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      Budget Travel: Charleston Like A Local

      COLUMBIA (WACH) Trying to catch a break these days can be an excercise in futility, but the fact is... we all NEED a break every now and again (and again) but it's not cheap to sooth the savage beast. So I went out in search of the best deals on the hidden and not so hidden gems of the South. Obviously, if we're talking gems, we must start with the "Jewel of the South" ... Charleston.

      Deep in the Lowcountry, steeped in history and overflowing with charm, this place never disappoints... until you get the check, and then we go into shock. So give your nerves a rest and check out these places to get the full experience without paying full price. Below you can click to make a reservation or check out a menu, so go ahead and make yourself at home... like a local.


      Days Inn Downtown has the least expensive rates for staying downtown.

      Market Street Pavillion is for high rolling.

      **** My pick is the Mills House Hotel (ask for the Southern Living Special ... $129 / night which includes a hot breakfast for two!!

      Dinner and Supper

      Jestine's Kitchen is affordable and has southern favorites like fried okra, pecan chicken sandwiches, crabcakes and if you can get there on a night when they're serving salmon croquettes, you're tummy will be smiling. Save room for the pecan pie (best in town I swear!)

      Hominy Grill is also super popular and fairly affordable. The food is down home and delish.

      Magnolias and Hyman's Seafood are the classic tourist traps so be prepared for high ticket averages and large crowds, but you certainly won't be disappointed with the food.

      Me, I like Eli's Table. It's got some southern specialties like sweet potato pancakes and shrimp & grits. The mac and cheese is some the best in the south (Sorry, Paula) and really affordable.

      Things to do:

      There are a ton of museums and it would be a shame not to see a few unique insights into the Revolution and the Civil War. Try a horse drawn carriage ride or a walking history tour. There are also charter dinner cruises and even Carnival Cruise Lines leave from the port.

      Shopping on King Street for your higher end purchases but the real deals, and frankly more unique regional items can be found at the Charleston Outdoor City Market on Market Street. You'll find traditional sweetgrass basket weavers and sweets to eat as well. It's probably illegal to leave town without a pocketfull of pralines, so you might as well load up. They're inexpensive and you can't find them anywhere else :)

      Finally, if you'd like to go further abroad than Broad Street, check out some old school southern plantations like Magnolia Plantation, Drayton Hall and Middleton Place. Also, you can head over the Arthur Ravenel Jr Bridge and hit Patriot's Point to see the Hunley. Or world class golf at Kiawah. You can party on Folly Beach or take it easy on the dunes of.Sullivan's Island. Don't forget to go see the Angel Oak, a 400 year old oak tree that's the pride of James Island.

      It doen't matter why you go... just go. Mind your manners, and an easy tip for speaking with a refined southern accent ... drag your words and ditch the "r" when you can.

      Example: "Well, bless your heart, darling, you simply must see Charleston

      becomes: "Well bless yo-a hot daaaahlin, you simply MUST see Chaaaaaaahl'ston"

      Y'all have fun, now...!