The Best of Charleston

By Janice Calvi-Ruimerman and Meredith “Merry” Hofford

Getting There

Charleston International Airport is served by Delta, United, American, Jet Blue, Alaska and Southwest Airlines.

Driving, I-26 takes you right to Downtown Charleston.

Geographical Overview
The “Peninsula” is Old Historic Downtown Charleston. This is where our conference hotel, The Francis Marion Hotel, is located. The Peninsula is bounded by the Cooper River to the East and the Ashley River to the West. Thus, surrounding areas, all part of “The Lowcountry” are referred to as West of the Ashley or East of the Cooper. Charleston Harbor is formed where the Ashley and Cooper Rivers join to form the Atlantic Ocean (at least this is what Charlestonians think).

Old Plantations and Barrier Islands can be found in either direction.

Getting Around
The Peninsula itself is totally walkable; you do not need a car.  Besides walking, there are cabs, trollys and Pedi cabs that are very reasonable or free. To explore the barrier islands, beaches, golf courses and plantations, you would need a car; or, you could take a tour.

Alternative Places to Stay
The Francis Marion Hotel is very centrally located and recently renovated. You can easily fill up all your free time just in the downtown peninsula area. If you are bringing your family and staying longer, you might want to consider a vacation rental on the Isle of Palms. It is a beautiful beach and September is not peak rates. It would take about 20 minutes to drive in to the conference from the Isle of Palms.

What to See and Do

Frankly, there is so much to see and do, you might be best-served by focusing on your passion: Art, Recreation, History, Food, Religion, Ethnic and Cultural tours…  Here are some random ideas to get you started:

Trip Advisors Top Choices

Waterfront Park beautiful, free, has swinging benches and goes out into the Harbor. Take a pic nic and stay a while.

Charleston Culinary Tours Charleston is a foodie city for sure!

Emanuel AME Church this is a very historical and influential church in Charleston’s history – long before the shootings in 2015 will be the site of our Experiential Learning Opportunity. Very close to the Francis Marion hotel.

Walking Tours there are many. Or, you can just go out on your own and walk around.

SC Aquarium great, especially with children.

Gullah Tours this is a downtown tour, though most of the Gullah people lived on barrier islands south of Charleston. There are also African American History Tours and Plantation Tours, the most popular of which is Boone Hall.

Water Taxi you could take an expensive harbor tour or a boat to Ft. Sumter, but a round trip ride on the Water Taxi is a nice, inexpensive way to get out on the harbor. Try it early in the morning with your coffee. It stops at the Waterfront Park, near the Aquarium, and across the Harbor in Mt. Pleasant.

Saturday Farmers Market reason enough to get to Charleston a day early, the market is right across the street from our hotel. Perhaps you could get your pic nic there for the Waterfront Park?
The downtown peninsula has a couple of areas filled with art galleries such as this Jonathan Green, a favorite, and this, Anglin Smith, another favorite. You can easily see these just walking around.
For recreation, there are a ton of golf courses, and lots of Sailing and Fishing Charter options.

Where to Eat

OVERVIEW: America’s Best Food Cities: Charleston

There are many, many great places to eat in Charleston! The seafood is particularly fresh and good. The southern cooking is sublime. Here are just a few:

Helpful Hints Before You Go

For the Foodie – “Some would say Charleston tastes as good as it looks!”

For the Planner


Evening Walking Tours – 1&1/2 at night

  • Ghostly Walking Tour: $20
  • Tombstone Tales Walking Tour: $20

Walking Tours – 2 hour tours

  • Lady Lore Tour: $20
  • Walking History Tour: $20
  • Doing the Charleston Tour: $20.

South of Broad Tours

Must Sees

Ongoing Happenings

If Staying On

Day Trips in Charleston also, visit

Charleston, SC is centrally located between some of the greatest cities in the southeast, making day outings from Charleston a favorite pastime among travelers. It is very easy to lay your head in Charleston and still spend quality time at one of the great nearby cities. Listed here are locations that are all about a two hour drive away.  Click on the great southern cities below to get information about its location: