Charleston: A Bit of Britain in the South

It’s a European enclave — plus palm trees. We drove to Charleston, South Carolina last weekend, and felt like the five hour car journey had brought us back to (a much warmer, sunnier version of) Britain.

We decided to go to Charleston after a German friend told us that it was the only city she had visited in the US that felt European: it’s got the history, the walkability, and the abundance of British flags.

The weather (gorgeous) and size (small) made the city fun to walk around. Even with a double stroller and a baby bjorn, we strolled from one end of town to the other, and along the waterfront.

The streets are clean, flanked by colorful houses and shops. And the people are so friendly: strangers say hello, give directions, hold doors open and say, “My, you’ve got your hands full!” when they see you walking with three kids.

Because the weather was so warm (temperatures were set to hit 78 degrees on Sunday), we didn’t visit any indoor attractions. But the opportunity to leave the car behind is a rare treat in the South.

Once we paid the $20 (daily!) valet parking charge at out hotel, we got to visit the outdoor sites on foot: we walked along the Battery, a waterfront park with cannons, surrounded by southern mansions.

And we strolled past art galleries, old churches, and an array of seafood restaurants. Because the weather was so beautiful, we didn’t visit any museums.

Having lived through lots of drizzly days in London, we learned to take advantage of warm weather when we can. You don’t always know when the next one will be (although this seems to be a misplaced fear in the South, where spring/summer days are almost invariably warm and sunny).

We even spent a morning at one of the wide, rustic beaches just outside of Charleston. On Sullivan’s Island, we collected shells, made sand castles, and dipped our toes into the (freezing) water. Our only regret was that we didn’t have more time.

1 Response to “Charleston: A Bit of Britain in the South”

  1. 1 Carrie March 15, 2011 at 9:18 am

    I’ve never been to Charleston but it sounds lovely 🙂 Glad you found a ‘bit of Britain’ in America!

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