What To Do When You’re in Charleston

We think historic downtown Charleston, SC, is the perfect venue to hold an annual conference!  We’re sure you’ll agree once you visit.  Here are some ideas to get you started if you’ve never been here before, or if you want some new places to try:

Charleston to Charleston Literary Festival
November 8 – 11, 2018

The Charleston to Charleston Literary Festival returns to Charleston, S.C. this November, bringing with it a weekend of stimulating programs supporting all things literary, scholarly and creative with authors, readers and thinkers from around the world.

While there are over 15 lectures and receptions to choose from, Conference attendees might be particularly interested in hearing from John Avlon, author and senior political analyst at CNN, Elliot Ackerman, novelist and Marine who served in Afghanistan and Iraq and Lynsey Addario, photojournalist who has documented every major conflict of her generation. They will discuss the desire to communicate and analyze the experience of war in creative prose and photos.

Charleston Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau

For the fourth year, the readers of Condé Nast Traveler have voted Charleston the No. 1 U.S. City. Known for rich history, well-preserved architecture, a celebrated restaurant community and mannerly people, the city also ranked #2 in the World by Condé Nast Traveler 2014 Readers’ Choice Awards.


The flavors, people, sights, sounds, and traditions found only in Charleston, South Carolina. An insider’s guide to Charleston by the Charleston Area CVB.

Walking Tours by Carol Ezell-Gilson and Lee Ann Bain

Reserve your walking tour tickets now for a variety of themes, including: Lady Lore: Fascinating Charleston Women, The Charleston Renaissance: Art and Literature, The Grimke Sisters of Charleston, Ghostly Stroll, and more.

Charleston Culinary and Mixology Tours

The Charleston Culinary Tour visits 3-4 different restaurants and combines elements of a historical tour with a culinary adventure! The food on your tour will provide a broad range of samples which will provide insight into Lowcountry cuisine.

Gibbes Museum of Art

Visiting Charleston during the Conference:

The weather is usually mild, but sometimes you can run into 4 season in 4 days. Be sure to check it before you leave, but pack a sweater or swimsuit just in case.

Between the full complement of concurrent sessions, plenary sessions, Lively Lunches, the Annual Conference Reception and the Friday Night Dine Arounds you aren’t going to have a lot of free time, so take an extra day or two and make the most of your Charleston visit.


Before you arrive: be sure to lock in your tee times, car rental, restaurant reservations, and book your city tours.

When you get here: Take a horse drawn carriage ride through the Historic District. You will get a compact history of Charleston, its architecture and get a layout for further exploration. A great walking neighborhood is South of Broad St. Pedal cabs are another way of interacting with the city. The fit young people pedaling you through town know it very well and can probably point you towards some of the hipper spots in town.

The Francis Marion is a great place to stay and so are the other city hotels, but if you want to get away at the end of the day Mt. Pleasant and the Isle of Palms is a fun place to stay. They have lots of inexpensive hotels and easy access to the beaches and golf courses North of Charleston. With the money you save staying there you can rent a car for the few days you will be in town. Visit Sullivan’s Island: beach and Poe’s Tavern on Sullivan’s Island, the setting for EA Poe’s most popular story:



Go to Shem Creek and watch while the shrimp boats dock and dolphins jump in the waterways.


In sunny weather it’s fun to walk the Ravenel Bridge, Best advice: walk halfway and return (parking is near the foot of the bridge on Mt. Pleasant side):


You can also get to Mount Pleasant, Shem Creek, Ravenel Brisdge, and Sullivan’s Island by Taxi. Be sure to book a return trip with your cabbie

Further getaways: Savannah, about a 2 hour drive south through Beaufort (definitely a day or multi-day trip)

Myrtle Beach, a pleasant 2 hour drive north. Lots of golf, cheap beachfront hotels, and seafood buffets

Shopping: Charleston City Market for gifts to bring home, sweet grass baskets are a specialty of the Market


Tours: Plantations, architecture and iron work, ghosts (10 to choose from! Including graveyard, mansion and nightime schooner).

South Carolina Aquarium: An amazing microcosm of the ecology of South Carolina rivers, estuaries and ocean life. Definitely book the sea turtle rescue tour.


Escape for a while to the wilderness:


Saturday morning Farmer’s Market is across the street from the Francis Marion. You can buy some fresh picked okra to take home. Breakfast or lunch are available in many forms. Be careful buying canned or bottled items…TSA will keep them.

You just have to eat shrimp and grits when in Charleston. It used to be a breakfast item, but now you can get them just about anytime of day: the best are in the Swamp Fox Restaurant within the Francis Marion Hotel, preferably washed down with a Palmetto beer.

“Where did the Charleston dance come from?”

“As it has on every aspect of Charleston culture, the Gullah community has had a tremendous influence on music in Charleston, especially when it comes to the early development of jazz music. In turn, the music of Charleston has had an influence on that of the rest of the country. The geechee dances that accompanied the music of the dock workers in Charleston followed a rhythm that inspired Eubie Blake‘s “Charleston Rag” and later James P. Johnson‘s “The Charleston“, as well as the dance craze that defined a nation in the 1920s. “Ballin’ the Jack“, which was a popular dance in the years before “The Charleston”, was written by native Charlestonian Chris Smith. Porgy and Bess was a Gullah Opera.” (Wikipedia)

Find out more at the College of Charleston’s Avery Research Center and Museum.


Fun manuscript and autograph museum in an amazing “Greek temple.” It’s in a great walking neighborhood just north of the Francis Marion


Golf: Patriot’s Point is very accessible and has reasonable greens fees. You can actually play 18 holes after the Conference on Saturday and watch the sunset from the 18th green. Great views of the marshes, shrimp boats and the City of Charleston. You might even find an alligator eyeing your errant drive into the marsh. Time to play an alternate ball! Other golf venues: The Dunes. Kiawah Island.

Thrift shops in Charleston are the best. Antique stores too.

Bookstores: Blue Bicycle, used books, across the street from the Francis Marion..

Fun cookbook store:


Cheapest postcards: College of Charleston bookstore around the corner from the Conference. Stamps are for sale in the gift shop at the Francis Marion.

Live music:


Restaurants: you’ve just landed in heaven! NYT likes:


Museums: Art, history, College of Charleston Natural History Museum (http://geology.cofc.edu/natural-history-museum/)

Revolutionary War, Civil War, Fort Sumter, Patriot’s Point



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