What To Do In Charleston (When You're Not Playing Golf)
Charleston is ground zero for special-interest tours, and taking one is the best way to pack in a lot of sites in a short time. Tours about the city's history, bourbon, ghosts, gardens, plantations, shopping, food—you name it, there's one for you. Since days may be spent on the course, consider an evening ghost tour. Charleston has been dubbed the most haunted city in America and just about every historic building in the city has a ghost story. Bulldog Tours, (bulldogtours.com), which leads eclectic walking tours, offers several ghost tours, including a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the Old City Jail and the Provost Dungeon, said to be haunted by the spirits of Revolutionary War POWs. The company also offers a slew of other walking tours focused on food, spirits (the kind you can drink) and history.
If you prefer to travel in the air-conditioned comfort of a luxury vehicle, Crafted Travel (craftedcharlestontours.com) specializes in brewery, distillery and winery tours that venture farther afield along the scenic back roads. The outfitter also leads private tours of historic plantations, including Boone Hall (pictured above), one of Charleston's only working plantations open to the public (boonehallplantation.com), and Middleton Place, whose magnificent gardens have survived a Civil War, revolution and an earthquake (middletonplace.org). To visit these grand old plantations, you don't need to take an organized tour—just hop in your car and go.
If you're interested in war stories (and what golfer isn't?), then Charleston's the town for you. Start with Civil War history by exploring Fort Sumter (pictured below), where the first shots of the war were fired by the Confederate artillery on the Federal fort in Charleston Harbor in April 1861. You can only get to the fort, which is part of the National Parks Service, by boat. Fort Sumter Tours (fortsumtertours.com) is the authorized outfitter that can take you there. Boat excursions leave from Patriots Point (perfect after a round of golf there) and from Liberty Square in Charleston. Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum (patriotspoint.org) is home to the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier. Yorktown has many exhibits onboard highlighting naval history from WWII, Korea and Vietnam and a medal of honor museum. There are also a destroyer and submarine to explore.
Perhaps the best way to take in the beautiful, vibrant city of Charleston is to simply start walking. The historic downtown is compact and full of lively oyster bars and pubs and shops from the high-end boutiques of King Street to the local craft stalls at the City Market. Gorgeous houses, historic churches and alley gardens seem to be around every corner. Visit charlestoncvb.com for more ideas on the don't-miss sights.