Charleston is one of my favorite cities to visit, especially in the spring when all the flowers are in bloom. Summerville and Charleston, South Carolina, are underrated as tourist destinations, but many people still find them. Spring is the best time to visit because the flowers make this attractive city downright beautiful, the throngs of tourists are not there yet, and the notorious heat of summer is not yet stifling this port city.
Charleston and Summerville are historic cities, and have as much early-American history as Boston, Philadelphia or any other Colonial-era city. In the early 1700s, Charleston was one of the major ports of the United States. In the last few decades, Charleston has rediscovered its past, and many gorgeous old homes and buildings have been restored to their Colonial-era grandeur.
There are many things to do in this area, but I have three that I would highly recommend to anyone visiting, or anyone just settling into the area.
The Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site, and the Azalea Park and Sculpture Gardens are respectively in and very near to Summerville; in spring they show the glory of the area in full bloom. In the Colonial era, formal gardens were the rage, and they have been restored here.
Azaleas and many other flowers in bloom are arranged in large gardens and designed to promote contemplation and enjoyment of nature. Cypress trees adorn small ponds, and there are hundreds of varieties of flowers to enjoy. The Dorchester Historic Site is similar; it was a very early settlement of white people in the early days of America. It has been restored so you can see what life was like here well before there was a United States.
To really get a feel for the area, head down the freeway to the old town of Charleston. This is one of the oldest cities in America, and it is made for walking and exploring. There are buildings from the 1600s, as well as many grand antebellum mansions. The narrow streets have a European feel, and in some areas, they are still paved with cobblestones brought from England that and used as ballast for ships nearly 400 years ago. Tourist maps are everywhere of the Charleston historic district, which is a small peninsula in Charleston Harbor. Or just walk around aimlessly and soak up the atmosphere. Look across the harbor to Fort Sumter where the Civil War began.
The South is famous for food, and that spirit is captured nowhere more than in the Charleston area. Especially in the old town, but all over the metropolitan area including Summerville, some of the best southern cooking is on almost every street corner. Here seafood restaurants have seafood caught the same day you eat it; the Mahi-Mahi you have for dinner may have been caught that morning.
There are also southern delicacies that people in other areas of the country may not be as familiar with. Things like collard greens, grits and many variations of rice make southern food unique. Charleston also attracts chefs from around the world; you can easily find French, Italian, Greek and other types of food that are as good as you can get anywhere.