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On The Prowl: Charleston, South Carolina

19th-Century Charleston. Courtesy National Park Service

As editors of a Charleston-based magazine, we’re often asked for tips by prospective travelers to the Holy City, recently recognized as America’s top travel destination.

Since the U.S. is now commemorating  the Sesquicentennial (150th anniversary ) of the Civil War, Charleston is the place where the first shots were fired, and we’re producing a documentary film about the legacy of the war, we’re suggesting  an unusual walking tour we discovered during our research.

The Civil War Walking Tour is conducted throughout the year (except January and February) by Jack Thompson, a master storyteller with a passion for history. He takes tour participants to historic city neighborhoods and landmarks and, with his collection of old photographs, shows what they looked like at the time of  the war. He also shares informative, often humorous anecdotes that take everyone back to mid-19th-century Charleston. Did you know that, at the time of the war, Charleston’s population was more than five times that of Atlanta’s? Or that, before the war, Charlestonians lived in constant fear of slave uprisings? These and other interesting facts about the city and its residents are revealed during these fascinating walks. (Civil War Walking Tour, www.civilwarwalk.com, 843-270-2417).

Of course, you don’t have to be a history buff to enjoy Charleston. In this city, there’s something for everyone. In fact, having explored, written about and photographed most of the South’s historic cities, we’ve concluded Charleston offers more variety than any other southern destination: historic architecture, upscale B & Bs, art museums and galleries, nationally recognized chefs and restaurants, sophisticated boutiques, outdoor recreation and more.

Here’s just a few of our favorite places to get you started:

The Governor’s House, an historic B & B with extraordinary service and amenities (www.governorshouse.com).

The French Quarter Inn, an accommodation located in the heart of the historic district and recognized by Conde Naste Traveler as Charleston’s best hotel and one of the World’s Best Places To Stay (www.fqicharleston.com).

Coleman Fine Art: A gallery in the prestigious South of Broad neighborhood that features top Charleston watercolorist, Mary Whyte, plus other fine artists (www.colemanfineart.com).

La Fourchette, Charleston’s only authentic French bistro (www.lafourchettecharleston.com).

Paolo’s Gelato Italiano, A tiny shop with delicious, refreshing gelatos—just 7% or less fat content (www. paolosgelato.com).

The Charleston Shoe Company, a popular retailer whose fashionable travel shoes for women are selling like hotcakes (www.charlestonshoeco.com).

The Hidden Countship, a new, high-end interiors boutique featuring beautiful, handcrafted treasures from Italy (www.thehiddencountship.com).

Be sure to contact us for more information if you’re planning a trip.

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