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Charleston without tourists???

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DH and I want to visit Charleston, SC sometime this spring/summer. Just for a long weekend. I have only been there once for a very few hours on Thanksgiving. Being a huge fan of all things Pat Conroy, I would love to experience some of the "low country" as it is described in his books.

Questions:
- As much as I would love to see some of the gracious gardens, I can't stand the crowds of garden week or home tours week or food and wine week. What time periods should we avoid?

- We adore Sourthern cooking but aren't keen on all the high end, fancy schmancy, celebrity chef places that require a reservation a year in advance and a mortgage on the house. Where would you suggest we dine?

- I've read so much about the low country creeks, shrimping, eating right on the beach...is there any way for a visitor to get participate in this kind of adventure?

Thanks for any suggestions.

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