A travel journal
to Charleston by Taylor Shelby
Quote: There are some sights in Charleston that can't be classified but can't be left out. Here they are.
Attraction | "South Carolina Aquarium: Part 1"
The exhibits are broken up into the many different regions that you find in South Carolina. Starting in the Mountain Forest area, which shows marine life at the foot of the mountains you find in northwest South Carolina, you walk through a recreated open-air forest. There are rock-face walls and icy creeks filled with local trout and other fish. The constant cool mist helps to really put you in the mountains (despite the blazing heat outside). This is also the area that has three otters that are delightful and playful and a treat for all visitors.
At the foot of the mountains, you enter the Piedmont plateau. These rolling hills will seem familiar to fishermen, who are used to catching the catfish and other animals who inhabit this area. There is also an interesting exhibit on fly-fishing.
Next, visitors enter the coastal plain, which consists of the familiar swamps and marshes that I often associate with the low country. There is a dark tank that shows the species that live in the Blackwater swamps, including snapping turtles and some unusual, rarely seen fish. This exhibit also has snakes (yikes) that you see in this area and a tank that has some small alligators lurking around. They were really fascinating close up.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 14, 2005
South Carolina Aquarium
100 Aquarium Wharf
Charleston, South Carolina 29401
Attraction | "South Carolina Aquarium: Part 2"
The coastal area was my favorite. Going out into what seems like a large cage perched overlooking the Cooper River, you are in another open-air exhibit; this one filled with all the different animals you find in the coastal areas of South Carolina. There are a number of different species of loose birds and some very unusual turtles. This exhibit also has a beautiful owl.
After the coastal area you come to the ocean, which seems to be the favorite among most people. After seeing a tank of schooling fish, flounder, weird fish with legs, and a couple of baby sea turtles (they are adorable!), you come to the main attraction of the aquarium, the 300,000-gallon Deep Ocean tank. This tank is full of sharks, eels, an enormous loggerhead turtle, and more fish than I could count. Sometimes they have a diver in the tank to talk about the different creatures you see. You can view this tank from a lot of different angles, which is great.
Make sure to look at the small but neat jellyfish exhibit when you are in this area. It is off to the side, so many people don't realize it is there. One tank is lit with blacklights so you can see the glowing colors they have.
After leaving the ocean, you come to the Discovery Lab area, which is great for the kids. They have a touch tank and different strange animals that a trainer discusses. Also in this area is the special exhibit. Right now they have an Amazon exhibit. I didn't go in because there is a huge anaconda and I'm terrified of snakes, but my roommate said it was really cool.
I think the aquarium is a wonderful place for anyone, and I highly recommend it. If you have kids, they may especially appreciate it, since they are probably tired of being dragged around to restored houses! Make sure to check out the gift shop, too. It has some really great merchandise that you might not expect.
Attraction | "Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon"
It was from this site that delegates were selected to attend the first Continental Congress in 1774. In 1776, the citizens of Charleston first heard the declaration of independence from the steps of the Exchange. In 1780, the British took the city and used the dungeon to house political prisoners, including the famous patriot Issac Hayne, who was led to his death from the building.
By the early 1800s, the building was being used as a post office. This was the "most convenient post office in America" until 1896, when it was relocated. After the threat of sale and possible destruction in 1913, the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution bought the Old Exchange. In 1981, restoration of the building began. By later that year, it was formally opened to the public and now is one of the most important sites in the history of Charleston.
This is a really excellent place to bring your kids if they like history. The top floors of the building are beautifully restored rooms. Some are furnished, some are left empty. One of them has a small collection of vintage clothing from the 1700s that I found extremely fascinating. The upper level also has a recreation of the post office and a collection of stamps and envelopes.
The dungeon level is where the kids will get a kick. You get to go into the old vaulted cellar of the building and see where political prisoners were held. The use a couple of animatronic displays to tell you some of the history and talk about some of the people that were held prisoner here. It is kind of cheesy for adults and older kids, but I think young kids will really like it.
They also have a lot of information about the various pirates who harassed the people of Charleston in the 1700s. I thought it was really cool that there were two infamous women pirates caught in Charleston. They got out of being executed by claiming that they were pregnant...very clever.
I really enjoyed the Old Exchange, but it was a really short visit. I saw the upper levels in about 20 minutes, and the dungeon tour lasts 20 minutes. This is a good, quick stop and a wonderful place to learn about colonial and Revolutionary War history.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 24, 2005
The Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon
122 E Bay Street
Charleston, South Carolina 29401
Charleston, South Carolina