Touring a city by foot - what I call urban hiking - allows you to get a closer look at the architecture of its buildings and homes, peek into walled gardens and wander down side streets to discover a funky little boutique or outdoor café. It's especially appealing in a city like Charleston where the bustling downtown is contained in just 7.6 square miles.
You can pick up a self-guided walking tour map for $5 at the Charleston Visitor Center, 375 Meeting St., or just set off on your own through the Historic District.
A great place to start is the city's Waterfront Park, which features eight acres of fountains, swings, gardens and walking paths. A block from the harbor on East Bay Street is the famous Rainbow Row, a collection of beautifully restored row houses that served as the center of the city's commerce in the 1700s.
This picturesque street also includes The Old Exchange Building and Provost Dungeon, one of the most historically significant colonial buildings in the United States. According to local lore, the place is haunted by some of the poor souls who inhabited its dungeons during the Revolutionary and Civil wars.
At the end of East Bay Street is the Battery - the southernmost point of the Charleston peninsula where the Cooper and Ashley rivers flow into the Atlantic. Take a seat on a park bench under one of the enormous live oaks in White Point Garden and enjoy the view of Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired.
If you continue a bit farther along East Battery Street, you'll come across some of Charleston's most lavish residences, including the Edmonston-Alston house and the Calhoun Mansion.
Got questions? Visit www.CharlestonCVB.com or call (800) 868-8118 to learn more about Charleston and its many historic and cultural offerings.