Ah…Charleston. The Low-Country. Voted America’s #1 small city 10 years and counting. Cobblestone streets, southern cuisine, historic landmarks and antebellum houses tell stories dating back to the founding of this port city in the late 1600’s. Its sea islands call attention to the contributions of the Gullah Geechee people who were descendants of West and Central Africans enslaved and brought to the area to work on rice, cotton and indigo plantations. About 80% of descendants of slaves can trace their roots to Charleston. The energy of the city’s tumultuous past still lingers…yet, its captivating beauty is undeniable. Here’s a short list of things to do on your next trip to “The Holy City”.
VISIT PINEAPPLE FOUNTAIN
Since opening in 1990, the pineapple fountain at Charleston Waterfront Park has drawn thousands of visitors from all over the world. Some people even get married here! Apparently, the pineapple theme is popular in Charleston as it represents hospitality. The gorgeous park spans eight acres and is the perfect family friendly location to take pictures and enjoy a gorgeous view of the harbor.
CHARLESTON CITY MARKET
One of the nation’s oldest public markets can be found right in the heart of downtown. Established in 1807, the Charleston City Market provides various items from inexpensive handcrafted gems to more high-end trinkets like gold and silver jewelry. Hundreds of vendors gather daily from 9:30am-5pm (along three or four blocks) to give both tourists and locals a slice of the city. The market is also surrounded by lots of great restaurant options to choose from after you’ve shopped till you dropped!
DINE AT BERTHA’S KITCHEN
A trip to the south isn’t complete without some good ol soul food. This unassuming, Black-owned establishment has not only been serving up delicious eats like lima beans, gizzards and fried chicken since 1979, but they’ve also won a James Beard award for their homecooked dishes that keep customers lined up through the restaurant and out the door! The pork chop sandwich and okra soup are highly recommended.
OLD SLAVE MART
While it is clear that the history of Black people can be found in every corner of this earth, I had no idea just how much Black history I was walking into when I got to Charleston. The Old Slave Mart Museum was built in 1859 and is one of 40 sites in the area where Africans were sold into slavery. It is also the first African American slave museum. As many as 40% of the slaves who entered the United States came through Charleston. The museum consists of posters and artifacts that take visitors through this gruesome moment in time that affects this country to this day.
CHECK OUT HANNIBAL’S KITCHEN
Since 1985, Hannibal’s Soul Kitchen has drawn the “who’s who” of celebrities like Pharrell and Angela Bassett, in addition to lawmakers like former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Their Geechee-style soul food dishes like the Hoppin John and shrimp and crab rice keep even the locals buzzing. This is far from your fancy dining establishment, but much like Bertha’s Kitchen, it serves up some of the best soul food in the area. Trust me, if the locals love it, so will you!