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Charleston was host to South Carolina's first annual green living festival in 2008, signifying a growing local interest in eco-friendly lifestyles. This historical "jewel of the South" is acutely aware of the environmental impact of our everyday choices. The people of this great city foster a deep loyalty and devotion to the preservation of their natural resources and rich culture so Charleston may continue to thrive as one of our nation's most beautiful destinations.

Beautiful Charleston, SC, the oldest city south of Virginia, is known worldwide for her rich culture, history, and impressive architecture of days gone by. The city, which was ranked as the fourth best city in America in 2009 by Travel and Leisure Magazine, hosts more than 4 million visitors each year.

In the late 1600's King Charles gave the land from Virginia to Florida to Eight Lords Proprietors to settle and develop. The peninsula defined by the Ashley and Cooper Rivers, known as Charles Towne, was attractive to settlers who were offered religious freedom and free land on which to settle. The warm climate and pluff mud provided an ideal environment for the cultivation of rice and indigo, resulting in great wealth for Charleston's population of cosmopolitan plantation owners.

Charles Town became the capital of South Carolina and in 1783 was renamed Charleston. As the home to three signers of the Declaration of Independence, and visited by notable individuals including President George Washington, Charleston flourished in the 18th century. In the years that followed, she survived secession and the Civil War, saw the abolition of slavery, suffered through the great depression and became the site of the first preservation ordinance in the United States.

That same spirit of preservation is alive today and is most clearly evident in the downtown historic district. This beautifully preserved area of Charleston is the primary reason millions of people are drawn here year after year. Historical tours showcase the elegant homes and plantations and highlight some of the area's most significant landmarks. The Battery along the waterfront is known for some of the city's most outstanding residential architecture.

The city's appreciation for the visual arts is everywhere and local works are proudly displayed in notable area museums and galleries. Fine Lowcountry cuisine and great shopping can be enjoyed in the eclectic mix of divine local restaurants and unusual boutiques.

With her coastal Atlantic location, Charleston is also attractive for her beautiful beaches. Folly Beach, Charleston's original beach playground, is conveniently located a mere 15 minutes from the city. The privately-gated barrier islands of Seabrook and Kiawah are located just 22 miles south of the city's center. The stunning Isle of Palms, located just 20 minutes from Charleston, is home to the world-renowned Wild Dunes Resort, the location of two championship golf courses.

One of the East Coast's most picturesque cities, Charleston is a destination of choice for her outstanding entertainment, Southern cuisine, historical significance and lively entertainment; there's never a shortage of things to do or see. This rare gem is alive with a distinctive appreciation for the past but a pulsing energy of the present.

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