The Top 5 Parks in the Charleston Area

The Top 5 Parks in the Charleston Area

shem creekFinding a peaceful place to soak in the pleasantries of nature is, fortunately, not difficult in Charleston. Escaping the busy city lifestyle is at most a 10-minute drive, no matter where you are in Charleston. With a little more than a dozen parks to choose from within the Charleston area, you’ll never feel confined to the constraints of city or small town life.

Below are 5 of our favorite parks in the Charleston area:

Daniel Island Waterfront Park: Quite possibly our number one, favorite park in the Charleston area, the Daniel Island Waterfront Park is a charming sanctuary nestled along the Wando. Visitors to the Park can go for leisurely walks beneath the canopies of Spanish-moss-covered live oaks, fish from the pier, go bike riding along the boardwalk and dirt paths, or simply enjoy the lapping water on the beach (note that the beach is very thin and mostly shaded by trees, so it’s not ideal for “laying out,” but it’s absolutely beautiful!). Park visitors can also bring picnic lunches to enjoy on the grass or at one of the picnic tables.

There is even a unique children’s playground area.

Image to the right taken from the Charleston County Park & Recreation Commission website.

James Island County Park: Another fantastic park found within the Charleston area is the James Island County Park, located on James Island, just a 5 – 10 minute drive from downtown Charleston. This stunning, 643-acre park offers a spectacular setting for nature walks, running, biking, and picnicking. There are even tables and grills for cooking, an off-leash dog park, a sand volleyball court, horseshoe pits, a campground, a climbing wall, and the Splash Zone Waterpark, as well as bicycle, pedal boat, and kayak rentals.

Some of the famous events that take part at the James Island County Park throughout the year include the Holiday Festival of Lights (happening now through December 31!), Lowcountry Cajun Festival, Movies in the Park, Reggae Nights Summer Concert Series, Yappy Hour (a dog-friendly event where owners bring their dogs together in the Park’s off-leash dog park), and the East Coast Paddlesports & Outdoor Festival.

Note that there is a $1 admission fee per person for normal park hours. Special events, the climbing wall, and the splash park are not included in this admission fee.

Shem Creek Park Boardwalk: One of the Charleston area’s newest parks, the Shem Creek Park Boardwalk is not your average grass-covered park. Rather, it’s a boardwalk that stretches into the marshes and waterway of Shem Creek, bringing visitors past shrimping boats and quaint creek life. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a relaxing stroll on the weekends either by yourself or with your dog. You can also try your hand at fishing, while on the boardwalk.

The Shem Creek Park has also just added historical plaques along the boardwalk, so make sure to stop along the way to read about the creek’s enchanting history!

shem creek boardwalk

shem creek park

To view more photos of Shem Creek Park, click here to visit our Facebook photo album.

Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park / Mount Pleasant Pier: The Mount Pleasant Pier, which is actually part of the Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park complex, is 1,250 feet long and stretches into the Charleston harbor. One of the most interesting tidbits about the pier is that its base structure is recycled materials from the old Grace Memorial Bridge that was once erect where the Ravenel Bridge now stands. Along the pier, which is situated just to the side of the Ravenel Bridge, you can fish, purchase tackle and rent rods, relax on swings or rocking chairs, and enjoy a picnic lunch at one of the pier’s picnic tables. You can also purchase sandwiches, ice cream, pastries, gifts, and souvenirs at the Pier shops.

mount pleasant pier

Each year the Mount Pleasant Pier also features a handful of exciting events, which include the Shaggin’ on the Cooper (a dance event where participants do the “shag,” South Carolina’s official state dance!), Movies at the Pier, the Cooper River Challenge Fishing Tournaments, and more.

It’s also important to note that you can see the Mount Pleasant Pier from Charleston harbor aboard one of the Charleston Harbor Tours daily cruises (including our 90-minute historic Charleston harbor tour, Charleston sunset sails, and Charleston afternoon sails).

Charles Towne Landing: Situated along the Ashley River, the Charles Towne Landing is one of Charleston’s most fascinating historical sites. Famous as the landing point for English settlers in 1670, Charles Towne Landing is known as the original Colonial Charleston. Today, visitors to the Charles Towne Landing can interact with rangers dressed in 17th-century attire, walk along a self-guided history trail with audio, and visit an interactive museum at the Visitor’s Center.

Below is a video of what you might see during a visit to the Charles Towne Landing:

Visitors to the Landing can also hop aboard the Adventure, a 17th-century replica tall ship, to learn about Charles Towne history, witness cannons fire, and explore the intricate details of this stunning ship. There are also pristine gardens for visitors to tour, as well as a Animal Forest Natural Habitat Zoo.

Note that there is a $7.50 admission fee per adult ($3.75 admission fee for South Carolina Senior residents, $3.50 for children ages 6 – 15, and free for children 5 and under. Audio tours can be rented for an additional $5 per person.

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