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Romantic Charleston

Romantic Rooftop Views
Romantic Charleston
Charleston's rose-tinted facades of weathered brick and stucco give it a warm, romantic ambience. Add charming accents like lantern-lit streets and cobblestoned sidewalks and it’s no surprise the city is a top wedding destination.
By Susan Mason, AFAR Local Expert
Photo courtesy of Stars
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    Romantic Rooftop Views
    Romantic Rooftop Views
    Rooftop views are rare in Charleston, which makes the few bars with city and harbor vistas so special. They’re even more spectacular at sunset, when the color of the sky matches the pastel buildings below. The Pavilion Bar at the Market Pavilion Hotel offers signature cocktails and a swanky scene, while the Rooftop Bar at The Vendue features a slightly more casual vibe. For the only 360-degree views in the city, head to Stars Rooftop & Grill Room on Upper King and enjoy sky-high drinks before dining at the seasonally inspired restaurant below.
    Photo courtesy of Stars
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    Hand-in-Hand Through History
    Hand-in-Hand Through History
    Charleston is a lovely city for wandering, especially hand in hand with the one you love. Stroll the Battery waterfront promenade for panoramic views of the harbor and—if you're lucky—dolphins playing, or walk the half-mile loop around Colonial Lake and gaze at the historic homes reflected in the water. Also worth moseying down are the oak-lined walkways at the College of Charleston, which lead to historic landmarks like the imposing Randolph Hall, and the streets of the Historic District, where you’ll find Rainbow Row’s multicolored town houses and the immaculately preserved Edmonston-Alston House.
    Photo by Joan Wharton
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    Old-World Dining
    Old-World Dining
    With their exclusive yet neighborly ambience, Charleston’s fine-dining establishments embody the city’s old-world charm. Whether by the lantern-lit entrance at Peninsula Grill, in the picturesque courtyard at 82 Queen’s, or under the restored brick arches at McCrady’s, you can practically feel the romance of bygone eras. It’s simply a bonus that all these historically significant restaurants also offer award-winning cuisine.
    Photo courtesy of Peninsula Grill
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    Parks and Gardens
    Parks and Gardens
    Charleston’s well-kept parks are pleasant spots to sit, relax, and enjoy good company. At Waterfront Park, you can get cozy on a bench under the oak trees or lounge on the palmetto-lined grass along the water. Just don’t leave before taking a photo in front of the famous pineapple fountain. Farther down the peninsula at White Point Garden, the forest of oak trees practically calls out for exploration. There, you’ll discover various military monuments, cannons, and artillery relics, as well as a romantic white gazebo. If the bustle of King Street gets to be too much, you can find relief in Marion Square, where a large unobstructed lawn invites picnics and games of Frisbee. For a nature escape, head to Francis Beidler Forest and take the boardwalk trail through a wonderland of cypress and tupelo trees.
    Photo courtesy of Charleston Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
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    Tours for Two
    Tours for Two
    Charleston offers a tour to suit every interest. For something romantic, book a private horse-drawn carriage ride through the historic streets of downtown and bring along some bubbly. If you’re not one for champagne, join a brewery or distillery tour to sample craft beers and sweet tea vodka, or wander hand in hand through the topiary maze at Magnolia Plantation & Gardens. Once the sun sets, sign up for one of Charleston’s famous ghost tours and hold tight to your partner as you visit several haunted sites.
    Photo by age fotostock
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    See the City from the Water
    See the City from the Water
    Charleston’s waterways offer a chance to experience the city from a unique perspective. Board a SpiritLine harbor dinner cruise for farm-fresh cuisine and live entertainment, or head to the Schooner Pride tall ship for fun events like onboard winetastings and nighttime tours. If you’re really trying to impress, however, you can’t do better than chartering a luxury yacht for a private tour past landmarks such as The Battery and Fort Sumter. For a more active adventure, go kayaking or paddleboarding through the creeks and estuaries of the barrier island ecosystems. If you’re lucky, you'll spot dolphins and sea turtles.
    Photo by Richard Ellis/age fotostock
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    Oyster Aphrodisiacs
    Oyster Aphrodisiacs
    Once known to the American Indians as Oyster Point, Charleston is filled with restaurants specializing in the seductive bivalve. At The Ordinary, James Beard Award–winning chef Mike Lata applies his flair for seasonal cuisine to seafood, offering local half-shell selections like Capers Blades and Otter Islands. On the other end of Charleston’s James Beard spectrum, the family-run Bowens Island Restaurant, which was honored as a James Beard American Classic, sources oysters from nearby estuaries and tosses them on your table for you to shuck yourself.
    Photo courtesy of Charleston Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
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    Charleston's Serene Surrounds
    Charleston's Serene Surrounds
    Escape to pristine areas near Charleston for some serious Gone with the Wind–style moments. At historic plantations, you’ll find gorgeous landscaping, stately homes, and iconic sites like the “Avenue of Oaks” entranceway at Boone Hall Plantation and the flower gardens at Middleton Place. You can also kayak with dolphins through the marshes of Folly Creek to Morris Island, which is only accessible by boat, or catch the ferry to Bulls Island to explore wild forests and Boneyard Beach. For something more relaxing, take a picnic to Angel Oak Park, where a sprawling, centuries-old tree shades 17,000 square feet.
    Photo by Nikkia
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    Pleasure in Pampering
    Pleasure in Pampering
    No trip to Charleston is complete without at least a few hours of pampering. With everything from massages, facials, and manicures to more specialized services like acupuncture and Ayurvedic treatments, the city’s spas provide relaxation in spades. For the ultimate in luxury, head to The Spa at Belmond Charleston Place, which features a 24-karat gold facial and a pool with a retractable roof. Men in search of special treatment can opt for the Old South Barber Spa, where services like hot lather shaves, beard trims, shoe shines, and more come with a complimentary cold brew. 

    Photo courtesy of Belmond