Charleston dates from the 1670s, making it one of the oldest European-African settlements in the United States. The Colonial port's lengthy and turbulent history is marked by patriots, secessionists, pirates, wars, fires, economic booms and busts, earthquakes and hurricanes; even so, there are almost 3,000 historic buildings left in Charleston.
Lovers of architecture won't get over Charleston. The historic district is a banquet of the single- and double-house styles used by the urban population. Charleston's most-photographed scene is Rainbow Row, a strip of 14 private multihued houses along East Bay that date from 1740, when the area was Charleston's waterfront district.
Events: If you want to visit Charleston in the spring, book early. The Spoleto Festival USA is in town this year from May 23 to June 8. This celebration of the arts includes performances of opera, jazz, theater and dance. Every year, the Historic Charleston Foundation is host to the Festival of Houses & Gardens in the spring. This year, the 50th festival runs from March 20 to April 19. Resources: "The Insiders' Guide to Greater Charleston"