The “Creek”, where salty tides ebb and flow, is closely tied to local Lowcountry living. Its deep-water channel was ideal for earlier century ship building, rice and sawmill industries, giving the creek an important role in the development and economy of the settlements. A mainstay for the East Cooper people for over 300 years, it remains an important landmark in the town of Mount Pleasant and its continuing evolution. Shrimping became a prominent business with the introduction of powered shrimp boats. Though fewer shrimpers work it full time these days, a handful still dock every afternoon to onlooker’s excitement as mound after mound of fresh catch is hauled from icy holds.
A quick 15-minute drive from downtown Charleston whisks you to a waterfront oasis. Overnight accommodations are available on the creek in the Old Village and surrounding Mount Pleasant vicinities.
Shem Creek Park, an extensive boardwalk meandering over the salt marsh, creeks and hummocks, brings the habitat’s trove of life close enough to hear the spartina grass rustle while fiddler crabs busily scamper from egrets’ preying view. Wrens, clapper rails and seagulls delight birdwatchers as blue crabs await their customary feed, a strung chicken neck held tight by an expecting child. Dolphin’s chase bait fish in the creek beyond, surfacing to onlooker’s amusement.
Contact one of the rental companies and gain a different perspective kayaking or paddle boarding up the creek through Cooper River marshlands. Landlubbers enjoy the Shem Creek Bar Tour with historical anecdotes and of course, libations. Hop aboard a sailing tour or try your hand at the Lowcountry’s excellent off-shore fishing with a private charter.
A dozen or so bars and restaurants dot the parallel docks flanking the creek, encouraging a laid back, go-with-the-flow and stay-awhile vibe. Fresh fried scallops, peel ‘n eat shrimp, oysters and fish every which way tantalize as beer and cocktails mellow, all sweeping you away from the city bustle and blacktop heat. If you truly want to slow down (yes, even slower than the peninsula), spend some time with the creek. She rarely disappoints.