- 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.
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.
|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).|
|College of Charleston: My Alma Mater|
|The Provost Dungeons|
- 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|
- 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.|
- 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|
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
|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.