By Brandi M. Seals

Last week I was away on vacation. My husband and I did a bit of a road trip, visiting many parts of North Carolina and South Carolina. One of my favorite destinations was Charleston. I would have thought the city was bigger, but really it was easy to get around and there was not much traffic (unless it was rush hour).

Charleston, South Carolina (try HotelBox for travel deals) has been an important city for years. It is the site of Fort Sumter, numerous plantations, and much more. It does not matter what you are into, there is something for everyone in Charleston.

History buffs will want to hit all the obligatory sites like the fort, Boone Hall Plantation, historic downtown, and the Old Exchange.

Fort Sumter is located on a small island in Charleston Harbor. It is where the Civil War started on April 12, 1861. Confederate soldiers opened fire on the Federal fort and within 34 hours the Union forces surrendered. You will not find many in the south that refer to the war as the Civil War; they usually call it the War Between the States. There is no fee for visiting the fort, but you will need to take a private boat or pay for the ferry to get there.

Before heading out to the fort, visit the Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center at Liberty Square. The facility, located at 340 Concord Street, is open daily from 8:30 AM to 5 PM, except on select holidays.

If one fort is not enough, swing on over to Sullivan’s Island and take a tour of Fort Moultrie (also part of the Fort Sumter National Park). This lesser known fort was used during the Revolutionary War to fight against British occupation.

Boone Hall Plantation is a short drive outside the city. The home is beautiful and is open for tours, along with some of the old slave cabins. The tour guides will give you a tour and fill you in on all the interesting tidbits from the past. For example, the former owner was a fence for pirates back in the day. Now the plantation is used as a you-pick farm where residents can find fresh peaches, strawberries and much more.

In the heart of Charleston, visitors will find a unique building. It is the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon. The land that the Old Exchange stands on used to be home to the Half-Moon Bastion, an original fortification in Charles Town.

The Old Exchange offers tours of its three floors. Each highlights aspects of Charleston’s history during colonial times and the Revolutionary War. Some Charleston residents even gathered here to sign the US Constitution. The building details the building’s history and includes a trip through the Provost Dungeon where pirates and others were once held captive.

One less well known museum is the Daughters of the Confederacy Museum located above the Old City Market where Meeting and Market meets. They have collected numerous artifacts that range from original confederate flags and bullets to rare slave tags and more.

If you prefer visiting one of a kind boutiques or hitting up high end retailers, you will also love Charleston. Stop by Market Street. Between East End and Meeting streets there is an open air market where vendors gather everyday to sell their wares.

Up the street a little farther, visitors will find Saks Fifth Avenue. Stop by and marvel at all the designer duds. If you are into high fashion, Saks is a stop you just cannot miss.

Outside of downtown, visitors will find a large outlet center. Visit the Gap outlet and load up on basics or pick up a nice watch over at Fossil.

Stop for a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants in the area. I recommend the Noisy Oyster located at 24 N. Market. Try the Baked Chicken Neptune. It is delicious and features a blue crab stuffing that is to die for. You will also find the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company and several other restaurants featuring fresh and delicious seafood.

Charleston is a walking city so park the car and get out and walk around. If you are used to walking you can see just about everything you want to on foot (at least downtown). For those that will need to drive a little, there are a number of meter spaces available and parking garages.

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