Charleston is one of the United States’ oldest cities, predating the country itself by more than a century. Much of the pageant of our history has played out here—and the past continues to feel present, even as Charleston continues to evolve. The itinerary created by Betty Jo Currie of Currie & Co. allows you to walk the same cobblestone streets that early merchants did; follow in the footsteps of signers of the Constitution and soldiers in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars; and admire the many centuries-old buildings that have been lovingly restored. For the armchair historian, or the professional one too, for that matter, Charleston’s fascinating past is waiting to be explored.
You will be greeted at the airport and transferred to your choice of one of two historic properties that will be appropriate settings for your travels into Charleston’s past. The John Rutledge House Inn on Broad Street is the only inn in the country that was once the home of a signer of the Constitution. The building’s architectural details have been lovingly restored, and the property celebrates Charleston’s past. Or you can choose to stay at the Kings Courtyard Inn on King Street, which dates from 1853. The wide-plank floors and oriental rugs reflect the hotel’s long history, while the Southern hospitality of its staff is timeless.
You’ll dine tonight at McCrady’s Tavern, where George Washington was hosted by the Society of the Cincinnati in 1791 on his tour of the South. The tavern has, of course, changed hands many times since the presidential visit. It’s now run by one of Charleston’s most celebrated chefs, Sean Brock.
You’ll set out from your hotel this morning on a carriage tour of historic Charleston. This area consists of the five different neighborhoods to the south of Spring Street. In the French Quarter, you’ll see homes of merchants, some dating from the 18th century. In the area known South of Broad, you’ll pass some of the city’s most beautiful antebellum mansion with views of the harbor. The King Street Historic District includes what has long been the city’s main shopping thoroughfare.
The French Quarter is also where you will have lunch, at 82 Queen. This restaurant has been serving Lowcountry cuisine for more than three decades, although the buildings that house it are more than 300 years old. A professor of historic preservation from the College of Charleston will join you for the meal.
Up next, a guide will meet you for a private walking tour of some of the evocative, and photogenic, alleyways of Charleston. You’ll visit Philadelphia Alley, often referred to as Duelers’ Alley because of the many duels that took place there, and 150-yard-long St. Michael’s Alley, one of the earliest areas of Charleston to be protected and restored.
After your day exploring the city, Betty Jo will arrange for an early evening cocktail in a private historic home and then you are free to dine at any of Charleston’s famous restaurants, historic or otherwise.
There are a number of historic plantations in the greater Charleston area, and Betty Jo will arrange a visit today to Middleton Place, once the home of Arthur Middleton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The estate is of special interest as the home of America’s oldest landscaped gardens. At any time of the year, you can almost be guaranteed that some plant will be in bloom. Other highlights of a visit include the South Flanker House Museum and ruins of buildings that were destroyed in the Civil War.
You will have lunch at the Middleton Place Restaurant before returning to Charleston where you will have an afternoon and evening free to explore. You may wish to visit the Charleston Museum, with fascinating permanent exhibits focused on life in Charleston during the Revolutionary and Civil wars, or one of the city’s many restored historic homes.