1. Watching classy people get trashy
Charleston attracts an eclectic group of travelers and tourists, and we host lots of hoity-toity events such as Fashion Week, The Food and Wine Festival, Spoleto Festival, and countless weddings, bachelor, and bachelorette parties. The streets are packed with all walks of life dressed to the nines, getting absolutely smashed.
You see guys in bowties walking through the Market carrying girls in evening gowns on their backs. You may take shots with old men in tuxedos. You see pedicured toes and stiletto heels sticking out of bathroom stalls as you hear the sound of a girl throwing up. Swirls of pinstripes and sparkles stumble out of bars, slurring their words and hailing bike taxis and cabs. It’s always entertaining to see all of the people gettin’ shitty in the “Holy City.”
2. Booze cruisin’ on a boat
Whether you’re going bar hopping on Shem Creek, anchored out at Morris Island, or just simply cruising down the Stono, every hour is a happy hour when you’re drinking on the water. Also, you’ve never felt like more of a baller than when you pull up to a bar or restaurant on a sweet ass boat. Sunsets are epic, nothing beats gliding through the glassy metallic water with nothing but marshes all around you, pelicans above you, the wake behind you, and a drink in hand.
3. Being sandy, salty, and sweaty all the time
Being any or all of these three things at any time means you’ve either spent time outside in the sun, on the water, or at the beach, which is what us Charlestonians love to do. We love the smell of pluff mud in the air and the taste of salt on our lips… mix it with a little sweet tea and we’re in heaven. We barely notice the sand in our beds, and the dampness of our clothes, but lawd have mercy we sure do complain if the temperature drops below 70 degrees F during our two-month-long wintertime.
4. Gettin’ your roll on all over town
Any local knows that cars aren’t really necessary if you live downtown, and can often times be cumbersome and expensive. Finding parking is a pain in the ass, parking tickets are even worse, and all of the one-way streets can be confusing. Charleston is very cyclist friendly, it’s only about 8 square miles, completely flat, and us southerners drive slowly. It’s nice to roll down King Street on your bike, skateboard, or rollerblades, pass lines of backed-up traffic, and lock your bike up anywhere, knowing that you’re going to get where you’re going a lot more quickly than all of those cars. Sometimes you can go days or even weeks without ever using your car.
5. Time traveling
Everywhere you look there’s either some crazy historic landmark, site, or building. In one glance across the harbor you can see Fort Sumter where the Civil War was started, the USS Yorktown, a WWII aircraft carrier, and the Charleston Battery lined with multi-million dollar antebellum homes. Walk through the French Quarter on cobblestone streets among churches, cathedrals, and theatres that are centuries old. Every house has high ceilings and “verandas,” and many are haunted. If only those huge giant oak trees could talk…
Whether you want to surf at the Washout on Folly Beach, kiteboard at 28 ½ block on Sullivan’s Island, wakeboard or waterski down the Stono, or kayak or paddleboard down the intercoastal, you can easily make it happen. You can catch hundreds of dollars’ worth of fresh seafood right off of the shore or in the marshes. Most months of the year the water is warm enough that you don’t even need a wetsuit. Us Charlestonians live on the water, and pale locals are hard to find.
7. Beachin’ it
If it’s sunny, and you’re not either working or on a boat, you better be at the beach. No excuses. All you have to do is get there, lay down, listen to the sounds of the waves crashing, and enjoy the scantily-clad eye candy roaming all around. The ocean is decent to look at, too. Most of us are aware that it’s the best cure for a hangover, especially if you bring a cooler full of Westbrook IPAs or Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka to cool you down.
8. The mysterious smells and sounds downtown
If you really want to give yourself a challenge, blindfold yourself, walk down Market Street, and see if you can guess what the hell is going on. Every block is home to at least 10 distinct smells, some more pleasant than others. There will be people giving out samples of fried hush puppies and freshly-made fudge.
At some point you will undoubtedly smell horse urine, and you will hear the pitter patter of horse carriages and the sound of church bells coming from every direction. Hopefully you won’t trip over the cobblestone streets, uneven sidewalks, or step into a puddle of stagnant water from the backed up sewage. You’ll hear people talking very slowly with funny accents, several of them will probably ask if they can help you. This is a typical scene in downtown Charleston, and it beats the sensations of a big city any day.
9. “Sunday Funday”
In Charleston, brunch isn’t just a meal, it’s an all-day event and we take it very seriously. Sure, you can find brunch in just about any city, but we put some extra lovin’ in some of our more southern dishes such as buttermilk fried chicken and waffles, biscuits and gravy, shrimp ‘n grits, fried oysters, breakfast casseroles, and cornbread smothered in maple syrup.
Brunch usually starts off with a bloody mary and may come with a side of sweet tea. Upper King Street, Folly Beach, Shem Creek, and Sullivan’s Island may get just as rowdy on a Sunday afternoon as a Saturday night.
10. Complete strangers holding doors open for you
Whoever said chivalry is dead hasn’t been to Charleston. Complete strangers will wave and smile as you pass them in the street and go out of their way to make sure you’re comfortable. They talk with a slow southern drawl or a geechee twang that can be musical. Us southerners have figured out that life is much more pleasant when you slow down and smile.