America's Love Affair with Charleston

Charleston Homes

Thinking of Charleston, you may recall “Gone With the Wind.” But think again: that best-selling Civil War book and famed film is relatively recent history for Charleston.

“Relatively” is the right word because this area goes back so far you have to refer to a time when England ruled much of the world… way back in the late 1600s.  

Charleston was founded as Charles Town—honoring King Charles II of England, making it among the oldest cities in the US.

But even more recent history has made it one of the most popular of today’s visitor destinations  --  including not just the southern states of the US but the entire country. 

And that’s the case not only for part-time visitors like tourists, but year-round residents as well.

Some of the best neighborhoods in Charleston SC, by the nation’s most familiar builders are luring homeowners. And luxury beach homes and retirement communities in Charleston SC are daily adding more sun-seeking retirees.

What’s all the fuss about, anyway?

Consider some reasons:

---For four years in a row, Charleston was named the top tourist destination in the US by readers of Conde Nast Traveler.

(No. 1 worldwide was Florence, Italy, which barely edged it).

---The Huffington Post went even further, calling it the “greatest city in the world.”

Why did they rate it above Paris, Tokyo and others?

Simple. The Post says: “Because the grits are spicy, the weather is warm, and the people are oh-so charming.” They pointed out, among other things, the 76 degree weather in November. True enough of the weather.

But a far less facetious but perhaps more accurate description: People come here for the history, of course, and not just the Civil War because this was once one of the largest cities in the US, and one of the important outposts of America’s southern states.

But there’s also the location. Ninety miles of coastline. Enough said when it comes to outdoor water activities.

Why else?

A few reasons:

---History goes on and on. Antebellum mansions, historic forts and sprawling plantations, and the first shot of the Civil War. And that’s just the start.  

---For centuries, culture has been king with historic theatres and today’s most gripping live performances. And museums to commemorate the past.

---Shopping has not been neglected, of course. Just to mention one outlet: King Street, one of the nation's Top Ten Shopping Streets by U.S. News and World Report, is lined with emporiums with one-of-a-kind wares.

---Remember those “oh-so charming residents?” Hospitality is a critical part of any popular area. Repeatedly named “Friendliness City.” They’re an important part of a larger welcome mat for everyone: tourist or new residents.

---The sheer number of highly starred restaurants draws even the most casual (and even picky) food-lovers. A food scene dominated by chefs who are famous with a nationally flavored reputation.

---Activities for entire families, ranging from more gruesome pirate dungeons to giant sea turtles seen up close.

---Then, there are those almost invisible areas that you and others discover on your own like the tiny town of Sullivan’s Island. It’s a barrier island along the Atlantic Ocean of less than 1,700 residents where the beauty and relaxed lifestyle is not impaired by very many hotels and commercial businesses.

For modern day tourists, but for residents as well, special events these days play an important part. And Charleston has its share.

One of the best: The upcoming Charleston Holiday Festival of Lights.

Not much of a name, but it might be no surprise if you have heard of it. After all, it has been recognized worldwide as a top US and worldwide Holiday celebration by many organizations, including Coastal Living Magazine. If it was just lights, it would be worth seeing because it features a massive demonstration of 750 displays with two million lights. But that’s not all.

It’s much more than a driving destination designed for Holiday cheer. Celebrated attractions include live music, fireworks, various contests and unusual events such as stilt-walking performances. 

Even train rides and Marshmallow roasts. In other words, something for the entire family. You can see it Nov. 14 through January 1 at the James Island County Park.

No wonder visitors continue to come, with some of them deciding to stay.

Luxury beach homes in some of the best neighborhoods in Charleston SC, are represented by many enclaves. 

Big-time builders with national reputations like Del Webb have built retirement communities in Charleston SC. Del Webb Charleston is among the best known gated communities here with 11 home designs ranging from 1,262 to 2,565 square feet. Reasonable prices start just under $200k. The amenities are what you would expect from one of the US’s best-known builders: Heated indoor swimming pool, state-of-the-art fitness center, top quality golf courses, recreational amenities, a great variety of clubs and classes that range from yoga to computers, and social clubs designed for everyone from veterans to homemakers. Even a dog park.

Del Webb is famous for its awards and accolades.  But a simple visit to its website shows another kind of endorsement: from happy residents. Check their positive ratings.

Among the other well-known retirement communities in Charleston SC are sections of Summit Place at Daniel Island. Its location is just a few minutes from downtown Charleston, with easy access to all the attractions there.

The many services and amenities include restaurant-style dining, a full slate of social and recreational activities, wireless Internet, fitness and wellness programs, in-house beauty salon/barber shop, full-time licensed nurse, emergency call system, transportation, and laundry and housekeeping. 

It’s known as a warm and welcoming senior living community offering the wide spectrum of services sought by older residents with very different needs and requirements.

History is a serious subject. But it is only part of what has led to Charleston’s present-day allure. 

Its growing reputation as a playground has been a major factor in its demand among modern day folks.

And that southern US perception? 

“Gone with the wind?”

Not now.

And not here. 

If you’re searching for the best neighborhoods in Charleston SC, we’ve got our top picks. Ask for our free Charleston relocation information and we’ll send that along too.

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