4 Can’t-Miss Destinations in Charleston


Above photo: Rainbow Row is the perfect place for an afternoon stroll.

Story and photos by Derek Jerrell

Derek is an award-winning freelance photographer specializing in landscape, wildlife and outdoor adventure photography.

The Southern city features lush gardens, beautiful beaches and rich architecture.

The South is known for its breathtaking scenery and family-friendly beaches, and nowhere is that more evident than in Charleston, South Carolina. From beautiful gardens and moss-draped trees to the vivid colors of the historic Rainbow Row houses, Charleston truly comes alive in spring and summer. Set your sights on one of these four exquisite locations, or discover your own favorite destination in the city.

Rainbow Row

Located just west of Waterfront Park in downtown, Rainbow Row is one of Charleston’s most well-known tourist attractions. Rainbow Row consists of 13 brightly colored historical homes on East Bay Street. Lots of speculation exists as to why the buildings were painted different colors, but no one knows the true reason. Some think the distinct colors helped merchants communicate the type of goods sold. Others believe the lighter pastel hues kept the buildings cooler during the hot and humid summer months. The mystery adds to the overall allure of the area and allows visitors to draw their own conclusions.

Folly Beach

Folly Beach, often referred to as “The Edge of America” by the locals, is an eclectic community about 10 miles from the heart of downtown Charleston. Start your morning at the Folly Beach Pier to catch the sunrise over the beach, and then make your way to the Lost Dog Café for one of the best brunches in the South. If you are looking for adventure, Folly Beach offers some of the finest surfing on the East Coast. If you prefer to experience the ocean without getting wet, dolphin tours are a great way to get an intimate look at the local marine life. Charleston Outdoor Adventures has been operating tours of the inlets and marshes behind Folly Beach for almost 10 years. Tours depart from their dock at Bowens Island. Hop aboard their Carolina Skiff bay boat for a 90-minute ride as you search for Atlantic bottlenose dolphins.

Angel Oak

If you are looking for something that is larger than life, visit Angel Oak, a live tree that stands 65 feet tall with branches reaching out as far as 187 feet. Stand at the base, look up through the canopy and follow the tree branches as they intertwine and create patterns that come alive when the sun hits. Located on Johns Island, Angel Oak is estimated to be 400-500 years old and thought to be one of the oldest living trees east of the Mississippi River.

Boone Hall Plantation

Located in Mount Pleasant, Boone Hall Plantation features over 700 acres of history, including an old plantation home and lush garden. It’s also home of the “Avenue of Oaks,” a magnificent road lined with live oak trees that date back hundreds of years. The Spanish moss that hangs from the trees creates a surreal scene that is unique to the plantation. Be sure to leave enough time to take a house tour, or if you prefer to go at your own pace, the butterfly pavilion and garden tours are self-guided.
 

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