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Cobblestone streets and pre-Civil War houses. Warmth, sunshine and salty sea breeze all somehow wrapped up in Southern hospitality. If you’re looking for a last-minute gift for mom this Mother’s Day, we’ve got one suggestion: Go see Charleston in May. Head south and toward the ocean to explore this history-steeped city, which is chock-full of southern delicacies, food havens, and nearly tropical flora—all just a hop, skip and a jump away from countless beaches.



North Charleston Area Shuttle (NASH), a CARTA bus linking hotels, restaurants, retail and Charleston International Airport. Photo: North Charleston – Flickr

Plane, train or automobile — Driving into Charleston is lovely. You’ll likely pass through the mountains on your way, a bit of a strain but beautiful at this time of year. Plus, you’ll have a car to help you get around and to the beach if you so choose. Otherwise, fly into Charleston International Airport. There’s a shuttle that will take you downtown for $14, or catch a Charleston Area Regional Transport Authority (CARTA) bus. It’s $3.50 per person, nonstop to downtown and the busses come often. 

Bikes in Charleston

Bikes in a row in downtown Charleston. Photo: James Williams – Flickr

Cheap local transit — The CARTA transit system is pretty comprehensive throughout the city, and only $2 per ride. But if you’re celebrating Mother’s Day and want to treat your mom to some magic, pop into one of the many bike rental shops and tool around on a couple of those for the day.

Visit the Charleston City Market Great Hall.

Visit the Charleston City Market Great Hall. Photo: North Charleston – Flickr

Make your way through City Market — The Charleston City Market Great Hall is stocked with plenty of tasty eats, and is one of those rare places where locals mingle with the tourists. It wasn’t always like that though. It was known as a tourist destination until 2011, when the Great Hall was renovated. Upon reopening, the locals started flocking back, and never left. Make sure to grab lunch or dessert here, and sample as much as you can as you stroll through the food stalls with mom.

Visit the Magnolia Plantation

Visit the Magnolia Plantation

Marvel at Magnolia — Most people buy their moms flowers for Mother’s Day, but you could get her miles of Southern flora at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. Or, at least you could buy her a ticket. Here, thousands of vibrant flowers spill onto the walkways andbeautiful Spanish moss drapes the old trees. Magnolia Plantation was founded in 1676 and is the oldest public garden in America. Admission is $15 per adult.

Isle of Palms

Isle of Palms

Bop over to the beach — There are dozens of beaches around the city. Isle of Palms, just to the north, has several public beach options, and many of them are rife with places to pop in for a meal or seaside drink. This timeof year won’t be too busy at the public beaches, since school is still in session and summer break hasn’t hit full velocity. The best thing about a day at the beach is that it’s nice and free. Pack a picnic to save an extra penny.

Morris Island Lighthouse

Morris Island Lighthouse near Charleston, SC. Photo: sjg08 – Flickr

Lay eyes on a lighthouse — Morris Island Lighthouse sits several hundred feet offshore, near the entrance of Charleston Harbor and south of the city itself. It was actually 1,200 feet from the water when it was built in 1876, but jetties constructed nearby altered the ocean’s currents so much that by 1938, the shoreline had reached the lighthouse. It was decommissioned in 1962.

Charleston's French Quarter

There are plenty delicious places to brunch in Charleston’s French Quarter. Photo: Nicki Dugan Pogue – Flickr

Brunch by the water — Blossom Restaurant is an American-style eatery in the French Quarter, located mere blocks from the water. Any meal here would likely prove delicious, but Mother’s Day calls for a brunch by the water. And trust us, she’ll feel so much more appreciated over plates of applewood-smoked bacon dip, pulled pork hash or crawfish and shrimp étouffée. 

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Tagged: Beach, Family, Holidays, Off-season

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