By Valerie Conners
As autumn descends on Charleston, SC, and milder temperatures cool the Holy City, the town erupts in a flurry of bridal veils and bouquets: peak wedding season has arrived. If you’re invited to celebrate nuptials in this genteel town, extend your trip to encompass a long weekend, embracing lowcountry culture, cuisine and history.
Upon arriving, hop aboard one of the city’s ubiquitous carriage tours, a favorite way to see Charleston’s major sights like the City Market and Old Exchange Building, while learning a plethora of fascinating facts about the historic city. Seek out Palmetto Carriage; famed for its knowledgeable and entertaining guides, the company has become a veritable star among its competitors and favored by locals. Tours explain little-known details about the city’s history and architecture (ever wonder why “Widow’s Walks” on top of houses were really built?), told through captivating and humorous tales. To get the total Charleston experience, book a cruise around the Charleston Harbor and get close-up views of Fort Sumter and the stunning Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. Combo carriage and boat tour tickets can be purchased via Palmetto Carriage.
Once you’ve gotten your bearings around the historic district and waterfront, take time to wander the streets by foot, exploring Battery Park by the waterfront, and meandering through the high-end boutique shops on King Street in the town center. When hunger strikes, visitors will find that Charleston is a foodie mecca, home to James Beard Award-winning chef, Sean Brock, whose restaurants McCrady’s and Husk have helped put the Holy City on every gastronomer’s map. It’d be a near crime to leave this waterfront town without slurping down oysters and a cold glass of beer or wine; do so at Pearlz Oyster Bar or the Amen Street Fish and Raw Bar, and be sure to indulge in the briny Gulf oysters.
After spending a day in town, stretch your horizons outside the city limits. Grab a swimsuit and head to the sandy shores of Isle of Palms, where you can ogle multi-million dollar beach homes while scampering along the Atlantic Ocean’s edge. Finally, it would be remiss to skip one of the city’s fascinating plantation tours. Drive along Ashley River Road, where you’ll find 3 nearly adjacent properties, Middleton Place, Magnolia Gardens and Drayton Hall, each boasting stunning gardens and historic homes.
When it’s time to unwind, cool off with a drink at the Gin Joint in the historic district, or the Charleston Cocktail Club, currently the town’s de rigueur rooftop bar.