Support Us Button Widget

Three questions with a National Geographic travel writer + his recommended stop in Charleston

National Geographic released a global travel guide packed with off-the-beaten-path destinations — Including Charleston’s own International African American Museum.

This photo shows the exterior of the International African American Museum at twilight.

It takes 1 to 2 hours to experience the International African American Museum.

Photo by Greg Noire, Sony, courtesy International African American Museum

We call the Holy City home, but it is undoubtedly a popular destination for visitors. Fun fact: A College of Charleston study shows that tourism + hospitality had a record-breaking $12.8 billion economic impact on the region in 2022.

So, maybe you’re planning your trip to the Holy City or looking to play tourist in your home city. National Geographic released ”Here Not There: 100 Unexpected Travel Destinations”, and Charleston made the list among spots like Quito, Ecuador, and Lecce, Italy.

We had the chance to catch up with travel writer Andrew Nelson — Keep reading to learn what he says you need to experience while in the 843.

This photo shows Andrew Nelson sitting in a pink chair in a pink room.

Andrew Nelson has worked with National Geographic Travel since 2001.

Photo by Andrew Nelson

There are thousands of cities in the US, when writing about must-see travel destinations across the globe what drew you to Charleston?
Charleston as a destination is well known. It’s gotten progressively more glossy, the restaurants more delicious, the hotels more luxurious. It’s on the verge of becoming the Hamptons but with grits. My book ”Here Not There” is about counterintuitive places. I suggest coming to Charleston, not just to play — but to think.

A sculpture courtyard at the International African American Museum in Charleston, S.C., Dec. 12, 2022. (Tony Cenicola/The New York Times)

The International African American Museum opened in June 2023.

Photo by Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

Why are you encouraging folks to visit the International African American Museum?
It is a vital and affirming place for anyone interested in understanding the real history of one of the country’s most popular cities.

Not only is a visit to the museum, an enlightening one — it is moving. The museum is built on the foot of the Gadsden Wharves where ships arrived from Africa filled with human beings brought here against their will. The sculptures and grounds, beautifully planted and positioned, have turned it into a contemplative and emotional place.

Was there anything shocking or exciting that you found while researching Charleston that you didn’t expect?
What’s shocking? The price of real estate. What is delightful? The rise of Park Circle. It seems to be Charleston’s Brooklyn.