by Byron Francis April 09, 2018 0 Comments

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love a good road trip. Give me my favorite tunes and a cooler full of drinks and snacks, and I'm ready to go. Having an intriguing destination like Charleston, South Carolina is just icing on the cake. I had the opportunity to travel to Charleston to celebrate my birthday weekend. The drive from the metro Atlanta area was about 5 hours and very picturesque. Rural Georgia and South Carolina have great forested hills that make for magnificent scenery. Especially at sunset. Whenever I visit a new city, I make it a point to take in all the culture, food, and history I can. I want to know what makes the city special. With that in mind, here are three of my favorite things to do in Charleston, South Carolina.


Patriots Point

Patriots Point Naval History Museum is located in Charleston Harbor. It is the home of the USS Yorktown CV-10, a United States Navy aircraft carrier that served in the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II. The Yorktown also served during the war in Vietnam. One interesting fact about the Yorktown is that it was named to honor another carrier called Yorktown (CV-5) that was lost in the Battle of Midway in 1942.  

Flight Deck of the USS Yorktown CV-10 at Patriots Point, Charleston, South Carolina

While visiting Patriots Point, you can tour the Yorktown. I was able to see the repair hangars, the engine rooms, the captain's bridge, and most importantly, the flight deck. On the flight deck, there were military aircraft that flew from the Yorktown over its many decades of service. My favorite was the F-14 Tomcat. I remember being a kid and wanting to become a Navy pilot like Tom Cruise in the film Top Gun.

F-14 Tomcat on the flight deck of the USS Yorktown CV-10 at Patriots Point, Charleston, South Carolina

Along with the Yorktown, Patriots Point at Charleston Harbor is home to the USS Laffey and the USS Clamagore. The destroyer Laffey served during World War II and still shows some of the battle damage from that era. There's even a video presentation that features many veterans telling their story. The Clamagore is a submarine that was commissioned in 1945 and is the last of its type. If you want to see this piece of our nation's history, hurry. Due to its deteriorating condition, the Clamagore may be sunk and used as an artificial reef by next year.


Charleston Harbor Tour

While in Charleston, I also had the opportunity to take a harbor tour on the Carolina Belle. We set off on a sunny, but breezy afternoon and enjoyed a couple of hours on the water. While cruising along, I could see the enormous industrial barges carrying tons of products into the harbor to be delivered to different parts of the country by rail and truck. I also saw where many cruise ships dock before taking trips to various tropical places. Sullivan's Island was a unique part of this trip. From our cruise vessel, I could see the beautiful homes on this island located in Charleston Harbor. Sullivan's Island boasts some of the most expensive real estate in the United States.

As you know, I love learning about the history of a place. I enjoyed learning about the history of Charleston Harbor, which includes piracy, the Transatlantic slave trade, and the Civil War. During the tour, I learned about the numerous pirates that made their exploits near Charleston in the 1700s. These pirates include famous names such as Blackbeard and Stede Bonnet, aka "The Gentleman Pirate." I also learned that, according to some historians, 40 to 60 percent of Africans brought to the United States as slaves, were trafficked through Charleston Harbor. I also learned that there are plans for an International African American Museum that will be completed in 2020. This museum will tell the story of those captive Africans that became a part of this nation's foundation. We also passed by Fort Sumter, South Carolina. Fort Sumter is the site of the first shots of the American Civil War and still stands today as a monument of a difficult time in our country's past. As you can see, Charleston is a city that is rich in history.  


Historic Market Street

Market Street in Charleston is a cultural and local hot spot with shops, restaurants, bars, and more. It is home to the Historic Charleston City Market where many local artists and business owners sell their crafts and products. While on Market Street, I strolled along the market and shopped a bit. I also stopped at Kilwins, a chocolate and candy shop on Market Street. I had one of the best caramel apples I've had in ages. Of course, you can't come to Charleston without trying some of the famous seafood. I had dinner at the Charleston Crab House on Market Street. Twice! The first time I had dinner there, I had some fantastic stuffed mushrooms and hush puppies as appetizers. My entree included a fried lobster tail, mashed potatoes, and fresh greens. The food was terrific, and I had to go back a second time. This time, I had fried green tomatoes for my appetizer and a traditional low country boil with two types of crab legs. I recommend this spot if you make it to Charleston.

Low Country Bowl at Charleston Crab House

It doesn't take much to see why Charleston, South Carolina is a great place to visit. With great food, available golf courses and beaches, and lots of shopping, this is an ideal destination for a quick family getaway. The comfortable early spring weather made it especially pleasant for me. This city may not get as much attention as larger tourist cities, but Charleston should definitely be on your radar as a great place to visit to take in the history, great food, and other fun activities. 


Byron Francis
Byron Francis


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