I always head for the Battery (officially, the White Point Gardens) to get into the feel of this city. It’s right on the end of the peninsula, facing the Cooper River and the harbor. It has a landscaped park, shaded by palmettos and live oaks, with walkways lined with old monuments and other war relics. The view toward the harbor goes out to Fort Sumter. It wasn’t always like this. During the early 18th century, the park was the site of the town gallows, where numerous ne’er-do-wells were hanged. From here you can stroll along the seawall on East Battery to Waterfront Park, where you can sit on the porch swings and watch dolphins frolicking in the river.
Pick Up a Passport
You can visit nine of the city’s most visible historic attractions by buying a 2-day Heritage Passport ticket for $53 (there is no discounted ticket for children or seniors). Assuming you intend to visit all nine sights, the passport is excellent value, saving well over 40% on normal admission (though if you have children, it’s less of a deal, since most sights offer discounted admission for kids). The ticket provides entry to the Charleston Museum, the Heyward-Washington House, the Joseph Manigault House, Middleton Place, Drayton Hall, the Nathaniel Russell House, Gibbes Museum, the Aiken-Rhett House, and the Edmondston-Alston House. The ticket allows one-time admission to each of those attractions, during the course of two consecutive days. Three-day passports are $63, while 7-day passports are $73. Tickets are available only from Charleston Visitor Center, 375 Meeting St., North Charleston Visitor Center, and Mt. Pleasant Visitor Center.
Charleston’s Birds of Prey
Just 12 miles north of Mount Pleasant via U.S. 17 (15 miles from the center of Charleston), the Avian Conservation Center and its Center for Birds of Prey (tel. 843/971-7474; www.thecenterforbirdsofprey.org), 4872 Seewee Rd., Awendaw, is set on a leafy 152-acre site. Founded in 1991, the center’s medical clinic treats more than 500 injured birds of prey each year. The collection includes around 40 species of eagles, falcons, hawks, owls, vultures, and other birds of prey from all parts of the world. The center is open Thursday to Saturday 10am to 5pm. Guided walking tours run Thursday to Saturday at 10:30am and 2pm, and free-flight demonstrations are staged Thursday to Saturday 11:30am and 3pm. Admission is $15 for adults, $10 for ages 6 to 16, and free for ages 5 and under.
Especially for Kids
For more than 300 years, Charleston has been the home of pirates, patriots, and presidents. Your child can see firsthand the Great Hall at the Old Exchange, where President Washington danced; view the Provost Dungeons, where South Carolina patriots spent their last days; and touch the last remaining structural evidence of the Charleston Seawall. Children will take special delight in Charles Towne Landing and Middleton Place. At Fort Sumter, they can see where the Civil War began. Children will also enjoy Magnolia Plantation, with its Audubon Swamp Garden.
Kids and navy vets will love the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, at Patriots Point. Its World War II, Korean, and Vietnam exploits are documented in exhibits, and general naval history is illustrated through models of ships, planes, and weapons.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.