Stop Drawing So Much Attention To Charleston—It Can't Handle It

Stop Drawing So Much Attention To Charleston—It Can't Handle It

How many tourists can the city take without losing that special charm that has made it such a unique destination?
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For the fifth year in a row, readers of Travel + Leisure magazine have named Charleston, SC the number one city in the nation, as well as number 2 in the world.

Readers were asked to rate cities based on sights/landmarks, culture/arts, restaurants/food, people/friendliness, shopping and value. Now, you’d expect the locals, college students and business owners to rejoice at the recognition that their beloved city is receiving, right? WRONG. We actually HATE all of the attention, the same way we hate the sight of the big, ugly cruise ships sitting in the harbor. I guarantee that many people were filled with a sense of dread when they scrolled down to that headline, myself included. This is because for years there has been one question on everyone’s mind: how many tourists can the city handle without losing that special charm that has made it such a unique destination?

First of all, with all the hype surrounding the city, living costs inevitably rise. It becomes more and more difficult to find a house or apartment that is even close to being reasonably affordable and close to where you need to go. People are left with no choice but to either leave this beautiful city full of culture behind or to move to one of the surrounding communities, which makes rent prices there more competitive as well. After the arduous commute in rush hour traffic on roads that aren’t built for it, there are still the issues with parking. With all the outsiders coming in, on-street parking in the most urban areas is almost impossible to come by, and the parking garages aren’t that much better of an option for many people. As college students, when we tell someone that we live in Charleston, we are often told how lucky we are to spend most of the year in such an amazing city. However, what they don’t realize is that life here is not cheap, which makes it difficult for us.

Not only has it become expensive to rent housing in the city, it has also become more and more difficult for small businesses to keep their doors open due to rising leases. So many of the little shops and eateries that gave Charleston its charm have been taken over by larger department stores and hipster-style restaurants that are marketed for tourists. Though we may love having a Starbucks every couple of blocks, this only adds to the influx of tourists to the area. Without the unique experience that small businesses owned by friendly people provide, going out on the town in Charleston has started to feel like going to any indoor mall in any other city. The Preservation Society does what it can to keep the old-fashioned facades intact; however, on more than one occasion, they have lost out to the large corporations such as Apple who want to provide their customers with the same shopping experience in every one of their locations across the world. Those who remember the streets the way they used to be often long for the old days when the name shown in faded tile on the sidewalk in front of the stores matched the name on the front of building.

As college students, we get a unique perspective. The many of us that only live in Charleston for the duration of the fall and spring semesters get to see the city both as a local and as a tourist. We may gravitate towards the tourist-y things that the city has to offer, such as the farmer’s market and King Street shopping, but we also feel the pain of the locals when we see new hotels popping up in the skyline and have to deal with the confused drivers who don’t know how to handle all the one-way streets and other quirks that the city has to offer. The part of me that thinks of Charleston as my home away from home love the city and doesn’t want to see it change, and I know that there are many others who feel this way. USA Today perfectly summed up what we all want to say to everyone who tells us how lucky we are to be living our daily lives in such a beautiful destination in one sentence: “We’re flattered, but please stop.”

Cover Image Credit: Performance Impressions

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10 things i learned while visiting california

Here's a list of 10 things that I learned about myself and California while visiting there last week.

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I recently traveled to San Fransisco California for the first time, and it truly changed my life so much that I felt the need to write about it. This says a lot because I have also traveled to parts of Europe and Hawaii, and I didn't think it could get any better than that!

1. Alabama is too small for me.

I've always known that I wanted to move out of Alabama as soon as I could, but visiting California just showed me that there is a whole different lifestyle outside of these southern states.

2. There are just so many openminded people in one state.

I have blue hair. I am an openminded person. But I still get a few strange looks or comments like "your natural hair would look so much better" when I'm in my hometown. But in San Fransisco, I got at least 5 genuine compliments on my blue hair a day!

3. Speaking of blue hair, everyone has dyed hair!

When you have dyed hair and you meet someone else with crazy colored hair, you automatically bond with that person through your creativeness. I bonded with half of the state.

4. I Feel like San Fransisco has a place for everyone.

Whether it be China Town, Fishermans Wharf, Haight Ashbury, The Castro, or The Mission, there is most likely somewhere where you belong in San Fransisco alone. If you're like me it might just be at the dog park across the street from the Painted Ladies.

5. I think sea lions are even cuter than dogs. At least from a distance.

Don't get me wrong I'm a dog lover all the way, but I cried so hard at Pier 39 when I saw the tons and tons of sea lions being the good boys that they are. They are just big blubbery water dogs, and I love them.

6. I thought that the entire state would reek of marijuana but it, in fact, did not.

The only time I caught the slightest whiff was when we first turned on to Ashbury Sreet, which was honestly expected.

7. There weren't as many naked people as I was told to prepare for.

Maybe I just picked a good time of year. Maybe I just didn't notice the naked people. Who knows? Maybe the weather just wasn't the right temp for all of the streakers out there.

8. The souvenir shops were a lot cheaper than I had expected.

Everyone says that California is expensive, and they may be correct. BUT they obviously have NOT been talked into a sweet deal for sunglasses in China Town the way that I have. Three pairs of REALLY NICE sunglasses for $30.00? Wham bam thank you, Maam!

9. California does not care about my southern accent. At all.

Everywhere else that I have ever traveled, I have always had people freaking out over my accent. It was not brought up once while I was there.

10. Just one part of California is more eco-friendly than the whole state of Alabama.

They charge 10 cents a bag for the plastic bags we use when shopping, to get you to bring your own reusable bag. They have SO much more public transportation than we do. And almost every trash can is accompanied by a recycling bin. Alabama needs to step it up, just saying.

I love my home in Alabama, don't get me wrong. But I think and hope everyone gets the chance to explore new and different places like this. It was truly a blessing for me. I think all of the amazing things in the world are just a million times more amazing once you get out and see them for yourself. You would be amazed at the world that's out there waiting for you.


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Kayla McGuff

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