So tickled is the city’s tourism trade by all these locales appearing in Conroy’s book that Bulldog Tours is planning a book-inspired walking tour complete with a recreation of protagonist Leo Bloom King’s old paper route. Currently, Bulldog Tours runs culinary, ghost and dungeon, haunted-jail, dark-side, and graveyard tours, as well as citywide Charleston Strolls. So, really, what’s one more?

Running east and west, Broad Street bisects the peninsula and is bound by water — the Ashley River to the west and the Cooper River and Charleston Harbor to the east. It’s home to the Broad Street Merchants Association, which oversees gallery row and the renowned hidden gardens amidst the stately mansions; a slew of restaurants, including the [10] Oak Steakhouse; and a wealth of Revolutionary and Civil War homes-turned-inns, like the [11] John Rutledge House Inn at 116 Broad and the [12] Governor’s House Inn at 117 Broad, the latter of which comes complete with original floors and moldings and furnishings so that it’s like going back in time upon entering.

But Broad Street is not alone in its prestige. East Bay Street, where Slightly North of Broad is, is notably considered restaurant row; diners frequent the likes of [13] Cypress Lowcountry Grille and [14] Magnolia’s, which offer contemporary and southern kitchen decors respectively.

Despite appearances, Charleston is not entirely steeped in history and quaintness. It’s defying the economic downturn with a tourism infrastructure that is currently growing, supported by new businesses that are continually popping up.

Last Memorial Day weekend saw the opening of the [15] MoonPie General Store on Market Street by business partners John Shoffner and Tom Coker of General Store Ventures. Yes, MoonPies are those Southern circular treats made of marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers; they were invented in the South before World War I. MoonPie General Store is the first of a growing franchise, and the partners researched the Southeast before deciding to debut the chain in Charleston. Its vintage sodas, multiple MoonPie flavors, Young Plantations food treats, and classic toys have already drawn the attention of Oprah. Charleston’s four million downtown visitors a year are what initially caught Shoffner’s attention, and then the city’s ambience and the embrace of its officials sealed the deal. “In all of my travels in the Southeast, it simply blows the mind, witnessing the crowds [here] in peak season,” he says of the downtown and Market Street areas. “If the concept couldn’t succeed in this location, it wouldn’t succeed.”

More success is likely on the way, as last fall, Carnival Cruise Line chose Charleston for a coveted year-round port of embarkment to Key West and the Bahamas beginning this spring; tourism officials estimate that will add another $1 million to Charleston per 2,000-plus passenger ship. As shown in Conroy’s pages, Charleston is a city of the past, present, and future that’s full of intrigue and fantasy. But don’t take our word for it.

... A city enchanting enough to charm cobras out of baskets, one so corniced and filigreed and elaborate that it leaves strangers awed and natives self-satisfied. … In the secrecy of its gardens you can discover jasmine and camellias and hundreds of other plants that look embroidered and stolen from the Garden of Eden for the sheer love of richness and the joy of stealing from the gods.