Rent Bicycles– Riding bikes around Charleston is the best way to explore the city. If you drive a car around, you will miss all the quaint nuances and secret gardens, and if you walk, you can only go so far. Thomas and I have enjoyed biking around Historic Downtown and the South of Broad areas. We suggest you bike to one of Charleston’s largest public spaces: the beautiful, recently updated Colonial Lake. Another spot to reach by bike is Queen Street Grocery, a cute little lunch spot that offers signature crepes and smoothies. Anywhere you go, always be careful of the one way streets! If your hotel does not offer complimentary bikes, you can rent them at either The Bicycle Shoppe or Affordabike.
Walk around South of Broad– The area at the edge of the peninsula, South of Broad, is filled with beautiful historic residential homes and gardens. You will get lost in the fairytale of Charleston’s unique features.. the bend at Church Street, the pineapple gates on Legare, and the candy-colored shutters on Lower King Street. We’ve walked around South of Broad quite a few times now and we always find something new. Take a peek behind the gates for a scene of European-designed gardens, go down the small alleyways, and rest under the massive trees at White Point Gardens at the end of your walk, while you look out over the Battery. Don’t miss the plaques that tell you about your stroll through American History.
Hampton Park– Across from the Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, in the area many locals call ‘Cross-Town,’ you will find one of the city’s largest parks, Hampton Park. The park boasts a lovely parade of florals. The Hampton Park neighborhood is charming and filled with history as well (this is a common theme throughout Charleston). We love gathering with friends and having picnics at this park.
Colonial Lake– Colonial Lake, a beautiful public space, is surrounded by historic Charleston houses. This is a great area to walk, run, or bike around, especially during the sunset. There are public tennis courts behind the lake if you are looking for a scenic place to play.
White Point Garden– White Point Garden is a historic waterfront park located at the Battery, on the Southern tip of the peninsula. The early Charlestown residents originally named White Point Garden after the white sand and oyster shells that had been bleached by the sun along the edge of the water. Massive trees provide shade for this public space that is perfect for a picnic. Don’t miss the lovely white gazebo in the park as well.
Kayaking/ Paddleboarding– Less than 10 minutes from downtown Charleston is the Shem Creek Shrimping Village. Here, you will find restaurants on the water, boaters coming in and out, and plenty of people paddleboarding, kayaking, and canoeing. You can rent a kayak, canoe, or SUP from Nature Adventure Outfitters on Shem Creek to take in the best of the salt marsh life. You can either purchase a rental to explore the salt marshes and crab bank island, or go on one of their guided saltwater or blackwater tours. It is so much fun to explore the barrier islands, black river swamps, and rivers Charleston offers. If you’re lucky you’ll spot a dolphin right before sunset.
Sailing– Set sail on the Charleston Harbour. There are a number of boat rentals and charters offered, and one charter we like in particular is the Schooner Pride. There is nothing like sailing under the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge at sunset. You can also take lessons or rent a sailboat from Charleston Sailing School. Your hotels may offer a sailing package as well, but either way make sure you take advantage of the open water while you are here!
Pickett Park and Pitt Street Bridge– East of the Cooper River, a few minutes away from the Arthur Ravenel Bridge, you will find Old Village Historical District in Mt. Pleasant. Pickett Park and Pitt Street Bridge are located on the south end of Pitt street in Old Village. Previously used to allow passage to Sullivan’s Island, the wooden fishing bridge now extends out to Cove Inlet.This is a wonderful spot to go after you enjoy a day kayaking out on Shem Creek or to watch the sunset before you go out to eat. The view from Pickett Park will take your breath away, as you watch the sunset over the Charleston Harbor and Intracoastal waterway. If you decide to go for sunset, bring bug spray or my favorite, bug spray wipes. It can’t hurt to have it on you but you’ll regret not having it if the bugs are out.
Rainbow Row– Along East Bay Street, right before you reach the Battery, is a long row of pastel-colored houses. You might as well be in Italy or the Caribbean. In fact, the pastel colors were originally intended to match a Caribbean color scheme. The eye-catching rainbow houses face the Cooper River. Walk down the cobblestone streets to a dock at the water where you can watch the sunrise and take in the views from the peninsula.
Walk/ Run the Arthur Ravenel Bridge– If you still desire a fun way to exercise after walking around the city, the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge has a path to walk or run and bike lane. In fact, every year, Charleston holds the Cooper River Bridge Run, and blocks off the bridge so thousands of runners from around the world can take it on for the race. Enjoy the best views of downtown and the Cooper River. You can either enter the walking path from the downtown or Mt. Pleasant end. After you park off of East Bay Street, the downtown stretch starts with a long walk over the marsh. You can either walk the whole bridge, or come back after you reach the top. We usually start on the Mt. Pleasant side. You can park your car for free under the bridge at the Mt. Pleasant Waterfront park. At the top of the bridge, it is very windy, so make sure you hold on to your hat and bring an extra layer if you are walking in the early morning. Also, check out the Mt. Pleasant pier under the bridge after your run/ walk/ bike ride.