The City Magazine Since 1975

Discover Charleston By Land & By Sea this season with our 2021 Summer Guide

Written By Tara Stewart

Whether you’re a landlubber or love to frolic in the waves, this Summer Guide reels in a variety of ways to enjoy every sun-drenched moment. There’s something for everyone—Dive in!

(Above left) Paddle Shem Creek alongside dolphins with Coastal Expedition’s kayak harbor tour. >>VIEW MORE PHOTOS



Get the details on our four closest beach playgrounds—whether you want to roam, search for shells, build a castle, or catch a wave—and claim your preferred patch of sand

Isle of Palms
Just 12 miles from downtown, this nearly 3,000-acre island has a lot to offer—seven miles of beach fun, plus dining, shopping, and entertainment. Here you’ll find both family beach houses and rentals, ice cream shops, Wild Dunes Resort, and concerts at The Windjammer. Avoid Breach Inlet at the southwestern tip and its dangerous currents, unless you’re surf fishing. The nearby oceanfront county park has a designated swimming area with lifeguards (10 a.m.-6 p.m.), sand volleyball courts, and picnic areas with grills, as well as parking, restrooms, outdoor showers, and umbrella/chair rentals. Isle of Palms County Park: 1-14th Ave. Daily, 9 a.m.–8 p.m. Parking: $10-$15, free for Gold Pass holders.

Sullivan’s Island 
Beach access paths and boardwalks across dunes lead to three miles of generally wide beaches, tidal sandbars, and old military bunkers on this mostly residential island. (The beachfront Fort Moultrie dates back to the Revolutionary War.) Closest to the mouth of the harbor is best for watching ships and dolphins. The streets are numbered “stations,” a leftover from trolley days. There are no lifeguards, and parking and amenities are limited on Sullivan’s. But there are a handful of great eateries and local shops on Middle Street.

Folly Beach 
Known as “The Edge of America,” this fun and funky beach town has its own laid-back persona. It’s the local favorite for surf breaks, as well as home to hundreds of beach houses (many available for vacation rentals), and while the pier is under construction this season, there are surf shops, cafés, and beach bars aplenty. Past the Washout on the island’s eastern end is the best spot for looking out at the striped Morris Island Light (circa 1876). The county park on the western end has lifeguards on duty from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., as well as parking, restrooms, outdoor showers, and umbrella/chair rentals.
Folly Beach County Park: 1100 W. Ashley Ave. Daily, 8 a.m.–sunset. Parking: $10-$15, free for Gold Pass holders.

Kiawah Island
Even at the height of summer, Kiawah Beachwalker Park on the west end of the private resort and residential island likely won’t be as packed as Folly or Sullivan’s. The public beach outside the gates of Kiawah is known for its quieter beauty. In summer, lifeguards are on duty, the snack bar is open, and umbrella/chair rentals are available. Kiawah Beachwalker Park: 8 Beachwalker Dr. Daily, 9 a.m.–8 p.m. Parking: $10-$15, free for Gold Pass holders.

Rules for our furry friends

■ Isle of Palms: Dogs are allowed off-leash between 5 to 9 a.m.; otherwise be sure Fido is leashed (even in the water). And, of course, owners must clean up after their pets. There are dog bag receptacles at most of the public beach access paths. 

■ Sullivan’s Island: Dogs are not allowed on the beach from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Off-leash hours are from 5 to 10 a.m. and on-leash from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. All dogs on the Sullivan’s Island streets, property, and beaches must have a license. 

■ Folly Beach: Dogs are not allowed on the beach from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.  At all other times they must be leashed and under control. Owners are asked to pick up their dog’s waste and remove it from the beach. 

■ Kiawah Island: Dogs are allowed on the beach, but they must be leashed at all times during the summer. Owners could be fined up to $465 if their pet is off-leash. Dogs are prohibited year-round in critical habitat areas located on each end of the island.

Before you head to the beach, make a plan 

■ Traffic: Roadways leading to any of the islands get jammed up, especially this season, so try to carpool, go early, and check the SC Department of Transportation cameras for real-time info (

■ Beach Rules & Parking: Each beach community has its own rules and regulations for everything from dogs on the beach (see the sidebar below) to what beverages are allowed. They also have tips on what to do if you come across a sea turtle nest or injured wildlife as well as finding a place to park and renting an umbrella. Follow the links below for more info that could save your day at the beach.

■ Isle of Palms:

■ Sullivan’s Island:

■ Folly Beach:

■ Kiawah Island:


Cross this item off your bucket list this summer. Head to Folly, popular for its surf breaks, where a plethora of pros lead private or group classes, and many offer special surf camps. Some will even come to a beach near you

Carolina Salt 
Pro surfer Kyle Busey and his crew help beginners and more experienced surfers on IOP, Sullivan’s, and Folly beaches. Along with the usual lessons and board rentals, they also offer summer surf camps for kids on Folly Beach. 8 Center St., Folly Beach;

Isla Surf School 
This team of instructors—ranging from former pros, veterans, and college students—all have years of experience under their rash guards and offer a wide range of lesson and tour options from private, semi-private, group lessons, and camps for kids. 220 W. Arctic Ave., Folly Beach;

Shaka Surf School 
Competitive surfer and coach Jenny Brown teaches surf techniques and etiquette to individuals and groups of all ages, but she has carved out a niche with her Wemoons Weekends, dedicating Saturday mornings to teaching women how to surf. 6th St. East, Folly Beach; 

Sol Surfers 
The OG among local surf schools, Sol Surfers was founded by Kai Dilling in 2000. Based on Folly, the College of Charleston surf instructor and his team provide lessons and camps for kids (complete with a shuttle from Mount Pleasant), as well as custom boards. 800 East Ashley Ave., Folly Beach;


Learn to stand-up paddleboard (SUP) for fitness and fun while getting a cool perspective of our beaches and waterways

Charleston Community Sailing 
This nonprofit’s mission is centered on getting Charleston residents on the water by sail as well as by paddle. Certified instructor Harriott Parker leads a variety of SUP classes from fitness workouts that build core strength to fun lessons for first timers to develop skills and confidence. Bring your board or rent one for a small additional fee. Charleston City Marina, 17 Lockwood Dr. K Dock. Days & times vary. $20-$25. 

Charleston Paddleboard Co. 
Get your feet wet on a two-hour marsh tour behind Folly exploring creeks and tidal flats. 1871 Bowens Island Rd., James Island. $47. 

Charleston SUP Safaris 
Whether you want to glide through creeks, take on waves, practice yoga, or complete a circuit workout, this outfit has SUP classes for all interests and abilities, as well as options for private lessons to groups. 83 Center St., Folly Beach. From $50. 

Coastal Expeditions 
Choose your scenery—the creeks and marshes behind Isle of Palms or the shrimp boats of Shem Creek out into the harbor with the downtown skyline—and guides with this longtime local outfitter will lead the way, offering tips on technique as well as natural history lessons. Isle of Palms Marina, 41st St. or Shem Creek, 514 Mill St. $60.

(Left to right) A Charleston RiverDogs home game at The Joe; The climbing wall at James Island County Park ; Mount Pleasnt Pier. >>VIEW MORE PHOTOS


Get back in the swing of things with family outings that will have your brood exploring, learning, challenging themselves, and just plain having fun! 

Take Flight
Well worth the drive to Awendaw, the Center for Birds of Prey hosts nearly 50 species of raptors—the collection is one of the largest and most diverse in the US and includes more than a dozen varieties of owls alone. The coolest experience that regularly has kids of all ages awestruck is the flight demos in the outdoor amphitheater, featuring untethered hawks, kites, falcons, and eagles performing their natural hunting techniques. Tickets must be purchased online in advance. 4719 N. Hwy. 17, Awendaw. Thursdays & Saturdays, 10:30 a.m. $20, $15 youth.

Make the Climb  
Many visit the 643-acre James Island County Park for its biking trails, crabbing dock, and Splash Zone water park. For those looking to reach new heights, it also boasts one of the Lowcountry’s tallest outdoor climbing walls, towering at 50 feet with more than 4,500 square feet of climbable surface. Bring your own gear or rent a harness at the nearby Rock Shop, then work with knowledgeable guides to develop your technical skills. Look for the periodic “Intro to Climbing” classes ($20). Advance registration & masks required. 871 Riverland Dr., James Island. Daily, 8 a.m.-7:30 p.m. $12. 

Zip Along
Always wanted to glide through the treetops? Charleston Zipline Adventures in Awendaw offers a canopy tour through 10 acres of unspoiled forest. Soaring 65 feet up in the air, you’ll move from platform to platform via seven zipline cables with stops on three towers, three swinging bridges, and a grand finale ride of more than 750 feet nonstop. Tours are led by trained guides who do all the “clipping,” letting you fully enjoy the exhilaration and views that come with the “zipping.” 1152 Guerins Bridge Rd., Awendaw. Daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. $79 per person.

Hike Through History
Gather your brood and head to Old Santee Canal State Park for a deep dive into Lowcountry natural history. Located along the backwaters of Biggin Creek at the southern end of the nation’s first summit canal, the 195-acre park offers a maze of trails and four miles of swamp boardwalks where naturalists lead guided walks for groups of 10 (preregistration required). Take a break at stops like the Interpretive Center for a look at 6,000 years of local history. 900 Stony Landing Dr., Moncks Corner. Daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Park admission is currently waived.

Go Fish
Part of the Memorial Waterfront Park complex, the 1,250-foot Mount Pleasant Pier stretches into Charleston Harbor near the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge—plenty of room to cast a line or two. Rent rods and pick up some bait at the pier tackle shop, then claim your spot to reel in flounder, sea trout, and more. Are you and your crew showing promise? Keep practicing for the Cast Off Fishing Tournament (September 11), open to adults and little ones alike. Harry M. Hallman Jr. Blvd., Mount Pleasant. Daily, 6 a.m.-10 p.m., $5, $4 active military, $3 seniors & kids 12 & under.

Kid Around
Stretch, breathe, and laugh alongside the resident baby goats during 60-minute outdoor vinyasa yoga classes at The Goatery at Kiawah River. This experience allows yogis of all ages and levels to enjoy the company of four-legged friends and mindful exercise while maintaining social distancing. Let your stress go and get ready for baby goat nuzzles, then stick around for a farm tour. Check the schedule and purchase tickets online. 3883 Betsy Kerrison Pkwy., John’s Island. Days & times vary. $25. 

Learn the Ropes
Do your kids have you climbing the walls? Have them climbing the ropes instead. The outdoor adventure courses at James Island’s Wild Blue Ropes are designed for all ages and abilities to promote physical activity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. Beginners can take on the Explorer’s Gateway for an easy hour of fun, while those seeking a challenge can navigate the Ninja-Fit Course, based on obstacle courses designed for TV show American Ninja Warrior. 1595 Highland Ave., James Island. Thursdays & Fridays, noon-7 p.m. & Saturdays & Sundays, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. $19-$45.

Play Ball 
The boys of summer are back! Charleston RiverDogs fans can enjoy a full lineup of reduced-capacity home games featuring the local Low-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays at their home stadium, Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park this season. While the RiverDogs batter up against rivals at The Joe, grab a Southern-inspired beef hot dog topped with pickled okra and cole slaw, or the stadium’s signature shrimp burger. Find ticket packages, as well as a range of fun promotions online, but note Fireworks Fridays to end the game with a bang. 360 Fishburne St. Days & times vary. $8-$18. 

Make A Splash

Seeking a soothing respite or maybe a place to splash and play? Follow our walking guide to some of the impressive, and dare we say cool, fountains on the peninsula.


Top 10 Instagrammable Spots

Head to these #VeryCharleston backdrops and smile for your smartphone

Extra Credit: Post your photo and tag us #CharlestonMagSummer @CharlestonMag


(Left to right) Barn Jam at Awendaw Green; Atlanta-based rock band Drivin N Cryin headlines The Windjammer on June 10 and 11; Tedeschi Trucks Band close out the Around the Bend series on June 25 and 26. >>VIEW MORE PHOTOS


Hallelujah! Live music is back, and concerts are being safely produced in a variety of outdoor venues. Grab your friends and your dancing shoes, the sounds of summer—from bluegrass to rock, Americana to Motown—will have you toe-tapping, swaying, and smiling all season

The Awendaw Green Scene 
Tucked among a grove of pine trees on the grounds of the Sewee Outpost, the Barn Jams at Awendaw Green offer music lovers a shaded and affordable outdoor escape to enjoy live music against a rural Lowcountry backdrop. Each Wednesday evening for just $10 (cash only), visitors can take in a different lineup of artists, including Sideshow Americans (June 2), Pierce Alexander (June 9), Big Sky Revival (July 14), and Bad Cameo (July 28). Bring your mask, your friends, and your beverage of choice; Awendaw Green even allows furry friends as long as they are leashed. 4853 Hwy. 17 N., Awendaw. Wednesday, 6-10 p.m., $10 (cash only).

A Jam Good Time 
For 49 years, The Windjammer on the Isle of Palms has been the go-to spot for live music on the beach. This summer, a number of acts—ranging from country musicians such as Drew Parker (June 3) and Corey Smith (June 4) to beloved Atlanta-based rockers Drivin N Cryin (June 10 & 11) and Charleston’s own Stop Light Observations (July 2)—take the Bud Light Seltzer Beach Stage. Enjoy the beats and sea breezes, along with bar food bites like chicken wings and your beverage of choice. Note: shows are limited to those age 21 and older. 1009 Ocean Blvd., Isle of Palms. Days & times range. $15-$35. 

Around the Bend
Head back up to The Bend— the 20-acre outdoor venue named after the broad turn in the Ashley River—for the last shows of its well-organized and socially distanced outdoor music series, produced in partnership with Charleston Music Hall. Up this month: Grammy-winning bluegrass band The Steeldrivers (June 5) and Tedeschi Trucks Band featuring Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks (June 24 & 25). Go online and get your square (for up to four people), then pack your picnic food, nonalcoholic drinks, blankets, and chairs to cozy up and take in live tunes, epic sunsets,  and breezes from the Ashley River. 3775 Azalea Dr., North Charleston. Days vary; gates open at 6 p.m., shows start at 7:30 p.m. $160-$300.

John’s Island Jams   
While the popular Reggae Nights concerts on James Island have been canceled for the season, those craving a laid-back, outdoor music experience can head to its sister property, John’s Island County Park. Buy a square for four people in advance, bring chairs and blankets, and groove to reggae wizards Mystic Vibrations (June 5) and the old-school Motown stylings of The Legacy (July 10). Food, from vendors such as Charleston Caribbean Creole and Happy Thai, and drinks will be available for purchase. 2662 Mullet Hall Rd., John’s Island. Gates open at 6 p.m., shows start at 7 p.m. $60 per square.

Field Day
Firefly Distillery winds down its Safe Sounds at Firefly concert series this month with shows scheduled through June 26. Grab one of the 200 squares in the Park Circle distillery’s four-acre field for the lineup, including hometown favorites Motown Throwdown—the name says it all!—(June 5), Night Moves with Taylor Hicks: A Tribute To Bob Seger (June 12), Elise Testone with BlackNoyze and special guest Brandon “Taz” Niederauer (June 19), and local alt-pop party band The Midnight City (June 26). Note: these shows are limited to those 21 and older, so leave the kiddos at home and get ready to have a great time. An assortment of food trucks will be on-site, with beer and wine available for purchase. 4201 Spruill Ave., North Charleston; Days vary; doors open at 6 p.m., shows start at 7 p.m.

Bands on Deck 
There’s a hot summer lineup of acts, including Shovels & Rope (June 18 & 19) and Dirty Dozen Brass Band (June 26), on the Charleston Pour House Deck Stage with pod-style seating expanded into the parking lot to maximize the crowd while minimizing the risk. And don’t miss the fun, funky, and free Motown Throwdown Sunday Funday shows during the Sunday Brunch Farmers Market. 1977 Maybank Hwy., James Island. Days, times, & prices vary.

Trotting through the surf at Seabrook Island. >>VIEW MORE PHOTOS


Commune with nature and get an up-close view of local wildlife via paddle, sail, or power boat

Paddles Up 
Experience Lowcountry salt marshes and the resident wildlife from a new perspective. Seasoned guides at Charleston Outdoor Adventures lead two-hour tours of the saltwater estuary behind Folly Beach. Hop in a kayak (single or tandem available) or SUP on Bowens Island and navigate the Folly River into the maze of creeks and tidal mud flats. During your paddle, you’ll learn about the flora and fauna, from tiny periwinkles climbing the spartina grass to wading birds such as herons fishing for lunch, and perhaps see a pod of dolphin splashing nearby. 1871 Bowens Island Rd., James Island. Kayaks: $47, $27 for ages 12 and under; must be 13 to operate a single kayak. SUP: $47; ages 13 plus, those under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. 

On the East Cooper side, Coastal Expeditions outfits and leads two-hour kayak and paddleboard excursions from its home base at Shem Creek. After you gear up and get pre-paddle instruction, you’ll pass the creek’s shrimp trawlers and pleasure boats and venture into the harbor, likely seeing dolphin and manatees, as well as brown pelicans, egrets, and herons, along the way. 514 Mill St., Mount Pleasant. Kayak: $52, $40 child. SUP: $60.

With the Wind 
Always wanted to try sailing but not sure where to start? Charleston Community Sailing, the area’s largest junior-sailing program, also offers classes to adults. Its Women on the Water weekly evening sailing sessions cover the basics of wind/weather and the boat, as well as knot-tying, rigging, and steering. The First Sail initiative gets interested newbies aboard fixed-keel J/24s, stable and comfortable for a ride on the Charleston Harbor, so they can get their sea legs. Charleston City Marina, 17 Lockwood Dr., K Dock. Days & times vary. Women on Water: $30 per class; First Sail: $80.

If you’d rather just ride along with a drink in hand, Charleston Sailing Adventures sets sail daily from the Charleston Maritime Center for its sunset harbor cruises. Board the 40-foot catamaran Double Fun, bring your own beverage, and take in amazing views of the city, as well as dolphins, pelicans, and more. Due to COVID, boats are limited to 12 people per trip. Charleston Maritime Center, 10 Wharfside St. Daily, 6:30 or 7 p.m. From $59, $49 teens, $39 child.

Fossil Finds 
Love looking for shark’s teeth or have a budding paleontologist in the family? Jump aboard Charleston Outdoor Adventures’ Carolina Skiff or Sea Hunt Bay Boat for its popular Fossil Finding Tour. Your captain will anchor at an uninhabited beach where the hunt will begin. During the five-mile round trip hike, you might unearth an assortment of vertebrate fossils from marine mammals or even older Ice Age remnants from animals such as the tapir, sloth, llama, bison, saber-toothed cat, mammoth, and Megalodon. Bring drinks and snacks for the four-hour trip, as well as a bag to carry home all your finds. 1871 Bowens Island Rd. $75, $50 age 12 and under. 

Trot Through the Surf
Head to Seabrook Island for a different kind of day at the beach. The resort island has one of the only area beaches that permits horseback riding, offering advanced riders the chance to roam the North Beach shoreline. To participate in the beach outing, riders must have three years of equestrian experience and be able to maintain control at a walk, trot, and canter. Neophytes can opt for a walking ride along the surf or on trails through the serene marsh, where alligators, turtles, osprey, and other creatures might be seen. Seabrook Island Equestrian Center, 2313 Seabrook Island Rd., John’s Island. Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. $150, advance reservations required. 

(Left to right) Paddle the Intracoastal Waterway and Awendaw Creek with Nature Adventure Outfi tters and watch the moon rise; A full moon paddle.  >>VIEW MORE PHOTOS


Things get cooler once the sun goes down, both in temperature and in vibe. It’s time to get out and explore, whether it’s yoga under the stars, movies in the park, or a river paddle and bonfire complete with s’mores

Paddle S’more
Gaze at the full moon rising over the Intracoastal Waterway and Awendaw Creek while following guides from Nature Adventures Outfitters on a night kayak tour with views of the Cape Romain Wildlife Refuge and the Francis Marion National Forest. After the one-hour paddle, enjoy a bonfire back at the put-in, complete with hot dogs and s’mores. It’s a family- and dog-friendly event with the opportunity to bring instruments for a bonfire jam session. 8257 N. Hwy. 17, McClellanville. June 25, July 23, & August 22, 7:30 or 8 p.m. $30; $15 bring your own boat; $10 bonfire only.

Local Finds
Shop the downtown Charleston City Night Market to discover treasures from local artists and craftspeople. Along three city blocks, peruse 100 percent locally made goods, such as adorable children’s clothing and beach hats from Beach Bébé Charleston, Element hand-poured wood-wick candles, and even decorative bowls that Eileen Payne handcrafts from pages of this magazine. Market St. between Church & East Bay sts., Friday & Saturday, 6:30-10:30 p.m.

Nighttime Namaste 
Center your body and mind under the moon during Starlight Yoga at Folly Beach County Park. For these two special “flow and glow” twilight yoga classes, instructor Ji Hwang leads beginning and well-versed yogis alike. Participants will receive a glow-in-the-dark prize with their required advanced registration. 1100 W. Ashley Ave. Folly Beach, June 3 & July 1, 7:30–8:30 p.m. $8.

Movies in the Park
Each Friday in August is movie night at the Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park. Grab your favorite blanket and a spot on the lawn for this Music and Movies series. Get a bite to eat from the on-site vendors and settle in as local bands play. The big screen lights up at sundown. 99 Harry M. Hallman Jr. Blvd., Mount Pleasant. Friday, 6:30 p.m. Admission and parking are free.

Moonrise Kingdom  
Watch the sun set and the full moon rise over the Lowcountry salt marsh while paddling the backside of Folly Beach. Guides at Charleston SUP Safaris lead these Full Moon Safaris two nights per month, providing a great opportunity to ply the waters under the stars. 83 Center St., Folly Beach. June 23 & 24, July 22 & 23, & August 21 & 22; 6:30 p.m. $50, $40 ages eight-12.


In a city where the local barbecue joint has a James Beard Award, it’s not surprising that many of the food trucks are serving up some gold medal dishes. Here’s a sampling of some that have roped us in; find even more at 

(Left to right) Braised in the South; Brava Bowls; Chicken Fats. >>VIEW MORE PHOTOS

Braised in the South
Southern eats from a classically trained crew with a passion for unique flavor; @braisedinthesouth

Brava Bowls
Acai bowls, smoothies, and cold brew coffee in compostable bowls with organic produce; @bravabowlsacai

Chicken Fats
Drool-inducing burgers, crispy chicken sandwiches, and pimento queso tater tots, often found at Low Tide Brewing; @chickenfats

(Left to right) Hustle Hot Wheels; The Immortal Lobster; Life Raft Treats; Platia Food Truck. >>VIEW MORE PHOTOS

Hustle Hot Wheels
Eighty percent plant-based eats, such as buddha burritos with cashew queso, plus a touch of seafood, as well as coffee, smoothies, and more;  @hustlehotwheels

The Immortal Lobster
Delivering Maine flavor to the Lowcountry with wicked awesome lobster rolls, mac’n’cheese, and bisque; @theimmortallobster

Life Raft Treats
A chef-driven artisan ice cream truck with whimsical creations—get the Not So Fried Chicken—plus local flavors from pastry chef Cynthia Wong; @life.raft.treats

Platia Food Truck
Lamb gyros, chicken souvlaki, Mediterranean salads, pita with tzatziki—all the Greek cuisine staples plus a homemade yogurt bar; @PlatiaFood

(Left to right) Semilla; Root Note; Tamashii. >>VIEW MORE PHOTOS

Carne asada, carnitas, and inventive veggie offerings (sweet potato confit and brussels)  in tacos, burritos, bowls, and more; @semillachs

Root Note
Dishing out global flavors with Southern soul, such as smoked pork tacos with house-made pickles, Sriracha aioli, and pho chimichirri; @RootNoteFood

Japanese “soul bowls” filled with  Asian comfort food goodness; @TheMisfitChef


With 30-plus breweries in the Tricounty region, Lowcountry craft beer lovers never had it so good. Map out your own tasting tour via The Charleston Ale Trail (, a helpful site that lists all the area hot spots and hangouts, as well as restaurant tap take-overs, new releases, and other special events. Check out a few of our favorites

Commonhouse Aleworks
A newer North area gem, the indoor-outdoor industrial space is a great place to sample the Park Circle Pale or the super refreshing and sessionable pale ale. Plus, Commonhouse serves great eats from chef Brannon Florie. 4831 O’Hear Ave., North Charleston;

Holy City Brewing
With a huge taproom, patio, and yard by the marsh, there’s plenty of space to check out the many brews on tap. Its Pluff Mud Porter may be the best in town. Adventurous? Try the Sparkly Princess IPA, which has a hint of sour funk. Don’t judge, it’s delicious. 1021 Aragon Ave.;

Coast Brewing Company
On Thursday and Friday afternoons, hit up the taproom of this family-run brewery, the OG among local craft brewers. Its HopArt is still the best IPA in town, the seasonal Bulls Bay Oyster Stout is a special treat, and the Kolsch tastes like it’s from Germany. 1250 2nd St. N., North Charleston;

Munkle Brewing Company
The place to go to sip on a variety of Belgian styles and watch the trains go by. 1513 Meeting Street Rd.;

Tradesman Brewing
Grab a seat on the patio; you can’t go wrong with the selection of well-made, well-balanced beers in multiple styles. But don’t miss the Anniversary Double IPA—delicious and dangerous. 1647 King St. Ext.;

Revelry Brewing
Revelry makes great beers in many styles. The rooftop, a scene on the weekends, lives up to the name. The Hold, their sour and barrel-aging spot just around the corner, is a great little hideout with tasty pours. Revelry Rooftop: 10 Conroy St. & The Hold: 36 Romney St.;

Edmunds Oast Brewing Company
Head to the Pacific Box & Crate for the largest selection of beers, ranging from darks to hoppy to sours, as well as pizza, sandwiches, and snacks. 1505 King St., #115;

Charles Towne Fermentory
This popular Avondale taproom pours more than a dozen brews, from a Mexican lager to the citrusy Sungazer IPA, as well as cider, wine, and a house-made soda. 809 Savannah Hwy.,


Sometimes you just have to take a break from the afternoon swelter and find respite indoors. Chill out while discovering cool things about Charleston from the inside 

History Buffs 
Dig deep into the story of the city at The Charleston Museum, one of the oldest collecting institutions in the US. There are artifacts for most every aspect of life here, from the Native Americans to the colonists and the enslaved people who built the city and its agricultural wealth. The Armory houses all manner of weaponry, from Revolutionary War swords to dueling pistols, while the Historic Textiles Gallery showcases rotating exhibits, such as this summer’s “The Lawn Party”—outdoor party fashions from the 19th century to the present. Find examples of natural history, such as the massive Megalodon jaw; fine silver from the colonial elite; and even a hands-on section geared for the kids. 360 Meeting St. Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. $12, $10 ages 13-17, $5 for ages three-12. 

If maritime history floats your boat, visit the CSS HL Hunley, the first submarine to sink an enemy warship, the USS Housatonic, in 1864. The Confederate submersible, along with its crew, then succumbed to the depths, lost until being discovered off the coast of Charleston in 1995 and lifted from the seabed five years later. Today, the Hunley is preserved and studied in a lab at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center at the old Charleston Navy Base, where the Friends of the Hunley conduct tours of the craft every weekend. 1250 Supply St. Saturday & Sunday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. $18, $15 senior/military, $10 ages six-12.

Art Smart
Get to know the Holy City through its art and culture at the Gibbes Museum of Art, with more than 10,000 works in its permanent collection. From 18th century colonial portraits to Charleston Renaissance-era landscapes and etchings to contemporary works and the ongoing visiting artist program, you’ll glean new layers of Charleston’s past and present. On your way out, peruse the museum store, where you’ll find jewelry, gifts, books, and more, with many items made by local artists and artisans. 135 Meeting St. Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. & Sunday 1 p.m.-4 p.m.

Under the Sea 
Get lost in the wonders of South Carolina waters, from mountain streams to the Atlantic at the South Carolina Aquarium. Exhibits highlight thousands of species—animal and plant, aquatic and terrestrial—native to the state, from alligators and cypress trees to bald eagles and river otters. It’s amazing to witness the two-story, 385,000-gallon Great Ocean Tank and its variety of fish, eels, and sharks, especially at the various feeding times. Pass the pelicans perched in an outdoor forest and saltwater marsh, filled with a variety of local wildlife. Head to The Shallows to pet the cownose stingrays (pay an extra $5 to feed them a treat). And don’t miss the Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery to learn more about these creatures and the aquarium’s conservation efforts to rehabilitate and release them to the wild. Tickets must be purchased in advance. 100 Aquarium Wharf. Daily, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. $30 ages 13 & up, $23 ages three-12.

Kid Stuff 
Let your little ones’ imaginations run wild in the cool environs of the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry with exhibits designed to encourage exploration through play. You’ll find a pint-sized grocery store complete with shopping carts and cash registers, an interactive art room where your blossoming Picasso can paint a new masterpiece, and an outdoor butterfly garden, for when they’re ready to venture back outside. Guests must schedule their visit in advance online for two-hour playdates on weekends only. 25 Ann St. Saturday & Sunday. $12 per person.

(Left to right) The Co-Op; Fleet Landing; The Salty Dog Cafe; Fleet Landing; Bowens Island Restaurant. >>VIEW MORE PHOTOS


Famished after a long day in the sand and sun? Stop by these spots for beach- or waterside food and bev, from fresh seafood and cocktails to all-day breakfast and frosé

Go Old School
A Lowcountry staple for 60 years, Bowens Island Restaurant is better described as an experience. Eat your fill of locally harvested seafood—steamed oysters, fried fish, Frogmore stew, and shrimp fixed a variety of ways—in an elevated shack on the Folly River. The no-frills atmosphere lends to its familial charm. Gazing at the salt marsh with a cold beer and a platter of fried local shrimp—you must be livin’ right. 1870 Bowens Island Rd., James Island;

Fun & Funky
“Ocean adjacent,” as a real estate listing would say, Jack of Cups is just a stone’s throw from the beach. This funky eatery boasts an eclectic, internationally inspired menu that results in some quirky cuisine mash-ups, such as the red curry mac-n-cheese and beet Caesar salad. There’s plenty of vegan and vegetarian fare as well, including mock eel and bok choy rice bowls and cashew chutney with teriyaki toast. 34 Center St., Folly Beach,

Frosé All Day
It’s all about the frosé at The Co-Op, on both Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island. Pop-up flavors include elderflower, prickly pear, cherry cola, and even chocolate-covered strawberry. Their latest, “The Powers of Hibiscus,” features an icy combination of mango, rosé, and, of course, hibiscus, creating a new kind of mimosa that complements the all-day breakfast menu. 2019 Middle St., Sullivan’s Island & 1515 Palm Blvd. Ste. C, Isle of Palms;

Top Shelf Bar Food 
Located downstairs from its sister restaurant, Code del Pesce, on front beach Isle of Palms, Binky’s Oyster & Liquor Bar is a casual indoor-outdoor option with great views. This is the place you can order a 64-ounce fishbowl drink with six different flavored vodkas and sip with your friends (or alone, no judgment). You won’t find a kids’ menu (“it’s a bar” the rules quip), but Binky’s has legit food game with, of course, oysters on the half shell, plus burgers, blue crab quesadillas, and a yellowfin tuna seven-layer dip that steals the show. 1130 Ocean Blvd., Isle of Palms;

Taco Time
With tacos named “Juan Corleone,” “Fishin’ in the Dark,” and “Gotta Go Gringo,” Papi’s Taqueria isn’t your average taco stand. Settle into the casual eatery with an ocean view for chef-inspired tacos and sides plus an impressive tequila list. Save room for the churro beignets. 1012 Ocean Blvd., Isle of Palms;

Favorite Haunt
Poe’s Tavern
on Sullivan’s Island is indeed named for the famous poet who was inspired to write his short story “The Gold Bug” while stationed at Fort Moultrie. Locals and visitors alike love this come-as-you-are place for the signature burgers (try the “Pit & Pendulum” or “Tell-Tale Heart”) as well as everything from fish tacos to piled-high nachos and a long list of local beers on tap. 2210 Middle St., Sullivan’s Island;

Eat Like a King
With views of the Wando River, Daniel Island’s new The Kingstide serves up a seafood-driven menu two ways. Make reservations in the downstairs dining room for entrees such as seared tuna, lobster agnolotti, or the “Campfire Trout.” Head up to the first-come, first-served raw bar for more casual eats—including fish sliders, lobster rolls, and peel-and-eat shrimp. Add a Lefty Loosey from Revelry Brewing and take in the sunset scene. 32 River Landing Dr., Daniel Island,

Southern View
With the only waterfront dining on the peninsula proper, Fleet Landing offers up a menu of Southern soul food dressed up a bit for company. Here, you’ll find fried green tomatoes, she crab soup, lobster hush puppies, oysters and shrimp prepared to your liking, and crispy fried flounder with an apricot glaze. 186 Concord St.,

The Salt Life
Sip and stay awhile at The Salty Dog Café at Bohicket Marina for waterfront dining, island atmosphere, live music, and a great sunset view. The raw bar has oysters on the half shell and gator bites for the more adventurous. If you have the kids in tow, stop next door for Salty Dog Ice Cream; if not, pull up a seat at the Blender Bar for all manner of fruity, frozen concoctions. 1882 Andell Bluff Blvd., John’s Island;

Local Flavor
Down Edisto way, make a point to stop by the Briny Swine. It’s a waterside experience dedicated to two Southern pastimes: the oyster roast and pig pickin’. And it’s a darn good combination. There’s local oysters, local beer, and local flavor in every bite. From the barbecue roasted oysters to “The Front Porch” sandwich with house-smoked turkey, you’ll want to pull up a chair and sit awhile. 3731 Docksite Rd., Edisto Island;

Get Crabby
Make dinner an adventure! Barrier Island Eco Tours offers boat trips to Capers Island where naturalist guides help you bag blue crabs with a hand line and net and pull up a few crab traps to explain the anatomy and behaviors of the crustacean. The beach day culminates in a crab boil for the whole family. Bring a cooler with your beverage of choice and additional snacks for this hard-earned seafood feast. 50 41st Ave., Isle of Palms. Monday-Friday, 1:30-5 p.m. $50; $40 ages 12 and under.

(Left to right) The Angel Oak; Botany Bay Plantation. >>VIEW MORE PHOTOS


You know what they say about the best things in life—in Charleston, that might actually be true. Check out these outings that are absolutely free

Living Legend
Take a short drive from downtown and gain some perspective beneath the sprawling, moss-draped limbs of the Angel Oak, a witness to Lowcountry history for some 400 years. All are welcome to explore Angel Oak Park, which is managed by the City of Charleston, and take a stroll around the Southern live oak’s nearly 26-foot circumference. Have a picnic in its shade, and be sure to visit the gift shop for an array of Angel Oak and Lowcountry souvenirs. Admission is free, but donations are accepted to help fund the tree’s care. 3688 Angel Oak Rd., John’s Island. Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday, 1-4 p.m. Closed Wednesdays & holidays

Tea Time
Just down the road on Wadmalaw Island, get a taste of the Lowcountry’s tea-growing tradition at Charleston Tea Garden, the only place where tea is grown in North America. Whether you’re a tea-lover or not, the sprawling fields lush with Camellia sinensis (tea is a camellia family member, blooms and all) are a sight to behold. Admission is free and includes a factory tour showcasing the tea-making process, from harvest to packaging its American Classic brand. Pack a lunch to spread on one of the pondside picnic tables and splurge on the $14 trolley ride, a 40-minute narrated tour of the property, where you can drink in lessons in horticulture and history. A cheery gift shop sells varieties of American Classic, including Charleston Breakfast, Rockville Raspberry, and Island Green—plus accessories galore. 6617 Maybank Hwy., Wadmalaw Island. Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sunday, noon-4 p.m.
Path to the Past 
Charleston’s Gateway Walk isn’t a formal tour, it’s more like taking the scenic route and winding through a series of backyards on the long way home from a friend’s house. Created by The Garden Club of Charleston back in 1930, this mostly shaded stroll begins on Archdale Street at St. John’s Lutheran Church, passes through the Unitarian churchyard, over King Street, past the Charleston Library Society, then winds in and around famous streets via worn brick paths to the St. Philip’s Episcopal Church. The entire walk is just a few blocks as the crow flies, but it’s a glimpse of Lowcountry lore as intriguing as it is lush. Find the map at

Wild Ride
Experience the undeveloped coast of Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve on Edisto Island, just about an hour drive from downtown. This 3,363-acre tract, gifted to the state in 2008, is open for the public to explore at will, from the lengthy “boneyard beach”—so named for its sun-bleached fallen trees—to the dense maritime forest and lagoons rich with bird life. Get your day pass at the entrance kiosk and pick up a map including a six-and-a-half-mile driving tour that points out wildlife viewing opportunities. Better yet, bring your bikes for cruising past moss-draped live oak trees, the historical plantation ruins, and sparkling freshwater ponds along the way. 1066 Botany Bay Rd., Edisto Island. Open during daylight hours, except on Tuesdays and for scheduled special hunts. 

Conquer the Ravenel
Lace up your sneakers and traverse the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, the closest thing we have to a hill in the Lowcountry. Connecting Mount Pleasant to the peninsula and coming in at 13,200 feet in length (that’s about two and a half miles and one of the longest cable-stayed bridges in the Western Hemisphere!), crossing its entirety will give you a healthy glow. But the best part is relishing the views of the harbor and the city from a magnificent vantage point of nearly 200 feet above the water.


Images: courtesy of Charleston County Parks & Recreation Commission; Illustration by Elmiral; Kyle Busey; Clay Austin; Courtesy of Isla Surf School; Illustration by Nicetoseeya; Courtesy of the venues; Kate Thornton; Courtesy of Wild Blue Ropes; Sean Pavone; Valphotog; Erica Navarro; Illustrations by  Mia Hampton; Preezoom.nL; Keen Eye Marketing; courtesy of The Bend, Illustration by Balabolka; Sacha Griffin; Michael F. O’Brien; Ellison White; Jenn Cady; Dotted Yeti; Charleston Outdoor Adventures; Samuel Hodges; Courtesy of Seabrook Island & Illustration by Juli Juli; Violanta Klimenko; courtesy of Nature Adventure Outfitters; Kit Macavoy; Ilustration by Jumpingsack; Brittany Lapin; Peter Frank Edwards; @HolyCItycreative; Courtesy of The Immortal Lobster; Adam Chandler Photography; Vince Carino; Courtesy of @SemillasChs; Eli Harrell; Scott Zrust; Courtesy of @BraisedintheSouth; Illustration by Julia August; Brittany Ballenger Geddis; Paul Pavlich; Jeff Wright; Nik Heeter; Kit Macavoy; Tripp Smith; Courtesy of Coast; Charles Towne Fermentory; Illusrations by Mia Hampton; Natasha Koltsova; courtesy of the Charleston Museum; Friends of the Hunley, Inc.; The Gibbes Museum of Art; courtesy of the South Carolina Aquarium; Chris Rogers; Kit MacAvoy; Andrew Cebulka; courtesy of Salty Dog Cafe; Kim Graham; Nagel Photography & Illustration by Nikolaeva