ABOUT ISLE OF PALMS
The biggest of Charleston’s beaches, the Isle of Palms makes you feel like you’re on vacation from the moment you reach the peak of the IOP Connector and gaze across the ocean’s horizon. For a full-on staycation, rental homes abound, including those in the Wild Dunes Resort, a gated family paradise of beaches, pools, and bike trails (destinationhotels.com/wild-dunes).
Walk the kitschy strip of trinket shops along Ocean Boulevard and stop into My Favorite Things gift shop (1009-D Ocean Blvd., myfavoritethingsiop.com) to say hello to Bubba the macaw. Across the street is Coda Del Pesce (1130 Ocean Blvd., codadelpesce.com), a fine dining Italian seafood establishment by lauded local chef Ken Vedrinski. His downstairs oyster bar, Binky’s, is expected to open this summer.
Isle of Palms - Gotta Do This!
Hit the Waves:
This local outfit makes it easy to get on the water with their “Safari Adventure Tours” along the Intracoastal Waterway (or in the air, via their top-notch parasailing experience). Tidal Wave Water Sports rents Jet Skis and boats out of the marina, or play tourist and hire them to tow you around on a “banana boat ride.”
69 41st Ave., (843) 886-8456, tidalwavewatersports.com
Jam on the Sand:
A rare oceanfront music venue, The Windjammer helped build the careers of acts like Hootie & the Blowfish and Edwin McCain (the latter performs on July 2 and 3). And these days, “the Jammer” keeps delivering summer fun—other highlights on the schedule include JJ Grey & Mofro (June 27), Jupiter Coyote (July 20), and Uncle Mingo (July 26). It’s also the go-to spot in the area for beach volleyball. 1008 Ocean Blvd., (843) 886-8596,
Heaping helpings of breakfast favorites emerge from the kitchen of this tiny cottage called The Sea Biscuit. Sundays are particularly busy, but the benedicts and loaded omelets are available seven days a week. 21 J.C. Long Blvd., (843) 886-4079
Play The Links:
Often overlooked by visitors dead-set on Kiawah tee times, the Tom Fazio-designed Links Course at Wild Dunes offers sweeping views across the Atlantic at half the cost of Kiawah’s Ocean Course (green fees range from $75-$165). 10001 Back Bay Dr., (843) 886-2002, destination-hotels.com/wild-dunes
At the IOP Marina, you’ll find folks partying to live bands at Morgan Creek Grill (morgancreekgrill.com) on Sunday afternoons, after a leisurely brunch complemented by their extensive Bloody Mary bar. Also based here, the expert guides and naturalists at Barrier Island Eco Tours (nature-tours.com) can facilitate an educational exploration of Capers Island and the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. 50 41st Ave., iopmarina.com
Local Isle of Palms Knowledge
- Dogs are allowed off leash—a local rarity—from 5 to 9 a.m. on summer mornings.
- Arrive before 10 a.m. to find a free parking spot. Otherwise, steer toward the Isle of Palms County Park (ccprc.com) for convenient parking—and bathroom access—that’s $10 on weekdays and $15 on weekends.
- Swimming is safe anywhere on the island except for Breach Inlet at the southern end. Lifeguards are on duty from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in front of the county park.
ABOUT SULLIVAN'S ISLAND
Sullivan’s may be Charleston’s most charming island. It’s impossible not to fall in love with this well-preserved place that helped shape our nation’s history—and was briefly home to Edgar Allen Poe. Sullivan’s is the only local beach with a genuine Historic District, including mansions, a chapel, and Officers’ Row (1702-1760 I’On Avenue) dating to the U.S. Army’s 19th-century presence here. Visit Website
Sullivan's Island - Gotta do this!
South Carolina’s iconic state flag has its roots at Fort Moultrie, a Revolutionary War stronghold that withstood British bombardment thanks to its shock-absorbing palmetto log construction. The brick and earthen structure there today was of equal importance during the Civil War. Stop into the excellent museum, operated by the National Park Service, and then explore at your leisure.
1214 Middle St., nps.gov
Make an Escape:
While its neighboring islands fight erosion, Sullivan’s has experienced decades of accretion at its southern end, resulting in a 200-acre forest. Wind through it via the Maritime Forest Nature Trail that begins at Station 16 and wanders through vegetation and dunes. It’s an incredible escape into the woods along Charleston Harbor. Station 16 St. S., travelscbeaches.com/sullivans-island-nature-trail
Grab a Bite:
For post-beach fare and a brew, order a Pit & Pendulum or Tell-Tale Heart burger at Poe’s Tavern, a stalwart pub inspired by the poet’s tenure on Sullivan’s with the Army. (2210 Middle St., poestavern.com) Craving Italian? Downtown residents drive to Sullivan’s just to eat at The Obstinate Daughter. Start with the raw bar and then share a bowl of the divine ricotta gnocchi and a Five Fathom Hole pizza with local clams. (2063 Middle St., theobstinatedaughter.com)
Cool Off with a Cone:
Just below the Obstinate Daughter, BeardCat’s Sweet Shop (2063 Middle St., beardcatsweetshop.com) serves 20 flavors of house-made gelato and sorbet, as well as breakfast items, sandwiches, and “frappaccinos” made with Counter Culture coffee. Closer to the action on Middle Street, Republic Ice Cream (2120 Middle St., republicicecream.com) scoops tempting cones, shakes, and floats in eight go-to flavors like Southern butter pecan and old-fashioned strawberry.
Learn to Fly:
A unique offshore sandbar forms a protected cove near Station 28.5 at Sullivan’s northern end, creating ideal conditions for kiteboarding. On a breezy day, go here to watch the action, or book a lesson with island-based Sealand Adventure Sports ($300 for three hours of private instruction) and catch some wind. 2120 Middle St., sealandsports.com
Local Sullivan's Island Knowledge
- Visitors need a $35 permit, obtainable at Town Hall, to walk their dogs on the beach. Unless you’re here for a week or more, it’s easier to take your dog to IOP. sullivansisland-sc.com
- The number of public parking spaces on the island was cut in half in 2017, meaning longer walks to the beach and earlier arrival times to guarantee a spot. The payoff is more of a community feel and smaller beach crowds, except on major holidays.
- There are no lifeguards on Sullivan’s, although swimming is generally safe and welcome everywhere except for Breach Inlet.
ABOUT FOLLY BEACH
Folly’s “Edge of America” moniker reflects the island’s bohemian attitude more than its geography. The end-of-a-one-way-road vibe makes this South Carolina’s answer to Key West—expect friendly bikers, retired hippies, and barefoot bards strumming Jimmy Buffett tunes to outdoor crowds. At the island’s southwestern end, Folly Beach County Park’s isolated spit of sand offers one of Charleston’s best (and least crowded) sunset views, looking across the Stono River (1100 W. Ashley Ave., ccprc.com). Folly is also home to “The Washout,” one of the South’s most consistent surf breaks. (The S.C. Governor’s Cup of Surfing contest will take place there on August 3 and 4.) The island also boasts nearly two dozen restaurants, serving up everything from fried catch of the day to vegan curries. VISIT WEBSITE
Folly Beach - Gotta Do This!
Go on an Aquatic Adventure:
Hook up with Flipper Finders Captain Richard “Dickey” Brendel, who has operated this boat and kayak tour company since 2010 and is known for his local insight and the occasional pirate joke. Whether you charter a ride out to Morris Island on his 25-foot Carolina Skiff or paddle a big loop through the marsh, the guides’ knowledge improves your chance of an encounter with the Folly River’s resident American bottlenose dolphins. 83 Center St., (843) 588-0019, flipperfinders.com
Learn to Surf:
Family-owned McKevlin’s Surf Shop has been Folly’s surfing hub since 1965. Board rentals are $9 per hour, or free with a $60 perhour one-on-one lesson (highly recommended for newbies who want to learn fast!) 8 Center St., (843) 588-2247, mckevlins.com
Shag on the Pier:
Time your visit to dance the night away at a Moonlight Mixer on the Folly Beach Pier, scheduled for June 21, July 26, August 16, and September 13. Or visit any day to rent a fishing rod and cast for redfish and sharks from the second longest pier on the East Coast before it’s replaced this winter. 101 E. Arctic Ave., (843) 795-4386, ccprc.com
Open 24-7, this landmark shop has been a staple for last-minute dinner ingredients and late-night beer runs since 1993. Now operated by its namesake’s daughter and son-in-law, Bert’s has reinvented itself for the modern era, including a gourmet deli, growler fill station, Wholly Cow ice cream, and organic selections. 202 E. Ashley Ave., (843) 588-9449, facebook.com/bertsmarket
Explore a Maritime Forest:
The Morris Island Lighthouse rises from the water like a magical beacon. The island it was built upon 140 years ago has eroded away, but restoration by nonprofit Save the Light has kept it standing. For a great vantage point, park at the far northeast end of Folly and walk the quarter-mile trail to Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve. There, you can also explore the maritime forest and boneyard beach. Bring a $1 bill for the entry fee, and note: they have a water bottle refill station at the entrance sign. 1750 E. Ashley Ave., (843) 795-4386, ccprc.com
Folly Local Tips
- Parking is free along residential roadways, but make sure that all four tires are completely off the pavement.
- Dogs are not allowed on the beach between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. during summer, so leave your pooch at home in the AC.
- Traffic onto the island backs up by 11 a.m. on weekends, so arrive early for a stress-free beach day.
- Swim anywhere on Folly Beach except for Lighthouse Inlet on the island’s northeast end, where deadly currents make it unsafe to get in the water. Lifeguards are on duty between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. at the pier and at Folly Beach County Park, where you can pay to park or show your park pass.
Kiawah takes the good life to the next level, including a world-class hotel and golf courses—not to mention 10 miles of uncrowded beaches that are perfect for long walks or finishing a new beach read.
The hub of the community is Freshfields Village (165 Village Green Ln., freshfieldsvillage.com), a tastefully designed shopping center that features yoga classes, wine tastings, and live music throughout the week. Rent a villa here, and it’s easy to forget that the “real world” exists beyond the gates.
Kiawah You Gotta Do This
Spend a Day on the Sand:
Named one of America’s best beaches year after year, Kiawah Beachwalker Park has parking, bathrooms, and lifeguards, but the main draw is access to Captain Sam’s Spit, a remote stretch of sand that doubles back onto a rare tidal beach fronting the Kiawah River, where dolphins are known to chase fish onto the beach in a behavior known as “strand feeding.” It’s amazing to witness, but keep your distance from these federally protected marine mammals. (Learn more from advocacy group Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network at lowcountrymarinemammal-network.org.) The park received upgrades in spring 2019, including a new boardwalk, showers, and improved handicap accessibility. 8 Beachwalker Dr., ccprc.com
Dine Like Royalty:
The crown jewel of resort dining in the state, The Ocean Room in the five-star Sanctuary Hotel tempts diners with sprawling views of the Atlantic and an “Oysters and Caviar” starter menu. It’s an experience worth the splurge. 1 Sanctuary Beach Dr., kiawahresort.com
Golf With Champions:
Kiawah’s Ocean Course, which will once again host the PGA Championship in 2021, is just one of five world-class courses in the resort. Jack Nicklaus’ Turtle Point has three oceanfront holes, and the Tom Fazio-designed Osprey Point offers a full Lowcountry tour, traversing salt marshes, lakes, and forests. Cougar Point received recent upgrades, and Oak Point is a Scottish-style course that’s a relative bargain at $193. kiawahresort.com
Play Like A Pro:
Earlier this year, Kiawah consolidated and upgraded its Roy Barth Tennis Center, now offering 22 clay and hard courts at the state-of-the-art facility that’s still under the leadership of its namesake tennis pro. Of particular note is the practice court with its unique ball retrieval system—ideal for honing your backhand to perfection. 1 Sanctuary Beach Dr., kiawahresort.com
Find Your Bliss:
Indulge in pure luxury at the Forbes five-star Spa at The Sanctuary, which offers high-end treatments in an oceanfront locale. Go all the way with the “Blissfully Unaware” package, including a signature massage, custom facial and mani-pedi. 1 Sanctuary Beach Dr., kiawahresort.com
Kiawah Local Tips
- Kiawah is a gated community, but a reservation for dinner, tennis, or golf gains you entry. Beachwalker Park is outside the gate and does not require a Kiawah pass but you will have to pay parking and entry fees.
- Leashed dogs are welcome on Kiawah, year-round.
- Beachwalker Park has lifeguards on duty from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and a beach patrol vehicle is on duty throughout the day.
The perfect escape for old-school fun
Just an hour drive south but a world away, Edisto Beach still feels like a classic Carolina beach town untouched by time. It’s an affordable place to rent a house for the week, or just make a day-trip down the moss-draped Edisto Island National Scenic Byway edistoscenicbyway.org
Edisto - You Gotta Do This!
Take in the Scenery:
The island’s hidden attraction is one of its newest to be publicly accessible. Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve offers access to a stunning boneyard beach, where the ocean has gradually overtaken the forest, leaving trees to emerge from the surf. There’s also a driving loop through the plantation’s forest and wetlands and unparalleled birding opportunities. Pack binoculars and a picnic lunch. Although collecting shells isn’t allowed, it’s one of the state’s best places to find massive whelks. Take photographs, then head further south to the state park to gather your own treasures. Note: Botany Bay is open from sunrise to sunset and closed on Tuesdays and for scheduled hunts. 1066 Botany Bay Rd., edistobeach.com/botany-bay
Take a Nature Tour:
For a hands-on experience, book a boat excursion with Captain Meg Hoyle of Botany Bay Ecotours. She has an encyclopedic knowledge of the area, and her offerings include a Gullah-Geechee ecotour; “Crab College,” where you’ll catch blue crabs via handlines; and private ACE Basin charters. botanybayecotours.com
Before or after your adventure, leave time for a clamshell of fried shrimp and oysters at Flowers Seafood Co. The family-run market, six miles from the beach on Highway 174, has a covered trailer with picnic tables. Stay there to eat—it’s torture trying to make it home without digging in. 1914 Hwy. 174, flowersseafood.com
10 Essential Charleston Beers
10 Essential Charleston Beers
Our picks for some perfect locally brewed pints
Charles Towne Fermentory: Skipjack Oyster Gose, 4.2% ABV
Fermentory founder Adam Goodwin built a national reputation at Boston’s Trillium Brewing Co., before heading south to further his legend with beers like this briny sour brewed with whole oysters (availability varies). chsfermentory.com
COAST Brewing Co.: HopArt IPA, 7.7% ABV
The flagship brew from the husband-and-wife team that launched Charleston’s craft beer revolution; even the pale ale-averse find it refreshing. coastbrewing.com
Edmund’s Oast Brewing Co.: Coin Operated, 5.5% ABV
The adventurous brewers at this craft-lovers haven dug out an old style—grisette—for this super dry ale that’s akin to an herbal saison (availability varies). edmundsoast.com
Freehouse Brewery: Ashley Farmhouse Ale, 6.1% ABV
All-organic and bursting with tarty tang, this yeast-forward saison matches the idyllic views of the brewery’s riverfront tasting room. freehousebeer.com
Holy City Brewing: Pluff Mud Porter, 5.5% ABV
Medium body and just the right amount of chocolate make this a dark beer suitable for summer days—or after a Sunday brunch “Bendy Brewski” yoga session at Holy City’s inviting North Charleston taproom. holycitybrewing.com
Lo-Fi Brewing: Glitter Pony, 8.4% ABV
Pisgah Brewing cofounder Jason Caughman migrated south to open Lo-Fi. He’s quickly made a mark with this spicy golden brew that packs a wallop. lofibrewing.com
Munkle Brewing Co.: 66 Bull Blonde, 5.4% ABV
Local honey and German hops intermingle in this highly drinkable, crisp Belgian ale. munklebrewing.com
Revelry Brewing: Gullah Cream Ale, 5% ABV
This light but flavorful beer has locally milled grits in it, but still goes down smooth. revelrybrewingco.com
Tradesman Brewing Co.: Shift Change, 6.5% ABV
Through the addition of lactose and roasted barley, this beer manages to blend the best of a rich cup of joe with a light-bodied ale. Tradesman bills it as a “White Coffee Stout.” tradesmanbrewing.com
Westbrook Brewing: White Thai, 5% ABV
This Mount Pleasant mainstay’s gose helped launch the national trend, but their Belgian witbier with a ginger kick earns nods for all-day drinkability. Westbrookbrewing.com
Our picks for some perfect locally brewed pints
Tasty suggestions for fine dining or simply digging in
Blue crabs, shrimp, oysters, and more—whether your taste leans toward a chilled tower of raw delicacies or a heaping fried platter, these establishments serve up all manner of delectable seafood dishes
60 Bull Café
Well off the tourist map, this simple Harleston Village cafe is mostly known for its breakfast entrées and thoughtfully composed sandwiches. But the platters of fried shrimp, oysters, and flounder rival any basket in town. Each is accompanied by fries, benne seed slaw, and zingy cocktail sauce and leaves a flavor impression that draws you back for repeat visits. Insider tip: Friday is Fish Fry night with special prices on fried seafood. 60 Bull St., 60bull.com
Every night feels like a party at this hopping Elliotborough eatery that serves up fine dining quality, sans pretense. Chef James London changes his menu daily, but if you’re lucky you’ll get to sample the tempura blowfish tails. Steer toward the raw bar (especially during ‘oyster hour’ from 5-6 p.m.), the curries, and the day’s whole fish. 252 Coming St., facebook.com/chubbyfishchs
The Darling Oyster Bar
High ceilings, a gorgeous tile floor, and wide windows looking out to the bustling street make this Upper King restaurant a happy hour and weekend hotspot, but it’s equally suited for an intimate dinner. The relaxed menu doesn’t overdo it, with a handful of hot and cold apps (try the charred octopus salad or baked oysters) and tempting fry baskets. The raw bar is the star attraction with ceviche, tuna carpaccio, and six oyster varieties shucked on the spot at the sidewalk-facing oyster bar. Order a dozen and make the passersby jealous. 513 King St., thedarling.com
Sit at the community table or scoot into the fancy leather booths in this classic Charleston fish house and peruse the extensive menu turned out by executive chef Tim Richardson and crew. Here, you’ll find everything from spicy ceviche and raw bar favorites to succulent pan-seared scallops and old-school Charleston specialties like seafood á la Wando. 10 Hayne St., hanksseafoodrestaurant.com
In a town whose cuisine is largely built on the ocean’s bounty, chef Mike Lata proves that even three centuries of history can be improved upon. The triple-decker shellfish tower will run you $125, but it’s a strong contender for the highlight of your eating adventures in Charleston. Follow it up with the plat du jour, including Caribbean fish stew on Thursdays and a Sunday fish fry. 544 King St., eattheordinary.com
The Wreck of the Richard and Charlene
Shem Creek hotspots come and go, but The Wreck abides, holding down its place as the most authentic-feeling fried platter joint in town. If you have to wait for a table, stand by the creek with a beer in hand. Once seated, try not to fill up on boiled peanuts before digging into deviled crabs, fried scallops, and the “hominy square” (a fancy way of saying fried grits) that accompanies each meal. 106 Haddrell St., Mount Pleasant; wreckrc.com
Tasty suggestions for fine dining or simply digging in
A selection of icy, boozy delights for the perfect afternoon
The Erik Estrada, LowLife Bar
Once a famous ’80s actor on the TV series CHiPs, the name now signifies the best frozen piña colada you’ve ever tasted. Coconut milk, a bitters float, and an allspice rim take this drink to the next level. You might just find yourself spending your whole “beach day” sipping these in the shade at the bar. 106 E. Hudson Ave., Folly Beach; lowlifebar.com
Frozen Gin & Tonic, Leon’s Oyster Shop
Wine Enthusiast called the Leon’s frozen G&T a “snowball in a glass.” That’s an enticing description, made even more so with the addition of co-owner Brooks Reitz’s Jack Rudy tonic syrup. That distinctive flavor finds its way into a slushy machine, and the results are pure, refreshing magic. 698 King St., leonsoystershop.com
Frozen Screwdriver, Zia Taqueria
On Sundays and Mondays, drink your OJ with a bit of added fun at this James Island taco joint. The $6 frozen screwdrivers are served in pint glasses, and Zia opens at 11 a.m. if it’s a hair-of-the-dog kind of morning. Bonus: Mondays are also $3 Baja fish taco day. 1956-A Maybank Hwy., James Island; ziataco.com
The Gamechanger, Home Team BBQ
When Pusser’s Rum headquarters relocated to Charleston with its copyright lawyers in tow, Home Team had to find a new name for its most popular drink. Traditionally called a “Painkiller,” this addictive smoothie cuts spiced rum with cream of coconut and orange and pineapple juices, garnished with grated nutmeg. 126 Williman St., Charleston; 2209 Middle St., Sullivan’s Island; & 1205 Ashley River Rd., West Ashley; hometeambbq.com
Singapore Sling, Millers All Day
If you’re day-drinking—and in the summer swelter you’ll want to be—head to this lower King Street joint that serves up all manner of breakfast fare (see page 154) plus an extensive cocktail list devised by bar manager Davey Jones. Look for the rotating selection of frozen classic drinks, such as a recent fave, the sweet, tart, and boozy Singapore Sling. 120 King St., millersallday.com
A selection of icy, boozy delights for the perfect afternoon
Fresh-air cocktail bars
Drinks With A View
Drink in the scenery—and the scene—at these fresh air cocktail bars
Charleston Harbor Fish House:
This sprawling restaurant offers up enviable views of the harbor, the city skyline, and the U.S.S. Yorktown. At sunset, the vantage from the upstairs open-air Bridge Bar is breathtaking. 32 Patriots Point Rd., Mount Pleasant; charlestonharborfishhouse.com
Lunch and dinner get busy at this seafood stalwart overlooking the harbor. But for those ready to start happy hour early, head to the open-air bar between 3:30 and 5 p.m. Cool down with the cleverly named J. Daly, a Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka version of an Arnold Palmer, or opt for a proper sailor drink like a Dark ’n’ Stormy. 186 Concord St., fleetlanding.net
2019 may be the summer that locals return to Market Street, thanks to this newcomer from the folks behind Saltwater Cowboys on Shem Creek. The huge roll-up doors that open to the sidewalk make it the perfect spot to duck in for a shaded, semi-outdoors cocktail and a half-dozen oysters during the afternoon heat. 24 N. Market St., hookedcharleston.com
The real highlight of this restaurant perched atop Folly Beach’s pier is the covered outdoor bar. Grab a drink and watch the surfers and fishermen, or take your cocktail to-go on a stroll down the pier. 101 E. Arctic Ave., Folly Beach; pier101folly.com
If your next stop is due east to Bermuda, you’ll find your captain and crew at this sailors’ bar at City Marina, where high tide occasionally washes over the patio. 17 Lockwood Dr., facebook.com/saltymikes
Stars Rooftop & Grill Room:
Ambitious from the get-go, this massive Upper King restaurant has thrived, thanks in part to its sprawling rooftop. It’s a go-to for brunch-time bloodies and one of the hottest tickets for weekend revelers on steamy summer nights. 495 King St., starsrestaurant.com
Tavern & Table:
Give into temptation when you cross Shem Creek and saddle up to the bar at this waterfront gem with more than a dozen local craft beers on tap and a refreshing cocktail list that isn’t afraid to squeeze some vodka and watermelon into a glass of rosé. 100 Church St., Mount Pleasant; tavernandtable.com
Charlestonians have long been known for enjoying a tipple (or two or three), and today’s exploding culinary scene and artisanal entrepreneurial efforts mean there’s a greater variety of spirits, mixers, and libations than ever. And while the alphabet’s 26 letters kept us from including everything we love, when it comes to Charleston cocktails, there’s something for everyone, from A to Z.
Rediscover the Lowcountry with these experiences
Bike South of Broad:
The heart of Charleston’s charm is its architecture, but locals may go years without venturing to this tony residential district. Clear out an evening to reacquaint yourself with attractions like the Battery, the Edmondston-Alston House, and White Point Garden with its views across the harbor to Fort Sumter. To maximize your time, rent bikes ($7/hour) from The Bicycle Shoppe on Meeting Street or grab one from the Holy Spokes bike share racks ($8/hour). There’s only one public bathroom south of Broad Street (at Hazel Parker Playground), so the two wheels let you see more and allow for a quick exit back to the heart of the city. thebicycleshoppe.com & charlestonbikeshare.com
Airbnb Experiences are opening up windows into Lowcountry life for guests, but you don’t have to be a tourist to take advantage. Tia Clark grew up here in a family that crabs, and in 2018, her two-and-a-half-hour class Casual Crabbing with Tia earned her recognition as one of Airbnb’s top four experiences in the world. For $69, guests learn how to throw a cast net for shrimp and catch crabs on a line. Anything you catch of legal size is fair game for your dinner. casualcrabbingwithtia.com
Shop the Night Market:
The Historic City Market may be tourist-central, but the local craftspeople are the real deal, making everything from pralines and benne wafers to oil paintings, ocean-inspired jewelry, and sweetgrass baskets that are woven on the spot by Gullah-Geechee artisans. Plan your visit for a Friday or Saturday evening at the Night Market, which runs 6:30-10:30 p.m. and features street musicians and more than 100 artisans. thecharlestoncitymarket.com
Explore the Wilds:
Bulls Island is part of the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, a certified wilderness that’s only accessible by boat. The Bulls Island Ferry (round trip, $40), operated by Coastal Expeditions, departs at 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The tour through the vast Bulls Bay wetlands is an experience in itself, even before you’re dropped off on a primordial island for a day of exploring impoundments rich with wildlife. Bring your camera to capture the stunning boneyard beach and the near-guaranteed sights of the island’s thriving alligator population. coastalexpeditions.com
Float the World’s Longest Free-flowing Blackwater River:
The sandy-bottomed Edisto is the color of iced tea, due to tannins from the picturesque cypress and tupelo trees that line its banks. Edisto River Adventures, near Givhans Ferry State Park, makes getting on the water for an afternoon or an overnight easy. They rent tubes, kayaks, and paddleboards, and their unique headquarters on a sandbar at a broad turn in the river has plenty of room for tent camping to extend your trip for another day. There’s also an outdoor kitchen and a beach volleyball court on the grounds. edistoriveradventures.com
Tap Your Toes at a Barn Jam: The Sewee Outpost used to feel like a halfway point en route to Georgetown; now, with Mount Pleasant’s march northward, it seems more like the edge of town. Regardless, when you pull up for one of Awendaw Green’s Barn Jams held on the grounds, it inspires a moment of relaxation. Each Wednesday at 6 p.m., the rustic outdoor stage features four or more local and touring musical acts for a paltry $5 admission. Show up early to get in 18 holes on the Innova-designed disc golf course that weaves through the woods and fields on the property. awendawgreen.com
COOL ADVENTURES IN THE AC
Chill out with these indoor outings
We know—it’s hot as a sauna in Hades, and you just can’t take it anymore. That’s why we’re grateful for air-conditioning and know no sane person will shame you for retreating from fun in the sun to climate-controlled environs now and again. Here, find some interesting ways to enjoy the city indoors
Absorb Inspirational Art:
There’s no better time to revisit the Gibbes Museum of Art or the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art than on an afternoon when it’s simply too steamy to be outside. The Gibbes’ summer special exhibits include “Black Refractions” (May 24-August 18), a traveling collection from Harlem’s Studio Museum, featuring the country’s preeminent artists of African descent, and “Luminous Landscapes” (June 21-October 6), a collection of British watercolors from the 18th and 19th centuries. At the Halsey, internationally renowned artist Jennifer Wen Ma has constructed two otherworldly interactive indoor gardens—out of paper!—in her installation, Cry Joy Park: Gardens of Dark and Light (May 17-July 6). Gibbes: 135 Meeting St., gibbesmuseum.org & Halsey: 161 Calhoun St., halsey.cofc.edu
Tour a Historic Home:
Viewing Charleston’s stately architecture from outside only tells part of the story. If you haven’t been inside one of the city’s preserved mansions since a grade-school field trip, purchase The Charleston Museum’s $25 package ticket that includes the museum and the two residences it maintains. The Heyward-Washington House on Church Street picked up the “Washington” in its name after George himself bunked down here for a week in 1791. It’s been the city’s first house museum since 1930 and includes the only 1740s kitchen building accessible to the public. While only part of the circa-1803 Joseph Manigault House is outfitted with air conditioning, you’ll likely be so engaged by the fine craftsmanship of this Adams-style town home of the wealthy 19th-century planter family—not to mention the period furnishings—you won’t notice. The Charleston Museum: 360 Meeting St., charlestonmuseum.org
Dive into the Aquarium:
Parents are well-aware of the value of a South Carolina Aquarium membership. Kids can spend hours here watching otters play or exploring the touch tank. But it’s more than just a family affair; there’s a mind-clearing, meditative nature to kicking back in a cool, dark room and watching fish, sharks, and turtles make their way across your field of view. If you do bring kiddos along, schedule the visit around daily programs like All About Alligators (noon) and Turtle Talk (2 p.m.) at the Sea Turtle Recovery Center. Adults should also look out for evening events like Jazz on the Harbor (June 7), when the Aquarium comes to life with jazz music while patrons enjoy an open beer and wine bar and bites from partners of the Good Catch sustainable seafood program. 100 Aquarium Wharf, scaquarium.org
Walk With Dinosaurs:
Few people realize that as they drive down Calhoun Street, there are dinosaurs and Pleistocene mammals peering down on them from the College of Charleston’s Mace Brown Museum of Natural History. The museum (open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Wednesdays) has nearly 1,000 fossils on display, including cave bears, a saber-toothed cat, and the toothy jaw of a megalodon shark. 202 Calhoun St., geology.cofc.edu/natural-history-museum
Chill out with these indoor outings
FIND LOCAL COLOR
Go on a mural scavenger hunt, all around town
Charleston lost some local secret public art when a new Publix along Folly Road demolished the old shopping center featuring Douglas “Sheepman” Panzone’s evolving row of murals along its back wall. Fortunately, new large-scale paintings keep appearing. Spend a day in your climate-controlled car touring these favorites:
Panzone’s portrait of Bert Hastings on the side of Bert’s Market on Folly Beach (202 E. Ashley Ave.)
Avondale in West Ashley is a hotbed of street art, including a gallery along Alycia Alley with works by Italian muralist Hitnes and local artists Patch Whisky and Sean Williams (Alycia Alley off Savannah Hwy.)
Shepard Fairey’s Power & Glory on CofC’s College Lodge dorm is a large-scale testament to this Charleston native’s impact on street art as an accepted, publicly funded art form. He painted it in conjunction with his Halsey show “The Insistent Image: Recurrent Motifs in the Art of Shepard Fairey and Jasper Johns” in 2014, and it’s remained ever since. (159 Calhoun St.)
David Boatwright’s work is visible all over town—on the side of GrowFood Carolina warehouse (990 Morrison Dr.), on the wall of Santi’s restaurant (1302 Meeting Street Rd.)—but his Queen Street derivation of Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party (Renoir Redux) that features the faces of prominent local chefs and influential food personalities puts the formative days of Charleston’s international culinary attention in permanent ink (68 1/2 Queen St.).
Go on a mural scavenger hunt