Charleston Travel Blog› entry 2 of 6 › view all entries
A day of exploring Charleston began at the Visitor Center. We again drove across the Ashley River and parked all day in the Visitor Center parking lot. Ample parking is offered here and the visitor can use it as a base for exploration.
The Visitor Center is the former South Carolina Rail Road station. The long train shed now houses a series of informative displays on the history of Charleston, local amenities, tours, and a gift shop. Across the street is the Charleston Museum. On display in front of the musem is a replica of the CSS Hunley, one of the first successful submarines. (It sank a Federal warship in Charleston harbor in 1864, but later itself sank with all hands.
Motorized trolleys operated by CARTA, the local transit authority, form the core of public transportation around the old town. They depart from the Visitor Center and follow convenient schedules along King and and Meeting Steets, passing Marion Square Park (with a statue of John C. Calhoun), the College of Charleston, popular boutiques and trendy stores in the King Street shopping district, Charleston Market, and on to the tip of the Battery. That was our destination.
The Battery is a beautiful assembly of pastel colored historic houses and parkland on the very tip of Charleston at the confluence of the Ashley and Cooper Rivers.
A walk along the seawall promenade facing East Battery Street and known as the High Battery enables one to enjoy the breeze and look out over the harbor and the Cooper River to Ft. Sumter in the distance. Along East Battery Street is the Edmonston-Alston House, built in 1825 and one of the first residences along the High Battery. The house is open to the public and is one of the must-see historic house museums in the city.
After looking about the old city, we proceeded to the Fort Sumter Visitor Center. Fort Sumter is a National Monument and is located on an island at the entrance to Charleston Harbor. The only access to it is by boat. Fort Sumter, of course, is where the American Civil War began. Confederate forces began bombarding the fort on April 12, 1861 and demanded the surrender of the US garrison. The garrison held out until the fort was nearly destroyed.
Tours to Fort Sumter leave from the visitor center at the port every two hours.
In the afternoon, back from Fort Sumter, we focused on the Charleston Market area. The Market is officially known as the Market Hall and Sheds.
In the evening, we enjoyed a seafood dinner, Lowcountry style, at the Charleston Crab House.