And then there’s Bert’s Market, two blocks north of Center on East Ashley Avenue. What looks like a dingy convenience store holds an amazing array of goods — wines, imported and domestic beer and fresh sushi; laundry detergent as well as motor oil. As such it’s an eclectic place where tourists and locals cross paths and linger for directions and tall tales. There’s also a dress mannequin (not for sale) wearing an apron, and a long-hair or two behind the counter. Their motto is “We may doze but we never close,” and indeed it is open 24/7.
• Side trips: It’s an easy drive to downtown Charleston. Going the other way, you can kill a couple hours visiting the Charleston Tea Plantation on Wadmalaw Island (walking and factory tours are free; www.charlestonteaplantation.com) and, en route, taking a look and photo at the enormous Angel Oak on Johns Island (www.angeloaktree.com). It’s thought to be about 1,500 years old.
• Culture: Art? Well, the Bolus law firm has the front half of an enormous fiberglass shark mounted above its door on Center Street. It was already there when the attorneys moved into the upstairs office. “We were privileged to hang our sign underneath the shark head,” Keith Bolus deadpans.
Music? Clubs and restaurants offer everything from lounge to hard rock, especially toward weekends.
This is the beach, remember. You’re here to relax.
That’s what brought George Gershwin here in 1934. He vacationed long enough at 708 W. Arctic Ave. to judge a local beauty contest and write Porgy and Bess.