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WE'RE NUMBER 3!

We may be #2 in violent crime, according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report, but we're #3 in the hearts of Conde Nast Traveler readers. Charleston eked out a top 3 ranking this year among best U.S. travel destinations, beating out New York and Boston. San Francisco came in first and Santa Fe second. Kiawah Island also found itself ranked as the number 2 island. Let's hope all these tourists who pour money into our coffers don't find out about the violent crime. Shhh. It'll be our little secret. --Stephanie Barna

BURRITOS, BEER, MUSIC, AND MASSAGE

The old tollbooth (on the left before you get to the old boat on Folly Road) has become quite the beach bum hangout/mini-mall. Barrier Islands Surf Shop had a great summer with a hopping outdoor patio and bar with live reggae and beach music. And now, a new restaurant has opened in the side room, La Cocina Mexican, serving up burritos, tacos, and nachos to hungry surfers (their slogan -- "we roll 'em big"). Then there's Beachside Massage, relaxing all your deep muscle tissue for $60/hour and improving your looks after a week at the beach with facials and manicures. The indoor surf shop has transformed into 10 percent shop, 90 percent indoor bar with pool tables, Golden Tee, and relief from the cold winter winds blowing in off the ocean. What do the three parts have to do with each other? Truthfully, not much, but it's fun anyway. The backyard is still open for live music, oyster roasts, cookouts, and private rental. Call 795-4545 for more information. --Katherine DuPre

THE AFRICAN EXPERIENCE

In the age of Starbucks, Kudu Coffee House is unique. Kudu specializes only in African coffee, a minority among the more popular South American lines. Why African coffee? Owner and native African John Saunders says there's no comparison. "African coffee is deeper, richer, fuller. If you put a cup of Colombian next to ours, you could see the difference." Saunders also loves the atmosphere of his new shop and named it after the free-roaming animal native to Africa whose horns are traditionally used by Africans, and coincidentally by many Boy Scout troops, to call others to gathering places for important talks. Get the symbolism yet? Kudu opens this week at 4 Vanderhorst Street (the old Mikros Deli spot), where Saunders hopes to "create a piece of Heaven in the Holy City" and to make African cuisine and culture more accessible. Call 853-7186 for more info. --KD

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