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Summerville: Adventure Awaits Just Beyond Charleston

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Mary Alice Monroe
Mary Alice Monroe

Guest blog by Mary Alice Monroe

The secret’s out … my beloved city of Charleston, South Carolina, is one of the best destinations in the world! The news made local headlines with The Post and Courier reporting that Travel + Leisure magazine ranked the Holy City as No. 1 in the U.S. and Canada.

Charleston is a world-class city, and I believe that part of the city’s intoxicating charm lays just beyond the city limits. The island towns with unspoiled beaches, the nearby national parks and historic landmarks, and the popular suburban communities are valuable components to the overall love travelers and residents alike have for Charleston.

One of the outlying gems of Charleston is the town of Summerville. Nicknamed the Flowertown in the Pines, this booming community is just 20 minutes from the city. My affinity for this small town began several years ago when a local independent bookstore (sadly, it’s no longer in business) and the Timrod Library invited me to be the featured author at a book signing event in the quaint, red brick front library located in the heart of town and proudly listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

I felt instant fondness for Summerville as I made my way into town, driving over railroad tracks that welcome all to the historic downtown district, with Hutchinson Square on my right. The small plot of well-manicured green space is an eye-catcher lined with an eclectic mix of lively shops in buildings bearing the quintessential style of southern charm. This area is considered the heart of town, with weekly events that attract a crowd. I knew I wanted to one day weave Summerville into my work.

The Summer WindI found the perfect opportunity in my Lowcountry Summer Trilogy. In the second installment, “The Summer Wind,” my main character Dora is getting divorced, so she must let go of her old Victorian house she had dreamed of renovating.

Whenever I am in Summerville, I make time to drive through the historic district to gaze at the dozens of beautiful homes, some dating back to the 1800s. This is a town rich with history that is perfect for a day trip.

Did you know that Summerville is said to be the birthplace of sweet tea?

Whatever you’re craving to drink or eat, I assure you Summerville isn’t lacking in options. Some of the popular places among locals include Eva’s Restaurant, Continental Corner Greek Restaurant, Coastal Coffee Roasters, Oscar’s Place and Perfectly Frank’s.

Take a stroll down the cobblestone street of Short Central, a shopping district in downtown Summerville of locally owned businesses. Not far is Azalea Park, adorned with sculptures and hundreds of azalea bushes.

It’s a picture-perfect setting for the family, most especially mid-spring when the azaleas are in full bloom with vibrant displays of fuchsia, red, pink and white flowers everywhere!

I don’t get to visit Summerville as often as I would like. But when I am “in that neck of the woods” as we sometimes say around here, I have no shortage of things I want to do, see and visit. Whether you’re a local like me or “not from ‘round here,” I hope you’ll make time to see what awaits you just beyond the city limits of our beloved Charleston.

Happy summer travel season, y’all!

Mary Alice Monroe is an award-winning, bestselling author of 16 novels, including her newest “The Summer Wind.” She’s a passionate writer with a conservationist’s heart, reconnecting human nature to the natural world through the power of story. Visit her at

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Charleston FAQ's

Choosing a hotel and where to stay in Charleston all depends on your budget and goals. Do you want to stay Downtown, at the beach or in the outer areas such as North Charleston where you have to drive to get everywhere? For more help on deciding:

Charleston has 3 main public beaches which are: Folly, Isle of Palms and Sullivans. Each beach has it’s own atmosphere. The most common beach that people visit is Folly Beach and then Isle of Palms followed by Sullivans Island. For more info on Charleston’s beaches visit:

Charleston, SC is full of historical things to do. Everything from museums, to public sites and free landmark sites such as Rainbow Row and the Battery can be seen. For more info on Charleston’s top historical sites visit:

There are many things that will keep the kids and family entertained and educated in Charleston. There are historic sites such as Fort Sumter, a Children’s Museum, Aquarium and the USS Yorktown…a WWII era aircraft carrier you can tour. For more info visit:

There’s so many  things you could do in Charleston it can be overwhelming. We recommend that first time visitors, checkout the ultimate first-time visitor guide here:

Spring in Charleston, SC is an amazing time of year to visit. The flowers are blooming and the weather is mild and sunny. For more info, check-out our spring guide to Charleston here:

Summer in Charleston is a great time to visit. There’s plenty of things to keep you busy and visiting the beach will probably….or should be on your short-list. Also water-based activities and tours are popular. Checkout this summer guide to Charleston for more info: 

Our 10 Favorite Summer Activities in Charleston

Fall is one of the best times to visit. The weather cools down a bit and the skies are typically blue and clear. In addition there are many great events, festivals and the large crowds of summer have gone back to school or work. For more info on visiting in the fall, checkout this article:

There are so many great things to do that it’s difficult to narrow the list down. This article does a great job with figuring out the must do things to do in Charleston

7 Can’t Miss Reasons to Visit Charleston, SC Now

The consensus is a minimum of 3-days is needed to settle in and experience Charleston. For instance, many people take 2 days exploring downtown and another day visiting sites outside of downtown such as the plantations, Angel Oak Tree or beaches. Checkout this page for a list of tours and attractions: 

Charleston’s Top Tours & Attractions | Things to do

Downtown Charleston was made for walking and for sure one of the best way to soak up and experience the history first-hand. This article goes over getting around Charleston with and without a car as well: 

Getting Around Charleston, SC

We’re of course partial to Charleston, but here’s the truth. There are many similarities however there are some differences in our opinion: 

  • Both cities are historic and beautiful. 
  • Both cities are extremely walkable. Savannah, with it’s park-like squares maybe more walkable than Charleston. 
  • Charleston has a more established and food scene with many more options. 
  • Charleston has better hotels and shopping.
  • Both cities have equally good tours.
  • Charleston has better beach options. Savannah has Tybee which is great, however it’s 1 beach vibe versus Charleston which has 3 beaches with different vibes. Checkout this Charleston beach guide article:
  • In Savannah you can walk with alcoholic beverages on the street. This is not allowed in Charleston. This can be good or bad depending on your stance. 
  • Savannah is more affordable.
  • TourPass offers all-inclusive passes in both cities:

There are always great and world-class events happening in Charleston. For a calendar of events and things to do in Charleston, checkout our online calendar of events:

Of course there are free money-saving coupons that you can use. Visit the coupons page for a bunch of ways to save:

Charleston has some fantastic can’t miss tours such as Fort Sumter, carriage, ghost, harbor, historic and culinary tours. For a full list with more info visit:

Checkout the Charleston Relocation Guide page which will guide you during your move:

Additional Places to Explore

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