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South Carolina See And Do

Beaches in Charleston
Charleston , South Carolina

Less than 20 minutes from downtown are two popular public beaches: Folly Beach (Ashley Avenue) and Isle of Palms (14th Avenue). Both are run by the Charleston County Parks Commission (843 795 4386; www.ccprc.com ) and have 600 feet of beachfront, lifeguards, snack bars, restrooms, outdoor showers, and umbrella and chair rental. Entry fee: $5 per car.

Sullivan's Island (1610 Middle St.; 843 883 3198; www.sullivansisland-sc.com ), a barrier island north of Charleston harbor, has a three-mile-long beach and modern-day lighthouse. There's also Fort Moultrie, a significant monument of coastal defense built in 1809. Watch where you park; police dole out tickets for cars blocking driveways in this hoity-toity enclave.

Fort Sumter National Monument
1214 Middle Street
Sullivan's Island , South Carolina
29482
Tel: 843 883 3123
www.nps.gov/fosu

No visit to Charleston is complete without a tour of this famous fort, where Confederate soldiers fired the first shot of the Civil War on April 12, 1861. Fort Sumter Tours (800 789 3678; www.fortsumtertours.com ) operates boats to the island from the City Marina, or from Mount Pleasant at the Patriots Point Maritime Museum, the world's largest naval and maritime museum. The 30-minute cruise is fully narrated and points out sights of historical significance. On the island, guides explain Fort Sumter's pivotal role in the War Between the States. The fort is also accessible by private watercraft. Entrance is free and boat tour costs $13 for adults.

Historic Homes and Sites
Charleston , South Carolina

Charleston's gorgeous antebellum homes make it one of the most well-preserved cities in the Deep South. It's easy to see them on foot and various companies offer guided walking tours, including Charleston Strolls (843-766-2080; www.charlestonstrolls.com). Or go house hopping via horse-drawn carriage operated by Old South Carriage Company (14 Anson St., 843-723-9712; www.oldsouthcarriagetours.com).

Can't-miss homes include the Nathaniel Russell House (51 Meeting St.; 843-724-8481; www.historiccharleston.org). Built in 1808, this townhouse mansion, with its three-story free-flying spiral staircase, is one of the finest neoclassical dwellings in the district. The Aiken-Rhett House, a Charleston double-house, has survived unaltered since 1858 and includes an art gallery and a marble staircase with mahogany railings (48 Elizabeth St.; 843-723-1159; www.historiccharleston.org). Located in the original walled portion of the city, the Heyward Washington House is the former home of Thomas Heyward, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and was also the setting for author Dubose Heyward's Porgy (87 Church St.; 843-722-2996; www.charlestonmuseum.org).

West of town, the Ashley River Historic District is a 13-mile national scenic highway featuring 53 historical sites including Magnolia Plantation (www.magnoliaplantation.com), Drayton Hall (www.draytonhall.org), and Middleton Place (www.middletonplace.org), which is also a hotel and restaurant.

For a taste of haunted Charleston, Bulldog Tours (40 North Market St.; 843-722-8687; www.bulldogtours.com) runs twice-nightly jaunts through city graveyards, spooky houses, and dungeons.

South Carolina Aquarium
100 Aquarium Wharf
Charleston , South Carolina
29401
Tel: 843 720 1990
www.scaquarium.org

More than 10,000 types of low-country critters, including loggerhead turtles the size of a car, pythons, alligators, and sharks, call this huge aquarium home. Watch them through the three huge "windows" of the massive, two-story, 300,000-gallon tank. One measures 17-by-28-feet high, the tallest in any aquarium ever built. There's also a huge Touch Tank with slippery sea urchins and horseshoe crabs ready for grabbing. Two-thirds of the aquarium is built over the Cooper River, with decks for viewing dolphins and ships in Charleston Harbor.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.