The cobbled streets in old Charleston are perfect for a casual stroll past rainbow-colored homes and stately mansions. Sometimes, when Linda Schunk is taking her walk, she enjoys glimpses of manicured gardens. “Charleston is such a beautiful city. I like walking downtown and being a tourist,” she says. “And I love going home.”
Her own piece of Charleston is the first house built in Etiwan Park on Daniel Island several years ago amid massive oaks and graceful palms. Now there are more than 3,500, and it’s been years since John and Linda Schunk had the only streetlight on the island. But she still has the sense of wonder she felt the day she first crossed a bridge and with her decorator’s eye, the vision of the neighborhood to come.
Charleston is South Carolina’s oldest city and the site where the Civil War began. Reminders of the past are everywhere. Fort Sumter in the harbor is now a national park, newly refurbished with iron gates and a fountain. In a nearby laboratory, there are archaeologists painstakingly sifting the secrets of The Hunley, a Confederate submarine that sank after taking out a Yankee ship by stealth in 1864.
“Charleston is one of those places where you vacation and fantasize about what it’s like to live there,” says Brian Hicks, a writer, who did just that before making the move from Nashville several years ago. He and his wife, Beth, are living out one of their fantasies in a West Ashley home that overlooks the Stono River. They found coastal housing costs pricey but offset by lower taxes and other costs of living. Above all, the couple decided it was a good place to raise a child.
Charleston has the ocean, of course, as well as the Ashley, Cooper and Stono rivers, Intracoastal Waterway, and the ACE Wildlife Basin. There are festivals galore, the most famous of them, Spoleto Festival USA, a literal arts feast in May and June every year. The Piccolo Spoleto Festival is another great event.
The Charleston Wine + Food Festival® is another fabulous event that showcases Charleston’s culinary excellence and culture. Each spring, local chefs and businesses shine during several days of food, wine and fun.
And Charleston has so many museums, gardens, plantations and other places to learn about its colorful past. Children are delighted to know that past included pirates. Nor does Charleston shy away from its role in slavery as the port of entry for most Africans who came to this country in chains. Mayor Riley has announced plans to construct a $30-35 million slave museum, the largest in the country.
Indeed, the late etiquette expert, Marjabelle Young Stewart, named Charleston the “Most Mannerly City in the United States” so many times it was recently given the “Lifetime Achievement Award” for its manners. It’s been on the list (frequently at the top) all 25 years it’s been compiled. But that’s one of countless accolades.
For several years, Travel + Leisure has named it #1 Top City in the U.S. and Canada. Southern Living magazine calls Charleston the “Most Romantic Getaway” in the South. Brides Magazine recommended it for honeymoons; Family Fun Magazine bragged about its activities for children.
Already a prime area for professions, especially medicine and law, Charleston is now attracting high-tech companies. And, the Medical University of South Carolina is transferring medical research to private, spin-off companies. Visit for a weekend and you’re sure to return.
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