The Summer season has begun in Charleston, and if you tried to go anywhere at all this past Memorial Day weekend, you probably noticed you were stuck in infuriating traffic either downtown, on Folly Beach, or on Sullivans Island. If you want to escape the crowds without having to go out of town, here are 5 of RootsRated’s favorite places to do so.
Pitt Street Bridge
The Pitt Street Bridge is one of Mount Pleasant’s best kept secrets. This bridge once connected Mount Pleasant to Sullivans Island, but now serves as a linear park and fishing pier. If you want to be close to the ocean and not have to deal with parking, or the general insanity of the beach in the summer, bring a beach chair and relax on the lawn while listening to the tide come in. There is even an access point to the marsh behind the bridge for paddlers. The bridge is open to the public, and is located in the Old City in Mount Pleasant, about a ten minute drive from downtown.
James Island County Park
You could spend all day at James Island County Park and still not have time to experience all that it has to offer. A multitude a trails, top rope climbing routes , and marsh views are what you can look forward to at the park. The pier located at the rear of the park begins as a board walk that takes you through the spartina grass and on to the Stono River, which provides a great paddling route. If you’ve been wanting to spend your weekend outside and have exhausted your trips to the beach, head out to JICP and try something new.
Sandy Point (Kiawah)
If you’ve had your fill of Sullivans Island, Folly, or Isle of Palms, don’t forget about Sandy Point . Its a little further out than the aforementioned, and a bit of a hike to the beach, but that could be exactly what you’re looking to do. Sandy Point definitely offers a change of scenery that most people do not experience when visiting Charleston. Sandy Point is undeveloped, and has far less people on the beach every weekend, which is nice when you are sick of weaving through beach umbrellas and chairs every other Saturday. Take a day trip out here to experience a barrier island beach, and do some exploring. You’re also bound to see a dolphin or 20.
Morris Island Lighthouse Trail
Most visitors go out to Folly and park at the first lot they see closest to the pier. There’s nothing wrong with doing this, especially if you plan on chowing down at Rita’s after the beach, but if you go all the way to the Eastern end of Folly, you’ll see the lighthouse trail . Follow the trail to the beach, and you can trade all of the sounds and sights of a weekend at Folly for a more or less empty strip of beach. If you want to switch your beach day for a marsh day, just keep walking down the beach, and the marsh will be on your left. Bring a fishing pole, some shade, pack a lunch, and you’re all set for a not so typical day at Folly Beach.
South of Broad
Want to get outside but not have to drive off the peninsula? Spend your day south of Broad . Bring some friends and relax underneath the massive live oaks, set up your hammock by the water at the Battery, and watch the boats as they come into the harbor. If you get hungry, walk or ride your bike over to Queen Street Grocery or Brown Dog Deli for some incredible food. Everytime you walk those historic streets, there is something new hidden in the architecture or alleyways you’ve never noticed before. Walking or cycling around South of Broad is an excellent way to spend a day, and you don’t even have to get in the car to do it.