild gardens there. As destiny would have it, it was the right plantation for me to visit. I’ll share in a separate upcoming post about Magnolia Plantation and what makes it so very special.

I enjoyed wandering the extensive gardens, riding a tram through marshes, swamps and woodlands and taking a guided tour inside the plantation house.

Fun Things to Do in Charleston magnolia plantation
Fun Things to Do in Charleston – visit a plantation

Charleston Series

Over the next few months, I’ll share more posts about Charleston…the city’s historical tales, ghost stories, the inn I called home for five days, vegan eats and more.

This was an important trip for me and perfectly timed during my Year of the Wild Woman. I proved to myself that I enjoy solo travel, that I can handle all the details involved in traveling this way and that in general, people are good hearted and kind.

It was fun to experience “going beyond” and “following curiosity” in such new to me ways. I left Charleston a few days ago, grateful for all that this trip taught me and grateful as well for the warm welcome I received in this beautiful city.

I’m ready to plan another adventure…

 

Have you visited Charleston, South Carolina? What was your favorite thing to do there?

Cindy in Charleston
How I explored sunny, humid Charleston…in breezy layers plus hat and sunglasses.

 


 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.