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AAA Traveler Worldwise
Destination Spotlight: Charleston, South Carolina


Located in the heart of the historic district, one of the newest luxury boutique hotels in town, Emeline, welcomes guests with a handcrafted welcome cocktail as they enter the “living room” (not lobby) with its signature amber scent, soulfully selected music and vintage furnishings. Sleep in one of sixteen romantic guest rooms at Zero George, the street address of this restored historic residence that has been named one of the best hotels in the world on Condé Nast Traveler’s Gold List 2020. Its location adjacent to Wiley Waterfront Park with its famous pineapple fountain and pier with swings makes the AAA Four Diamond HarbourView Inn a great choice for families. Enjoy complimentary perks like a gourmet continental breakfast, bikes for riding around town and a daily wine and cheese reception.

For a taste of traditional Charleston with a modern flair, visit Magnolias Uptown Down South. Take your server’s advice about the daily catch and be sure to order the signature appetizer: fried green tomatoes lightly battered and layered with caramelized onion, white cheddar grits, country ham and tomato chutney. Try another favorite local dish, she-crab soup, at Charleston Crab House, the place to go for traditional Southern seafood in a casual setting. Sit on the crab house’s rooftop overlooking City Market with your bowl of soup, a basket of hushpuppies and local peel-and-eat shrimp. Frannie and the Fox features Italian-inspired shared plates and brick oven pizza made-to-order, along with a carefully curated wine selection, best enjoyed in their jasmine-scented courtyard.

Charleston’s entire downtown is a designated National Historic Landmark District with dozens of 18th- and 19th-century buildings preserved along brick-lined streets. At several historic homes, visitors can explore gardens typical of the period, interiors that include original furnishings and well-maintained exteriors that make the city so unique. Check out Rainbow Row, thirteen homes along East Bay Street painted in watercolor hues to enhance their stunning architectural detail. The Gibbes Museum of Art showcases an array of early 20th-century art inspired by the customs and culture unique to Charleston.

Central to Charlestonian’s lives for more than 200 years, City Market features four blocks of indoor and outdoor vendors selling everything from edibles and wearables to breakables and valuables. Take a 90-minute narrated Harbor Tour aboard the Carolina Belle and get up close to Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. Take in the town on a horse-drawn buggy tour, where the gentle clip-clop of the horse’s hooves perfectly complements your guide’s soft Southern drawl as you learn about the fascinating history of Charleston.

If you go, go safely! Learn more about Charleston by using AAA’s interactive destination guide at