It's no wonder why some of the most popular romance novels -- Dear John, The Notebook, The Last Song -- have been set in or near Charleston. Between the horse-drawn carriages, the colorful gardens, and the constant ocean breeze, Charleston exudes old-world romance.
The city's height restriction ordinance has kept the downtown skyline relatively low, giving Charleston a small-town feel. Its streets are ideal for walking, and usually have a quiet, relaxed pace -- though they can get pretty hectic during the summer months when tourists flock to this coastal city.
Many visitors head to Charleston in hopes of exploring the numerous historical attractions. The Citadel, a historic military college, offers full dress parades that are free and open to the public every Friday afternoon. Various Civil War sites can be seen throughout the city and in surrounding areas.
And, of course -- the beach. There are many different beach towns within a short drive from downtown, all considered part of the Charleston area.
Visitors who prefer not to rent or bring a car should consider Charleston's downtown peninsula -- but expect to pay a pretty penny for the hotels in this area. Families with children in tow may want to opt for an oceanfront stay on the area's southern tip, near the East Bay Playground and White Point Gardens. Business travelers may prefer North Charleston, about a 10-mile drive from downtown, near the airport.