Charming Charleston

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Story and photos by Diane Slawych – “Y’all probably didn’t know that Charleston sits on the second most active earthquake fault line in North America,” explains guide Stephen Rosling of the Old South Carriage Company. “We don’t put that on Trip Advisor,” he jokes. “The city thrives off tourism and we want y’all to come here.”

Some of the historic homes in CharlestonIt wouldn’t have mattered. My friend and I had read so many glowing reviews about the city we were determined to visit, even though we only had a weekend and had already booked our hotel in Myrtle Beach ­ a two-hour drive away.

Our Belgian draft horse “Tom” leads the way passed pastel-coloured mansions with elaborate wrought iron gates on streets lined with stately live oak trees. Here, gas lamps are lit 24/7, which Rosling says, gives the city a beautiful ambiance at night. I inhale the scent of jasmine flowers filling the spring air. It’s hard to imagine Charleston has not always been a picture of beauty and tranquility.

The city has survived wars (the Civil War started here), several great fires, earthquakes and hurricanes. Through it all, it has managed to become one of the top travel destinations in the U.S.

A horse and carriage ride through the city

One of the worst disasters was the big earthquake of 1886, which damaged 2,000 buildings, though it didn’t destroy the Old Powder Magazine ­ South Carolina’s oldest public building which also happens to have three-foot-thick walls, or the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, considered one of the most historically significant colonial buildings in the U.S.

Today you can see earthquake bolts (some of which resemble circular discs) on the outside of many historic homes. The bolts are caps for long iron rods, which run through the interior floors and are cranked regularly to straighten walls and correct other structural damage.

There is history at every turn ­ a graveyard on Meeting Street with headstones dating to the 1690s; the old jail, which resembles a castle, and is said to be the most haunted building in Charleston; and the Old Slave Mart Museum, located in a building where slaves were once bought and sold (forty percent of all slaves that came to the U.S. came through Charleston).

“If there’s one thing you should learn on this tour it’s that during the Civil War, Charleston was bombed by the north for 578 days straight,” said Rosling, as we pass Chalmers Street, the city’s longest cobblestone street.

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Deals for Canadians heading south!

Brookgreen Gardens
Brookgreen Gardens

If you haven’t been to Myrtle Beach lately, then you might want to consider a visit soon – there are heaps of deals for Canadians right now, and it’s a perfect short break destination for people from Southern Ontario or Quebec. Sure, the drive is about 17 hours from Toronto, but Porter flies to Myrtle Beach from February 12, 2015 to May 18, 2015 – and the fares are excellent (especially since they regularly go 40% off!)

We spent a lovely week in Myrtle Beach a couple of years ago. Read about it here. And here’s all the information you need to plan your trip and take advantage of being a Canadian!

Discounted deals for a beach getaway during Can-Am Days, March 14-22, 2015

Canadians and snowbirds looking for a warm-weather getaway this spring can enjoy the 96.5km of pristine coastline in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina during Can-Am Days. The 54th Annual Canadian American Days Festival begins March 14 to March 22 allowing visitors to enjoy a variety of free events and activities including concerts, a St. Patrick’s Day parade, golf tournaments and various dining options. Visitors can take advantage of discounted travel deals starting in February through late April. Whether you’re looking for an action-packed itinerary with adventure activities or a more relaxing vacation just lounging at the pool or the beach, Myrtle Beach has a variety of activities for Canadians and snowbirds to enjoy this spring.

For a full listing of deals, visit http://www.visitmyrtlebeach.com/hotels/deals/can-am-deals/.

Can-Am Day Specials

(Alphabetically by Accommodation)

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 9.34.02 AMAvista Resort

Enjoy an oceanfront and ocean view one-, two- or three-bedroom condos for 20 percent off. Enjoy indoor and outdoor pools, lazy rivers and hot tubs, as well as an onsite restaurant, lounge and fitness center. Guests also receive the “Now That’s Entertainment” package, including unlimited free DVD movie rentals and attraction tickets. Discount valid through March 22, 2015.

Bayview Resort

Are you coming into town for the Canadian American Festivities? Save up to 25% off at the Bayview Resort. Valid travel dates March 1 to March 31, 2015. Offer expires Feb. 28, 2015.

Beach Colony Resort

Welcome back to our northern neighbors for the Canadian-American Days! Enjoy ocean view studios as low as $49* per night, oceanfront suites as low as $61* per night and ocean view two-bedroom condos as low as $69* per night! Amenities at this oceanfront resort include two outdoor pools and an outdoor whirlpool set amongst the lush landscaped lawn, indoor pool and whirlpool and oceanfront dining. Guests will also receive the Vacation Member Benefits Card with great offers to local restaurants, shopping, entertainment and attractions. This offer is valid Feb. 1 through April 30, 2015.

Read moreDeals for Canadians heading south!