If you want to swim go to Folly beach it's only a 20 minute ride South on Route 17, just take the Folly Beach Road exit, turn left and go all the way to the end until you see the Holiday Inn and turn left again, go up about 1 1/2 mile and pull off on the right side. There is a great beach and we saw lots of people surfing and swimming. This is a nice clean, wide beach were you can lay out to sun tan, go swimming and other water sports.
If your looking for a day at the beach take a 20 minute ride up Route 17 North to Sullivan's Island and drive toward the coast, find a spot to park and head for the beach. Beautiful dunes and the water is warm. The water current is strong here so I don't suggest swimming. This is a great beach for walks along the waters edge and taking in the views.
Some may disagree that this is an off the beaten path thing, but I put it here b/c it is literally off Charleston's beaten path (follow Hwy. 17 out of the city to get there) and because it is unique among most of the plantations in the area.
As a historian, I was highly impressed by Drayton Hall. Unlike most plantation tours and visits, the house and the grounds are protected by a national historic trust, and thus the house has not changed one lick since basically the late colonial period. There's no furniture, no signs, the grounds have not been altered at all. This makes for a much more rugged, much less traditionally "pretty" experience - i.e. the way it actually was - the 17th-19th century weren't very pleasant in the low country for anyone!!
The house is one of the oldest plantations in the area, and the tour tells just as much about colonial slavery systems, lowcountry American Indians, and industrial transport on the Ashley River as it does about the Civil War. The tour guide highlighted the intimate connection between the architecture of the house and the house's industry - the way the houses' doors were set up in order to sufficiently cool it with river breeze, and the way that the basement kitchen was connected to the rest of the house to give slaves easy and unobtrusive access. The grounds were beautiful and untouched; the house to this day has no heating, no running water, etc. - just like during the colonial period. While you're in Charleston, take a look at Ira Berlin's "Many Thousands Gone," an incredibly engaging examination of slave societies in the colonial period. It will make your Drayton Hall experience all the more illuminating.
How to get there (from the website): From downtown Charleston, take Highway 17 south across the Ashley River, and follow the signs to Highway 61. Follow Highway 61 north for approximately 8 miles. Watch for the "Historical Plantations and Gardens" signs and the Drayton Hall signs. Drayton Hall will be on your right.
Angel Oak is located on John's island. It is a huge tree, and very beautiful. It's estimated to be 1400 years old. (Probably the oldest tree on the east coast.) The limbs of the tree stretch out longer than the height of the tree, and then re-root in the ground, and come back up again. There is no charge, and it's really worth seeing.
This road hugs the Ashley River from Charleston to Summerville. For miles and miles, all you can see are Spanish moss covered oaks draping over the road. This is a scenic drive without having to go to the mountains.
The Ashley River extends from the tip of the Charleston peninsula, where it meets the Cooper River at the Charleston harbour, all the way inland to rural Summerville. It starts out as a sprawling waterway, with bridges and sailboats, and ends up as a small ditch-sized creek. Along the way, there are miles and miles of beautiful marshland. The Ashley River is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including deer, crocodiles, crabs, and sea birds. Sometimes dolphins swim up the Ashley River too! This is a great place to fish or to take your boat, and sunrises and sunsets are amazing over the marsh!
Fort Sumter... What can I say? You can feel history there!
America's most tragic conflict ignited at Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, when a chain reaction of social, economic and political events exploded into civil war. At the heart of these events was the issue of states rights versus federal authority flowing over the underlying issue of slavery.
After visiting our 2nd historic house of the day it was time for an afternoon break and a stop at Paolo's Gelato Italiano. We had seen this place during our lunch stop next door, but we had decided we weren't ready for a dessert yet after lunch so we made it a point to stop back about 90 minutes later.
Once we stopped into the store we were overwhelmed at the wide variety of all sorts of tasty creations, all very authentic Italian. We actually only ended up getting a Hazelnut Flavored Gelatto with a Wafer Cookie as we were still a little full from lunch and didn't want to spoil our dinner a little later in the day.
What was unique were the number of flavors available and if you look at this video connection the different types of gelato creations they can prepare. They have cream flavors, fruit flavors and then the unique flower flavors (violet as an example) and even vegetable flavors (rosemary).
I wasn't sure how to classify this tip. But I opted to keep it separate from the restaurant reviews, since it's really not a restaurant but a hidden treasure in Charleston. Paolo has one other location in Atlanta. Paolo didn't serve us during the day, but when we walked by on the way back to our car later that evening we saw him serving up some creations to some other satisfied customers.
located north of the mouth of charleston harbor is the charming beach town of sullivans island. sullivans island is an interesting and historical place to visit in the charleston area. sullivans island is home to historic fort moultrie which saw duty in the revoluntionary and civil wars. to learn more about sullivans island check out my sullivans island pages. from downtown charleston take I-526 to mt. pleasant then take ben sawyer blvd to sullivans island.
Morris Island washed away long ago, but the lighthouse still remains. You can drive to the end of Folly Island, and walk out to the end of the beach to see the lighthouse sitting in the water. It is an amazing sight!
The entire Navy Base is off the beaten path, so I suppose this is the most appropriate category for everything I will add to this Charleston Page. Charleston in itself is an excellent place to visit, so I highly recommend it to anyone for a vacation/exploration site. The US Naval Base in Charleston however, was a fabulously interesting place and is an experience I will never forget. Very much off the beaten track, but if you are ever priveledged enough to tour a US Navy Base, You are fortunate indeed.
Early one fall, we visited the Beidler Forest from our son's place in Summerville. We visited the little information center and took a self-guided tour on the boardwalk which runs through the old growth forest over the black swamp water. It was cool, calm and peaceful in the forest. We saw a few birds and some turtles sunning on the logs as we followed the tour pamphlet.
For groups of ten or more, a guided tour is available. There are also canoe trips which let you paddle the deep blackwater of the swamp and meet alligators and cottonmouths on their turf! You can gain another perspective by taking one of the night walks.
* Admissions: $7; ages 6 to 18 $3.50; Audubon members $6
* Days and Holidays Closed: M, New Year's Eve/Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve/Day
* Days and Hours of Operation: T-Su 9am-5pm and occasionally on Monday
Directions: I-26 W to Exit 187- L Hwy 27 (S) to Hwy 78. Turn R (W). At fork, veer R to Hwy 178. Turn right on Francis Beidler Forest Rd (1st paved right). After 4 mi.- paved road makes a 90-degree turn left, veer R onto Mims Road (dirt road). Go a mile- on the right
You will need a car to see this one. The Angel Oak is located on Johns Island. Estimated to be 300 to 400 years old, the tree is only 65 feet high but has a circumference of 25.5 feet and its area of shade is over 17,000 square feet. Other statistics, the largest limb has a circumference of 11.5 feet and the length of the longest limb is 89 feet.
The Angel Oak is a Live Oak which is native to the Lowcountry (Coastal Carolina). The oak is located in a small park owned by the City of Charleston. To get there you take US Highway 17 out of Charleston to Johns Island, get on Folly Road to Maybank Highway. On Maybank Highway you will see a small sign on the right hand side of the road. You will take this small bumpy road to the Angel Oak.
For the gift happy they do have a small gift shop and the day we were there a lady was outside the gift shop selling the straw baskets you see everywhere in Charleston.
Admission is Free, although they do accept donations or like us a small purchase in the gift shop made us feel better.
I was able to include this great man, Keith Russel, my father in law on our tour of the Trepang. Keith is a brilliant man and it is a true honor being related to him. He's easily the greatest person of the entire Russell family, a man for whom I have the highest respect and regard.
I have not done this sail (we do quite enough sailing on our own boat), but I saw the boat when we went to the aquarium.
From their website: Two hour sail in historic Charleston Harbor aboard this 84-foot, three masted, gaff topsail schooner. She was modeled to resemble the old coastal trading schooners and has the character and charm of the great days of sail. She sails with the winds and tides so every cruise is unique. The guests may help by raising and trimming the sails or even taking a turn at the wheel.
Sailings subject to weather conditions. NO CRUISES DURING October, November, December, January and February
Adult tickets $20.00 Reservations required