Between historical tours and a distinct culinary culture, Charleston, South Carolina has much to offer Black travelers

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  • Published on July 13, 2022
  • Last Updated March 10, 2023
  • In Guide

Charleston has a dark history, due to its centrality to the transportation of enslaved people, but its cultural impact is not to be skipped.

The serene palm trees and gaily colored pastel facades that comprise Charleston’s outward image are constructed on a bloody foundation, given thecity’s history as the entry port for nearly one-half of the enslaved people in the United States. Although this is an abhorrent and deeply cruel legacy, its impact makes Charleston a destination full of unique Black culture and important historical memory to coincide with the shops, beaches and activities that attract visitors every day.

If you need help finding your way, tours led by every vehicle from sailboat to horse buggy are available to help guide visitors through immersive experiences including mansion walks, tidal pools, and culinary finery. The more self-directed mariner may rent a boat and hire a captain for a day of fishing the high seas or take a personal watercraft for more of a joy ride.

Back on land, those looking to engage with the heritage of the Gullah people, a group descended from Sierra Leonean enslaved peoples that has maintained their community, language and cultural customs distinctly enough to constitute their own ethnicity, can find it living proudly. Intricately woven sweetgrass baskets spring to life underneath the fingertips of artisans working at the Charleston City Market, a testament to a tradition that stayed with descendants even as they were kidnapped across the Atlantic. Cuisine from the culture can also easily be on the weekend traveler’s menu, along with guided tours and live historical performances that show visitors how African descendants have always played a role in the city.

This story was originally published July 13, 2022 9:00 AM.

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