ONLY a handful of cities in the US attract bigger numbers of tourists than Charleston in South Carolina. Voted Conde Nast’s #1 small city in America ten years in a row until 2021 when it was piped by Aspen, Colorado, this charming coastal city is steeped in rich history and has so much going on in 2022.
DDW sat down with Matthew Dooley, a journalist from Charleston currently living in the UK, who provided some insider knowledge on why his hometown is predicted to be a top travel destination this year. Covering the city’s fascinating history, mouth-watering culinary scene, and must-see festivals, here are a few reasons why you need to visit Charleston in 2022.
Food, food, food
Food in Charleston is as rich in tradition as it is in flavour. According to Dooley’s expertise, “Charleston has several top-notch restaurants with world-renowned chefs. It also has a really vibrant African American community, so authentic soul food and Gullah-Geechee cuisine is everywhere, as is fresh seafood and the best southern dishes.
“Bertha’s Kitchen is great for fried chicken and collard greens, while Hannibal’s Kitchen also has the best fried rice and fresh fish. The restaurants have been there for generations and are well known and respected throughout Charleston.”
One way to absorb the city’s cuisine in 2022 is to get tickets to the Charleston Food + Wine Festival. Founded in 2005 by a group of community leaders, Charleston Food + Wine brings together homegrown flavours from top chefs, winemakers, authors, artisans, experts, and food enthusiasts from all over the globe.
This five-day event runs through the first week of March and blends all the different vibrant cuisines to be found in Charleston and beyond. Don’t worry if you can’t make the festival though, the city’s culinary scene is worth checking out all year long.
Stimulating creative and recreational scenes
Charleston is a city that knows how to celebrate its heritage and culture. It’s also a college town, with the beautiful College of Charleston campus situated right in the city centre, so there is no shortage of nightlife spots to spend the evening in.
Most bars are around the Market Street and King Street areas, though there are great places to hang out all over the place. On the city’s teeming nightlife, Dooley said, “Stars is perfect for a rooftop cocktail, while A.C.’s is a great college dive bar. Mynt and Trio are both bouncing nightclubs, then Park Circle in North Charleston is a cool area to get out of downtown, as is Shem Creek in Mt Pleasant.”
One event to look out for in 2022 is the MOJA Arts Festival scheduled for September. Moja, meaning ‘one’ in Swahili, represents the cultural harmony within which the festival takes place. It’s a celebration of African American and Caribbean culture that features visual arts, dance, gospel, jazz, poetry, R&B music, storytelling, traditional ethnic food and more.
Explore the city’s fascinating history
Charleston’s pages in the books of history are littered with incredible stories. Museums all over town document the role Charleston played in the international slave trade, the Civil War, and the initial colonisation of South Carolina in 1670.
Dooley told DDW, “Charleston is incredibly rich in history. You can check out America’s first museum, the Charleston Museum, or head out to Fort Sumter where the first shots of the Civil War were fired.
“One of my favourite ways to explore Charleston’s history is to head south of Broad Street and walk through the historic residential district – it’s like taking a trip back in time.”
Something to watch out for in 2022 is the International African American Museum, a new museum of African American history and identity due to open early this year. It aims to explore cultures and knowledge systems retained by Africans in the Americas, and the diverse journeys of these individuals and their descendants. South Carolina’s role in the international slave trade and Civil War will also be explored further.