4 After Dark Adventures to Have in Charleston

An early evening Charleston sunset
An early evening Charleston sunset Jim Sill
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It’s that time of year when the days are shorter, and you’re left in the dark by five in the afternoon with a ton of energy and no idea what to do with yourself. There are always the conventional ways to get in some movement, like going to the gym or walking the dog, but why not take advantage of the darkness? There are plenty of things to get into outside after the sun goes down, especially in Charleston. With all of our waterways, islands, trails, and lazy roads, it’s a wonder why everyone isn’t out and about in the evening. Here are a few Charleston-style after dark adventures to help beat the winter blues.

1. Flounder Gigging

If you’re from the South, you’ve probably heard of frog gigging—a method of  hunting frogs. Flounder gigging uses the same principals—all you need is a source of light, and a gig (a long pole with a spear or point on the end), and you’re in business. There are a few ways to do it. You can commission a charter to take you out, you can fix lights to the bottom of your flat-bottom boat and cruise the creeks around Folly River yourself, or you can hunt the tidal pools and surf on Sullivans Island on foot, which can be all kinds of fun. Shining a light under water will illuminate the flounder’s eyes, then all there is to do is stick ‘em with your gig. Be sure to pay attention to the state limit, have a fishing license, and not do anything stupid, like stab yourself in the foot.

2. Cruise South of Broad

Charleston Christmas lights after dark
Charleston Christmas lights after dark Ian Riley

Obviously this season of limited sunlight coincides with the holidays, and the South of Broad neighborhood brings a strong Christmas light game. Cruising these streets after dark is the best time to view all of the lights and decorations that abound on porches, columns, street signs, and palmettos. There are zero cars on the streets, but plenty of walkers and bikers are out doing the same decoration judging as you. Head over to East Bay Street afterwards and grab a nightcap before going home.

3. Hit the Trails, at Night

If you want to trail run by moonlight, the next full moon happens on December 25, 2015.
If you want to trail run by moonlight, the next full moon happens on December 25, 2015. Logan Waddell

This time of year is especially difficult for trail runners, with it being dark before and after work. If you’re determined to get your workout in regardless, just grab a group of friends, a headlamp, and hit the trails. It’s a little spooky, especially on the Palmetto Trail, but as long as you’re in good company, trail running at night is a blast. Half Moon Outfitters popularized this sub-genre of trail running through the highly successful Moonshiner 5K race, which is held in September. 

4. Night Climbing at Wild Blue Ropes

The ropes course at Wild Blue Ropes is one of the most fun experiences you can have in Charleston. The only thing that makes it more fun, challenging, and terrifying? Doing it in the dark with nothing but a headlamp to light your way. This course was designed by professionals with over 72 different features, all connected by ropes, most of which are over 30 feet in the air. That may not sound very high, but it’s a completely different story when you’re up there standing on nothing but a 2’x2’ wooden plank. This is a great group activity, so round up your buddies, and get high in the dark at Wild Blue Ropes.

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