5 Best Photo Opportunities in Charleston

Photo Opportunities Charleston

Lee Van Grack

Charleston, S.C. evokes images of grand antebellum mansions, quaint cobblestone streets, historic districts, church steeples, military splendor and just plain Southern charm. Here are 5 top photo opportunities in Charleston, S.C.:

The Best Romantic Charleston Photo Opportunity - Horse-drawn and mule-drawn carriages

A familiar sight on the streets of downtown Charleston near the City Market (see "Classic") are the horse-drawn and mule-drawn carriages. They have an old-fashioned, charming appearance that creates a romantic and lovely Charleston photo opportunity, whether you are capturing a couple riding in one or are sitting in one yourself with a loved one.

There are many carriage companies to choose from, including Olde Town Carriage Co., Old South Carriage Co., Classic Carriage Tours and Charleston Coach. Prices vary by company.

One package option with Old South Carriage Co. is a combination tour consisting of a one-hour carriage tour of about 2.5 miles and 30 blocks of historic Charleston, along with a 90-minute Spirit Line Harbor narrated cruise tour around Charleston Harbor. The combo cost is $32 for adults and $20 for children. The harbor tour is not available in the months of December, January and February. For information on this tour, call 843-723-9712. The Old South Carriage Co. horse-drawn carriage tours depart from 14 Anson Street, beginning at 9AM daily, and the tour guides wear Confederate uniforms with red sashes.

The Best Quirky Charleston Photo Opportunity - Chewing gum utility poles near the intersection of East Bay and Market Streets

Are they junky or are they funky? You'll have to chew on that one and decide for yourself when you stop to view and photograph utility poles in downtown Charleston, dotted with colorful wads of used chewing gum.

It's not known when the poles became the place to deposit gum or who started it. But it seems people can't stop sticking their gum on the wood posts. There have even been efforts to steam-clean the gooey mess off the poles. But keeping those poles gum-free just won't stick. With all the colors and flavors on the posts, they make an interesting, and quirky, backdrop for Charleston travel photography. Just tell your friends that it's Charleston folk art.

The Best Fun Family Charleston Photo Opportunity - Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum

Home of the USS Yorktown, Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum houses warplanes and historic ships that combine for great photo opportunities in Charleston. The museum opened to the public in January 1976 after the legendary aircraft carrier USS Yorktown arrived in Charleston Harbor.

Beside the USS Yorktown, other ships available for tours are the destroyer USS Laffey, also known as "The Ship That Would Not Die," and the submarine Clamagore. Visitors can also view warplanes used during wars and conflicts from World War II to Desert Storm. The planes can be seen aboard Yorktown's 40,000-square-foot hangar bay and on top of the 888-foot flight deck.

On my visit to Patriots Point, there were groups of tweens and teens touring the complex. Note that this tourist attraction may be tiring for very young children. Visitors can take 1 1/2-hour guided tours for no extra cost, and still and video photography is allowed. Tickets are $18 for adults (age 12 and older); $15 for seniors and active-duty military with ID; $11 for children ages 6 to 11; and free for children under age 6 with an adult ticket. Parking in a large lot costs $5 per day per vehicle. The lot opens at 8:30AMand closes at 7PM. Patriots Point is open from 9AM to 6:30PM daily; closed Christmas Day. (866) 831-1720; 40 Patriots Point Road, Mount Pleasant, SC

Patriots Point is right near another great scenic Charleston photo opportunity, the 13,200-foot-long, eight-lane Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge, named after a former state senator. The striking structure, which has a main span of 1,546 feet, is the longest cable-stayed bridge in the Western Hemisphere. It was a treat to drive on this spectacular bridge and see the imposing USS Yorktown below.

The Best Scenic Charleston Photo Opportunity - Rainbow Row

Fourteen private homes mirror the colors of the rainbow and are one of the best photo opportunity in Charleston. This row of historic homes is so popular and representative of Charleston, that you'll see them depicted on postcards, clothing, artwork and other souvenir items. The pretty pastel buildings are at 83-107 East Bay Street, north of Tradd Street and south of Elliot Street. There are no public tours of these homes, so you'll have to photograph them from the outside.

The Best Classic Charleston Photo Opportunity - Charleston City Market

Also known as City Market and Straw Market, this bustling open-air market was built in 1841. You can find just about anything here, including jewelry, antiques, produce, crafts, clothing and souvenirs. There are also shops and restaurants. But one of the most interesting highlights of a visit to this market is to witness the Gullah women of West African descent weaving their sweetgrass baskets. Some of these artists have signs that say "no photographs," or they'll allow photographs if you give them some money. Opens daily at 9:30AM; 188 Meeting St., Charleston, SC, 29401.

While in this area, if you're in the mood for a decadent, luscious dessert, cross the street and head to Peninsula Grill for a giant slab of Ultimate Coconut Cake. Pretty as a picture, the New York Times has called it a "little slice of heaven." I call it the richest, tastiest and most flavorful coconut cake I've ever had. Executive Chef Robert Carter's creation has earned praise from Martha Stewart and Bobby Flay, among others. Peninsula Grill is at 112 N. Market St. and is part of the Planters Inn hotel. 843-723-0700.

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