From Virginia last week, it feels like we’ve taken a much deeper dive into the South this week with Charleston, SC. It’s definitely a city with a fascinating history: proud colonial roots, a prominent place in the Confederacy, and an unsettling legacy of slavery. We’ve also enjoyed the distinct change in climate and surroundings. The air is warmer, the forests are deeper, the pace is slower, and people are even more friendly. We love Charleston!
Fort Sumpter: This first stop took us to the middle of Charleston harbor, where the Civil War began. The boys have been learning about slavery and the Civil War, so it was powerful for us to see where the military hostilities started. Closer to town, we also visited the Old Slave Mart, which served as an auction ground in the domestic slave trade, and the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, which served as a jail to pirates and revolutionary soldiers alike. A carriage tour through the original streets also taught us about the unqiue architecture and many prominent people here in Charleston.
Plantation: Our tour of Magnolia Plantation captured for us the lifestyle of the antebellum South. We saw both sides of the coin. First was a row of simple huts that housed over 140 slaves (many of whom stayed on as sharecroppers through Reconstruction). Then, we explored the ornate home of the Drayton family who, on slave labor, made their wealth growing lowland Carolina Gold rice. Most impressive were the 600 acres of gardens (camellias and azaleas) and forests (live oak, Spanish moss, bald cypress, palmetto palms, and a variety of marsh reeds). This was at one of many scenic bridges that dotted the property.
SC Aquarium: Along with the historical sites, we also visited this small but impressive aquarium. In addition to the deepest saltwater tank in the country, this aquarium had excellent displays on the plants, reptiles, and birds of that are found in this region’s blackwater swamps, tidal marshes, and coastal marine environments. We loved the many hands on displays, especially with baby alligators!
Beaches: Of course, no visit to South Carolina would be complete without going to the beach! We were very fortunate to have several days in the high 70’s… still too chilly for some (Jen) but warm enough to get the rest of us in the water. Folly Beach was great for the surf, while the beach at Kiawah Island was tranqil and lovely. We saw many wild dolphins swimming just off shore, and the boys enjoyed swimming, tossing the frisbee, and skim-boarding. Gotta love beach time in November!