7 Reasons Charleston Is The Perfect Place To Be This Time Of Year

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Nestled midway along the eastern seaboard lies Charleston, South Carolina – the most populous city in the state. Affectionately also known as Chucktown, the charming Southern city is easily accessible, just over a two-hour flight from New York City and just under two hours via plane from Washington, D.C. Unlike most Southern locales, Charleston is a walkable city. However, bike riding and horse-drawn carriages are also common modes of transportation. But perhaps the most underrated and exciting reason to check out Charleston is the Black history (and present culture) that is overflowing in this Lowcountry retreat.

A little-discussed fact about Charleston is that researchers estimate 40% of all enslaved Africans in the United States landed at Gadsden’s Wharf, right in the heart of the city, during the Transatlantic Slave Trade. At one point, this wharf was the largest in America. Historians estimate an alarming 40-60% of all African Americans can trace their ancestors back to this very location. This alone is reason enough for everybody Black (cue Issa Rae) to visit Charleston. But in case you wanted more, below are seven fun and memorable reasons to visit Charleston this Juneteenth, this weekend, or any time of the year. These suggestions are uplifting and enlightening and promise to increase your appreciation and sense of pride for the Black American experience. Our enslaved ancestors were highly skilled botanists, engineers, midwives, and architects, among many other things. A visit to Charleston will help tell their largely untold stories.

7 Reasons Charleston Is The Perfect Place To Be This Time Of Year
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International African American Museum

Opened in 2023, the International African American Museum (IAAM) is the intersection of trauma and triumph. IAAM is intentionally located in the previously mentioned Gadsden’s Wharf and thoroughly delivers on educating, inspiring and challenging all visitors. This is effectively done utilizing modern technology, mixed media and exclusive exhibits to deliver necessary stories about the African Diaspora. Be sure to dedicate at least four consecutive hours to fully explore the museum’s 38,000 square feet, which digs deep to cover important parts of history that most American history museums neglect, from Gullah Geechee culture and the Reconstruction era to the Great Migration and so much more. Even the gift shop is a must-see and carries a wide range of well-curated merchandise, including books for the entire family. Insider tip: Remember to take a pic with the Instagram/TikTok-ready “IAAM Still Here” installation before leaving.

Black-Owned Lodgings

Consider staying at Parson Inn or The Mills House during your stay in Charleston, as both properties are Black-owned and centrally located. The inn is owned and operated by a lovely married couple, Karen and Marcus Parson. Their friendly vibes and beautiful boutique space is ideal for couples and solo vacationers. The Mills House offers more of a traditional hotel experience and is a nice option for girlfriend getaways and larger groups. Don’t miss the stunning artwork featuring Black women throughout the lobby.

7 Reasons Charleston Is The Perfect Place To Be This Time Of Year
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Casual Crabbing With Tia

Tia Clark, a native of Charleston, is the founder of Casual Crabbing with Tia. After a life-altering health scare, Clark decided to completely revamp her food and lifestyle choices, which led her to tap into her deep Geechee roots to start this unique business. Clark literally teaches her customers how to catch crabs, and they get to take home the catch to eat. The exciting experience is sea-to-table dining at its finest.

The Work of Black Creatives

Support local creatives who use their gifts to showcase Black resilience and Black joy. If arriving at the Charleston International Airport, look for the mesmerizing paper flower creations on display by the uber-talented Simone Simmons of Charleston Charm Paper Flowers. Next, pick up artwork from local artists at Chuma Gallery. Leave the gallery with an heirloom-worthy piece by award-winning painter Johnathan Green, considered one of the most prolific artists capturing African American culture. If you’re in need of some retail therapy, stop in The Tiny Tassel for brightly-hued handmade accessories and cute gifts from stylish owner Mimi Striplin.

7 Reasons Charleston Is The Perfect Place To Be This Time Of Year
Courtesy of Corey Alston

Sweetgrass Baskets by Corey Alston

The coiled woven sweetgrass basket was first used during the days of enslavement to cultivate rice. Corey Alston, owner of Sweetgrass Baskets by Corey Alston is a fifth-generation sweetgrass weaver. His “shop” of exquisite designs is located right in the Charleston City Market. Be sure to check his website for specific opening dates and times.

Gullah Tours

No visit to Charleston is complete without an authentic Gullah tour to learn about one of the most undercelebrated and misunderstood cultures in the country. Two highly recommended options are Gullah Tours with Alphonso Brown and Sites and Insights.

Renowned Restaurants

From shrimp and grits to red rice and fried fish, Charleston has no shortage of delicious cuisine for every budget and palette. A few tried-and-true favorite restaurants include Gillie’s Seafood, Nigel’s Good Food, and Hannibal’s Kitchen. All three establishments are Black-owned and serve dishes that authentically reflect the amazing ways traditions and cooking customs of enslaved Africans in Charleston are still practiced today.

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