Few cities can claim the varied charms of Charleston. The Charleston area, with a population of over half a million spread over a three-county area, offers a lifestyle that combines metropolitan living with the beauty of the southeastern coast. Located on a peninsula formed by the Ashley and Cooper Rivers, downtown Charleston is a popular resort area. Ninety miles of beach stretch along the tri-county coast. The average annual high temperature of 78 degrees encourages a wide range of outdoor activities. The area beaches (Folly Beach Surf Cam) are superb playgrounds for participating in water sports, sunbathing, fishing, or simply taking a moonlit stroll. Most are located only minutes from the medical center. Fishing, hunting, boating, and playing golf and tennis are year round activities that can be found throughout the Charleston area. Charleston also has several large parks for further outdoor recreation. They boast of amenities such as miles of bicycle paths, paddleboats, a water park with a 200 foot water slide, splash fountains, picnic areas, observation decks, campgrounds, and children's playgrounds.
While the cultural, scientific, and commercial worlds of Charleston are firmly planted in the modern age, the city itself retains echoes of an earlier era. Downtown a horse and carriage ride along the city's old cobblestone streets reveals tall, narrow houses of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, beautiful private gardens, the historic Battery overlooking Charleston Harbor, and the open market place with its vendors polishing fruit and weaving baskets. Charleston is a regional center for many cultural activities highlighted in late spring by the internationally renowned Spoleto Festival USA, which offers the finest in theater, opera, dance, music and art. Coinciding with the international Spoleto Festival is the local Piccolo Spoleto Festival -- a celebration of Charleston area artists. Throughout the rest of the year, arts continue to play an important part in Charleston. Theatrical and musical productions are performed at the 250-year old Dock Street Theatre and Gaillard Municipal Auditorium, as well as in smaller theaters in the area. The Charleston Symphony Orchestra offers a full season of classical and pops concerts. The Charleston Opera Company and the area ballet companies complement a year-round program in the performing arts.
There is an abundance of visual arts and historical museums located in the area. The Charleston Museum, organized in 1773, in located in the downtown area. Other museums include the City Hall Gallery (where John Trumbull's original portrait of George Washington hangs), the Gibbes Museum of Art, the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Studio Museum, and dozens of private galleries and studios. Historical displays and facilities are located at Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor and Fort Moultrie on Sullivan's Island. Charlestowne Landing features life as it was in Charleston in the 1700s, as well as housing many live animals that once roamed the area in that era. Many hours of planning and hard work go into the effort of retaining the historic charm of Charleston, as is seen in much of the downtown area. Many homes and buildings bear the stamp of historical preservation and restoration; they provide veritable architectural museums.
There are plenty of attractions for "non-art-lovers" as well. The opening of the North Charleston Coliseum and Carolina Ice Palace have brought a wide variety of new entertainment to the Charleston area including: hockey, rock concerts, circuses, ice skating shows, and public ice-skating. Local sporting events throughout the year include: the Carolina Stingrays hockey team; the Charleston RiverDogs professional baseball team; and The Charleston Battery professional soccer team. And the recent completion of the South Carolina Aquarium is a wonderful new addition to the Charleston peninsula.
Three famous gardens are located near Charleston: Middleton Place, Magnolia Plantation, and Cypress Gardens. All feature beautiful oak trees and camelias blooming in the winter and early spring and azaleas blooming during March and April.
Those seeking homes in the Charleston area have a wide range of possibilities -- from the waterfront to the rural countryside, from the historic district to carefully planned subdivision. Charming older homes, contemporary homes, apartments and townhouses are available in a wide range of prices. Selling prices, rental costs, and property taxes are lower than the national average for comparable housing.
Charleston's Annual Attractions
Use the links below to learn more about Charleston and South Carolina:
Golfing in Charleston
Charleston Visitor's Guide
Charleston Chamber of Commerce
Charleston Area Weather
Gardener Publications Relocation Guide
South Carolina: Smiling Faces, Beautiful Places
South Carolina Information