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Michelin Must Sees Charleston, Savannah and the South Carolina Coast

By: Michelin
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This eBook version of Must Sees Charleston, Savannah and the South Carolina Coast by Michelin hits the highlights of the South Carolina and Georgia coast for a 24-hour visit, a weekend or longer. Stroll through time in Charleston’s beautifully preserved Historic District and Savannah’s charmingly landscaped squares. Head north for fun and games on Myrtle Beach. Relax on Kiawah Island; or get a Gullah meal to go and picnic at Hunting Island State Park. Sights within the guide are grouped according to the renowned Michelin star-rating system, guiding travelers to the best a place has to offer. Do it all, accompanied by Must Sees detailed maps.

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Charleston

ePub

MUST SEE

Nathaniel Russell Houseaaa

51 Meeting St. 843-724-8481. www.historiccharleston.org. Visit by 30-minute guided tour only, year-round Mon–Sat 10am–5pm, Sun 2pm–5pm. Closed Thanksgiving Day & Dec 24–25. $10. Combination tickets are available for Nathaniel Russell and Aiken-Rhett houses.

If you just see one historic house in Charleston, make it this one. The sister property to the Aiken-Rhett House, the 3-story, 9-room Nathaniel Russell House has been restored to its 19C glory after the roof collapsed when Hurricane Hugo blew through town in 1989. The brick residence, considered to be one of the best examples of Federal-style architecture in the US, was built in 1808 for Nathaniel Russell and his wife, Sarah. Born in Rhode Island, Russell came to Charleston at age 27 in 1765, as an agent for a Providence import-export firm. When he moved his family into the new house in 1808, Russell was 70 years old, and ranked as one of the city’s wealthiest merchants. You can see his prosperity for yourself in the ornate carved woodwork and moldings, and the collections of fine 18C Charleston-made antiques and English silver that decorate the lovely rooms.

 

Historic District

ePub

MUST SEE

Nathaniel Russell Houseaaa

51 Meeting St. 843-724-8481. www.historiccharleston.org. Visit by 30-minute guided tour only, year-round Mon–Sat 10am–5pm, Sun 2pm–5pm. Closed Thanksgiving Day & Dec 24–25. $10. Combination tickets are available for Nathaniel Russell and Aiken-Rhett houses.

If you just see one historic house in Charleston, make it this one. The sister property to the Aiken-Rhett House, the 3-story, 9-room Nathaniel Russell House has been restored to its 19C glory after the roof collapsed when Hurricane Hugo blew through town in 1989. The brick residence, considered to be one of the best examples of Federal-style architecture in the US, was built in 1808 for Nathaniel Russell and his wife, Sarah. Born in Rhode Island, Russell came to Charleston at age 27 in 1765, as an agent for a Providence import-export firm. When he moved his family into the new house in 1808, Russell was 70 years old, and ranked as one of the city’s wealthiest merchants. You can see his prosperity for yourself in the ornate carved woodwork and moldings, and the collections of fine 18C Charleston-made antiques and English silver that decorate the lovely rooms.

 

Historic Sites

ePub

Fort Sumter National Monumentaaa

Accessible only by boat from Patriots Point or the Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center, located on Liberty Square (next to the aquarium at the east end of Calhoun St.). 843-883-3123. www.nps.gov/fosu. Open mid-Mar–mid-Aug10am–5:30pm; rest of the year, call for hours. Closed Jan 1, Thanksgiving Day & Dec 25. Fee for cruise includes admission to fort (see sidebar on next page).

Imagine this lonely outpost at the entrance to Charleston Harbor alive with cannon fire, men running and shouting, the powder magazines exploding in flames. This was the scene on April 12, 1861, when Confederate forces fired the first shots of the Civil War.

When South Carolina seceded from the Union on December 20, 1860, four forts guarded the entrance to Charleston Harbor: Fort Sumter on its manmade island, Fort Moultrie on Sullivans Island, Fort Johnson on James Island, and Castle Pinckney on Shutes Folly Island. The five-sided brick fort, named for South Carolina Revolutionary War hero Thomas Sumter, was 90 percent complete at the time, but only 15 of the fort’s more than 100 cannons stood mounted and ready.

 

Plantations

ePub

Drayton Hallaaa

3380 Ashley River Rd. 843-769-2600. www.draytonhall.org. Visit by 1-hour guided tour only, Mar–Oct daily 8:30am–5pm. Rest of the year daily 8:30am–4pm. Closed Jan 1 and Dec 24, 25 & 31. $14.

Considered to be one of the finest existing examples of Georgian-Palladian architecture in America, Drayton Hall is the only plantation house on the Ashley River to have survived the Revolutionary and Civil wars intact. Begun in 1738 and completed in 1742 for John Drayton, the majestic brick mansion—whose architect is unknown—overlooks the river from its 630-acre site. Symmetry and classical detail distinguish the 2-story, 10-room interior, which remains in near original condition. The raised English basement was used largely for storage space. Two 2-story brick outbuildings, known as flankers, were constructed in the 18C, one to serve as a kitchen and the other as a laundry space. One flanker was lost in the 1886 earthquake; the kitchen flanker was destroyed by an 1893 hurricane. Only the privy building, once containing 7 seats, remains from the 18C; it was converted to an office in the late 19C.

 

Beaches

ePub

Public Beach Parks

Beachwalker County Park

21mi south of Charleston. 1 Beachwalker Dr., on the southern end of Kiawah Island. From Charleston, take the James Island Connector and turn right on Folly Rd. Go left on Maybank Hwy. (Rte. 700) to Bohicket Rd. Turn left on Bohicket Rd. and follow signs to Kiawah Island. Turn left on Kiawah Island Pkwy. and take the first right on Beachwalker Dr. 843-768-2395. www.ccprc.com. Open May–Labor Day daily 9am–7pm. Sept daily 10am–6pm. Mar, Apr & Oct week-ends only 10am–6pm. Closed Nov–Feb. $7/vehicle.

If you want to experience the spectacular beach on Kiawah Islandaa (see The Lowcountry Coast), but don’t want to rent lodgings at the private resort, spend a day at Beachwalker Park. Located just outside the resort’s gates, the county park offers equipment rentals, lifeguards (in summer), dressing areas, outdoor showers, restrooms, and picnic areas with grills. For supplies, there’s a convenience store and gas station right on Beachwalker Drive as you turn off Kiawah Island Parkway.

 

Parks and Gardens

ePub

Public Beach Parks

Beachwalker County Park

21mi south of Charleston. 1 Beachwalker Dr., on the southern end of Kiawah Island. From Charleston, take the James Island Connector and turn right on Folly Rd. Go left on Maybank Hwy. (Rte. 700) to Bohicket Rd. Turn left on Bohicket Rd. and follow signs to Kiawah Island. Turn left on Kiawah Island Pkwy. and take the first right on Beachwalker Dr. 843-768-2395. www.ccprc.com. Open May–Labor Day daily 9am–7pm. Sept daily 10am–6pm. Mar, Apr & Oct week-ends only 10am–6pm. Closed Nov–Feb. $7/vehicle.

If you want to experience the spectacular beach on Kiawah Islandaa (see The Lowcountry Coast), but don’t want to rent lodgings at the private resort, spend a day at Beachwalker Park. Located just outside the resort’s gates, the county park offers equipment rentals, lifeguards (in summer), dressing areas, outdoor showers, restrooms, and picnic areas with grills. For supplies, there’s a convenience store and gas station right on Beachwalker Drive as you turn off Kiawah Island Parkway.

 

Museums

ePub

USS Yorktown, Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum

Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum

Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museumaa

3mi north of Charleston in Mt. Pleasant. Take US-17 North across the bridge and follow signs for Rte. 703. Take the first right on Patriots Point Rd. 843-884-2727. www.patriotspoint.org. Open year-round daily 9am–6:30pm. Closed Dec 25. $15 adults, $8 children (ages 6–11). Free for children under age 6. Parking $3.

You may have wondered what that huge gray shape is across the harbor from Charleston. It’s the World War II aircraft carrier the USS Yorktownaa, the centerpiece of Patriots Point. Built to honor the men and women who have served the US Navy in the 20C, Patriots Point features four historic vessels, a mock-up of a US Navy base camp in Vietnam, the Medal of Honor Museum and the Cold War Submarine Memorial (across the parking lot on Charleston Harbor).

Dubbed the “Fighting Lady,” the Yorktown was commissioned in Newport News, Virginia, in 1943. During World War II, she carried a crew of 380 officers and 3,038 enlisted men, along with 90 aircraft on board.

 

Must Do

ePub

MUST DO

Carriage Tour

Charleston Area CVB

EXPLORE CHARLESTON

Carriage Tours

It would be a shame to visit Charleston and not clip-clop around the historic district in one of the handsome horse- or mule-drawn carriages that share the city’s downtown streets with more modern vehicles. The carriage rides are a leisurely way to get an eye-level overview of the historic district. Along the way, your driver/guide will no doubt provide a witty—though not always historically accurate—narration of local history and lore.

There are a number of different companies that provide carriage tours. Choose the one that appeals to you by checking out the lineup along Anson and North Market streets, near the Old City Market.

Tours generally last one hour and cost an average of $20 for adults and $12 for children.

Here are some of the favorites:

• Classic Carriage Tours – 10 Guignard St. 843-853-3747. www.classiccarriage.com.

 

Myrtle Beach and The Grand Strand

ePub

The sights in this section are organized from north to south, beginning with Myrtle Beach.

Myrtle Beacha

98mi north of Charleston on US-17. Visitor information: 843-626-7444 or 800-356-3016. www.myrtlebeachinfo.com. Visitor centers at1200 N. Oak St. and 3401 US 17 Business S. in Murrells Inlet (for visitor center hours and more practical information).

The pulsing playground that is Myrtle Beach booms nearly year-round with people, traffic, and more entertainment options than you could possibly find time to do. But it wasn’t always this way. Before 1900, this part of the coast was a quiet backwater. Enter the Burroughs & Collins Company, a turpentine manufacturer who built the first hotel on the beach in 1901. The wife of the company’s founder named the area Myrtle Beach, for the abundance of wax myrtle trees that grew wild along the shore.

After Hurricane Hazel razed the Grand Strand in 1954, the rebuilding boom included something new—golf courses. Throughout the 1970s and 80s, residential and commercial projects mushroomed, resulting in the megaresort you see here today—one of the fastest-growing areas in the country.

 

Must Do

ePub

MUST DO

Alligator Adventure

M. Linda Lee/Michelin

Alligator Adventure

4898 US-17, at Barefoot Landing, North Myrtle Beach. 843-361-0789. www.alligatoradventure.com. Open year-round daily. Hours vary seasonally; call or check online for schedule. $16.95 adults, $10.95 children (ages 4–12).

If you haven’t come across any alligators in your Lowcountry wanderings, you’re sure to see some here—more than 800 of them, in fact. Along with garden variety and albino gators, you’ll see snakes, tortoises, and the gargantuan Utan, “King of Crocs”—measuring 20 feet long and weighing in at more than 2,000 pounds.

Hard Rock Park

211 George Bishop Parkway. 843-236-7625. www.hardrockpark.com. Hours vary seasonally; call or check online for schedule. $45 adults, $30 children (ages 4–9).

This 55-acre, rock 'n roll theme park is the Strand's newest draw (2008). It boasts 50 attractions, from thrill rides, shows, restaurants, and shops to a large amphitheater.

 

The Lowcountry Coast

ePub

Marsh in the Lowcountry

South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism, DiscoverSouthCarolina.com

Wild Dunesa

15mi north of Charleston on Isle of Palms. Take US-17 North to the Isle of Palms Connector (Rte. 517). When the connector ends at Palm Blvd., go left at the light and follow Palm Blvd. After Palm Blvd. jogs left at 41st Ave., take the first right (continuation of Palm Blvd.). Turn left across from 48th Ave. at the gate for Wild Dunes. 888-778-1876. www.wilddunes.com.

Bounded by the Intracoastal Waterway on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other, Wild Dunes sprawls out over acres of salt marsh, tidal creeks and two miles of white-sand beach at the northern tip of Isle of Palmsa. Long before a bridge connected this barrier island to the mainland, the Seewee Indians called the island home.

The first resort was built here in 1972 when the Sea Pines Company (which developed Hilton Head) built the Isle of Palms Beach and Racquet Club on 1,600 acres of land at the north end of the island. New owners added a Tom Fazio-designed golf course (Wild Dunes Links) in 1980, and four years later the resort’s name was changed to Wild Dunes Beach and Racquet Club.

 

Savannah and the Georgia Coast

ePub

SAVANNAHaa

Tourist information: 877-728-2662 or www.savannahvisit.com. For practical information.

With its stately mansions, landscaped squares, Spanish-moss-draped live oaks and friendly residents, Savannah, Georgia, is a quintessentially Southern city.

The city was born in 1733 when English army officer and philanthropist James Oglethorpe and a group of more than 100 settlers landed at Yamacraw Bluff above the Savannah River.

One of 21 trustees to whom King George II had granted the tract of land between the Savannah and Altamaha rivers, Oglethorpe envisioned the colony of Georgia as a place where the British working poor and “societal misfits” could carve out a living cultivating agricultural products desired by the Crown. In its early years, the region’s economy, based on rice and tobacco and later, cotton, fueled Savannah’s growth as a port and a center for commodities trading. By 1817 Savannah’s City Exchange was setting the market price for the world’s cotton.

 

Georgia's Golden Isles

ePub

Tourist information: 912-265-0620 or 800-933-2627; www.bgivb.com. To reach the Golden Isles from Savannah, travel south on I-95 from Savannah to US-17 South. For practical information.

 

Jekyll Islandaa

From I-95, take Exit 29 and follow US-17 to the Jekyll Causeway. Jekyll Island Welcome Center is located on the causeway (901 Downing Musgrove Causeway). 912-635-3636. www.jekyllisland.com. Open year-round daily 9am–5pm. There’s a $3/vehicle fee to drive onto the island.

Dubbed “Georgia’s Jewel,” Jekyll Island grew up as a playground for America’s millionaires—do the names Gould, Goodyear, Pulitzer and Rockefeller ring a bell? These men, and other East Coast captains of industry, formed a consortium in 1886 and purchased the island for $125,000. Here in 1887, consortium members—who called themselves the Jekyll Island Club—hired architect Charles Alexander to build a 60-room clubhouse (now the Jekyll Island Club Hotel).

The wealthy financiers soon supplemented their clubhouse with “cottages,” as they called their anything-but-modest winter retreats, which ranged up to 8,000 square feet in size.

 

Must Eat

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MUST EAT

Luxury $$$$ over $50

Expensive $$$ $30-$50

Moderate $$ $15-$30

Inexpensive $ under $15

Charleston Area

Properties are located in Charleston unless otherwise noted.

LUXURY

Charleston Grill

$$$$ Contemporary
In Charleston Place Hotel. 205 Meeting St. (main entrance off Hassell St.). Dinner only. 843-577-4522. www.charlestongrill.com.

Nationally renowned chef Bob Waggoner holds sway at Charleston Place Hotel, where his cuisine wins raves from diners and food critics alike. In 2006 both his menu and his dining room were revamped to celebrate the restaurant’s 10th anniversary. Light wood floors and creme-colored leather seating amid mahogany-paneled walls set the stage for a meal to remember. Dishes are divided into four categories. “Pure” spotlights simple preparations that stand out for their pristine flavors. The chef’s French training shines in “Lush” dishes that take their cues from classic technique.In the “Cosmopolitan” component, Waggoner plays with textures and temperatures, while the “Southern” portion of the menu shows off regional favorites. The wine list offers both New and Old World varietals among its 1,300 selections.

 

Must Stay

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MUST STAY

Luxury $$$$$ over $350

Expensive $$$$ $250-$350

Moderate $$$ $175-$250

Inexpensive $$ $100-$175

Budget $ Under $100

Charleston Area

Properties listed are in Charleston unless otherwise noted.

LUXURY

Charleston Place Hotel

$$$$$ 440 rooms
205 Meeting St. (main entrance off Hassell St.). 843-722-4900 or 888-635-2350. www.charlestonplace.com

A 3,000-piece Murano crystal chandelier hangs above the Georgian open-armed staircase in the elegant lobby of the grand dame of Charleston’s hostelries, now operated by Orient Express Hotels, Inc. Renovated guest rooms have 19C period furnishings, toile and floral patterns, and sumptuous marble baths. Amenities include a spa (see Spas), pool, fitness center, and adjoining shops. Be sure to savor chef Bob Waggoner’s innovative cuisine at the hotel’s renowned Charleston Grill (see Must Eat). Reserve a table for the hotel's famous afternoon tea (Mon–Sat 1pm–4pm, $22–$27).

 

Star Attractions

ePub

Unmissable sights in and around Charleston, Savannah and the South Carolina Coast

aaa Absolutely Must See

aa Really Must See

a Must See

No Star See

Sights below are located in South Carolina unless otherwise specified.

aaaThree-Star Sights

Charleston

Charleston Historic District

Drayton Hall

Fort Sumter National Monument

Nathaniel Russell House

Middleton Place

Middleton Place Gardens

aaTwo-Star Sights

Aiken-Rhett House

The Battery

Brookgreen Gardens

Calhoun Mansion

Circular Congregational Church

Cumberland Island National Seashore (GA)

Edmondston-Alston House

Factors Walk (GA)

The Grand Strand

Heyward-Washington House

Jekyll Island (GA)

 

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