Salty breezes twirl Spanish moss and steal perfume from Confederate jasmine hedges that flank a cobblestone alley. Interspersed throughout the hedges are ornate wrought iron gates, coated with layers of shiny black paint, begging views of lavish gardens. A horse-drawn carriage plods by pastel-colored homes and then along the palm-lined harbor. Just around the corner, antebellum mansions tower over The Battery and enthrall all eyes that pass.

In the warm morning sun, the streets are swept and blue slate sidewalks washed. Boutique shops open for Saturday business along King Street while art galleries on Broad Street raise their blinds. Meanwhile, a few dazed stragglers, many of who motored past last call or sipped “apres-bar” Bourbon on a private piazza, will brave the walk of shame - a hasty morning retreat to avoid impending daylight and anyone that could identify last night’s crumpled wardrobe.

That’s a small glimpse into the unique daily rhythm and lifestyle dichotomy that draws more than 4 million people annually to the charming, restaurant-rich city of Charleston, S.C.

Charleston image via Shutterstock