- Travel and Places
Top Ten FREE Activities to do in Charleston County South Carolina
The Best Things in Life Can Be FREE!
Regardless of what time of year you plan to travel to Charleston County, South Carolina, there will always be something fabulous going on in the city and surrounding areas!
If adding up the cost of the tours to all of the historical places, eating at the five stars restaurants, staying at the luxurious hotels, and buying expensive souvenirs makes your head spin, you have come to the right place! So, take a break from digging into your wallet, read on and learn how to have good time and build fabulous memories for FREE!
# 10 Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge
Ever hear anyone say they walked for miles up hill both ways? If you walk from the city to the suburbs and back, you will get to experience this for yourself! (Make sure you stretch those calves before attempting this!)
The Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge, A.K.A the New Cooper River Bridge, links Charleston city to the suburbs (Mount Pleasant). The Copper River Bridge Run takes place the first weekend in April and brings people from all over the world to compete in the 6.2 mile endeavor; approximately 50,000 people pay and register for this event. But, you don't need to pay a dime to walk the bridge at any other time. There are two lanes (one for bicycles and one for walkers- strollers welcome!). Just remember to bring your camera, you will want to take pictures!
# 9 Fort Moultrie
Located on Sullivan's Island, a short drive from downtown Charleston, you can tour a fort for free!
This is a self-guided tour! Feel free to experience a piece of history at your own pace!
If you happen to travel during Halloween, reserve a space to hear readings from the famous Edgar Allan Poe, who was stationed in the area in the fort at night....spooky stuff!
Fort Sumter (where the Civil War began) is also free, but the only way to get there is by boat! If you have your own boat, wonderful! If not, tours to the fort can be costly through the charters. A free option is always Fort Moultrie, no boat required!
While access to the fort is free, a donation can be made to the Historical Society for preservation!
# 8 Church/ Garden Walks
The city of Charleston makes great use of its' area to create marvelous gardens. Many of the gardens can be toured for a cost, but the Gateway Garden Walk is always free! Take a relaxing stroll at your own pace and take a break on a park bench as needed!
- Located between Archdale Street and Philadelphia Alley.
¡Please keep in mind that some sidewalk/ walkways/ gardens can be hard to access by those in wheelchairs, elderly individuals. and those pushing strollers. The cobblestone streets and sidewalks are often uneven; walk at your own risk!
There's a good reason why you don't see skyscrapers in the city of Charleston, SC. The reason is because the tallest building you will find is....a church. That's right- they call Charleston the "Holy City" for a reason! Travel down the cobblestone streets, and you will see a church in every direction! Feel free to visit the churches for a service, and don't be afraid to call ahead and ask for a tour!
Built in 1872. Currently the tallest building in Charleston SC!
# 7 Angel Oak John's Island
Located a short drive from Charleston is John's Island. On John's Island, you will see a magnificent tree called the "Angel Oak". It is believed to be in excess of 1500 years old!
Although there are other oaks in the area that you can climb, this one you can not...It's still great to look at though!
# 6 Beaches
While the beaches are free, parking is where it hits your wallet! Avoid paying to park at the beaches by doing some investigation work!
The beaches at the Isle of Palms allows beach goers to park on the side of the street and access any beach paths for free (no public restrooms available though).
The beaches at Sullivan's Island have numerous access points (called Stations). You will have to walk along paths, but parking on the street is free! There are many spots available too. (No public restrooms and no parking lots/garages available for free)
The beaches at Folly Beach "Edge of America" can be a little harder to park at for free. (Look for meters that still have time left on them!) The Folly Beach Fishing Pier is free to walk on; although, you will have to pay if you are fishing. Look for free fishing days; they occur a few times a year!
# 5 King/Market Streets
Window shopping and people watching is free and won't disappoint!
Restaurants, shops and stores are ubiquitous on King and Market Street.
If you are looking for namebrands like Banana Republic and Copper Penny, then go to King Street for looks straight off the runway!
If you are looking for hand-made, one-of-a-kind treasures, head over to Market Street!
# 4 East Bay Street
A stroll down East Bay can complete any day! View the amazing architecture, feel the breeze created from the Charleston Harbor, get some sun and exercise for FREE! Take this stroll and don't forget to stop at White Points Garden for a rest and photo opportunities!
No trip to Charleston is complete without getting a picture in front of the infamous Rainbow Row- located right at the beginning of East Bay Street!
Bring your camera, walking shoes, water, sunscreen, and bug spray to be fully prepared to conquer the elements during this walk!
# 3 Charles Pinckney National Historical Site
Located off a scenic highway, Charles Pinckney National Historical Site has rich history, information, and a house tour at an unbelievable value- FREE!
It's hard to believe you can take a tour of grounds, a house, and have a picnic spot for FREE- but it's true!
Relax and rock in the wooden rocking chairs on the front porch while you pose for a picture!
There is a short path through the woods by the remains of the slave cabins as well.
# 2 Charleston Waterfront Park
If you have children, make sure you bring their swimsuits! Bring your swimsuit too! Two waterfalls seem to bring out the child in all of us!
A pineapple fountain welcomes visitors to Charleston at Waterfront Park and is a local water hole for cooling off on a hot day. No lifeguard is available, but this is one FREE place to swim that children take advantage of!
Another large fountain is available to cool you off on a hot day as well!
Even if you decide to stay out of the water, you can still cool off on the Harbor! Swings are available, so kick up your feet and relax to the sounds of seagulls, the sights of dolphins in the Harbor, and the smell of salt water!
Five Stars for Cleanliness, Friendliness, and Southern Hospitality!
# 1 Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park
There is open space for the kids to run, a state-of-the-art playground, a pier to walk on, a war memorial and waterfall, and the best rest-stop I've ever seen (with free southern handscrub in the bathroom).
While some of the cobblestone streets and sidewalks can be difficult for the elderly and children to walk on in downtown Charleston, the Memorial Waterfront Park and Pier is accessible by all! With a paved path and easy access to the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge (see # 10), this place is great to exercise and take a leisurely stroll! You may even get to see families playing sports or a local gym doing yoga in the green spaces!
The staff at the River Watch Cafe and Gift Shop show the true meaning of Southern Hospitality!
The staff at the Visitor's Center are extremely knowledgeable about everything Charleston and everything FREE! Feel free to pick their brain about history, food, beverages, hotels, and whatever else you are interested in.
Depending on when you visit, check out the special events at Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park; the town puts on numerous FREE movie nights, splash days, concerts, and fishing days throughout the year!
What is your favorite FREE activity to do in Charleston County, South Carolina?
Remember that while Charleston, South Carolina is a fabulous travel destination, (Number one in 2012 for Conde Nast Traveler Magazine's top tourist destinations in the world!), you can still create memories for FREE here as well!
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