The Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum preserves history from both air and sea. The museum is home to the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier, a battleship docked at the shore, which served in World War II and Vietnam, and retrieved the Apollo 8 astronauts. Not far away, the USS Clamagore —the only Guppy III submarine preserved in the United States—is tied up in the water. Commissioned in 1944, the USS Laffey supported the D-Day landings at Normandy, and then served in Okinawa where it survived five kamikaze attacks and three bombs.
More than 28 historical aircraft occupy the museum’s flight deck, hangar bay, and shore ranging from an F6F Hellcat to a full-scale replica of the Wright Brothers’ 1903 flyer. Onboard the USS Yorktown, the Medal of Honor Museum educates visitors about the United States’ highest award for military valor. Outside, the Cold War Memorial pays tribute to the men who served on submarines during the Cold War.
When John Drayton broke ground on Drayton Hall in 1738, he had no idea that his estate would survive the American Revolution, the Civil War, an earthquake, and numerous hurricanes. The stories contained in the building’s walls span seven generations of history tied to the Draytons and the Bowens family, an African American family that lived and worked at Drayton Hall before and after emancipation. Since 1974, when Charles and Frank Drayton sold their ancestral home to the National Trust, visitors have been able to transport themselves into the past with more ease than rubbing the beard at the Lincoln Memorial.
The main house, a sweeping example of Georgian Palladian architecture, is the oldest near-original, unrestored colonial home in the United States. Like a helpful ghost, the grand rooms and original fireplaces whisper history into the ears of all visitors, telling tales of British and colonial soldiers who occupied the house during the American Revolution. Views from the portico are filled with drooping trees, spanish moss, and a grand driveway. Surrounding the estate, an undisturbed historic landscape backs up to the Ashley River, and also encompasses A Sacred Place, the oldest African American cemetery in the country still in use.
Though built only in 2011, the nonprofit Redux Contemporary Art Center’s new 12,000-square-foot facility stays bustling all year, hosting six to eight free exhibitions in two galleries. After taking in the artwork, visitors can attend numerous free events, such as artist talks, film screenings, panels, and concerts. More than 100 classes foster artistic inclinations throughout the year as local qualified instructors help students master disciplines such as painting, drawing, and printmaking.
Redux's galleries stay full thanks in part to its 22 private artist studios, which accommodate emerging and mid-career artists with up to 240 square feet of creative space. Twenty-four-hour studio passes grant access to Redux’s darkroom, print studio, and woodshop. To encourage a sense of community, artists can participate in quarterly critiques, attend visiting-artist lectures, and debate their studio neighbors on artistic controversies such as whether Michelangelo’s David is as good as the earlier one he sculpted from Play-Doh.
When the Charleston Museum was founded in 1773, South Carolina was still a British colony. Today, the museum is itself a historical gem, surviving both the American Revolution and Civil War and acquiring an astounding collection of South Carolinian artifacts along the way. Nine permanent exhibits include the Armory, brimming with antique weaponry, and the Lowcountry History Hall, which chronicles the land's metamorphosis from a tribal society into an agricultural empire, telling the story with early trading goods, slave badges, and pottery. Temporary exhibits change regularly, keeping visitors on their toes in the same way changing cell phone numbers every 24 hours does.
The museum extends its history-preserving mission to two area homes: the 19th-century Joseph Manigault House, once home to a wealthy rice plantation owner, and the Heyward-Washington House, where George Washington once stayed during a weeklong visit to the city. Restored rooms, period pieces, and loudly snoring grandfather clocks await guests during scheduled tours.
"I love that I get to take a walk, literally, into the past every day." That's how Charleston Sole's owner, Brian Simms, described his job for the company website's Q & A section. A self-described history buff and Charleston native, Simms leads tours that explore the Holy City's past, lore, and legends. He spins tales of days past at landmarks such as Revolutionary War sites, Antebellum Mansions, and St. Michael's Church—Charleston's oldest church edifice. Simms' walking adventures last approximately two hours and cover 1.5 miles—the average distance humans can walk before needing to recharge their batteries.
Charleston Harbor Fest delights locals and tourists alike with a surfeit of maritime merriment and educational opportunities. Ogle the fleet of tall ships, many of which can be boarded for up-close inspection and lively debates about whether it's more fun to shout "hard a-starboard" or "abandon ship." Cabin boys and girls will prefer on-shore attractions such as the energetic Kid’s Zone, where they can build a model boat, learn to tie nautical knots, and practice their land-swimming. Additional hands-on activities await in the Education Village, which promotes watershed awareness and sustainability by painting rain barrels and dying bandanas with local natural dyes. Re-convene the clan in time for the Parade of Sail at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.