Geo: 32.7812, -79.9316
Late last night I received several emergency alert text messages about flash floods and thought my whole day today would be a wash out. Turns out it was a fairly decent day with only some light mist at times to drive people indoors. My plan was to start at the farm market, but I checked their Facebook page before leaving the hotel and found out the market was cancelled for today. Bummer! But no worries, there are plenty of other things to do in Charleston, even on a dreary day.
I started off at the Visitor Center. I find this to be a great place to park and make as your base for exploring Charleston. Parking is not free, but is a maximum of $16 per day and all other parking areas seem to be similarly priced. Plus you are then where the free trolleys all stop and there are restrooms and people to help you plan your day. I asked about indoor activities and the lady gave me a handy Rainy Day page with a list of all the various museums, historic houses and other indoor things to do. I wasn't quite sure where I wanted to start so
I hopped on the trolley heading to the City Market. This Market is a covered Market where people sell everything from jewelry to sweetgrass baskets to food products. Interesting to walk through and it is out of the rain. I wandered through and ended up in the shop of the Historic Charleston Foundation. There you can buy tickets to tour one of the historic homes they own. After talking with the ticket person, I decided to tour the Aiken-Rhett tour. She explained this home is part of their preservation program and is a self-guided tour. I bought my ticket ($10) and headed in the direction she pointed me.
The Aiken-Rhett Home is located on Elizabeth Street and, from the City Market, was slightly further than the Visitor Center. So it was a good hike to get to the tour. When you arrive at the home, you ring the bell and a guide shows you into the house. Photography is not allowed inside and you have to put your purse or any other bags into a locker. The tour is self-guided using an audio tour that takes about 30-45 minutes, depending on how long you spend in each room. Like Drayton Hall,
Misty Patriots Point
View from the Aquarium area
the Aiken-Rhett Home is being preserved so you can see the peeling paint, peeling wall paper and all the other original parts that have fallen into disrepair over the years. That's why I chose this tour over the other home, the Nathaniel Russell House, which is a restoration. You are able to view the slaves' quarters over the kitchen building and the coach house with original carriages, you see the ballroom with remnants of wallpaper and imagine what it looked like in the 1800s when it was in use. I really enjoyed being able to walk through the home at my own pace and spend some time imagining what the rooms looked like.
After my tour, I headed off for some lunch and then wandered down King Street, where all the fancy shops are. I was looking for one in particular, the Savannah Bee Company. My sister Leslie got me their Tea Honey for Christmas one year and I discovered they have an actual store in Charleston. If you like honey, you will love this store. You can sample all the different varieties, try out the various lotions and soaps and, of course, spend some money buying yourself some products
Fort Sumter Visitor Center
Visitor Center on the Charleston side. The Aquarium is behind it.
to take home! I also wandered back to the market area and found a store where you can sample all different flavors of peanuts. Probably not the store to go into if you have a nut allergy!
I thought I would spend the rest of my afternoon at the Aquarium and got on the trolley to go there. Unfortunately, the line was out the door and I was not going to wait! Got back on the trolley and went to the Charleston Museum instead ($10). The museum has many different exhibits, from different silver smithed items to textiles of different eras to the history of Charleston itself. There is plenty to look at and if you want to read every little thing, you could be in there all day. I don't like to read all the signs and wandered through at a faster pace.
By this time, my feet were tired and it seemed like a good time for some ice cream. Another trolley ride brought me to the waterfront park area, a gelato shop and a delicious rest on a bench by the harbor. And, that was the end of my day! I was glad to avoid any heavy downpours
Cruise ship loading with the Ravenel Bridge in the background
as it would have been a miserable day. I very much appreciate the free trolleys as they are great for resting tired feet. And I very much enjoy the history and charm of Charleston!
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