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First time to Charleston

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DH and I are going to Charleston for the first time the first week in April. We need some help planning a few things. About us: We are in our 50's, love history, museums, historic homes, shopping, FOOD, and wine.
1) I've gotten some great ideas here about the restaurants, but always love more tips. We like fine dining, but also love to eat in bars with the same great food but fun, lively atmosphere. Maybe lunch outside?
2) Also, we would like to stay in a hotel within walking distance to most everything, about $300 a night-doesn't have to be super fancy, but I do like nice sheets. :)
3) How far away are some of the plantations to tour- we were planning on renting a car. Is this the best idea?
I so enjoy reading Fodor's forums whenever we go somewhere. Thanks so much in advance!

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