Home to the oldest city in South Carolina and one of the top tourist destinations in the country, Charleston County also has a wild side. Acres of protected natural habitats and waterways are prevalent along with amazingly preserved historic sites. Famous or not well-known, Charleston County is full of ways to enjoy this historic port city.
Drayton Hall is the oldest surviving example of Georgian Palladian arhitecture in the United States and one of the only pre-Revolutonary houses that remain in close to original condition today. Drayton Hall's story spans 3 centuries of American history and 7 generations of the Drayton family and the African Americans were lived and worked here. Today you can tour the house (unfurnished) and take part in programs about life on the plantation or visit the African American cemetery on site.
One of four oceanfront state parks in SC, Edisto Beach State Park is known for being rich in both history and nature. There is an ancient shell midden that created by the Edisto Indians in 2,000 B.C. This mound, made up mostly of oyster shells was where the Native Americans deposited of their trash and other unwanted items. Most popular on site are the nature trails, the Environmental Education Center, its educational programs, completely furnished cabins, campsites and of course the view of the South Carolina coastline!
Truly the birthplace of South Carolina, in 1670 a group of English settlers landed here and established the start of the Carolinas colony, the plantation system of the American South and one of the continent's first major port cities. The view here hasn't changed much at all (except for the fact that you can now enjoy a convenient trolley and audio tour to get you from place to place!). First brush up on your history at the interactive museum and gift shop before you begin your journey through the Adventure (a 17th century replica ship), an experimental crop garden, archaeology sites, an animal forest with species indigienous to SC and 80 acres of gardens. The Legare-Waring House is a favorite place for weddings and events along with Founders Hall, a LEEDS gold certified event facility.
Once a hub for the African American community in Charleston, the Avery Research Center offered its students training for professional careers and leadership roles from 1865-1954. Today Avery is an archives and museum dedicated to the collection, preservation and documentation of the history and culture of African Americans in Charleston and the South Carolina Lowcountry. The center currently holds nearly 4000 primary- and secondary-source materials that document the history, traditions, legacies, and influence of African Americans and their place in the American narrative.
Fort Sumter marks the beginning of the Civil War. Decades of growing strife between North and South erupted on April 12, 1861 when Confederate artillery opened fire on this Federal fort in Charleston Harbor. Fort Sumter surrendered 34 hours later. Union forces would try for nearly four years to take it back. Before you get on the boat to Fort Sumter, you can explore the Visitor Education Center. There are also many artifacts to see at the actual fort, including an original flag. History Trivia: The first death during the Civil War was an accident here at Fort Sumter. As Federal troops surrended to the Confederates, the Union soldiers lowered their flag. A premature discharge during the 100-gun salute caused an explosion that killed Pvt. Daniel Hough of the 1st U.S. Artillery.
Fort Moultrie is the only unit of the National Park System where the entire 171-year history of American seacoast defense (1776-1947) can be traced. Here you can actually watch time rewind as you experience what it was like on Fort Moultrie from World War II all the way back to it's days as a palmetto and log fort in 1776. Tucked in between the pubs and charming shuttered houses on Sullivan's Island, Fort Moultrie offers self-guided tours and museum exhibits on this key part of military history. History Trivia: The palmetto tree has been a symbol of SC since 1776 because the first Fort Moultrie was built of palmetto logs. The battle of Sullivan's Island was the Revolutionary War's first decisive victory of American forces over the British Navy.
Edisto Island is known for its natural beauty and a laid-back way of life. But it is also treasured for its rich history of Native Americans, Spanish pirates, English settlers, wealthy cotton planters and military conflicts. The Edisto Island Museum walks you through the history of the island through many artifacts, photographs and displays. There is an Agriculture Room with farm implements, displays from Edisto's oldest Freedman's house and an African-American school, and a Nature Room with fossils and shells found on Edisto's beaches!
As the first true Serpentarium in South Carolina, this facility is dedicated to the recognition, preservation and study of the world of reptiles. The site provides educational and exciting displays of reptiles from around the world and native to the region.
Caw Caw Interpetive Center guides you through 654 acres worth of history and nature. Part of a former rice plantation, the land was home to enslaved African Americans who applied their technology and skills in agriculture to carve a highly successful series of rice fields out of cypress swamp. Still evident are the earthen dikes, remnant water control structures and canals that today provide diverse habitats to migratory waterfowl, songbirds, deer, otter and alligators. Visitors can experience Caw Caw through the 8 miles of walking trails, interpretive exhibits at the interpretive center and a wide variety of educational programs.
Boone Hall Plantation has been open to the public since 1956 and today offers tours of the house full of antiques. The plantation was founded in 1681 and the family was influential in South Carolina history, the colonies, and the nation.
Nearby is Boone Hall Farm Market, which specializes in a full line of locally grown South Carolina produce, meats and specialty products such as fresh produce, local seafood, homemade fudge, ice cream, jams, jellies, salad dressings, and a market cafe featuring Farms Fresh meals with meat and vegetables starting at $6.99. Meatloaf is a favorite!!!