Summer Guide 2017
❶ Old Santee Canal Park
Located at the southern terminus of the nation’s first summit canal—the 22-mile, 10-lock Santee Canal, built in 1800—this Moncks Corner park along the backwaters of Biggin Creek has fielded a steady stream of birdwatchers, hikers, and paddlers since opening in 1989. At an easy pace, walkers can cover the maze of trails and four miles of swamp boardwalks in two to three hours. Take a break at stops like the mid-19th-century Stony Landing Plantation House furnished with reproductions; the Interpretive Center for a look at 6,000 years of local history, as well as this summer’s exhibit on Carolina pirates; and the Berkeley County Museum & Heritage Center filled with curious artifacts like a semisubmersible Confederate torpedo boat. www.oldsanteecanalpark.org, (843) 899-5200
Cool tip: For five bucks per half hour, the Interpretive Center offers three-seater canoe rentals. To beat the skeeters, morning is the best time to navigate the three-mile paddle through the cypress swamp; it takes about two hours.
❷ Magnolia Plantation
Since 1870, this lush public garden has welcomed visitors to its romantic-style plantings strewn along verdant, meandering paths. And what better way to peruse summertime petals than with pedals? The property permits biking along its paved trails and across boardwalks, bridges, and dikes crisscrossing the Audubon Swamp Garden, which is lively with nesting birds in the warmer months. On July 22, help Magnolia let loose some 150,000 ladybugs during one of the Lowcountry’s largest releases of the friendly beetle that helps naturally control harmful insects such as aphids. www.magnoliaplantation.com, (843) 571-1266
Cool tip: When the summer heat sets in, find respite in the shady bamboo garden, where the air feels several degrees cooler, or board the hour-long canopied boat tour to catch riverside breezes while puttering through former rice fields.
❸ Center for Birds of Prey
Swoop over to Awendaw for some close encounters of the bird kind at the Avian Conservation Center, which is open to the public Thursday through Saturday. There, you can spot nearly 50 species of hawks, eagles, falcons, owls, vultures, and kites in the aviary exhibits. Twice daily, staff educators lead visitors on highly informative, hour-long tours, including stops to see scavengers feeding at the vulture “restaurant” and flight demonstrations. The summer months bring a cast of wild birds interacting with the center’s feathered residents, and the nonprofit’s captive breeding program is in full swing, meaning you can peep at adorably fuzzy owl chicks. www.thecenterforbirdsofprey.org, (843) 971-7474
Cool tip: The center is conducting a Citizen Science project to track the endangered swallow-tailed kite, a Neotropical raptor that breeds in the Southeast during summer. If you see these migratory birds, which boast striking black-and-white plumage and long, forked tails, report their locations and behaviors on the center’s website.
❹ Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery
Have you ever wanted to peek under the shell of the South Carolina Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital? While the 17-year-old basement facility, known across the globe for its innovative care of these endangered creatures, has long offered behind-the-scenes tours, the May opening of the Sea Turtle Recovery exhibit brings the day-to-day operations of the sea turtle care center into full view on the first floor. Watch through the surgical suite window as the animal care team performs procedures not only for turtle patients but all aquarium residents (though the curtain will be drawn during intense procedures). In addition to upgraded tanks that double patient capacity and an in-house X-ray, the $5-million project is also the first to utilize an endless current pool for animal exercise and therapy. www.scaquarium.org, (843) 577-3474
Cool tip: Guests have the opportunity to join the turtle triage team, checking vital signs and diagnosing a mock patient using iPads and augmented reality. The experience will help educate visitors on what conservation actions they can take to avoid landing these creatures in the hospital.
❺ Pinckney Park
This spring, James Island wrapped up the first phase of construction on its new public green space, nestled beside a tributary of Parrot Creek at the end of Fort Johnson Road. The seven-acre park’s debut includes a nature-themed playground and walking trail spanning the length of the property. Phase Two, now in the design stage, promises an additional marsh trail and a screened-in picnic shelter. As funding becomes available, a boardwalk and outdoor classroom will be in the works. www.jamesislandsc.us/pinckney-park, (843) 795-4141
Cool tip: A six-person “Unity Hoopla” swing, designed for the enjoyment of children with and without disabilities,ups the fun factor of this fresh playground.
Photographs by (Pinckney Park) Kathy Woolsey & courtesy of (4) the organizations