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.
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.
The Children's Museum of the Lowcountry is an adventurous outpost for the developing population demographic. The museum currently hosts eight different exhibits, giving kids who are sick of increasingly hallucinatory children's TV programming an exciting educational outlet. The medieval creativity castle brings the Middle Ages to life through storytelling, monthly puppet theater, and passageways for hands-on exploring. The 700-square-foot TREEscape makes a playground out of an Angel Oak and a conversational partner for young tree whisperers. In addition to the exhibit octad, the museum holds free programming with topics that change monthly. Science, history, culture, and more are covered by the programs, putting young museum goers on the path to becoming the 21st century's first true renaissance men and women, not withstanding Renaissance Faire workers.
Charleston Waterkeeper conducts four primary programs to gather data on Charleston’s waterways in order to protect the health and vitality of the water for the entire community. Water Quality and Stormwater Monitoring programs gather empirical information to identify and resolve water-pollution issues from sewage and storm-water runoff. The Permit Watchdog program researches permits and discharge-monitoring reports to prevent unlawful discharges, and the Patrol program helps keep the rivers clean and free of pollution by maintaining a physical presence on the water. Charleston Waterkeeper recently became a member of the Waterkeeper Alliance, a movement of 200 organizations that patrol and protect more than 100,000 miles of rivers, streams, and coastlines across the globe.
Stono River Riding Academy is a dressage-based riding school owned and operated by David and Michelle Folden that has helped riders connect with temperate steeds and with their natural surroundings on 360 acres of trees and pastures. During classes and leisurely rides, trainers lead mounted explorers through the labyrinthine passageways of Johns Island, passing beneath billowing drapes of Spanish moss and escaping the cacophony of urban areas. The academy also offers a summer camp program as a fun and exciting way to introduce children to the beauty of horses and riding. Stono River’s staff always keeps safety in mind making sure that every one is comfortable and familiar with the basic controls of a horse.
The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, has prepared students for life in the armed services since 1842. Its athletics history is likewise long. Even though nobody knows when or how football was invented, the Citadel has been playing the game since 1905. What's more, its affiliation with the Southern Conference dates back to 1936, a remarkable partnership in a college-sports landscape often characterized by shifting allegiances. Today, its 16 varsity-sports teams compete at the NCAA's DI level, spanning women's sports such as golf, soccer, and volleyball, and men's programs such as baseball, football, and wrestling.