Low Country Living
Forbes Travel Guide
Georgia and South Carolina’s Low Country is southern charm at its best. Whether it’s the historic architecture, the spicy aroma of a Low Country boil or the gentle verandah breezes, one visit to the Southeast coast and you’ll be completely taken with this enchanted place.
At the heart of the region is Charleston, often called the nation’s most well-mannered city. Charleston is quaint, cozy and utterly genteel. The historic district is the second largest in the nation (Savannah takes first place), and it is full of historic homes and diversified architectural styles, including Colonial, Victorian, Federal, Georgian, Italianate and Greek Revival. Walking is the best way to see the city. Many of the blue-ribbon homes have informative plaques out front, and their owners are used to people stopping by. Stroll by Rainbow Row, a lineup of brightly colored 18th-century Georgian-style homes perfect for a photo opportunity. Or explore East Battery, a street filled with exceptional waterfront mansions with views of Charleston Harbor and Fort Sumter.
When you get tired of walking the cobblestone streets, hop aboard one of the many horse-drawn buggies for a carriage ride. Carriages are positioned throughout the city, and friendly and knowledgeable guides will show you all the highlights.
It’s no surprise that such a picturesque city would have top-notch hotels and bed-and-breakfasts. The Forbes Four Star Charleston Place is a long-time favorite of locals and visitors. Located in the middle of the historic district, it is a few blocks from great shopping, including the Old City Market, which is just down the street. Upon entering the market, you’re greeted by an immaculate Italianate white marble lobby and a 3,000-piece Murano crystal chandelier. If your room isn’t ready, grab a mint julep in the lounge or a bite to eat at the popular Charleston Grille.
Charleston is fast becoming a food destination, hosting wine and food festivals and drawing top chefs from around the country. Low Country cuisine is more than fine Southern cooking. The food is a blend of continental dishes fused with bold flavors and taking advantage of the bounty of ingredients found in the area, including seafood, rice, corn and greens. You’ll find dozens of great restaurants, from the elegant Forbes Four Star Circa 1886 restaurant, which specializes in farm-fresh cuisine, to High Cotton, which locals crowd for the buttermilk fried oysters and the live jazz.
When it comes to shopping, Charleston offers some of the best antique stores in the country. There are so many antique shops that you’re bound to stumble upon a great one at some point. But be sure to check out The King Street Antique Mall. You never know what you might find at this part flea market, part antique store.
If Charleston isn’t quaint enough for you, head north to Daniel Island. Only a 20-minute drive from downtown Charleston, Daniel Island is a utopia of top-ranked golf courses, friendly neighbors and contemporary boutiques. The pace is decidedly slow and pleasant, much like the weather, which allows for year-round golfing, biking and fishing. The appeal of Daniel Island goes beyond its Pleasantville mystique. The 4,000-acre island is community living at its finest, a throwback to simpler times when kids walked to school and neighbors greeted one other with a smile.
The pedestrian-friendly downtown has all of the modern conveniences you need, from grocery stores and bookshops to ice cream parlors and beauty salons. Dining options where Low Country flavors are omnipresent are equally plentiful. Grab a burger at the Daniel Island Grille while watching the U.S. Open or pick up gourmet treats from Et Cetera for a picnic in the park.
If you’re here to golf, the Daniel Island Club is one of the premier in-town country clubs in the region. Two Tom Fazio- and Rees Jones-designed golf courses, a luxurious clubhouse, resort-style swimming pools, tennis facilities and a fitness center are just a few of the perks included in membership.
Following the coastline southwest past Kiawah Island and Beaufort, you’ll find your next paradise: Palmetto Bluff. Perfectly situated between Savannah and Hilton Head, Palmetto Bluff epitomizes a sea island landscape. Miles of river and marshland allow for a unique ecosystem packed with wildlife and rich foliage. The community, a tight-knit blend of young families and seasoned residents, takes full advantage of the plethora of nature preserves, walking paths and recreational activities.
Wilson Village is the centerpiece of the area with its galleries and restaurants. Stroll along Boat House Row and you’ll find everything from decorative antiques to stylish accessories. For more serious shoppers, Michael Rainey Antiques specializes in 18th and early 19th century collectibles, and the Palmetto Bluff Gallery is a one-stop depot for Low Country landscape paintings by local artists. Buffalo’s Books & Bakery serves up casual fare with an emphasis on housemade baked goods and homemade ice cream. The picturesque vistas of the May River are an added treat.
The jewel in the crown of the region is most certainly The Inn at Palmetto Bluff. The Forbes Four Star property includes a golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus, tennis courts, croquet lawns, bocce courts, pools and a world-class spa. The compound embraces the historic architecture of the region using screened verandas, plantation shutters and high vaulted ceilings throughout the cottages and village homes. Taking full advantage of the temperate climate and natural wonders of the Low Country, the state-of-the-art spa offers special seasonal treatments and bluff baths where you can unwind on your own riverfront outdoor veranda.
Georgia’s Low Country is no less enchanting, and it’s no wonder that the motto is “linger longer.” Only an hour east of Atlanta, Georgia’s Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro strikes the perfect blend of old and new: antebellum towns and century-old trees coupled with first-class resorts, manicured golf courses and upscale boutiques. The plantation is nestled along the banks of Lake Oconee, the second-largest lake in Georgia, and provides endless aquatic activities. Four full-service marinas make fishing, boating, tubing, kayaking and swimming easy options. You’ll also find six golf courses, 16 tennis courts, and miles of nature trails for a daily activity fix.
Reynolds Plantation also caters to culture-hungry types. The Linger Longer Living Cultural Lifestyle Series and Oconee Performing Arts Society draw a wide array of musicians, artists and educators to the area through rotating lectures, exhibits and performances. Local museums and heritage sites capture the history of the region. The organized children’s programs throughout the community will entertain kids. Movie theaters, gourmet restaurants and antique shops round out the retail appeal.
The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation is the place to stay here. The epitome of Georgian elegance and charm, the resort is perched on 35 acres of lakeshore property. Guest rooms and lakeside cottages are comfortable and inviting, with local details including mahogany and cherry wood furnishings, wood-burning fireplaces and waterfront porches. The Presidential House has welcomed both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and includes an expansive Great Room and an outdoor private heated pool. No reason to forgo the water views while dining, thanks to the lakeside location of Gaby’s (opt for the Jonah crab claws with mustard sauce). Even if you’re not staying at the resort, the Chiminea Dining Experience, a private dinner on the lakefront while relaxing in Adirondack chairs in front of a bonfire, is not to be missed. Five world-class golf courses, a 27,000-square-foot spa (with locally focused treatments and products), and a Ritz kids camp round out the on-site attractions.
There’s no doubt you’ll want to linger longer. Whether you’re visiting for a week, a month, or care to stay even longer, you’ll never tire of the food, the culture, the beautiful landscape and the relaxed Low Country lifestyle.
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