19403
South Carolina

Signature City Charleston

Immerse yourself in the culture and unique story of Charleston, where you’ll discover plantation homes, Lowcountry cuisine, antebellum architecture and all the charms of the South.
Rating (5)
Program No. 19403RJ
Length
6 days
Starts at
1,999

At a Glance

In one of America’s most historic and beautiful cities, take a step back in time as you explore the manicured gardens, ornate home interiors and antebellum history of the plantations nestled within Charleston and the coastal Lowcountry. Encounter the life stories of those who lived and worked in these stately homes and historic plantations, black and white, enslaved and free. Learn about the Gullah community, descendants of enslaved people, who have preserved more of their African heritage than any other community in the country.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking up to two miles and standing up to an hour on field trips. Some uneven surfaces at the plantations and cobblestone streets.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Step inside the Aiken-Rhett Home and the Joseph Manigault Home, Middleton Place Plantation and Gardens and Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.
  • Attend the Charleston City Market, four blocks of open-air buildings where vendors sell paintings, pottery, sweetgrass baskets and more.
  • Enjoy sumptuous Lowcountry cuisine, a sweetgrass basket-weaving demo, Gullah language and culture demonstration and the only tea plantation in the U.S.

General Notes

You may be interested in a more leisurely version of this program, "Charleston at a Slower Pace: Cuisine, Culture & Plantation Life" (#23056). You may also be interested in a lower-priced program based outside Charleston, "Charleston’s Plantations and Stately Homes" (#19402).
Featured Expert
All Experts
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Ruth Miller
Ruth Miller, a graduate of Duke University, has lived all over America and journeyed throughout the world. As a Charleston historian and excursion leader, she enjoys tying local history into the American story and worldwide events. Ruth is the author and co-author of numerous books, including “Charleston Charlie — A Family Activity Book for Kids of All Ages,” “Touring the Tombstones,” and “The Angel Oak Story.” She is a member of the South Carolina Historical Society and the National Trust.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

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Ruth Miller
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Al Miller
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Darryl Stoneworth
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Georgia Murphy
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Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
South of Broad
by Pat Conroy
Against the sumptuous backdrop of Charleston, South Carolina, South of Broad gathers a unique cast of sinners and saints. Leopold Bloom King, our narrator, is the son of an amiable, loving father who teaches science at the local high school. His mother, an ex-nun, is the high school principal and a well-known Joyce scholar. After Leo's older brother commits suicide at the age of thirteen, the family struggles with the shattering effects of his death, and Leo, lonely and isolated, searches for something to sustain him. Eventually, he finds his answer when he becomes part of a tightly knit group of high school seniors that includes friends Sheba and Trevor Poe, glamorous twins with an alcoholic mother and a prison-escapee father; hardscrabble mountain runaways Niles and Starla Whitehead; socialite Molly Huger and her boyfriend, Chadworth Rutledge X; and an ever-widening circle whose liaisons will ripple across two decades-from 1960s counterculture through the dawn of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. The ties among them endure for years, surviving marriages happy and troubled, unrequited loves and unspoken longings, hard-won successes and devastating breakdowns, and Charleston's dark legacy of racism and class divisions. But the final test of friendship that brings them to San Francisco is something no one is prepared for. South of Broad is Pat Conroy at his finest; a long-awaited work from a great American writer whose passion for life and language knows no bounds.
Invention of Wings
by Sue Monk Kidd
The Invention of Wings, a powerful and sweeping historical novel by Sue Monk Kidd, begins, fittingly, with an image of flight: Hetty “Handful”, who has grown up as a slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, recalls the night her mother told her that her ancestors in Africa could fly over trees and clouds. That day, Handful’s mother, Charlotte, gave her daughter the gift of hope— the possibility that someday she might regain her wings and fly to freedom. Throughout Kidd’s exquisitely written story, Handful struggles, sometimes with quiet dissidence, sometimes with open rebellion, to cultivate a belief in the invincibility of her spirit and in the sacred truth that one does not need actual wings in order to rise.
A Witness to History: Charleston's Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon
by Ruth Miller and Ann Taylor Andrus
The Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon in Charleston, South Carolina, is one of the great buildings of Colonial America. Serving as city hall, customs house, post office and prison; as the British Headquarters during the occupation of Charles Towne and then host to a great ball honoring George Washington, the Exchange has been an eyewitness to America’s history. This stoic building-—designated a National Historic Landmark in 1975—-has been described as the best example of the dignity and ornament of the traditional English “exchange-town hall” design of the eighteenth century built in the United States. From within its Great Hall to deep below in the Provost Dungeon, the Exchange has played a vital role in American history. Andrus’ and Miller’s fast-paced and readable survey of the history and significance of the Old Exchange Building will appeal to visitor and serious historian alike.
Allegiance: Fort Sumter, Charleston, and the Beginning of the Civil War
by David Detzer
An original and deeply human portrait of soldiers and civilians caught in the vortex of war. So vividly does Allegiance re-create the events leading to the firing of the first shot of the Civil War on April 12, 1861, that we can feel the fabric of the Union tearing apart. It is a tense and surprising story, filled with indecisive bureaucrats, uninformed leaders, hotheaded politicians, and dedicated and honorable soldiers on both sides. The six-month-long agony that began with Lincoln's election in November sputtered from one crisis to the next until Lincoln's inauguration, and finally exploded as the soldiers at Sumter neared starvation. At the center of this dramatic narrative is the heroic figure of Major Robert Anderson, a soldier whose experience had taught him above all that war is the poorest form of policy. With little help from Washington, D.C., Anderson almost single-handedly forestalled the beginning of the war until he finally had no choice but to fight. David Detzer's decade-long research illuminates the passions that led to the fighting, the sober reflections of the man who restrained its outbreak, and individuals on both sides who changed American history. No other historian has given us a clearer or more intimate picture of the human drama of Fort Sumter.
Touring the Tombstones
by Ruth Miller
A series of guide books to Charleston's 18th century graveyards.
The Angel Oak Story
by Ruth Miller and Linda Lennon
The Angel Oak is a Southern live oak tree located in Angel Oak Park, in Charleston, South Carolina, on Johns Island, one of South Carolina's Sea Islands. It is estimated to be 300-400 years old, stands 65 ft (20 m) tall, measures 28 ft (8.5 m) in circumference, and shades with its crown an area of 17,000 square feet. This book goes in depth regarding the history of this mighty tree.
A Short History of Charleston
by Robert N. Rosen
A concise small history of Charleston that is easy to read and enjoyable.





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