Early Charleston was quite a wild place. See for yourself.
Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site, on a marshy point off the Ashley River across from modern Charleston preserves the site of the first permanent settlement in South Carolina and the 1670 “birthplace” of Charleston.
The first decade of the settlement’s history is explored in an interactive exhibit hall. Outside, along the History Trail, walk through the original settlement site, which features reconstructed fortifications, a protective palisade and a crop garden. The original settlers could only guess at what plants might grow in the New World, so the crop garden features a diverse assortment: food (corn, potatoes, beans), herbs (rosemary, thyme, lavender), flax (for making linen), ornamental plants and cash crops (sugar cane, cotton, indigo).
The Adventure – a replica of a 17th-century trading ship – is at the wharf. You will encounter living history demonstrators in 1600s attire at various stations around the site; special programs are held frequently.
Charles Towne Landing boasts 80 acres of gardens, including a live oak alley of centuries-old trees, plus thousands of azaleas and camellias in English park-style landscapes. In total, there are 7 miles of paved and unpaved nature/interpretive trails; all are wheelchair accessible. Strollers and wheelchairs are available free of charge.
Except in the Animal Forest zoo (see page 33), all trails are open to bikes – and bicycles can be rented for $5 per hour ($15 per day). Admission: $10; $6 for ages 6-15. Park hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Details: www.southcarolinaparks.com.
Along the way...
Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site, near Summerville, S.C., was an important inland trading town between 1697 and the eve of the American Revolution. Today, it’s an archaeological site. Self-guided walks lead to remnants of a colonial fort, church, cemetery and wharf. Details, including admission: www.southcarolinaparks.com (type “Colonial Dorchester” in the search window).
If you’re hungry/thirsty...
Charleston’s California Dreaming – like Charles Town Landing, on the west bank of the Ashley River – looks a little bit like a fort on the outside, but has nice ambiance within. The menu has something for everyone Taking advantage of its location on the Ashley River: A wrap-around deck lets you enjoy the view. Details: www.californiadreaming.co.