10 Reasons Why Charleston Is Your Next Vacation Destination

10 Reasons Why Charleston Is Your Next Vacation Destination

Charleston's beaches, food, history, breweries and more make for the perfect vacation
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Tim McGraw said in one of his songs "ain't nothing in the whole wide world like a Southern girl." Being from New Jersey, I couldn't relate, but this summer that all changed when I packed my life up and moved down south. I had the pleasure of making Charleston, South Carolina my home for three months, and since I've left not a day goes by that I don't miss it, and don't think about how soon I can return. I understand not everyone has the opportunity to relocate permanently, but everyone needs to experience the beauty of Charleston at least once in their life. Allow this list to be your guide of what to do when it's your time to make that venture.

1. Beaches

Charleston is home to some of the most beautiful beaches America has to offer. Whether you want to go to Folly Beach, a local shore town filled with shops and surf, the Isle of Palms, a family-oriented beachfront, Sullivan's Island, the smaller, local beach with tons of great beach bars, you'll find you beachy niche in Chucktown.



2. Food

I'd be lying if I said Charleston wasn't one of my favorite cities in the world because of the food. Nowhere in the world can you get fried green tomatoes, pimento cheese, or She Crab soup like you can in Charleston. If you ever find yourself in the city and hungry, my personal recommendations would be to head over to Little Jack's Tavern for a Tavern Burger and a Bees Knees cocktail, Acme's Low Country Kitchen for the best shrimp and grits you'll ever try, Pearls Oyster Bar for Happy Hour oysters and dirty martinis, and of course Coastal Provisions for an upscale atmosphere and the best local fish specials the Low Country can offer.


3. History

Charleston is a city that is known for it's rich, southern history. There are tons of different places to see in the Charleston area, but if these listed are the absolute musts! Rainbow Row's historic homes, Patriots Point, Fort Sumter, Waterfront Park, Boone Hall, Plantation, Charleston Museum, and the Charleston Tea Plantation. Though not every aspect of southern American history reflects the country in a positive light, especially during the time prior to and during the Civil War, but it is important to be culturally aware of what happened and visit the locations where America's history emerged. (Not historical, but Charleston has an AMAZING aquarium!)



4. Shopping

Downtown Charleston fuels the shopping desires for all ages and all styles. If you're looking for designer stores and household like Alex and Ani, Kate Spade, Lilly Pulitzer, H&M head down Kings Street for your best-known brands. Kings Street is home to less common but just as trendy shops like Worthwhile, Luna, or Simply J Boutique. If you want to see what the are up to, venture over to Market Street and visit the Historic Charleston City Market. Some of my favorite purchases were made in the market such as a hand-made glass bracelet, vintage-looking glass coasters, my hand-painted pineapple canvases, and specialty soaps made locally with all natural ingredients. Make sure to pick up a sweetgrass basket, a staple Charleston souvenir!


5. Palm Trees

If you thought Miami had a lot of palm trees, think again! Charleston has some of the most exquisite palm trees covering the city and the surrounding area. The Sabal Palmetto is the state tree of South Carolina expect to see one on almost every corner. Besides the palm tree, the area is covered with some of the most beautiful greenery such as Magnolia trees and Oaks. Don’t believe me? Head down to battery park or Johns Island and pay a visit to Angel Oak and see for yourself.


6. Close proximity to other cities

Charleston is the perfect location, but in case you want to make other side trips during your time down south, it's pretty convenient. Savannah, Georgia is less than a 2-hour drive away and makes for the perfect excursion on your Low Country exploration. (If you're heading down that way, you absolutely must grab a famous vanilla cupcake from Mabel's Cupcake Emporium and a Pear Drop martini from Jen's & Friends) If you're looking for a party, then head on up towards Myrtle Beach, only about a 2-hour drive north.


7. Nightlife

Chucktown is packed with bars and nightclubs like Stars, Prohibition, Revelry Brewing Company, and the strip on Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant, but if you want to taste the most unique, innovative cocktails the city has, The Gin Joint is the go-to joint. Located in downtown Charleston, The Gin Joint changes its menu by season, so no matter what time of year you head down south, you'll be tasting something suitable to the time. Its cozy atmosphere makes for the perfect date night spot or a relaxing hangout after dinner.




8. The Bridge

Though there are plenty of cities in American with gorgeous bridges, nothing can quite compare to the beauty of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. The bridge is open to the public for strolls, biking, or walking. Some of the prettiest views of Mount Pleasant and downtown Charleston can be seen from the center of the bridge, so don't forget to take your camera!



9. The Breweries

If you're a beer lover like me, then you'll love that there are dozens of local breweries to visit down in Chuck town. Coast Brewing Company is perfect if you like a laid-back, open space to play cornhole while sipping on a cold one. If you're lucky, you'll get there when the Hefeweizen is on tap, or even better, one of their sours. Cooper River Brewing Company is a bit more upscale, but just as down to earn. The Watermelon Wheat is the one to try there. BUT if you are looking for the absolute BEST beer Charleston has available, you have to head to Westbrook Brewing Co. for a Westbrook White Thai. YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED!


10. The People

There is no question that Charleston possesses an elegant, southern charm that no city in the world can compare to. Locals are a proud group of people who appreciate every aspect of the city that makes Charleston so great, but what they don't realize is that the city wouldn't be great without them. Their warm smiles, sweet accents, welcoming demeanor, slow pace, and gentle positivity is what give Charleston the character it is so famous for. There are few places in the world that can make you feel as though you belong and you are at home, even though you might just be stopping through. You can have a conversation with a stranger on line waiting to check out your groceries and feel comfortable and grateful for the interactions. People take time to appreciate the wonderful things that life has to offer. I am lucky to have gotten to know many of the people who call this great Low Country area their home.


If I haven’t been able to convince you why you need to head down south, then hopefully "Travel and Leisure" ranking Charleston the number one tourist city in the world will. No matter what the reasoning for heading down to good ole' Chucktown, I am certain it is an adventure you will not regret.

Cover Image Credit: Keri Szewczk

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ASU Students Push For A Healthier Dining Hall To Counter 'Freshman 15' Fears

The freshman 15 is an avoidable curse, but many students will continue to follow into its trap.

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Arizona State University students are pushing for change within the downtown Phoenix dining hall as they strive to avoid the infamous freshman 15.

The downtown Phoenix campus offers fewer dining options than the Tempe campus and has a less appetizing dining hall. The freshman 15 is a common scare among students living in the dorms, who are often freshman.

The freshman 15 is defined as a student who gains 15 pounds or more in their first year of college. Studies prove the average freshman does not exercise the right amount, is sleep deprived, has a poor diet, increases their stress level, alcohol consumption, and fatty food intake, which is most likely causing their weight gain.

Lauren Hernandez

Daniella Rudoy, a journalism major and fitness instructor at the SDFC, relived her freshman year as she provided tips for incoming freshman.

"There are a lot of workouts you can do in your dorm room as long as you have access to YouTube or a floor. You can go on a run, a walk, or do exercises that do not require equipment," Rudoy said in support of college fitness.

Rudoy said that mental health, fitness, and nutrition all correlate with one another.

"I follow the saying abs are made in the kitchen. So if you are working out day and night, but eating a giant pizza and chicken wings with a pack of beer when you come home you aren't doing yourself much good," Rudoy said.

Lauren Hernandez

The main cause for weight gain is increased alcohol consumption. 80 percent of college students drink and this includes binge drinking, which is unhealthy for many reasons.

Students who do not drink are most likely gaining weight because of their exposure to an all-you-can-eat dining hall. The downtown Phoenix campus offers a salad bar as their only consistent healthy option for students, therefore students are left eating hamburgers, fries, and pizza.

"I haven't been to the dining hall this semester. Last semester, I went because I had no other options. I am a vegetarian and the dining hall is not accommodating to those with allergies or food restrictions. I find it very difficult to find vegetarian options," Lexi Varrato, a journalism major said.

Lauren Hernandez

Varrato explained that she believes the freshman 15 is "100 percent real" and that incoming freshman should research their meal plans and ask their school how their dietary restrictions will be accommodated before purchasing a non-refundable meal plan.

Megan Tretter, a nursing major at Seattle University emphasized that not every dining hall is like ASU's and that the freshman 15 is "definitely not a problem" at her school.

"I always eat healthy at my dining hall. There are a lot of good and healthy options at Seattle University. I usually go to the smoothie line in the morning, have a salad for lunch, and make myself an acai bowl after work with avocado toast in our floor's kitchen," Tretter said in support of her school's strive for healthy options.

College students across the United States have healthier dining options than ASU, but many colleges still face the same problems that students here are facing.

Tara Shultz, a journalism major at ASU believes she has avoided the "very real" freshman 15 by living at home.

"I believe the freshman 15 targets dorm residence and first-year students who do not live at home as they do not have their parents as a guide and are forced to eat at a dining hall that only serves fatty foods," Shultz emphasized.

Lauren Hernandez

The downtown Phoenix campus offers students access to the SDFC, YMCA, and Taylor Place gym, where students can take group fitness classes, run on a track, play basketball, or swim. Alternative options for students are purchasing a membership at Orangetheory or EOS Fitness.

Most students agreed with journalism major Vanessa Gonzalez that they have little time to work out due to their workload, but many students like Varrato, Tretter, and Rudoy explained that they try to work out every day as it is a stress reliever and it enriches their mental health.

Steve Fiorentino, the owner of Powered Up Nutrition encourages college students to learn what they are putting in their bodies.

"I think it starts with nutrition. Students believe they can outwork a bad diet and I believe that is their number one mistake. My advice is to stop eating fast foods and start eating whole and healthy foods along with supplements," Fiorentino stated.

The freshman 15 is an avoidable curse, but many students will continue to follow into its trap. The campus dining hall is not always the reason to blame as students have the option to decrease their meal plans, become active, and make healthy choices!

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Friends Don’t Let Friends Be White Feminists

I am white. I am a feminist. But I try very hard to avoid being a "white feminist."

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Preamble 1: I'm not sure if you're aware, but it's a humid, grey April afternoon and being a woman comes with extra challenges, to which I definitely did not agree but they were probably in some fine print that I skimmed. Bummer. Anyway, feminism! Feminism's place in 2019 is contested but I am coming from a place of having heard many of the sides; given that, it would be lovely if you would hear my side.

Preamble 2: Before I get into this topic, I want to acknowledge the place of privilege from which I come. Look at my fully Irish name, I am white. Believing in social, economic, and political gender equality, I am a feminist. But I try very hard to avoid being a "white feminist". As a student at Texas A&M;, a university that sometimes strays into homogeneity in both thought and demographic, I've been noticing a pattern in many conversations concerning gender equality. The pattern is that of white feminism.

White feminism is a Western-styled picking and choosing of feminism that entails a set of beliefs tolerating the ignorance of issues that mostly impact women of color.

Contrast this philosophy with intersectional feminism, which recognizes multiple identities and experiences within us, while promoting more united gender equality. Without intersectionality, our essence cannot stand against oppression and stand for equality without acknowledgment of the nuances of different historical struggles. As women, we face difficulties, but not all women face the same oppressions and marginalizations – and that cannot be overlooked in narratives.

As far as gendered-based violence goes, the Justice Department estimates that one in five women and one in seventy-one men will experience rape in the US. However, here's where the necessary nuances come in.

Women and men of color are more likely to experience this form of violence than white women or men. Women and men who are LGBTQ+are more likely to experience this form of violence than straight women or men. Lower income women and men are more likely to experience this form of violence than women or men in the highest income brackets.

So, yes, one in five women and one in seventy-one men are rape victims. But quoting that statistic without disambiguating the data can mislead readers or listeners of the ways that different identities amalgamate into this final number. Essentially, disproportional oppressions exist. All people are at risk for gendered violence, specifically rape, in America, but some people are more at risk.

If you need more of an explanation, think of the following analogy. White feminism is to intersectional feminism what #AllLivesMatter is to #BlackLivesMatter. Everyday Feminism contends, "the former's attempt at inclusiveness can actually erase the latter's acknowledgment of a unique issue that disproportionately affects a specific group of people".

If you ever find yourself guilty of white feminism, (I've been there!) know that we are all evolving. As long as you are open to education, we are all on the same side.

Here are three vital steps you can take to make your feminism intersectional!

1. Reflect on yourself. 

Reflect on your long-held beliefs based on your perspective alone could not apply to someone else. Reflect on your privileged experiences and acknowledge them for what they are.

2. Think about others. 

Once you've figured your internal state out from step one, you ought to look at the experiences of others with the same level of validity as your own. Ethically, feminism focuses on equality. Yes, that means stopping sexism, but it also expands to mean stopping complicated systemic oppressions that affect more than just white women. That said, white feminists are not the enemy in the fight for equality, rather, they are underinformed.

3. Don’t be afraid to grow. 

Say you were wrong. There's less shame in it than you think. In fact, I genuinely wish our culture was more forgiving of people who made an honest mistake in their past, but their hearts were/are in the right place.

Allow yourself to move onwards and upwards. We are all works-in-progress. We are all striving for better versions of ourselves. Intention is everything and your intention should be to always learn.

Intersectional feminism is challenging, like all educations. If you're doing it right, it should force you to think and even make you feel a little bit uncomfortable. After all, while feminism is here to help, it is not here for your (or my) comfort.

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