Isle of Palms/Charleston area suggestions
July 1, 2010 6:22 PM   Subscribe

Traveling to the Charleston, SC area at the end of July. Looking for recommendations on local things to see and do.

My family is taking a vacation to Isle of Palms, SC at the end of July. We are all adults. What are some local activities/restaurants/shops that shouldn't be missed? We are staying in a home on the island but are willing to travel around the area. Outdoor suggestions are also very welcome! We will be bringing dogs with us so anything dog friendly is a bonus! We are generally into less tourist-y spots but are up for anything.
posted by Breo to Travel & Transportation around Charleston, SC (12 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Go to the inlet between Kiawah Island and Seabrook Island for the chance to see dolphins. Through the fortune of a good friend, I spent the Spring Break of my senior year of college on Seabrook Island and we travelled into Charleston. It was a great time.

Also recommend the downtown market and Battery Park.
posted by glaucon at 6:36 PM on July 1, 2010

Best answer: If you go to the market downtown, which you should, go on a weekday morning. Tourists dot the weekend. Which means less crowded, and you'll love that.

There's a cheap dog park on James Island in the James Island County Park (roughly 20-30 minutes from Isle of Palms). My mother in law loves to take her big dog there.

Sermet's on King Street is pretty good. Plus you can watch people on the street act stupid (as in picking noses and stuff) because of the tinted windows. My sister works there and says not to get the sea cakes (something cakes, that should be enough for you) since they just throw things together that are left over from other dishes.

The Charleston Riverdogs are cheap baseball fun. There's also the Battery if you're into soccer.

Waterfront park downtown. You have to see the pineapple fountain, even if it's just walking past it.

Are you going to have access to a boat and someone who knows the area? Because Kiawah and Morris Island are pretty fun days on the beach. Folly isn't bad either if you can't get out on the water. Just remember that it can be more touristy.
posted by theichibun at 6:40 PM on July 1, 2010

Best answer: Charleston's really a wandering/atmosphere town...just nose about the area south of Broad St to see a bunch of ridiculously expensive homes (especially the walk from the downtown market to Battery Park); the historic district is all pretty easy to get around. King Street is basically a long shopping mall: luxury brands and boutique/antique stores aplenty. The area around College of Charleston is lovely; the city in general has a "college town" vibe (if you're wearing more than flipflops in a lot of places, you're overdressed). The scenic areas are basically the beaches and downtown.

As far as things to do, walk the Cooper River Bridge and (if you're early risers) watch the sun rise over Folly Beach.

For eating, the Southend Brewery is delightful. The Triangle Char & Bar in West Ashley (which is kind of far from Isle of Palms) is great for brunch.
posted by kittyprecious at 6:53 PM on July 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I'll also note that the inlet between Kiawah Island and Seabrook Island is about a 35-40 minute drive from Charleston, but worth it for the chance to see dolphins.
posted by glaucon at 6:59 PM on July 1, 2010

You could visit the Angel Oak (just don't believe the wildly exaggerated age claims).
posted by Red Loop at 7:09 PM on July 1, 2010

Best answer: Look up City Data Forum, SC, Charleston and use the Search function to get all the local recommendations for ribs, shrimp 'n grits, local grub. It's a food war. Good--great eats--in Charleston. Oh, the Saturday morning farmers' market on Marion Square is one of the best food markets I've ever seen. Have breakfast there. Don't miss the boiled peanuts guy. And the pickle ladies. And the juiciest melons anywhere. Bring your camera. And a hat. The humidity in Charleston in July is just flattening.

Eat at The Wreck in Old Mount Pleasant Village for shrimp and grits. The shrimp come right off the boats there. Cash only. Diabolically hard to find, though. And if you want another crazy seafood experience, try Bowen's Island, on James Island. Wear old clothes.

Walk through the busy port where humongous, colorful containers get unloaded.

If you're a bird watcher, walk across the Cooper River Bridge and look down at the birds in the marshes below. Or just walk across it if it's not too bloody hot, but it will be, unfortunately, in July. Gorgeous views from up there. Good birding on the old Pitt St. Bridge walkway near Old Mt. Pleasant Village, looking towards Charleston Harbor.

Visit Fort Moultrie on Sullivan's Island, which will be very close to you.

Visit Fort Sumter if you're a Civil War nut. You pick up the ferry in downtown Charleston.

Go on a steeple walk with your camera . . . or an old cemetery walk.

Beaufort, SC is a neat town about an hour away--Pat Conroy country if you like him. If you enjoy antiquing, the main street of Walterboro, SC is a nice diversion en route to or from Beaufort. I'm afraid to say, I was utterly unimpressed by Angel Oak on John's Island, and I should post that anonymously since it's strictly forbidden to express that thought publicly.

I've heard the carriage tours are good in downtown Charleston. Or just wander around downtown, especially through the cemeteries connected to the old churches. Get pralines just off Market St. parallel to the market. The line out the door will indicate that you're in the right place. (IMO, the market is a missed opportunity--overrun by tourist crap, though the sweetgrass baskets are quite beautiful. Don't know why they don't vet the vendors there.)

The Fat Hen on John's Island has incredible food--bit of a drive, though, if you have any adult beverages with dinner. Try brunch instead and have a designated driver.

Read some Edgar Allen Poe while you're in SC. He wrote "The Gold Bug" while serving in the military at Fort Moultrie.
posted by Elsie at 7:47 PM on July 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Poogan's Porch!! They have really yummy she-crab soup and smoked gouda macaroni and cheese.
posted by honeybee413 at 8:38 PM on July 1, 2010

Best answer: Touristy, but check out The Hunley -- even if you're not "into" history, it's a neat story.
posted by knile at 4:52 AM on July 2, 2010

Best answer: Definitely take your dog to the dog park at James Island County Park. Its huge, and there's a lake the dogs can go swimming in. On Isle of Palms, Poe's Tavern is a great little spot to grab a burger after a day at the beach. Don't miss the Farmer's Market on Saturday morning at Marion Square downtown. It's huge, and they've got great food stands (mmm crepes!) and artists and such. The aquarium is really good. If you're downtown on Sunday morning, hit WildFlour for amazing sticky buns. Mmmmmm.
posted by bluloo at 5:51 AM on July 2, 2010

Best answer: The cemeteries are beautiful. Especially the Unitarian Church (on Archdale Street), the Circular Congregational church's one and of course St. Philips and St. Micheal's. I also enjoy the walking tours that Charleston Walks does, but I'm a walking tour kind of girl.
The Charleston Museum is also charming.
And finally, the Isle of Palms (where I spent many summer weeks as a young person) is just an amazing place to kick back in a lounge chair with a book, sketchpad, and/or cocktail. Enjoy!
posted by pointystick at 7:22 AM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks so much for all of the awesome recommendations! I am now even more excited, if that is possible.
posted by Breo at 9:13 AM on July 2, 2010

I was in Charleston last November and fell in love with it.

Nthing Ft. Sumter even if you AREN'T a Civil War buff.

Get neckbones and lima beans at Ernie's; I also had several meals at Hominy Grill.
posted by brujita at 11:52 PM on July 2, 2010

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