Best Places to Live

Charleston, SC

Population: 147,457

Located on a peninsula between two tidal rivers, downtown Charleston, SC frequently earns recognition for its thoughtful combination of natural beauty, historic preservation, cultural attractions and economic development. The American Planning Association recently named downtown Charleston's Broad Street a Top 10 Great Street in 2012, and its walkable collection of historic buildings and businesses is just a starting point for what makes downtown great.

Basics: Charleston's long list of accolades is matched by that of its longtime mayor, Joseph Riley, a widely recognized expert in urban planning and design. In 2009, Riley won a National Medal of the Arts for his work in Charleston as well as toward revitalizing urban centers around the country as founder of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design. Charleston's Office of Cultural Affairs produces special events that have played a vital role in bringing business back to the downtown district.

Details: Downtown Charleston comprises 12 sections, each replete with gardens, restaurants and historic homes, and it has a low commercial vacancy rate of 4.8 percent. gives the downtown an 84 on the walkability scale, meaning most errands can be accomplished on foot. Charleston's internationally renowned dining scene includes many high caliber restaurants and pubs downtown. The area also has several historic attractions, plus beaches and a lively waterfront area are nearby. Special events bringing people to the district include a farmers market and several festivals, such as the popular Food and Wine Festival.

Don't Miss: Charleston City Market for shopping, Magnolias for food, Charleston Grill for jazz

Charleston also made these Top 10 lists:

Best Spring Break Cities

Best Historic Cities