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Historic Houses & Sites near Charleston & Savannah.

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May 17th, 2014, 05:34 PM
  #1
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Historic Houses & Sites near Charleston & Savannah.

I'm planning a trip with friends to Charleston SC for early November. I thought I might go a few days early to spend time in Savannah but the more I learn, the less I'm convinced that I'll like it enough to stay long, so may just spend a day there.

My question is this: I love visiting historic houses and spending time in small towns and the countryside. I see there are 3 well-publicized "plantations" to see outside Charleston and wonder if there are more in the area between the 2 cities. Or interesting small towns of historic significance that might be worth cruising the back roads to see.

This will be my first visit to the area and possibly my last. I don't need to see everything and prefer the less gussied up versions to the overly restored. I intend to do more research in the months remaining before I go but any particular favorites will be most appreciated.
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May 17th, 2014, 06:09 PM
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There are other plantations, but there are numerous historic houses in Charleston. There is also Beaufort, and most certainly Georgetown north of Charleston. There are also plantation sites between Charleston and Georgetown. IMO, more to do and see and experience in Charleston.
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May 17th, 2014, 06:27 PM
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Thanks, Gretchen. That's what I'm beginning to realize. Since it's close enough for a day trip, I may, as I mentioned, visit Savannah 1 day but concentrate, for the most part, on Charleston and environs. I'll see the city with my friends and make myself a list of places to visit before they arrive.
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May 17th, 2014, 07:00 PM
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Travel up the coast to Georgetown--and even Brookgreen Gardens at Litchfield. It has a WONderful art collection in addition to the art Anna Huntington did while a resident for 6 months of the year. It is quite fascinating.
Georgetown is a beautiful Revolutionary War town--the homes are TDF. Pawley's Island is where the rice planters came to escape the malarial mosquitoes of Charleston.
AND read The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd!!
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May 17th, 2014, 08:16 PM
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If "less gussied" is your preference, definitely put Drayton Hall on your list of Charleston area plantations. It is completely unfurnished and has been preserved, rather than restored. The docents there are fantastic and the tours are the most interesting hour you will ever spend in a house with no furniture! Also, in downtown Charleston, the Aiken-Rhett house is another that has been preserved instead of restored. Unless it has changed, the tour there is a self-guided audio tour, which allows you to prowl around at your leisure.
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May 17th, 2014, 08:36 PM
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Drayton Hall is the first place I put on my list, for the reason you mention. Thanks for the confirmation and suggestion of the Aiken-Rhett House.

I'll definitely get a copy of Kidd's book. I've liked 2 of her previous ones.
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May 18th, 2014, 06:57 AM
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Hi mmeperdu,

Since you write that this may be your first and possibly last visit to the area, I'm going to recommend you up it to 2 nights in Savannah. You write that you want 1 day in Savannah since the more you read "the less I'm convinced that I'll like it enough to stay long". I say give the city a bit more of a chance; some that have been to both even prefer it to Charleston. The two cities have fascinatingly different personalities you'll never really know what you might prefer until you go. If you're like me, you'll enjoy both and appreciate them for their similarities and differences.

I spent four days in Savannah in 2012/2013 and even if it's not to your taste, I can't see it taking less than two days to come to anything resembling an informed opinion... to explore the city squares, some of the beautifully preserved historic homes and try some of the city's terrific restaurants. If for any reason, you decide that after one day you've had enough (I can't imagine this, Savannah's awfully charming), Fort Pulaski, Tybee Island and Beaufort are possible day trips from there.

Have a great trip whatever you decide. Daniel
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May 18th, 2014, 07:10 AM
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I would agree. The 2 are really different and both are worth your time.

On the drive from Charleston to Savannah do stop in Beaufort. I know you are primarily looking at homes, but Hunting Island is a lovely place for a stop. Just off 17 near Beaufort are the Old Sheldon CHurch Ruins. The light there is beautiful any time of day.

You might want to watch "Big Chill" again. It was filmed in and around Beaufort.
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May 18th, 2014, 09:35 AM
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10 years ago,we loved Savannah over Charleston but with time we feel the money has flowed out of Savannah and into Charleston. I know this comment will hurt the locals as the cities are competitive. When we first visited Savannah it seemed such a magical place, one of our favourite places in the world.

We try to get to SC ever October for the incredible weather, last October we didn't bother with a visit to Savannah, it just as a down trodden feeling about it and seems to have suffered more at the hands of the recession.

Charleston, by contrast, seems to be thriving and vibrant with a hugely buoyant food scene.

I would totally agree with Drayton Hall. The other plantations seem lost in a daydream of "Gone with the Wind". Drayton describes itself as a concentration camp. I suppose it depends in how much truth you can cope with.

We love Beaufort, visit the old church of St Helena in town. It has some of the oldest graves in the the south. Each grave is maintained with a flag to represent the background of the deceased. Even a couple of Union Jacks from pre Independence. St Helena island just to the south has lots of atmosphere, the Gullah Penn centre is well worth a visit.

http://penncenter.com/

Again agree that Hunting Island is beautiful, as is Botany Bay

http://www.scwildlife.com/pubs/septoct2009/edisto.html

Which a closer to Charleston.

In general, SC isn't about the world class sites like the pyramids of Gisa or the Grand Canyon. It's about the detail.

There is an incredibly interesting visitor centre on Edisto which displays the changes on the island over the past 300 years. We stopped at the cafe over the road only to find the owner's surname was Drayton, after the plantation where her ancestors were shipped to from The West Indies.
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May 18th, 2014, 09:59 AM
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Dickie_Gr, the differences between the 2 towns seems to me as you describe. I like finding places to stay on Airbnb sometimes and try to get a feel for the area using Streetview. I've been disappointed by the look of Savannah neighborhoods which seem largely either somewhat run down or very commercial nearest the water. There may be something in between which I've missed and I'll keep looking. I hate to miss it entirely so might drive down and stay 2 nights to have a full day to visit some houses and walk around.

I appreciate the suggestions for the lower key places and will use them to build a sort of itinerary for myself. I often make lists when I travel and end up abandoning them in favor of other suggestions I get along the way or detours along the lines of "I wonder where that road goes". But I have several directions to pursue now. Thanks so much.
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May 18th, 2014, 10:07 AM
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Don't get me wrong, Savannah is well worth a visit. I would agree to spend a day or say one night there.
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May 18th, 2014, 01:27 PM
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If you’ll be seeing Charleston with your friends, then you’re really looking for places before that part of the trip begins, right? If you have three days before Charleston, then spend two nights in Savannah (2 nights, 1 day) and one night in Beaufort (1 night, almost 1 ½ days).

Will you fly into Savannah and begin there, or will you fly into Charleston, rent a car and go to Savannah from that starting point? I think both side trips are worth a visit if you have some time. To me, Savannah opens up more slowly than Charleston and that is what is lovely about it. We spend a couple of days there every year. Beaufort has history, lots of history, and small town charm and it shouldn’t be overlooked either.
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May 18th, 2014, 02:27 PM
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I plan to fly into Charleston and rent a car. I'd noticed Beaufort on the map and wondered about it. Since several of you have mentioned it now I'll have a closer look.

Coming from the west coast I'll get in late, probably Tuesday, so think I'll spend the night, get a car in the morning and head for Savannah for 2 nights. Then stop in Beaufort on my way back to Charleston, have 2 nights and a full day to see some places around Charleston that the friends may or may not have time or inclination to do. Everyone else will arrive on Saturday and stay until Tuesday.

I plan to get a guidebook shortly, one of the ones with both cities covered. I certainly appreciate the suggestions.
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May 18th, 2014, 03:52 PM
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I just realized I'll have 1 night, Friday, not 2, back in Charleston before the others arrive on Saturday. That's OK, I still think it's a decent plan.
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May 18th, 2014, 04:31 PM
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I won't keep track of your time for you--but I would without any hesitation spend more time in Charleston and its environs,
I ALWAYS say, here or in Europe, maximize your time in and out of hotels.
Stay in Charleston (your arrival) and do a day trip or whatever.
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May 18th, 2014, 05:19 PM
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Gretchen, if what you're saying is to stay in 1 place for the week, I can't. The group has rented a large house where we'll be for the 3 nights of the long weekend. But I do definitely plan to spend much of the week in and around Charleston and what you say, generally speaking, I agree, is good advice.

I travel all over the world and my usual way of doing things is to spend weeks in 1 place. This is a different kind of trip for me. I'm usually gone from home for months, this trip for days, so if I spend single nights here and there, it won't constitute a trend.

However, I was feeling a bit faint of heart a few minutes ago, just before coming back to the computer, wondering if I really did want to go here and there. If I stay in 1 place outside Charleston for the 3 nights I have (not counting the night of arrival which will be going to sleep at the closest place to the airport I can find), I can decide while I'm having breakfast what I want to do that day, my favorite way of traveling. One day I could head for Savannah and if I don't make it I won't worry. If something on the list engages my imagination, that's what's most important to me, being engaged.

I'll put all the suggestions down, plotted on a map, and with my guidebook decide as I go. I doubt if mid-week in November I'll have much trouble finding a place to stay, if along the way I decide to stay. I'm kidding myself if I believe I'll stick to a plan. I never do.
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May 19th, 2014, 08:50 AM
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I think your tentative plan of first night at Charleston, get car the next morning, 2 nights Savannah, 1 night Beaufort, then one night back in Charleston before your friends arrive for 3 more nights seems fine. On the way to Savannah might be a good time to quickly visit the Old Sheldon Church ruins. On the day in Beaufort you might want to visit ruins of the Chapel of Ease of St Helena parish on St Helena Island (since you are looking for historic sites as well).

In Charleston you all may want to do a culinary tour. There are a few companies that do this. They’re fun and a good way to sample Charleston’s foods, and have a walking tour with narrative between each of the restaurants. You get enough food, which for most is a meal. You’ll have fun whatever you decide to do.
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May 19th, 2014, 09:15 AM
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Kathleen, the idea of the culinary tour sounds fun and I know will appeal to others in the group, who travel to eat, if pictures they post on the website (Travel Gumbo) are any indication.

Southwest's schedule for November went up today and my tickets are bought. I feel like I'm really going now.
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May 19th, 2014, 10:59 AM
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I missed the 3 days on the end in Charleston. I think your schedule is great. And no, not a whole week in one place.
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May 19th, 2014, 11:07 AM
  #20
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Do not overlook Middleton Plantation, just northwest of Charleston. A partially destroyed old mansion and incredible grounds. And, if of interest, The Middleton Inn, nearby, is, IMO, one of the great modern structures in SC.
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