Oct 12, 2011

my charleston

8 reasons to come to
(besides the awesome authors)

  1. Deliciousness: If there’s anything the South is well known for, it’s the food. Fried, sautéed. From land and sea. A few of our signature dishes: Shrimp and grits, frogmore stew, fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, fried pickles, Carolina gold barbeque, pecan pie, Coca-Cola cake… All of them can be found and consumed in Charleston. You don’t have to walk very far to find some good Southern cuisine here. There are restaurants on almost every street of the peninsula. Justine’s (pictured below) is a notoriously delicious Southern haunt. Hominy Grill (also pictured) is the place to get your grits on. If you’ve never tried grits, then you’re missing out.

Jestine's: the ultimate destination for "down home" Southern cooking.

2. The Scenery: Sweeping green marshes. A harbor with several pods of dolphins. Streets and streets of gorgeous old mansions. Plantations covered in creeping oak trees and Spanish moss… It’s hard to put Charleston’s beauty into words, so I’ll just let the pictures do it for me.

The Lowcountry

I am in love with these marshes.

Nooks and Crannies

This is the alleyway by the house Blackbeard used when he stayed in Charleston (i.e. held it hostage).

The Houses

The Institutions

College of Charleston: My Alma Mater
The Provost Dungeons

  1. Churches: There's a reason it's called the Holy City. Churches are everywhere in Charleston. Around every corner. There’s a church that was turned into a bar and a bar that was turned into a church. Even if you aren’t particularly religious, there’s something stunning about the beauty and majesty of these old structures.
St. Philip's Episcopal Church and the French Huguenot Church

Once a maritime chapel, now Mad River Bar and Grille.

St. Michael's Episcopal Church

  1. Creepy Graveyards: Along with all of the old churches come the inevitable creepy graveyards. I know it sounds rather macabre, but I actually really enjoy walking through the graveyards. I must confess though, as a child my friends and I would hide behind gravestones and wait for the ghost tours to make their rounds. As soon as the guide started talking we would jump out and scare the daylights out of those poor tourists. I have calmed down much since then, and let the ghost tours pass by unscathed.

Wrought iron gates guard all of the graveyards.

  1. Lots of places to spend your allowance (I mean, money): Charleston has a strange mix of open-air markets, high-priced clothing boutiques and everything in between. King Street (which is where most of the Yallfest events are taking place) is the town’s main shopping stretch. Whether you want Louis Vuitton or gourmet honey, you can find it here.
There's even a store dedicated solely to Moon Pies.
If you want a shopping experience you can’t get anywhere else, then take a walk through Charleston City Market. This is an outdoor market where vendors rent out tables and sell their wares. You can get sweetgrass baskets handwoven by skilled local women, bags of salt-water taffy, puzzle boxes carved from cypress wood. Even if you don’t buy anything, the experience alone is worth the saunter.

Charleston City Market

  1. Beach: I can just hear you thinking: The beach? In November? Seriously? And yes, I know November is not the ideal time for taking a quick (or long) dip, but the beach is nice for sunset walks and chasing seagulls. Or just being quiet and resting after a long weekend of meeting awesome YA authors.
Sullivan's Island Lighthouse
The Battery

  1. Horses: In some ways, Charleston hasn’t changed much. There is a fully dressed pirate who swaggers down Church Street with his parrot every day (I kid you not) as well as several people in period dress who hang out around the Provost Dungeon. Another common sight around the city is horse-drawn carriages. These tours leave from the Charleston City Market almost every quarter hour and show visitors all of the important sites. The tours themselves are a bit expensive, but worth the cash if you’re interested in history and a unique experience.

  1. Our Paranormal Underground: Charleston is full of mysteries. One particularly creepy site is the Old City Jail. It's full of ghosts. One in particular is Lavinia Fisher, the first female serial killer in the United States. She's also the first woman to be executed in the US. There are reports that she haunts the halls of the old jail, peering through the windows and dragging around the wedding dress she was executed in. There are many other ghosts (Charleston is crawling with them), but Lavinia is definitely among the most infamous.

The Old City Jail
Not hard to imagine Lavinia behind those windows.

Also, it's quite possible that there may be wizards and superheroes here. I have photographic evidence:

Deathly Hallows? Anyone?
This sign was on the same building. I see a Snitch...
Superman's girlfriend moved here and became a real estate agent. It's true.

So, to sum things up. Food. Gorgeous scenery. Shopping. Paranormal happenings. Pretty much it's the perfect place to hold YALLfest. And hey, if Taylor Swift loved Charleston enough to vacation in, then you should too.

PS. Charleston just got voted the Top City in the US by Condé Nast Traveler. They put together an awesomesauce video and website about how great the city is. You can find that here.


  1. Beautiful pictures.
    I tried grits when I lived in the south (went to college in GA for a year and a half). But it was at the cafeteria...and I don't think they were that good. =( But I do LOVE the warm weather!

  2. It all looks so delightful! I'd love to visit the south one day.

    Embarrassing Canadian question: um, what are grits, exactly? :S

  3. Rain- Grits can often be an acquired taste. And I usually love the heat. Which is good, because it's hot a lot here...

    Kathryn- It's not an embarrassing question (btw some of my best friends are Canadian!). Grits are a lot like cream of wheat except thicker. They're almost always eaten with lots of butter and cheese (when they're for breakfast) and a popular dinner dish down here is shrimp and grits (which is exactly what it sounds like, +sausage and veggies!) I shall refer you to the wiki article for more delicious details: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grits

  4. I will check the Wikipedia page for more info. Thanks! I hear cream of wheat and usually think of oatmeal, so it's strange for me to hear cheese mixed into the equation, but cheese on the whole is never a bad thing.

    Canucks rule! :D

  5. You should get a kick back from the Chamber of Commerce. It's always been on my list of places to visit in the U.S.

  6. Good call, Zooks. I'm on it! ;)
    PS. Charleston is awesome. I'm a fanatic, if you can't tell.

  7. Charleston looks so beautiful! Seeing the marshes blew my mind a little, it was like seeing a certain wonderfully tense scene from a certain brilliant book coming to life.

    That architecture! Those old buildings, that jail! It just looks so gorgeous.

    I've seen grits on the Food Network a few times, they seem very odd to me - like a very savoury porridge. Definitely something I want to try if I ever get across the pond. :)

    (My high school in the middle of the Scottish Highlands was called Charleston Academy - no idea how it got that name, but unfortunately I doubt it has any links to this Charleston. Your Charleston is miles better anyway. :D)

  8. Wow - that makes me want to visit! It's a long way from Seattle, but hopefully someday. :)

  9. I also posted a ton of Charleston photos this year lol You and I had a distinctly different experience there.

    Loved your interview on Literary Rambles! Great tips.

  10. Mystery Robin- I want to go to Seattle one day! If only we could swap for a bit...

    Sophia- Your comment made me curious so I popped on over to your blog and read a bunch. You're very right when you say that Charleston lacks ethnic diversity. It's one of the things I wish I could change about it! Thanks for checking out my blog and reading my interview!