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When you visit Charleston, you're sure to hear the story of a wealthy old Charlestonian who was once asked why she so seldom traveled. She replied, "My dear, why should I travel when I'm already here?"

It's easy to understand this woman's complacence, because few places on earth can rival Charleston's blend of grace, beauty, history, and tradition. Charleston has a way of charming visitors (and residents) so that they never want to leave.

Charleston is an "old world" city, lovingly preserved and unique among American destinations. In this grand old city, church bells still toll the hours and the rhythmic sounds of horse-drawn carriages join in the melody. You can see the antebellum homes and plantations that echo a lifestyle of the old south. You can feel and smell the salty sea breeze blowing into the city from beaches of the resort islands nearby. Then you can taste the delicious fresh seafood at one of many renowned Charleston restaurants.

If you want to explore even more colorful Charleston history, visit Charles Towne Landing, site of the area's original settlement; the Charleston Museum, America's oldest city museum; The Citadel, one of the last three military state colleges in the nation; or the world's largest naval and maritime museum at Patriots Point, home of the famed WWII aircraft carrier, the Yorktown. If you want to see the area as the first settlers did in 1670, by water, you can take a boat cruise that starts at the Charleston marina ands goes up the harbor to the Charleston Naval Base or to Fort Sumter, where the Civil War began.

But Charleston's colorful charms can also be explored a bit further afield, where many plantations are open to visitors. Out Ashley River Road, three colonial plantations interpret more than 250 years of rural life in the Lowcountry. Drayton Hall is preserved in almost original condition after more than 250 years, Magnolia Plantation and Gardens features some of America's oldest and most colorful landscaped gardens, and Middleton Place offers an 18th century rice plantation (you can even stay at the convenient and comfortable Middleton Inn just down a pretty path). On the other side of Charleston, Boone Hall Plantation presents a 3/4-mile drive lined with massive Spanish oaks and much more.

From one of America's premier downtown areas to some of the nation's finest plantations, Charleston is always colorful and charming. Once you visit, you'll understand why residents (and visitors) never want to leave.


For information, contact the Charleston Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, P.O. Box 975, Charleston, SC 29402; (803) 853-8000 or (800) 868-8118. AAA Michigan offices can make travel and lodging reservations.