Historic Homes and Sites, Charleston, South Carolina
Concierge.com's insider take:
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.