The first laws of the Carolinas guaranteed the widest measure of religious liberty in all of the 13 colonies. By 1704, Charles Towne was a picture of religious freedom with members of the English, French, Quaker, Anabaptist and Independent churches worshipping peacefully together in a small community.
With its historic charm, diverse economic system and fabulous location, Charleston today is one of the best places to live in the country. Readers of Conde' Nast Traveler have named the city a "Top Ten" domestic destination for six consecutive years in Reader's Choice Polls. In fact, the polls have cited Charleston as one of the "Top Twenty" destinations in the world. Charleston is reported to have more gourmet restaurants than any city its size in the U.S.
The area's lush sea islands and sun-drenched beaches offer as much recreation or relaxation as your heart desires. The Isle of Palms is home to the world-renowned Wild Dunes Resort, and Sullivans Island, Folly Beach, Kiawah Island, Seabrook Island and Edisto Beach are exciting beach destinations as well. Golfing opportunities are abundant, with more than 30 challenging courses (including Kiawah's Ocean Course ? site of a Rider Cup match and multiple World Cups) that reflect the natural beauty of the South Carolina "Low Country."
Shopping is one of the area's most uniquely rewarding pursuits with native sweet grass baskets and other handmade crafts found in Charleston's famous open-air market. Boutiques, art galleries and antique shops can be easily found throughout the Charleston area.
Charleston is home to a number of outstanding cultural attractions. The South Carolina Aquarium is located on Charleston Harbor and is a recognized environmental and educational institution. The two-week Spoleto Festival and the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition (SEWE) draw participants and attendees from around the world. The Charleston Museum, the Gibbes Museum of Art, Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum (home of the WWII aircraft carrier Yorktown), the Charleston Symphony Orchestra and the Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site are just a few of the area's other renowned attractions. The city is also home to a wide range of historic sites and buildings, including the Charleston County Courthouse, the Old Citadel and the South Carolina Society Hall.
Charleston's historic forts were at the turning point of some of the nation's most important events. Ft. Moultrie was the site of the first decisive patriot victory of the American Revolution, and Ft. Sumter was the scene of the first shots of the Civil War.
The Charleston area boasts an array of sporting opportunities that is second to none. Whether you're interested in boating, fishing, paddle boarding, kayaking or canoeing, you'll find the water sport you're looking for. Charter fishing in the Gulf Stream or inshore waters is readily available. The 10,000-seat-plus tennis stadium on Daniel Island is the host of the women's professional Family Circle Tennis Cup each April. The nearby Summerville Speedway hosts a variety of NASCAR events. Local teams include the Charleston Battery, the A League 2003 National Champions (soccer), Lowgators (basketball), Stingrays (hockey) and Riverdogs (baseball). Local colleges participate in a number of NCAA sports, including The Citadel's and Charleston Southern's Division IA football teams, the College of Charleston's ranked basketball and soccer teams and The Citadel's ranked baseball and wrestling squads.
A number of parks and plantations can be found throughout the Charleston area. Cypress Gardens, located in nearby Moncks Corner, offers a look into the cypress swamp ecosystem. Boone Hall Plantation is a working plantation that is reported to be America's most photographed plantation. Drayton Hall is a National Trust historic site that includes a majestic Georgian-Palladian style plantation house on a sweeping 630-acre site. The Magnolia Plantation and Gardens and Middleton Place are premier tourist attractions. Charleston County Parks offer opportunities for hiking, fishing, camping, boating, horseback riding, water parks and much more.
Fast Facts on the Charleston Area:
? First European settlement ? 1526
? First slave revolt ? November 1526
? First American-built ship to cross the Atlantic ? 1563
? First public library ? November 16, 1700
? First professional female artist ? 1707
? First opera performed ? February 18, 1735
? First fire insurance company ? February 3, 1736
? First building constructed solely for use as a theater ? February 12, 1736
? First systematic, scientific recording of weather information ? April 1737
? First major slave insurrection ? September 9, 1739
? First musical society ? 1762
? First cotton exported to England ? 1764
? First public museum ? January 1773
? First black Baptist Church ? 1773
? Oldest municipal Chamber of Commerce in continuous operation ? December 9, 1773
? First business publication ? July 30, 1774
? First independent government in the colonies ? March 1776
? First major naval battle of the Revolutionary War ? June 28, 1776
? First treaty between two US states ? May 20, 1777
? First eminent architect born in America ? 1781
? First golf club ? September 29, 1786
? First cotton mill ? 1789
? First ice transported commercially ? 1799
? First tea planted ? 1802
? First fireproof building ? 1823
? First Reform Jewish Congregation ? November 21, 1824
? First regularly scheduled rail passenger service ? December 25, 1830
? First municipal college ? 1836
? First trial in a worker's compensation lawsuit ? July 1838
? First building to be used solely as a college library ? May 6, 1840
? First patent for a mechanical refrigerator ? May 6, 1851
? First state to secede ? December 20, 1860
? First shot fired in the Civil War ? January 9, 1861
? First black Civil War regiment ? November 1862
? First black to earn a Medal of Honor ? July 18, 1863
? First submarine to sink a ship in battle ? February 17, 1864
? First black state supreme court associate justice ? February 1, 1870
? First commercial tea farm ? 1890
? First totally electric textile plant ? 1893
? First textile school established in a college ? 1899
? First rivetless cargo ship ? February 1930
? First Historical Zoning Ordinance ? Oct 13, 1931
? First US senator elected by write-in vote ? November 2, 1954
? First Independent Flag of the Colonies - 1775
? First Golf Course - 1786
? First Music Store - 1819
#1 Best Mannered City in America (etiquette expert Marjabelle Young Stewart)
#2 Best Retirement Cities (Macmillan Travel)
#2 Top Cities for Small Business (Entrepreneur and D&B)
#3 Best City for Family Vacations (Family Fun magazine ? a Disney publication)
#3 Best US City to Visit (Conde' Nast)
#3 Best Retirement Place (AARP)
#3 Best Retirement Places (Retirement Places Rated)
#4 Top Ten Cities in the US (Travel and Leisure Magazine)
#4 Best Places to Retire (Sperling's Best Places)
#5 Best Places to Reinvent Your Life (AARP)
#6 Best Golf Town in America (Golf Digest)
-- The New York Times - Charleston is the, "new capital for regional cuisine"
-- Reader's Choice Awards from Southern Living Magazine: Dream Getaway, Historic Site, Romantic Getaway, and Weekend Getaway
-- Rated among Forbes ?Finest Places?
-- Has 2 of the 100 greatest golf courses in the world (Golf Magazine)
-- ??among the nation's best? cities for golf (Golf Digest).
-- Outside Online: Charleston is one of, "The New American Dream Towns"
-- Voted by readers of Conde' Nast Travel as among the top 10 places to visit for 14 consecutive years