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Things to Do in Charleston, SC: Charles Towne Landing

Updated on July 14, 2018

Charleston, SC

I went on a weekend trip to Charleston, SC, and it's 107 miles from Savannah, GA. Both cities have two things in common: they’re charming and enriched with history. The first English settlers established Charleston in 1670 and sprouted into a wealthy city by the mid-eighteenth century. Rice, indigo and cotton were the main cultivation of Charleston through the mid-nineteenth century.

Deciding What to Do During My Trip

I arrived in Charleston Friday evening and, tired and hungry from the drive, I grabbed dinner at Cracker Barrel. Yes, I cheated on my diet and ate a bunch of carbs! As I sat in my hotel room, I was still researching things to do in Charleston, SC. My first choice was to visit Boone Hall Plantation. I considered the South Carolina Aquarium and the Old Slave Mart but saved those trips for another time. I learned of Charles Towne Landing in a Google search and read the description. What peaked my interest in Charles Towne Landing is it’s the first English settlement in Carolina and it has an animal forest.

Charles Towne Landing

Saturday morning, I had a late breakfast, changed clothes and headed out to Charles Towne Landing. As I was driving, I noticed the stunning coastal scenery, and it made me feel excited to discover the hidden gems of this enchanting city. After a while, I arrived at Charles Towne Landing and had to drive down a long winding road to get to the main entrance. The drooping moss on the trees, the array of flowers and plants lining the road was awe-inspiring. I reached the main entrance, purchased admission and began my journey back in time. Charles Towne Landing is 184 acres, and you can opt to walk or rent a golf cart to ride around the site.

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Historical marker commemorating Charles Towne Landing. (front)Historical marker commemorating Charles Towne Landing. (back)
Historical marker commemorating Charles Towne Landing. (front)
Historical marker commemorating Charles Towne Landing. (front)
Historical marker commemorating Charles Towne Landing. (back)
Historical marker commemorating Charles Towne Landing. (back)

African American Cemetery

The cemetery looks like an open space with vegetation that leads to the marsh. But African descendents buried both enslaved and free Africans there from the nineteenth century to the early twentieth century. The number of people buried at the cemetery is unknown. When a slave died, friends and family honored the dead by placing symbolic artifacts and everyday objects on the burial plot. By the 1970s, the city of Charleston cleared the land, and (at first) they did not recognize it as a cemetery because of cultural misunderstandings. Since then, archaeologists and Charleston residents have a deeper understanding of the culture that made up this cemetery.

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African American Cemetery"Honoring the Dead"Excerpt from "A Peculiar People:  Slave Religion and Community --- Culture Among the Gullahs" by Margaret Washington Creel.
African American Cemetery
African American Cemetery
"Honoring the Dead"
"Honoring the Dead" | Source
Excerpt from "A Peculiar People:  Slave Religion and Community --- Culture Among the Gullahs" by Margaret Washington Creel.
Excerpt from "A Peculiar People: Slave Religion and Community --- Culture Among the Gullahs" by Margaret Washington Creel. | Source

Animal Forest

The Animal Forest is a 22 acre habitat zoo that comprises native animals the early settlers encountered during their time. Each enclosure includes informational signs discussing their diet, predators, and challenges experienced by the first colonists. Native animals found in the animal forest include the black bear, puma, marine birds, and red wolves.

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OtterPumaBlack bearBald EagleBisonWhite-tailed deerBobcat
Otter
Otter
Puma
Puma
Black bear
Black bear
Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle
Bison
Bison
White-tailed deer
White-tailed deer
Bobcat
Bobcat

History Trail

As I walked the History Trail, I felt I was back in 1670. My mind visualized how the earlier colonists, Native Americans and African Americans lived their lives, and wondered in curiosity what life was like back then and the challenges the early settlers faced. I enjoyed looking at the monuments and replica buildings. I'm glad I found Charles Towne Landing as things to do in Charleston, SC because I learned a bunch about this historic site.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Native American monument sculpted by Peter "Wolf" Toth in 1977. It's nestled at the entrance of the animal forest.Statue of Cassique, chief of the Kiawah Indians. History states Cassique persuaded the first settlers to live on the Kiawah's land for weapons to defeat the Westos.A Common LodgingA Common LodgingA replica ship from 1670."A Slave Row":  Though there are no visible remains, history states a row of six slave cabins once stood in the clearing shown. Despite their slave status, they kept the African culture and traditions.
Native American monument sculpted by Peter "Wolf" Toth in 1977. It's nestled at the entrance of the animal forest.
Native American monument sculpted by Peter "Wolf" Toth in 1977. It's nestled at the entrance of the animal forest.
Statue of Cassique, chief of the Kiawah Indians. History states Cassique persuaded the first settlers to live on the Kiawah's land for weapons to defeat the Westos.
Statue of Cassique, chief of the Kiawah Indians. History states Cassique persuaded the first settlers to live on the Kiawah's land for weapons to defeat the Westos.
A Common Lodging
A Common Lodging
A Common Lodging
A Common Lodging
A replica ship from 1670.
A replica ship from 1670.
"A Slave Row":  Though there are no visible remains, history states a row of six slave cabins once stood in the clearing shown. Despite their slave status, they kept the African culture and traditions.
"A Slave Row": Though there are no visible remains, history states a row of six slave cabins once stood in the clearing shown. Despite their slave status, they kept the African culture and traditions.
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Pictured above is Legare Waring House Plantation. I couldn't get a close-up shot because a wedding venue occupied the house. Visitors use the estate for weddings and other events.Stock photo of Legare Plantation. Courtesy of Wiki Media Commons.
Pictured above is Legare Waring House Plantation. I couldn't get a close-up shot because a wedding venue occupied the house. Visitors use the estate for weddings and other events.
Pictured above is Legare Waring House Plantation. I couldn't get a close-up shot because a wedding venue occupied the house. Visitors use the estate for weddings and other events.
Stock photo of Legare Plantation. Courtesy of Wiki Media Commons.
Stock photo of Legare Plantation. Courtesy of Wiki Media Commons. | Source

Conclusion

Next time you're looking for things to do in Charleston, SC I recommend visiting Charles Towne Landing. Historical accounts, monuments, artifacts, reenactments, and replica buildings embellishes this historic site. Not only can you walk or ride a golf cart around the site, you can ride your bike. Charles Towne Landing includes a museum and gift shop if you want to buy souvenirs.

Comments

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    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      23 months ago from Central Florida

      It's always interesting to actually see history and get a feel for how our forefathers lived. I feel bad, however, for the animals in the "forest". They all look so sad. I would be too, if I were taken from my habitat and confined to a cage.

    • cunn26 profile imageAUTHOR

      Bridget Cunningham 

      24 months ago from Georgia

      @Peggy Woods - You're welcome. I agree Savannah has much history too. River Street is one of my favorite places to visit in Savannah.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      24 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Thanks for introducing us to this historic site. I have never visited Charleston but spent several days exploring nearby Savannah many years ago. There is much history in both places obviously.

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