A picture of a house covered by a large tree

“Travel Diaries: How to Explore From a Distance” is a Darling series focused on exploration and travel virtually from the comfort of your own home. 2020 and COVID-19 changed how we were able to travel, but they also taught us that a spirit of adventure and exploring never ceases.

Travel for leisure may be at a standstill due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find creative ways to explore the world around us. In the Digital Age, you can still satisfy your appetite for adventure. Thanks to the world wide web we have access to thousands of cities, literally right at our fingertips. 

Today, we’ll be taking a virtual trip to Charleston, SC, a coastal city full of southern flair and charm. With rich history, beautiful sights and warm hospitality, Charleston offers an unhurried pace of living while extending a full zest of life. So if you’re ready, grab your floppy beach hat, start up your computer and meet me down where the magnolia trees grow. 

Picture yourself strolling down cobblestone streets.

First, get to know this Lowcountry city by scrolling through beautiful landscape images and detailed shots from a local photographer or imagine yourself living a day in Charleston with this captivating time-lapse video. Keep an eye out for historical landmarks, breezy palm trees and pineapples (a symbol of southern hospitality). Try to guess why many call Charleston “The Holy City.”

Next, browse hundreds of handmade items and delicious treats from local vendors at the Charleston City Market, which covers four blocks in the heart of Charleston’s Historic District. Capture a bird’s eye view of the Charleston area by driving or walking across the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge and take in the sparkling water of the Cooper River below. Lastly, take a stroll along Rainbow Row, a stretch of brightly painted houses with a folklore all their own. 

Get a taste of “down South” cooking.

Explore the culinary scene of Charleston by trying your hand at a few southern dishes. Located along the Atlantic coast, you’ll find an abundance of seafood on Charleston menus. One revered dish is Hominy Grill’s shrimp and grits, a savory bowl with creamy, cheesy grits and fresh shrimp typically served for breakfast or brunch.

For lunch or dinner, many restaurants serve fried green tomatoes as an appetizer, side-dish or sandwich topping. Unripe tomatoes (yes, unripe!) are coated with cornmeal and fried for a crunchy, tart compliment to the main meal. Of course no meal in Charleston is complete without a rich dessert. Poogan’s Porch, a beloved Charleston restaurant, offers a southern classic—the Peanut Butter Pie

Discover the Gullah-Geechee Heritage.

Founded in 1670, the origins of Charleston (or Charles Town as it was originally called) are rich in Black history. As a major slave port in the 1700s, Charleston’s economy was built on the slave labor of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Many of the slaves who originated from the West Africa region and settled in the Charleston area came to be known as the Gullah-Geechee, a distinct people group with a unique language, culture and cuisine who flourished in the midst of oppression.

Today, the Gullah-Geechee heritage is alive and robust across Charleston. This interactive timeline traces the impact and influence of Black voices on Charleston’s history and culture from pre-colonial times to the present. 

Watch a classic romance.

The filming of “The Notebook,” based on the popular novel by Nicholas Sparks, took place on Charleston’s peninsula and surrounding areas. Set during the 1940s in a small southern town, “The Notebook” film’s storyline follows the turbulent love story of Noah (Ryan Gosling) and Allie (Rachel McAdams) as they confront the differences of economic and social class as their nation faces an impending war. The movie features many beautiful and well-known Charleston landmarks such as The College of Charleston, The American Theater, King Street and Cypress Gardens.

Clap your hands and move your feet.

A popular dance style made famous in the Roaring 20s, “The Charleston” is named after the city where it found its origins. Although Charleston cannot lay claim to inventing this style of dance, its inspiration is rooted in the city’s Gullah-Geechee culture and the beginnings of jazz music there.

In 1923, a pianist named James P. Johnson composed the famous song “Charleston” to accompany the dance. The city certainly embraced this new dance craze for a golden era, and the song and dance quickly etched themselves into the cultural imagination of Charleston. Lace up your dancing shoes and give it a try!

Rest by the sea.

Grab a book and close out your virtual trip to Charleston by “digging your toes into the sand” and watching the waves roll in at Isle of Palms, a nearby beach town.

Do you love travel and adventure? What are some great places to explore virtually?

Featured Image by Jannah Alexander Photography via Pinterest

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