The City Magazine Since 1975

The Charleston Bucket List

The Charleston Bucket List
January 2013
Things Every Local Must Experience Whether your bloodline dates back generations or you just moved to town, check out and check off these Holy City must-dos




bucket1. Watch the Moon Rise

Charleston’s southeasterly perspective makes for some incredible rising full moons. At dusk, bring lawn chairs and scout out your spot at White Point Gardens, Breach Inlet, or the north end of Folly Beach (above). (For the latter, you’ll want a full moon with a low tide.) Head out for upcoming full moons on January 26, February 25, March 27, April 25, May 25, June 23, July 22, August 20, September 19, October 18, November 17, and December 17.




2. Eat Pralines til You Puke

For a sweet Charleston treat, it’s tough to beat the classic praline. Kilwin’s and the Candy Kitchen at the City Market are surefire spots, or order a homemade batch from the Charleston Candy Company. Even better, make your own. Approved by generations of sweet teeth, the best method requires only sugar, pecans, cream, and salt. Boil three cups of sugar with a cup of cream “until it forms a soft ball,” according to the Junior League of Charleston’s venerable cookbook, Charleston Receipts. Caramelize a fourth cup of sugar in an iron skillet, before adding it to the boiled batch (it will foam). Add a teaspoon of salt and five cups chopped pecans and “heat vigorously until creamy,” then dab spoonfuls onto buttered wax paper. Enjoy, and then head to the gym—and the dentist.

bucket3.Bathe in Pluff Mud

To some, pluff mud is the essence of the Lowcountry. A stinky marsh is a healthy marsh. That whiff of rotten eggs you get when the wind is just right? That’s the spartina grass, fiddler crabs, and everything else out there breaking down into pluff mud. You haven’t lived until you’ve laced up an old pair of tennis shoes and trekked out into it. Watch out for oysters—they’ll cut you up somethin’ ugly—while you paint yourself head to toe in the stinky brown ick. We’re still waiting for somebody to open the “Pluff Mud Spa” and make a bundle off of this abundant natural resource.


4. Take a House Tour

Visiting the Nathaniel Russell (1808), Aiken-Rhett (1820), and Edmondston-Alston (1825) house museums should be on every local’s itinerary. Living in the burbs doesn’t offer quite the resonance to the city’s illustrious past as these grand residences. And don’t forget Historic Charleston Foundation’s Festival of Houses and Gardens. Set for March 21 through April 20 this year, the festival offers daily peeks into private homes that date from the Colonial period to the 20th century. Come autumn, you can check out even more beautiful digs during the Preservation Society of Charleston’s annual fall tours.

Aiken Rhett & Nathaniel Russell House museums: Open Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, 2-5 p.m. (last tour begins at 4:30 p.m.). $10 adult, $5 child age six-16, free for child under age six (combo tickets for both houses available);

66th Annual Festival of Houses & Gardens: March 21-April 20, 2013,

bucket5. Buy a Copy of Charleston Receipts, make the Shrimp & Grits recipe, & then develop your own

There’s no one right way to make shrimp and grits, but we’ve certainly tried a few cooked the wrong way. If you’re a novice, start your journey in the pages of Charleston Receipts, first published in 1950—a time when “whole foods” meant that you used the whole stick of butter. You can find a copy in most Lowcountry natives’ kitchens, or order a new one from (We also found editions dating back to the 1950s on eBay.)

“Shrimp…have long been a breakfast favorite in the coastal region, and they are always served with hominy,” reads the introduction to “Shrimp for Breakfast.” Start with the league’s Breakfast Shrimp receipt by Mrs. Ben Scott Whaley (Emily Fishburne). Once you’ve perfected it, you wouldn’t be faulted for substituting butter, serving them over cheese grits, or creating your own “receipt.”

Breakfast Shrimp
(serves 4)
1 ½ cups raw, peeled shrimp
2 Tbs. chopped onions
2 tsp. chopped green pepper
3 Tbs. bacon grease
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs. catsup
1½ Tbs. flour
(Breakfast Shrimp, cont’d)
1 cup water or more


6. Lunch in a Church Tea Room

In late spring, typically in conjunction with Spoleto, at least three downtown churches open their doors for daily “tea room” lunches, featuring Lowcountry classics such as okra soup, shrimp salad, and Huguenot torte. Grace Episcopal even hires a pianist for the occasion, but you can’t go wrong with the food at St. Philip’s or at St. Matthew’s Lutheran, either. Even more than the grub, the tea-room gatherings are a Who’s Who of local characters, those dining as well as the volunteers serving the meals.

Grace Episcopal: 98 Wentworth St.,

(843) 723-4575,; St. Philip’s Episcopal: 142 Church St., (843) 722-7734,; Second Presbyterian: 342 Meeting St., (843) 723-9237,

7. Attend (or participate in) a Civil War Reenactment

The first shots of the Civil War rang out from Charleston in 1861. If you missed the events surrounding the sesquicentennial of the start of the war, there’s good news—it isn’t over yet. South Carolina’s largest reenactment of 2013 takes place in Aiken, February 22-24. Whether you don your Yankee blues or let out a Rebel yell, it’s worth making the journey to witness hundreds of Civil War buffs acting out history. Follow that weekend with a trip to Beaufort on June 2, when a National Historical Marker will be placed to commemorate the raid led by Harriet Tubman across the Combahee River. In mid-July, the reenactors of the 54th Massachusetts will gather at the Sol Legare Seashore Farmers Lodge on James Island to stage the battle to take Fort Wagner (as seen in the movie Glory), 150 years after the original mission. For more S.C. events, see

8. Learn Gullah/Geechee

Even come’yahs (newcomers) speak a bit of Gullah—the folk song “Kumbayah” translates to “come by here”—but they’ll still be hard-pressed to understand the deep Sea Island Creole dialect of African-American bin’yah (“been here”) communities. For a real taste of Gullah culture, consider taking a drive with Gullah Tours’ Alphonso Brown. To get a head start on conversing, practice these common Gullah words and expressions—some more obvious than others—excerpted from The Black Border: Gullah Stories of the Carolina Coast by Ambrose E. Gonzales on

Boddun: bothered, worries

’Cajun: occasion

Cawnfiel’: corn field(s)

Crackuday: crack or break of day

Leggo: let go, let’s go, letting go

Lem’Lone: let him/her/them alone

Osiituh: oyster(s)

Pooty: pretty

Treetime: three times

W’Ymesko: what makes it so, why

Listen to Gullah:
Listen to the 23rd Psalm as translated by Gullah Tours guide Alphonso Brown, click here.


9. Picnic at the Angel Oak

Because 1,500-year-old trees make a turkey sandwich taste better. Angel Oak Park: picnic tables, gift shop. 3688 Angel Oak Rd., John’s Island, (843) 559-3496,

bucket10. Plunge like a Polar Bear

We’ll admit it. We’ve got nothing on the polar bear plungers in Alaska who dive into the icy ocean on New Year’s Day. But it’s still pretty chilly (and a great way to shake off any jitters from the previous night’s festivities). Thousands of people brave the Atlantic each January 1st in a tradition started by Dunleavy’s Pub on Sullivan’s Island in 1995, while a growing group takes the dip on Folly Beach at the same time.

Watch videos of these wacky New Year dips:

On Sullivan’s Island:

On Folly Beach:

11. Learn How to Throw a Cast Net

To catch your own dinner, start by netting your own bait or some delicious creek shrimp.

Get video instructions:

bucket12. Stand Quietly in a Slave Cabin

Never forget that Charleston’s early prosperity was built upon the suffering of millions of slaves who passed through our port. Take time to quietly reflect on their sacrifices in the intact slave cabins and graveyards maintained at Boone Hall (above), Drayton Hall, and Magnolia plantations.

Boone Hall: 1235 Long Point Rd., Mount Pleasant,;
Drayton Hall: 3380 Ashley River Rd., West Ashley,;
Magnolia Plantation & Gardens: 3550 Ashley River Rd., West Ashley,


13. Parade in a boat

On the first Saturday of December, hundreds of boat owners deck out their skiffs, pontoons, and yachts with bow-to-stern Christmas lights and set out across Charleston Harbor in a grand holiday display. Watch from Patriots Point on the East Cooper side, the Battery downtown, or call (843) 724-7305 to register your boat and join in the fun.

bucket14. Snack on Boiled peanuts

If you take your Yankee friends out to dinner at The Wreck on Shem Creek, they might look apprehensively at the bowl of soggy legumes the waiter sets on the table. Don’t fret—that just means more for you. Boiled peanuts are easy to find on the side of the road: there’s The Peanut Dude on Coleman Boulevard, Timbo’s on Ashley River Road, and Tony the Peanut Man at RiverDogs games—or just make your own. Boil up a big pot of water, add some salt, and toss in a few pounds of “green” peanuts (in season from July through September). Once it boils, turn it to low and let it simmer. Spice them up with diced peppers to your liking. Depending on how soft you like them, they’re done when you say they are—although it should take at least a couple of hours to boil them proper. The longer they sit in the water, the saltier they’ll be. Yum!

15. Take a Ghost Tour on a Foggy Night

Foggy nights can be tough to find in the Lowcountry, but if you get just the right clash of air and water temperatures to leave a haze floating in the air, head downtown for a haunting experience. Although ghost tours are typically the realm of gullible tourists, the stories all have real historical roots. Join in and assuredly play the well-informed local, verifying the most haunting details of your guide’s stories to frightened visitors.

Bulldog Tours: (843)722-8687,;
Ghosts of the South Candlelight Tour: (843)343-9255,;
Ghost Walk: (843)720-8687,;
Old Towne Carriage Ghost Tour: (843)722-1315,;
Sandlapper Tours: (800)979-3370,

16. Eat a Tomato Sandwich with Duke’s Mayo on White Bread

We grow the best tomatoes in the world in Charleston, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Slice ’em onto white bread with South Carolina’s own Duke’s mayo and a shake of pepper, and you’ll have a real summertime treat.

17. Visit the Hunley

Finding the Confederate submarine C.S.S. H.L. Hunley off the coast of Charleston in 1995—after it was buried at sea for more than 130 years—has been described as an archeological find of the century. Lifted from its silty grave in 2000 and carefully cleaned and preserved over the last decade, the rudimentary sub can now be viewed on weekends at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston. A claustrophobic’s nightmare, the Hunley hosted an eight-man crew who died at sea in 1864 after becoming the first-ever sub to sink an enemy warship, the Union’s U.S.S. Housatonic.

Tour the C.S.S. Hunley: Warren Lasch Conservation Center, 1250 Supply St., (on the old Charleston Navy Base), North Charleston, Saturdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. & Sundays, noon–5 p.m. $12; free for child under age five. (843) 743-4865 ext. 10, or 1-877-448-6539 (1-877-4HUNLEY),

18. Go for a Run

If you’ve never tested your mettle in the Cooper River Bridge Run, this is the year to try. Start training now as the 38,500-person, 10K race goes down in April. Then stay in shape for Thanksgiving’s Turkey Day Run and Gobble Wobble 5K and the Reindeer Run, held the first Saturday in December. Both draw thousands of participants and benefit local charities—not a bad way to justify all those extra holiday treats.

Cooper River Bridge Run: April 6, 2013, $40 until February 15; $45 until race sells out at 38,500 participants;

Turkey Day Run & Gobble Wobble 5K: November 28;

Reindeer Run: December 7;

19. Attend The Citadel Dress Parade

Nothing kicks off the weekend like dressing up in wool and marching in straight lines and hard right angles. At 3:45 each Friday afternoon during the school year, nearly 2,000 cadets grab their swords, rifles, or instruments (the regimental band may be the parade’s highlight) and strut their stuff around Summerall Field.

The Citadel, 171 Moultrie St., Summerall Field,

Watch the parade:

bucket20. Insist that your Guest Refer to the Civil War as the War Between the States

Brownie points for convincing your New York relatives to call it “the War of Northern Aggression.”

21. Witness the Annual Rockville Regatta

The best way to attend this 122-year-old sailing regatta is on someone else’s boat; preferably, someone who can be trusted to get their passengers home safely. Held on the first weekend of August every year, it’s a tradition not to be missed, but enjoy yourself without being a drunken poseur (i.e. try to actually watch the sailing races and keep liquor to a minimum during breakfast hours).

22. Kiss your Sweetheart on a Joggling Board

Legend has it that the first joggling board built in the U.S. was on Acton Plantation in Sumter County to help alleviate the rheumatism of Mrs. Benjamin Kinlock Huger with gentle exercise. We’ve also heard that those funny rocking benches ubiquitous on Lowcountry porches are a Victorian courting device, designed to bounce a couple from the ends to the middle, where they will accidentally touch. Of course, we prefer the latter. Get your own from the Old Charleston Joggling Board Company, or try their display model out for size (located outside Butcher & Bee on upper King). Or visit Magnolia and Middleton Plantations, both of which sport joggling boards in slightly more romantic locales.

23. Walk the Battery During a Tropical Storm

On second thought, standing on the Battery while experiencing a real-life version of Jim Booth’s famous painting, The Storm, may not be the best idea. Leave yourself plenty of time to evacuate.

24. Buy a Palmetto Rose from a Kid Downtown (or Learn to Make One Yourself)

Legend claims that in Civil War times, Southern belles would hand their man a palmetto rose (cockade) as he rode off to war. Today, the natural origami is most commonly found around the City Market, where budding 11-year-old entrepreneurs make their spending money slinging the roses to any passerby who looks like they might need a little help impressing their date. Making them isn’t all that difficult—it’s a simple strip and fold process—but if you want to learn, your best bet is to offer one of the kids a little extra for a hands-on demonstration.

25. Know Your Bivalves

A. Learn to Identify Local Oysters

All mollusks are not created equal. “Our oysters’ salinity levels are usually much higher than in the Gulf of Mexico, where they’ve got more freshwater intrusion,” says “Oyster Man Mike” Ritchison, who works the salt marshes behind Folly Beach for the tasty bivalves. Lowcountry oysters typically grow in thin-shelled clusters, further differentiating them from the thicker singles found in places like Apalachicola, Florida.

bucketB. Eat Oysters at Bowens Island

First opened in 1946 by May and Jimmy Bowen, the oyster house on Folly Creek known as Bowens Island (right) has weathered two fires in the past decade, each striking a different building on the property now operated by the founders’ grandson, Robert Barber. Bowens has rebounded both times, and there’s no finer place in the world to watch the sunset over the marsh, slurping oysters harvested just a few yards away. Bowens Island Restaurant: 1870 Bowens Island Rd., (843) 795-2757,

C. Host Your Own roast

Round here, oyster roasts are a winter sport. When the weather turns chilly, it’s prime time for harvesting. Sure, you could head to public shellfish grounds with mud boots, gloves, a small hammer, and a good crate to haul your bounty. But really, why not leave the dirty work to the pros. Great bushels can be found at a number of local purveyors, including Crosby’s on Folly Road and Backman’s Seafood on James Island. The Charleston Oyster Company ( even has a budding business delivering them right to your door.

Tips for a Successful Oyster Roast:
1. Oysters are available from local seafood stores as singles, singles select, clusters, and clusters select. Selects are top-end oysters and are normally cleaner and larger. Local clusters have a better salty taste at a lower price, though they’re muddier. Spray with a garden hose to remove any mud, then shake the oysters and rinse again.

2. When served with other food, a 55-pound bag of clusters feeds six to eight and a bag of singles feeds eight to 10. If you’re only serving oysters, count on a bag of clusters feeding four to six and a bag of singles feeding six to eight.

3. Oysters can be cooked on a piece of metal over a fire or in an oyster cooker over a gas burner—these methods require covering oysters with a wet burlap sack to produce steam and open the oysters. As soon as they open, they’re ready to eat.

4. To make an oyster table, cut one-foot-wide holes about six inches from both ends of a sheet of 3/4-inch plywood. Place a barrel under each hole to support the board and provide a place to dispose shells.

5. Save the oyster shells to help build more oyster beds. Contact South Carolina Department of Natural Resources to find your nearest drop-off location. (843) 953-9300,

Recipe for Cocktail Sauce:
(Makes about 2 cups)
2 cups ketchup
1 Tbs. horseradish (fresh or prepared)
Juice of 1/2 to 3/4 of a fresh lemon
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
*Note: Let your own taste determine exact measurements in this recipe.
Mix first three ingredients together. Season with black pepper.



26. Go Crabbing

For a creek-to-table experience, use a raw chicken neck to haul in a few hungry crustaceans. Use a simple hand line, or better yet, pick up a hoop net at a tackle shop (plan to spend about $12). Place your bait in the net and lower to the bottom of a creek with a rope (hold on!). Pull it up to check it when you feel movement, or just every few minutes. Bring a bucket to put your crabs in, and don’t get pinched! Tip: If you dare pick up a blue crab, hold them at the back end near their swimming legs.

27. Tell the difference between a he crab & a she crab

Female “Sook”




Got a basket full of blue crabs? Check their claws and underbellies to determine the sex. The boys sport a very distinct Eiffel Tower shape, while the girls have red-tipped claws and a more subdued, rounded-off triangle.


28. Know the History of She-Crab Soup

In 1909, Mayor Goodwyn Rhett’s cook, William Deas, stirred up the now legendary bisque topped with decadent roe for a dinner for President Taft. That recipe later made Everett’s Restaurant on Cannon Street famous in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. Today, “she-crab” soup might draw from any local crab meat, but it’s still silky and rich when done right.


29. Own a Proper Rice Spoon

To an outsider, a rice spoon may appear to be little more than a shiny utensil fit for a very hungry giant, but this elegantly simple serving piece is a must in any Charleston dining room. During the Colonial period, the Lowcountry was America’s largest producer and exporter of rice. Even into the 20th century, the long-handled spoon was used to serve rice during dinner (typically at 2 p.m.). Today, you can pick up a quality rice spoon for $20 from Carolina Gold rice grower Carolina Plantation Rice, or splurge at Croghan’s Jewel Box for an engraved Reed & Barton model ($45). Got a host of Charleston weddings to attend this spring? Stock up on rice spoons.


30. Witness Dolphins Strand Feeding

Just like our people, the Lowcountry’s dolphins are extra special. Strand-feeding, a phenomenon during which Atlantic bottlenose dolphins team up to force a school of fish (typically mullet) on shore, where they can be easily caught and eaten, occurs along the South Carolina and Georgia coasts. Most local sightings are reported along the Kiawah River and Bohicket Creek. Catching them in action requires luck, but September and October are prime months, when mullet are bountiful. Follow pelicans to a school of fish or look out for dolphins raising their eyes above surface to scout out a mud bank at mid-to-low tide.

View the phenomenon:

31. Buy The Buildings of Charleston & Refer to it Often

If you live in the Holy City and don’t have at least a passing interest in architecture, you’re simply not looking around enough. In his encyclopedic book, Jonathan Poston covers just about every significant structure south of Calhoun Street.

The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City’s Architecture,
University of South Carolina Press, First Edition (November 1997)

32. See a Show at the Dock Street Theatre

Built in 1736, the Dock Street Theatre is the first building in the U.S. designed specifically for theatrical performances. Although it burned four years later, its legacy remained strong until 1937, when a new version of the theater hosted its second grand opening, almost precisely two centuries later. After undergoing a $19 million renovation in 2010, the Historic Dock Street Theatre is back to hosting more than 120 plays, musicals, and performances each year.

33. Anchor a Boat on the Beach & Party All Day

Skip the traffic and hit the beach on a boat. The north end of Kiawah, the harbor side of Morris, and the south end of Capers islands are all prime spots to wile away the day. Wherever you head, just remember that public property ends at the high tide line.

34. Serve a Meal for the Needy

You really don’t know your home city until you’ve walked in the shoes of your neediest fellow citizens. Give back by volunteering at a shelter like Crisis Ministries, or grab your tool belt and help Sea Island Habitat for Humanity build a home on John’s Island.

Crisis Ministries:;

Sea Island Habitat for Humanity:;

For a directory of local nonprofit organizations and their missions, visit

35. Feel the Spirit at an Historic Church

St. Philip’s Church was originally formed in 1681 at the corner of Meeting and Broad streets, making it the first religious congregation in the colony of South Carolina. After a hurricane damaged it in 1710, however, they moved to their current location on Church Street, leaving the old plot behind to become St. Michael’s. Both lie at the center of the Holy City’s Christian roots, and their interiors appear much as they would have centuries ago. If you’ve got several Sundays to spare, visit the French Huguenot Church (Church Street, founded in 1687), Circular Congregational Church (Meeting Street, founded in 1681), First Scots Presbyterian (Meeting Street, 1731), and the Unitarian Church (Archdale Street, founded in 1772), each of which still hold services in their own unique style of worship.

36. Purchase a Sweetgrass Basket & Get a Photo with the Basket Sewer

Sweetgrass baskets aren’t cheap, nor should they be. After perfecting the skills handed down from generation to generation—not to mention the fact that a single basket can take weeks to complete—the ladies, and gents, who “sew” them on the peninsula and at booths alongside Highway 17 and in the Sweetgrass Pavilion at Memorial Waterfront Park in Mount Pleasant deserve every penny they get. If you purchase a basket, feel free to request a photo. Otherwise, it’s an unspoken no-no. It’s okay to chat all day long, however, even if your pockets are empty.


37. Read City of the Silent & tour Magnolia Cemetery

Abutting the Cooper River, just north of downtown on the neck, Magnolia Cemetery provides an eternal resting place for many of Charleston’s most influential citizens since the Civil War. Late attorney and historian Ted Phillips, Jr. captured the stories of these politicians, bootleggers, farmers, and generals in his book. Read it and pay your respects. City of the Silent: The Charlestonians of Magnolia Cemetery, USC Press, 2010

38. Own a Piece of Late Blacksmith Philip Simmons’ Ironwork

Although you’d spend a pretty penny to buy an actual piece forged by the late, nationally renowned blacksmith Philip Simmons—if one was even available—an extensive collection of jewelry and wall hangings derived from his intricate flowing designs are available from the foundation operated in his name. To view the Heart Gates, one of his most famous works, in person, visit the Philip Simmons Garden at St. John’s Reformed Episcopal Church on Anson Street.

Watch an interview filmed before Simmons’ passing in 2009, Click here.



39. Paddle the Edisto

The longest free-flowing blackwater river in North America, the Edisto is a gem of the Lowcountry. Borrow a canoe (or rent one from Carolina Heritage Outfitters) and set off for a day (or 10) of quiet contemplation as you paddle your way around each turn of this wild, gorgeous river. When water levels are low, nearly every curve greets you with a wide sandbar, inviting you to spend the afternoon or set up camp for the night.

Carolina Heritage Outfitters: Hwy. 15, Canadys, (843) 563-5051;

40. Visit a Carolina bay

Few ecosystems are as rich in biodiversity as the elliptical, wetland depressions called “Carolina bays” that pockmark the interior of the South Carolina coast and are host to exotic species such as orchids, pitcher plants, and sundews. Less than 200 of the state’s original 2,600 bays remain, 25 of which can be found in the Francis Marion National Forest. Hike the Swamp Fox Passage of the Palmetto Trail for an up close view of pristine bays—just remember your snake boots if you plan to go off the trail and explore.

Take a tour with Dr. Richard Porcher, click here.

41. Eat Muscadine Grapes off the Vine

Some folks from off may look down upon the muscadine and its cousin, the scuppernong, but we love ’em—thick skins, sweet juicy seedy interiors, and all. Come late summer, the southeastern natives are ripe for the picking. Find ’em at local farmers markets and grocery stores—both on the vine and made into jams and jellies. These sweet, wild fruits also produced the first wines made in America, a tradition kept alive at Irvin House Vineyards on Wadmalaw. After sipping their five wines (we recommend the Mullet Hall Red), ask nicely if you can pick a grape straight off the vine during your self-guided tour through the vineyards.

Irvin House Vineyards: 6775 Bears Bluff Rd., Wadmalaw Island,
(843) 559-6867,

42. Read Porgy, see a Production of Porgy & Bess, & Walk Catfish Row

It’s no wonder that the slow, distinctive roll of the song “Summertime” had its roots right here in the steamy Lowcountry. In 1934, composer George Gershwin spent the summer on Folly Beach collaborating with author DuBose Heyward, a Charleston native who had penned the novel Porgy nine years prior. The resulting musical, Porgy and Bess, debuted on Broadway in 1935 and enjoyed a New York revival in 2011, garnering two Tony Awards. After reading the novel and catching a local or touring production, take a walk past “Cabbage Row,” the 18th-century tenement at 89 and 91 Church Street, where cabbages and vegetables were sold by the African-American inhabitants around the turn of the 20th century. Heyward took the artistic liberty of renaming the spot “Catfish Row” for his book, a name Gershwin further popularized through the music for his subsequent play.


43. Spot Bill Murray in Public & Resist the Urge to Quote Caddyshack in his Presence

bucket44. Paint the Folly boat

Since it washed up during Hurricane Hugo, the Folly boat has seen thousands of well-wishes and announcements painted in deep layers across its port side. The first-come, first-serve canvas often gets a new coat several times a day. Whether you’ve got an engagement, an event, or just a strong sentiment to announce, it’s yours to decorate. Just remember to park well off of Folly Road and take your paint cans with you when you leave.

Check out a great gallery of images at

45. Attend the St. Cecilia society Ball

The oldest and most exclusive of Charleston social clubs, the St. Cecilia Society, is also the most secretive. Their annual ball, where young debutantes are announced to society, typically takes place around Thanksgiving. But you can forget about receiving a formal invite—unless you are a direct male descendent of a member, are escorting a debutante, or marry into the club. Instead, throw your own dance party and make the society’s signature punch, which is included—along with other local clubs’ punch recipes—in Charleston Receipts.

St. Cecilia Punch
(Serves 80 to 90)
6 lemons
1 quart brandy
1 pineapple
1½ lbs. of sugar
1 quart green tea
1 pint heavy rum
1 quart peach brandy
4 quarts champagne
2 quarts carbonated water

Slice lemons thin and cover with brandy. Allow to steep for 24 hours. Several hours before ready to serve, slice the pineapple into the bowl with the lemon slices, then add the sugar, tea, rum, and peach brandy. Stir well. When ready to serve, add the champagne and water.

Note: “The unit of measure designated herein is the quart, since most of the ‘spirits’ used by our ancestors were imported in casks and bottled in this country in quarts. Now most spirits, imported and domestic, come in ‘fifths.’... And never forget that punch stock should be poured over a block of ice and served cold, cold, cold!”

Reprinted with permission from Junior League of Charleston

46. Take the Charleston Gateway Walk

Formed in 1930 after the president of the Garden Club of Charleston found herself inspired in Paris, downtown’s Gateway Walk meanders through the peaceful gardens and cemeteries of St. John’s Lutheran Church, the Unitarian Church, the Circular Church, St. Philip’s Church, the Library Society, and the Gibbes Museum of Art. It’s a bit hard to find and follow, but experiencing the quiet natural respites amidst the bustle of the city is well worth it. Make your way on your own, or download the map at

47. Approach Charleston by water

Locals know that the Atlantic Ocean is formed by the confluence of the Ashley and Cooper rivers at Charleston Harbor. Whether you turn into the harbor past the jetties or head through the Lake Moultrie locks from upstream, arriving in Charleston by water is an experience every modern day sailor should have at least once.

48. Learn the proper mispronunciation of Charleston names

Trying to give directions downtown can stump just about anybody when it comes to pronouncing odd street names like Legare (La-gree), Huger (Hew-gee), Hasell (Hazel), Barre (Barry), and Vanderhorst (Van-dross). Say them right and earn some local street cred.


49. Sip Madeira

In the 18th and 19th centuries, Madeira (wine from the tiny Portuguese island of the same name) was the local drink of choice. Fortified by brandy and “baked” in its production, the wine improves vastly with age. For a taste of our forefathers’ favorite drink, pick up a bottle of Charleston Sercial Special Reserve. Amber in color with a dry finish, it’s wonderful served with she-crab soup or local fish.


50. Bless the fleet

Charleston’s shrimping fleet has dwindled due to competition from Asia and pressure on the local supply, so the hard-working folks still plying the waters need all the help they can get. When shrimping season kicks off each spring, the public gathers in Mount Pleasant for the Blessing of the Fleet. In addition to music, food, and shagging, attendees can watch clergy bless each boat and crew for a prosperous, safe catch. 26th Annual Blessing of the Fleet: April 28, 2013. Memorial Waterfront Park & Pier, Harry M. Hallman, Jr. Blvd., Mount Pleasant. Free. (843) 884-8517,

51. Attend a Praise House service

Every Tuesday evening, renowned jazz and spiritual singer Ann Caldwell leads a cappella group the Magnolia Singers through a service of traditional Gullah worship songs at the Circular Congregational Church. Celebrating a culture that gave birth to soul and blues music, the weekly events are a chance to step back in time and experience a powerful music birthed from those who lived in oppression for more than two centuries here in the Lowcountry.

Praise House: Tuesdays, 7:15 p.m. Circular Congregational Church, 150 Meeting St. $15, $12 senior, $10 student & ages 13-17, free for child ages 12 & under.

52. Play Half Rubber on the Beach

Why play with a full ball when all you need is half? Perhaps that was the thinking behind the instigators of this classic baseball hybrid, claimed by both Charleston and Savannah as their own. Either way, the stick and pink half-rubber balls can be found at trinket shops and grocery stores near Lowcountry beaches.


53. Find the Old Bastion Markers

In Charleston’s early days, between the 1690s and 1730s, the Spanish, French, and Native Americans posed a real threat to the persistence of the fledgling colony. What do humans do when they want to shore up their defenses? They build a wall around themselves. Running roughly along the rectangle formed between Meeting and East Bay streets and sided by Cumberland and Water streets, bronze markers now note where the fort-like walls once stood. Walk the old walls and try to find all eight bastion markers, then duck into the cellar of the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon for a peek at a portion of the wall visible to the public. Visit to download a map.


54. Stroll a Boneyard Beach

Folly, IOP, and Sullivan’s are all great introductions to the beauty of the Carolina coast, but the most stunning beaches are a bit further afield. A “boneyard beach” occurs when the ocean is allowed to take its natural course, eroding a barrier island shoreline until a forest is reduced to the skeletal remains of tree trunks hanging on in the surf. The easiest place to witness this phenomenon is on the far northeastern edge of Folly Beach, where people go to view the Morris Island Lighthouse. To truly get lost in an ancient sandy forest, however, head to Edisto Beach’s Botany Bay Plantation or hop a boat to Capers and Bull islands. There’s no shell collecting allowed at Botany, so you’ll encounter more giant whelk shells dotting the shoreline than you can imagine. For the truly adventurous, get a permit (it’s free) from DNR to camp on Capers Island for the night, where you can wander through a truly desolate boneyard beach while the moon rises over the ocean. Just don’t forget the bug spray!

SC Department of Natural Resources manages both Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve (Botany Bay Rd., Edisto Island) and Capers Island Heritage Preserve.


55.Make Frogmore Stew

When shrimp are in season, nothing’s more Lowcountry than boiling a few pounds with sausage, corn, and the spice of your choice: some like Old Bay, others cut their own peppers. Said to hail from the former hamlet of Frogmore (near Beaufort), this simple boil, strain, and serve-over-a-newspaper-covered-table dish is also known as Beaufort Stew and Lowcountry Boil. No matter what you call it, it’s communal dining at its freshest and finest. Tip: the key is timing the addition of the ingredients and not overcooking the shrimp. This recipe from John Martin Taylor’s Hoppin’ John’s Lowcountry Cooking (another local culinary Bible) will start you off right.

Frogmore Stew
(Serves 8)
3 Tbs. shrimp boil seasoning, such as Old Bay, plus 3 Tbs. salt
1½ gal. water
2 lbs. hot smoked link sausage, cut into two-inch pieces
12 ears freshly shucked corn, broken into three- to four-inch pieces
4 lbs. shrimp (headed, shell on)

In a large stockpot, add the seasonings to the water and bring to a boil. Add the sausage and boil, uncovered, for five minutes. Add the corn and count five minutes. Add the shrimp and count three minutes. (Don’t wait for the liquid to return to a boil before timing the corn and shrimp.) Drain immediately and serve.

Recipe reprinted with permission from John Martin Taylor (

56. Walk the Ravenel Bridge, Have a Tourist Take your Picture at the Top, Then Take a Picture of the City

57. Sneak into a Spoleto after party

If you’ve just been wowed by a phenomenal opera, play, or musical act at Spoleto Festival USA, what better way to end the evening than by hanging with the performers? After parties typically take place on the last night of a performance, and they’re usually at a home downtown. After the show lets out, mingle casually and ask folks if they’re headed to the after party. Somebody will spill the beans and remind you of the address, since you clearly left your invitation at home. Once you’re in, go easy on the free drinks and food, lest you attract undue attention.

58. Walk in High Heels (or Assist a Woman Wearing Heels) Down Chalmers Street

It’s a rite of passage, literally. Those cobblestones have brutalized many a pair of Friday-night-out pumps, not to mention unsuspecting motorists with out-of-state plates.


59. Learn how to Dance the Charleston

Although born on Broadway in the 1920s, the Charleston’s kick-and-step routine is said to have been inspired by the Holy City’s own Jenkins Orphanage Band while on tour in New York City. Regardless, the popular dance sent a reminder about our port city around the world, with the Charleston making its way to European stages within a few years. Perfect your moves at home and you’ll be the star of every dance floor you encounter.

Watch videos:
See Charleston’s renowned milliner and vintage maven, Leigh Magar, dance the Charleston

Watch an instructional video:

Just for fun!


60. Shag (the dance, not the British version) at a beach bar and shag (the British version, not the dance) on the beach


61. See Where Charles Towne began

The quiet gem of local attractions, Charles Towne Landing features an impressive 660-acre preserve. Just minutes from downtown, the first settlers’ original landing point includes The Adventure (a sea-worthy replica of a 17th-century cargo vessel), a small fort, a museum, and a zoo. Yes, there are bears, puma, and bison in West Ashley, and you can see them all for just $7.50.

Charles Towne Landing: 1500 Old Towne Rd.,

62. Watch the Carolina/Clemson Game in a Sports Bar

Even if you’re impartial or cheer for some inferior out-of-state team, pick a side and get in the spirit.


63. Tour Fort Sumter

Allergic to tourists? Few locals realize that Fort Sumter allows you to visit via your own boat. Tie up at the lower dock and stroll right in—admission is free.

Fort Sumter National Monument:

64. Lie to a Tourist

You can start by pointing out the grits trees around the corner (clearly they’re not in season at the moment). If you’re feeling particularly mischievous, explain the game of half rubber and then point out an errant ball in the street, the one with a little flag poking out of it after a now-relieved horse has just made its way past.

65. Move Back to Charleston

We miss you. Come home!


How’d you do? Share your bucket-list adventures and additional must-dos below!

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