It's hard not to notice how flat the city of Charleston is. This lack of elevation has its pros and cons. On one hand, getting around town on a skateboard, beach cruiser, or single speed bike is not only doable, it's almost expected. And road running in the Holy City is as good as it gets (when it's not unbearably humid, of course).
But every once in a while, the urge to escape the streetscape and get above the claustrophobic rows of single houses becomes very real. Here is a guide to some of the Holy City's best places to get high up, relax, and take in incredible views of the city.
1. Wentworth Mansion
The Wentworth Mansion is the largest, once single-family residence on the Peninsula, and it's since been turned into a 5 star bed and breakfast. On the rooftop of this large, four storey gothic mansion is an observation deck that easily holds one of the most breathtaking views in the city. The deck provides views of the entire peninsula of downtown Charleston, and almost no one knows about it. The trick is to order a drink from the bar at Circa 1886, the Wentworth Mansion's onsite Restaurant, and take your beverage past the concierge and up to the 4th floor, where you'll find the spiral staircase to the observatory. Once you get there, it will be hard to leave.
2. The Rooftop Bar at The Vendue
The Rooftop Bar is a swanky, hip, night club-esque scene—the sort of place you might find a bachelorette party pre-gaming their evening out on the town. But you will quickly forget about all of that after taking in the view. And it's also relatively laid back and uncrowded before dark, which is when you'll experience the best view anyway. The bar is on top of an Inn located a block from where the Cooper River meets the Atlantic, and the views of Fort Sumter and Sullivans Island are unreal.
3. The James Island County Park Climbing Wall
Sometimes you have to work for the view, and you might as well have fun while you're at it. Head over to James Island County Park, conquer the climbing wall, which is a good 80 feet in the air, and take in the views of the marsh behind James Island. Just make sure you bring a buddy who's willing to belay you while you enjoy an extended view of the lowcountry.
4. Folly Beach Pier
It's not the highest point in the city by any means, but the Folly Pier is home to a great view down the beach, and the cool sea breeze coming off the ocean feels like mother nature running her fingers through your hair. Grab your fishing pole or rent one from the shop at the pier, cast a line, and sit back to enjoy the view. The pier is also an awesome spot to watch the surfers tear it up on the waves below.
5. The Ravenel Bridge
The highest point in the area for miles around is in between the arches of the Ravenel Bridge . Like your Grandpa's walk to school, the platform in the middle of the bridge is uphill both ways. No matter which side you're coming from, you'll walk, run, or ride about 1.75 miles, but that is a small price to pay, and will make you appreciate the view that much more. For the best experience, go early in the morning in time to watch the sun come up over the steeples. The least amount of traffic noise is in the morning as well, so that's an added benefit.
There you have it, the 5 best spots to get high in the Lowcountry.