South Carolina is steadily reopening and now Charleston residents can go out and enjoy some socially distanced fun. Since bars, restaurants, and music venues won’t be open for a while, lots of Charleston’s citizens are wondering what attractions and entertainments they can safely enjoy. Fortunately, South Carolina has a gorgeous system of parks and outdoor activities that will satisfy even the most ardent indoor cat.
Taking to the Trails
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens softly reopened this month 7 days a week. Founded by the Drayton family in the late 1670s, this historic institution has seen many changes including the American Revolution and the Civil War. It opened its doors to the public in the 1870s and is one of the oldest gardens in America. A 9-mile trail winds around the perimeter of the estate offering views of romantic gardens, marshland, and a waterfowl refuge. The paths vary as much as the landscape from elevated boardwalks to gravel garden paths. This historic landmark was chosen as one of Travel + Leisure Magazine’s most beautiful gardens in America.
Edisto Nature Trail
The Edisto Nature Trail is for beginner hikers or families with young children. The hike is short, only a mile and a half, and traverses typical Low Country forests full of pines and cypress trees. Brochures are available at the trailhead and provide information for self-guided tours as well as an index of common flora and fauna of the area. The highest point in the trail sits atop an old railbed and offers lovely views of the forest and marshland below.
Swamp Fox Passage
Hardcore cyclists can test their metal in the Swamp Fox Passage, a 47-mile section of the cross-state Palmetto Trail. The trail cuts through the Francis Marion National Forest, where the Revolutionary hero of the same name hid out in the swamps during the war. Cyclists will enjoy shady trails through the long-pine forests, just one of 4 major ecosystems along this route. The passage is a frequent stop for birdwatchers because it is home to the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. Those who aren’t up for a full 47-mile trek should know there are shorter sections of the path available for smaller hikes and bike rides.
Surf and Sand in S.C.
The locals refer to Folly Beach as the “edge of America” and it can truly feel that way looking out at the vast ocean. Sweeping down the edge of Folly Island, Folly Beach offers miles of sandy beaches and painted sunrises. The beach is open to fishermen, kayakers, sailors, and even surfers when the waves are right. Visitors can take a stroll over to the Morris Island Lighthouse. Now defunct, this spot used to be a beacon in the dark and is a favorite local landmark. The Folly Beach pier is another scenic area to take a walk. Annually, the pier hosts fishing tournaments and dances. Restaurants and shops dot the boardwalk behind it and create a quaint, smalltown atmosphere.
Sullivan's Island Beach
Visitors looking for a more serene beach retreat should check out Sullivan's Island Beach. Sullivan’s Island is only 3 miles long, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in unobtrusive charm. Kiteboarding is a favorite pastime at Sullivan’s Island. The breezes that come off of the Charleston Harbor allow thrill-seekers to rocket out of the water. History buffs will enjoy a visit to Fort Moultrie. This historic series of fortresses used to be made out of the palmetto logs that eventually inspired the logo for the state flag.
Charleston is just as beautiful by night as it is by day. With so much green space just outside the city center, it’s no wonder stargazers enjoy moonless nights near Charleston. The Hunting Island State Park allows visitors to either camp or park at night to enjoy beautiful views of the Milky Way. Kings Mountain is another area that allows visitors to post up late into the night and enjoy the celestial movements. It’s closer to the North Carolina border and more suited to campers than daytrippers. Use this handy light pollution map to choose the stargazing site that will suit your needs.
Self Guided Ghost Tours
Stars aren’t the only things to watch for in the night. Since Charleston is one of the oldest cities in the country, it is a great place to go ghost hunting. Self-guided ghost tours are a great way to socially distance from the living while searching for the dead. Check out Charleston’s historic buildings, graveyards, and dungeons while learning about the most macabre events in the city’s history.