For the second year in a row, Charleston, South Carolina has been dubbed "The South's Best City." Located on the coast near the Georgia border, Charleston boasts beautiful weather year round and plenty to do for every adventurer. Packed with history, art and culinary excellence, it should be on everyone's list of places to check out in the American South. And while there are plenty of palmetto palms lining the streets, what we really care about is outside the city limits.
Hiking, kayaking, swimming, camping, history and wildlife – the nature surrounding this up-and-coming city has it all. Check some of these adventures near Charleston and you'll be sure to find something that piques your interest.
- Edisto Beach: The beach on Edisto Island is mostly unobstructed by views of large buildings. Most of the structures nearby are rental houses that are tucked into the dunes. This beach wraps around the southern side of the island, providing protection from wind and waves on rougher days. It’s a great place to catch the sunrise or sunset!
- Kiawah Beach: Kiawah Beach is very wide. In fact, it’s almost flat. This makes it great for games, long walks, or even jogging. It’s unique in that public access to the beach is limited. You can only access it from Kiawah Beachwalker Park, but for that reason, it is often less crowded than other beaches in the area.
- Folly Beach and Pier: Folly Island has some of the closest beachfront to Charleston. Only 11 miles from the city, the beach and pier here are great for surfing, fishing, and seeing the shoreline from a new perspective. Folly Beach is also a great place to see and photograph dolphins!
- Bulls Island: This island is a hotspot for wildlife. Here you can hike, bird watch, or go to the beach, but the island is only accessible by boat. There is a ferry, but to make it an adventure, you can kayak there! Going by kayak is one of the best ways to see South Carolina’s estuaries.
- South Santee River: If kayaking is your thing, checking out Wambaw Creek in the South Santee River should be on your list. Here you'll find a public boat ramp that provides access to one of the largest river deltas in the country. Depending on your experience you can choose to paddle for a couple of hours or a couple days on an overnight trip.
Hiking and camping
- Buck Hall Recreation Area: This park offers camping with a variety of activities at you doorstep. Many people like to use the public boat ramp and cruise along the inner coastal waterway. There are also hiking and mountain biking trails nearby and all the facilities that are common to day use areas.
- Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge: For those in the Hilton Head Island area, be sure not to overlook the breathtaking estuary habitat on the leeward side of the island. An awesome place to bike or hike, this refuge hosts over 250 species of birds and plenty of other wildlife. Don’t forget your camera!
- South Tibwin Trails: Another great place to see wildlife, this trail system in the Francis Marion National Forest is small but beautiful. Walk along the edges of freshwater ponds, under lush tree canopies, and through protected marshland.
- Fort Freemont: Located on Saint Helena Island, Fort Freemont was constructed in 1898 during the Spanish American War. The site is a fascinating relic of this often overlooked war, and the nature surrounding the fort is both tranquil and vibrant. This is a cool sport for an afternoon stroll and maybe even a guided history tour.
- Fort Sumter National Monument: With two historical forts, a lighthouse, walking trails and a lovely beach, this place has it all. Fort Sumter itself is only accessible by boat, but other areas of the national monument – Liberty Square and Fort Moultrie – are on the mainland. Even if you don’t consider yourself a history buff, it’s a cool and convenient place to check out, and it's right at the edge of Charleston.