I grew up in Mt. Pleasant, SC, which is a suburb of Charleston. When you say Mt. Pleasant, most people don’t know where that is unless you’re from the Carolinas. But when you say Charleston, people recognize it because the city has received numerous acclaims such as Best City in the World by Travel and Leisure.
While I know a lot of people in the area, I still loved going by myself downtown and seeing the more renowned areas. No matter what city you’re in, the key to acting like a tourist but not looking like one is confidence. Seem like you know where you are and what you’re doing. It also helps to dress the part.
And while you may be thinking, but you’re from there so you’re not a tourist, keep in mind I’m Asian. So a lot of the times on these journeys, I fall into the stereotype of automatically looking like a tourist, even when I could be doing something as simple as taking a photograph.
Anyway, on this particular day, I parked in a garage off of East Bay Street and started at Waterfront Park. If you decide to go, and it’s a hot day in any month besides December through February, consider bringing a swim suit or change of clothes. The first thing you’ll see is a fountain with kids running through it. Don’t be afraid to act like a kid. Just make sure your electronics are safe, which could be difficult if you go alone. But it can be done if you bring a bag and keep an eye on it while you’re playing.
A few steps away, consider yourself lucky if you can find a swinging bench open on the pier. As you continue down, there is an attraction that was new to me, a ferry boat ride to Mt. Pleasant. I didn’t take it, but it’s good to know it’s available.
Then you can’t miss the iconic Pineapple Fountain. Many a prom and wedding pictures have been taken there. Some people go in the fountain. I personally wouldn’t, but that’s just me.
As I strolled through the park, I chose to walk under the trees. There are a lot of sitting areas to enjoy the shade, as well as a long stretch of grass to picnic or play frisbee on. The park is never empty, and that’s the nice part. Even though I adventure alone, I’m never lonely. And if you ever feel like you are in downtown Chucktown, look for the girls selling Charleston Ice. They’re all very nice, helpful, and give out free samples. I always go with mango.
You’ll have to cut through some side streets to get back on East Bay Street. Even on those random alleys, each house is unique and upholds the southern charm that Charleston is known for. Whether it’s a simple doorway, wrought iron gate, or a window planter box, they’re usually primed for photography perfection.
As you continue down East Bay, you’ll run alongside the iconic Rainbow Row. The houses are pastel colors, and sometimes in paintings, they’re what’s being depicted to represent Hurricane Hugo. While I appreciate the landmark, there are so many great things to see and do around Charleston.
You’ll start to see the ocean, and the wall of the Battery. You’ll come upon statues, cannons, and oak trees. That is when you’ve reached Battery park. Once when I took my friends from college there, a bird pooped on my shoulder. There’s a gazebo in the center where my brother got his prom pictures taken his junior year. It’s also the middle part of the Turkey Day Run during which is held on Thanksgiving. This day, I was looking for nothing in particular. Just wandering to wander.
By the time I was finished taking everything in, it was time to go home. These are only a sliver of things to do on the Charleston Peninsula, but they are a must. I suggest going on foot, but if you do get tired, try a bike taxi. Those guys are awesome, and you can catch a slight breeze to cool off from the humidity. I don’t recommend the horse and carriage rides, even though they’re also an iconic image of Charleston. It’s a beautiful, friendly city with unlimited photo opportunities. You can find something down every street and cobblestone alley.