With its old Southern charm, beautiful setting and historic, architecturally fascinating downtown, Charleston, South Carolina draws in thousands of visitors from around the country and the world each year. The city is situated on the Atlantic coast, where the Ashley and Cooper Rivers converge, and is shielded from the open sea by a series of small islands. Nice breezes from the Atlantic temper the hot, humid summer air, making Charleston a great place to explore on foot, on a bike or even from the back of a horse-drawn carriage.
West Ashley is the area immediately west of the Ashley River, and it's convenient to some of the city's best attractions like the Charleston Museum and the South Carolina Aquarium. This individual neighborhood is known as the place where Charleston took root after English colonists landed here in the late 17th century.
There are several ways to get to Charleston. Flights generally arrive at Charleston International Airport (CHS), which is about 12 miles northwest of downtown Charleston. CARTA, the city's bus line, operates a service from the airport to the center every hour on weekdays. Rental cars and taxis are also readily available, and there are shuttles as well.
If you're traveling to Charleston by car, U.S. Highway 17 is the quickest way to get there from the north or the south. For those traveling from the west, Interstate 26 is the best choice. West Ashley itself is easily accessible via several routes, including the Ashley River Road and the Savannah Highway.
The Amtrak station is about 10 miles north of downtown, and the Greyhound station is also located in the north part of the city, making bus and rail travel to this part of town easy.
Shopaholics will love this vast mall, where well-known brands vie for attention through glamorous window displays, and independent stores have their own special appeal. From Dillard's to Victoria's Secret and Mystic Fragrance, pick up the latest fashions or perfumes before grabbing a bite to eat. This is the largest indoor mall around, so retail therapy is a West Ashley specialty.
What better way to get the lay of the land and to map out your trip than by paying a visit to this state-of-the-art visitor's center? It offers an array of guides and maps that allow you to plan your stay with ease. A short, interesting film introducing the city is played throughout the day, and there's even a small museum. Employees can help you book sightseeing tours around Charleston.
See for yourself where the Civil War began by taking a ferry over to Fort Sumter. The fort itself is ruined, but markers explain what used to be there and what occurred on that fateful day. There's also an informative museum on the premises.
When it comes to beaches near Charleston, you're spoiled for choice. For upscale surroundings, head over to the Isle of Palms or Sullivan's Island. If you're more interested in a laidback seaside vibe, Folly Beach is a great choice. These and other beaches offer a variety of facilities, including concession stands, changing rooms, and even boardwalks with shopping and dining options.
If you have the time, head over to John's Island to check out local legend, the Angel Oak. This incredible live oak tree is purported to be more than 1,000 years old. The area surrounding it is quite picturesque and provides the perfect setting for picnicking, hiking, strolling or just relaxing.
West Ashley’s Greenway is a neighborhood feature where locals and visitors can walk or cycle a 10.5-mile trail through the scenery. Parking is available on each side of the route.
If you asked a Charleston resident to describe the climate of the city using one word, they'd probably say, “wet.” Indeed, the city receives more than 50 inches of rainfall annually. Snow is exceedingly rare, but it has been known to dust the city from time to time. Still, winters are short, mild and tend to be relatively dry as well. Nearly half of the yearly rainfall occurs during the summer, which is also when temperatures regularly exceed 90 degrees and humidity levels are through the roof.
Although winters are fairly mild in Charleston, most people visit the city during the summer, which is when carriage rides, trips to the beach and simply wandering around on foot are the most enjoyable. Hotel rates tend to be highest during the summer but there are some affordable options available west of downtown. West Ashley hotels, in particular, tend to be cost-effective, with nightly rates ranging from around $60 to $150. Most of the hotels there are situated on Savannah Highway, ranging from the Holiday Inn EXPRESS to the Econo Lodge.