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sweetgrass baskets charlestonOnce you arrive in Charleston, set yourself to shopping mode. National chains do exist, but it's what's local that really counts. The must-have items are handwoven sweetgrass baskets; they're expensive, yes, but you're buying centuries of tradition. Charleston is also known for benne wafers, stone-ground grits, antique silver and furniture, as well as paintings and watercolors by accomplished local artists. (No, it's not legally required to have an art gallery on every block ... it just seems that way.)

You may want to peruse the area before making any purchases, though, as several vendors offer similar products at varying prices. Some will even offer discounts, so it's wise to shop around before committing. Note that credit cards may not be accepted by individual vendors in the Market or by the city's famed basket makers.

The Charleston City Market, known simply as the Market, is a local institution where visitors can go to peruse clothing, jewelry, foodstuffs, arts and crafts, and the city's famous sweetgrass baskets. (You can also pick up a carriage tour here.) Market Hall, built in 1841, marks the gateway to more than 100 vendors.

Shoppers won't be disappointed by a wander along King Street, which ranges from antique dealers (Lower King) to the Upper King Street Design District with its modern furniture and decorative items. Midway between the two are big-name brands like Ann Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Broad Street is home to Gallery Row, with some of Charleston's finest art galleries. Our favorite is Martin Gallery, an elegant space filled with contemporary paintings, sculpture, ceramics, photography and art glass. It's worth a look even if you can't afford to buy.

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