When walking along the High Battery, there are many sights to see. From from the Ravenel (Cooper River) Bridge to Patriots Point, Fort Sumter and the homes on East Bay and East Battery, there are lots of land based things to look at. On the water, there is a whole other world — from dolphins and cormorants to boats of all shapes and size. Huge container ships steam through Charleston Harbor on their way to the port, kayaks paddle by and powerboats zips water-bound tourists along to check out the houses from that vantage point. And there a lots and lots of sailboats…here’s one heading out to open water.
These colorful houses are called the Three Sisters. Located on Meeting Street, the sisters are often mistakenly thought to be part of Rainbow Row (which is on East Bay Street) because of their bright colors. Myth has it that the colors represent the hair color of three sisters that lived in those houses. While that’s a nice story, the reality is that the nickname comes from their similar architectural styles.
Colonial Lake is one of the great spots in Charleston. It’s an active tidal pond that traces its history back to 1783, when the land was set aside for public use. The lake itself was created in 1869 and was fully enclosed with its cement walls in 1885. Currently it’s undergoing a year long major ($4 million+) improvement, which is going to result in a really spectacular park and a lake that is cleaner and healthier.
When the winds are not disturbing the surface of the lake, it becomes a wonderful mirror for the beautiful homes that surround it. And at Christmas time, the tree adds an additional bit of magic.
Nighttime in Charleston is a magical time. When walking the streets after dark, you can really sense the long history of the city and become that much more aware of the special smell of the marshes and sea. It’s not hard to imagine that the ghosts are about (Charleston is one of the most haunted spots in America) and there can be an eerie glow about the buildings. While the glow of this building (Hibernian Hall) was created for a special event, it does capture some of the magic of a Charleston night.
There are quite a few cobblestone streets in Charleston. The stones, which were brought by the early sailing trading ships (they were used as ballast on the voyage to Charleston and then discarded when they picked up their cargo), are now picturesque, but rough to drive on! The most famous cobblestone street in Charleston is Chalmers Street. Home to the “Pink House” — which is thought to be the oldest structure in Charleston (and one of the oldest in South Carolina), Chalmers is a must walk-through for anyone visiting Charleston.
Flower boxes are a really popular item all over Charleston. With many houses fronting directly on to the sidewalk, they almost act like the front yard to many people. This fantastic set caught my eye as I was going up Church Street, and then I noticed the beautiful blue bike (complete with red bell!). All the colors were a wonderful thing on a cool winter day.
One of the best things you can do when living or visiting Charleston is just walk and walk and walk. And when you are walking, you discover that there are alleys and “cut-throughs” that let you go where no car, carriage or rickshaw can take you. From these little paths you can get views of the houses and backyards that are inaccessible in any other way. One of my favorites is Stoll’s Alley, which connects East Bay Street to Church Street.
While this beautiful bridge is officially named the Ravenel Bridge, it’s commonly called the Cooper River Bridge. One of the longest cable-stayed bridges in the world, it presents a defining image for the Lowcountry. Connecting Mt. Pleasant to Charleston (both population booming areas), the eight lanes on the bridge were designed to serve the region far into the future. In addition to its visual beauty, one of the best features of the bridge is the bike/pedestrian lane. Added late in the design phase, this lane has not only given bicyclists a way to commute across the Cooper River, it has proven to be one of the most popular places to run, bike and walk in the Charleston area. The views of Charleston Harbor are also truly spectacular. Another claim to fame is it being the main attraction in the enormously popular Cooper River Bridge Run.
One of the wonderful features of Waterfront Park are the swings on the pier. It’s a wonderful spot to take a break and absorb the beauty of the view of Charleston Harbor — from the spectacular Ravenel (Cooper River) Bridge, across to the USS Yorktown at Patriots Point, and out to Fort Sumter and the Atlantic Ocean. During the warmer months, these swings are truly at a premium!
Getting up early to see the sun rise over Charleston Harbor is usually a very rewarding experience. Watching the sky just light up over the ocean and spread its rays over to the Peninsula is magical. General Moultrie, standing on the edge of White Point Garden and looking across the High Battery, gets to watch this show almost every day (well, he is there everyday, but sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate for the sunrise).