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While some may say that the Charleston City Market is a bit of a tourist trap, others call it a great glimpse into life in the Old South. It is often referred to as the "Slave Market" because it was here that slaves would purchase food for the plantation. Today, the market buzzes with residents and visitors alike, perusing stalls loaded with toys, clothes, leather goods and regional souvenirs. But if you plan on buying anything here, you should head straight to the "basket ladies." These women (and men) have been weaving baskets for centuries – this craft originated in West Africa and has been passed down through the generations – using local materials such as sweetgrass and palmetto leaves.
Although this is a great place to experience southern charm and to people-watch, recent visitors recommend that buyers beware: A few travelers said some vendors hawk overpriced trinkets.
The Charleston City Market is located in the heart of downtown Charleston on Meeting Street (about a 12-minute walk from Broad Street, the city's main thoroughfare). If you choose to drive, you'll find limited street parking available. The Nos. 201 and 211 buses operate routes that also stop nearby. The market is open every day from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. From March through December, the market also offers night hours from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. every Friday and Saturday. While you don't have to pay to browse, you might want to carry some extra cash on you in case the sweetgrass baskets prove to be too seducing. There are also plenty of places to eat scattered throughout the market. Find out more about vendors and goods on the market website.
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