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    An Instagram Tour of Charleston
    Bridges and steeples fill the Charleston skyline. Haunted mansions with layers of porches line the colonial streets. If those mansions could talk, they would tell tales of pirates, earthquakes, and battles worthy of a movie deal.

    This coastal South Carolina city is also overflowing with Southern charm and history as savory as the soul food. The seaport was founded in 1670 and was the site of both Civil and Revolutionary War battles. Consider yourself warned: It is nearly impossible to not fall for Charleston’s charms!

    Photo by @annamazurekphoto
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    The Battery
    This intersection is the heart of the Charleston peninsula—the exact spot where the Ashley and Cooper Rivers meet. Many carriage-tour guides jokingly refer to the Battery as the center of the universe. The seawall, used as a fortification during the Civil War, is now a scenic promenade dotted with stately antebellum homes close to White Point Gardens, a large park named after layers of oyster shells that once covered the ground. It offers a view of Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired in 1861, and the USS Yorktown, a WWII aircraft carrier-turned-museum located nearby at Patriots Point. It’s also a fine place for an early morning run or a late afternoon stroll.

    Photo by @annamazurekphoto
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    Cooper River Bridge
    New York has the Empire State building; Charleston has the Cooper River bridge. The icon of the Charleston skyline is the longest cable-stayed bridge in North America. Even though it’s formally named the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, locals often refer to it by the name of the river beneath it. While the structure alone is striking, the bridge’s 2.7-mile pedestrian and bike trail offers some of the best views in the city.

    Photo by @annamazurekphoto
    Photo by @annamazurekphoto
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    Rainbow Row
    Stroll to the most photographed place in Charleston: Rainbow Row, where thirteen pastel-colored row houses sit along East Bay Street. The colonial Caribbean color scheme started in 1931 when a section was painted pastel pink. While these are all private residences, several historic homes within a two-block radius are open for public tours, including the 1772 Heyward-Washington House (which George Washington briefly rented). The house is famous for its collection of Charleston-made furniture, including the Holmes Bookcase, one of the finest examples of colonial furniture. Another notable home is the Nathaniel Russell House Museum.

    Photo by @annamazurekphoto
    Photo by @annamazurekphoto
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    Sweetgrass Baskets
    Almost every downtown street corner is covered with rows of sweetgrass baskets, a famous Southern coastal tradition. Instead of twisting or braiding grass, weavers make these baskets using a West African technique of bundling together dried grass sourced from local marshes and beaches, then coiling those bundles into circles. The core of the basket trade is located in the Charleston City Market, a mostly open-air market filled with stalls of basket-weavers hard at work despite the eternal humidity. The market is also one of the best places to pick up a variety of local art, from paintings to wood carvings.

    Photo by @annamazurekphoto
    Photo by @annamazurekphoto
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    Jestine’s Kitchen
    There is a line outside Jestine’s Kitchen for a reason: The fried chicken is legendary. The meat-and-three (as in three sides) restaurant serves up such Southern favorites as collards, honey-butter cornbread, and banana pudding. Go early if you want to get lunch before the afternoon crowd swarms the tiny dining room. If the line is too long, walk a few doors down Wentworth Street to Jestine’s Sweet Shop for a piece of pecan pie.

    Photo by @annamazurekphoto
    Photo by @annamazurekphoto
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    Folly Beach
    There’s no shortage of beaches in Charleston. To catch a few waves, head South to Folly Beach. Rent a board at McKevlin’s Surf Shop, then drive several miles down to The Washout, an area that was literally washed out by a 1989 hurricane. The bittersweet result of that hurricane? Ideal surf conditions. For a scenic view of the historic 1876 Morris Island Lighthouse, follow East Ashley Avenue until it ends, then walk out to the beach. The lighthouse was once the centerpiece of Morris Island, but erosion reduced the island to nothing, making the lighthouse look—at high tide—like it’s floating on the sea. (Interesting sidenote for film geeks: The movie Glory features a Civil War battle that happened on Morris Island.) Beach options north of the city include the swanky Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island, where the colorful, quirkily-named houses are the photo to snap.

    Photo by @annamazurekphoto
    Photo by @annamazurekphoto
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    Photo by @emcalary
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An Instagram Tour of Charleston

From the city’s Rainbow Row to a lighthouse nearly floating on the sea