Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Charleston Reigns Supreme As Top Destination Beating Out San Francisco

Dock Street Theater
We're number one, we're number one, and I ain't just blowing smoke up your Rhett Butler. Sorry Rhett, but "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn." Well, at least number one with over 27,000 readers of Conde Nast Travelers. Charleston for 14 years was in the top five cities, during which San Francisco reigned supreme for most of those years. Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report, a native son who grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, on James Island, presented the award and said, "I've been all over the world, and Charleston is the most beautiful city I've ever seen." How's that San Fran.

What was it about San Francisco that made it a favorite destination for years by so many people? I have not been to San Francisco personally, so anything I know about the city is either by word of mouth or what I have read and pictures I have seen.

San Fran and Charleston are in some ways similar, but also quite different. You can't swim in the Pacific Ocean around San Fran without a wet suit because the temperature of the water rarely rises above 60 degrees. San Francisco is shrouded by fog throughout the year making it damp and cool. It has skyscrapers and big city traffic. On top of it, San Francisco has the locally famous naked guys walking around like they were in the Garden of Eden.

Charleston's water temperatures reach into the 80's during the summer months making it excellent for taking a dip in just a bathing suit or a bikini. It is one of the sunniest locations in the nation. My six years of observation and experience with Charleston's weather has taught me that during the fall and winter seasons it rarely rains, and fog is only a once in a while nuisance. There are no skyscapers in Charleston. In fact, there is the story that, either by law or out of respect, nothing can be built taller than the St. Matthew’s steeple within the Holy City. At least, that is what the tours tell us. The steeple rises 255 feet, 7 and 5/8 inches above sea level. And as far as the naked thing goes, that would not go over very well here in the Bible Belt. Thank God for that. You would not want to be following the bouncing balls of that song and dance.

San Francisco and Charleston both have beautiful beaches. They both have famous bridges. Both cities are centrally located near other popular destinations.

A two to three hour drive south from San Fran is one of the most stunningly beautiful places in the country, Pebble Beach's oceanside golf courses, Carmel by the Sea, the Big Sur, 17-Mile Drive, and Monterey, home of the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium. Go to the northeast some three hours and the roads will take you to sunny Lake Tahoe. The famous Napa Valley wine country is a short hop and a skip.

Two and a half hours to the north of Charleston is the ever popular Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand. One and a half hours to the south is Charleston's sister city of the South, Savannah. Two cities that have so much in common historically and ghostly, but structurally layed out in their own unique ways. One hour outside of Charleston are Kiawah Island and the Kiawah Island Golf Resort, host of the 2012 PGA Championship.

One final similarity, and this is a unique feature I would take notice of. Both cities are some six hours from one of my all-time favorite destinations, Disneyland in California and Disney World in Florida.

Well, that's the long and the short of it, more short than long. A tale of two cities sharing the same land mass called North America, one on the west coast, the other on the east coast, yet worlds apart.

So, celebrate Charleston and enjoy the honorary distinction of being number one. Our growing crop of award-winning restaurants and hotels has put the city over the top. Our hospitality and friendliness are scoring big too. Charleston was also awarded the honor of being Friendliest City in America from Travel + Leisure.

If you want to learn more about San Francisco from a southeners point of view checkout James A. Martin-A Southerner in San Francisco. Most of my information comes from a first hand observer. My son lived there for a few years and he loved it. He is a well known skateboarder who surfed and took frequent trips to Lake Tahoe for snowboarding. He once cycled from San Francisco to Cleveland, Ohio where he now lives.

Other rankings:
French Quarter Inn (No. 15-Top U.S. Hotels)
Charleston Place (No. 30-Top U.S. Hotels)
Planters Inn (No. 52-Top U.S. Hotels)
Market Pavilion (No. 62-Top U.S. Hotels)
John Rutledge House Inn (No. 16-Top U.S. Small Hotels)
Wentworth Mansion (No. 17-Top U.S. Small Hotels)
Wild Dunes Resort (No. 121-Top Mainland U.S. Resorts)

If you want more information on these and other attractions and landmarks go to the top of my blog and type what you are looking for in the search.

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