Welcome back! Are you ready for more? In this part, I show you other places in Charleston well worth the visit along with more food and drink options.
Day 3 – Mount Pleasant
Welcome to day 3. Today we’re heading away from the downtown peninsula and driving over the Arthur Ravenel Bridge, replacing the 2 Cooper River Bridges and opened in 2005. This bridge is a cable spanned bridge with 4 lanes on each side and with a biking/walking path connecting Mount Pleasant to the East Bay side of the peninsula. Drive towards West Coleman and at the 1st light take a right. Once past the Shell gas station, on your right will be a sign for you to take a right towards the Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park. Here you’ll park AND for free.
As you get past the playground and visitor center, wander over the Military Memorial section, it’s great for reflection of America’s fallen and active heroes. Stop by the Gift shop and café for some cute trinkets or some Charleston history books. Walk up to the end of pier, enjoy the coolness of being under the bridge as well as seeing it’s underside and seeing how tall is really is (it’s only 573 feet tall).
When you’re done with the pier, take the little side road on the other side of the parking section and walk up the grass/gravel part to be able to get onto the biking/walking path. It is clearly marked which side is which and please try to respect the lanes, nothing like a biker trying to get up the incline and having to stop because people are blocking their side. I recommend going to at least one tower (the entire stretch is 3 mi each way).
Once you’ve taken in the sights, drive over to Shem Creek to enjoy the newer park and enjoy Creekside restaurants/bars. I recommend that you try Water’s Edge, RB’s or Red’s Icehouse or what we do is bar hop a little to enjoy all of them. Here at Shem Creek, you’ll see shrimp boats and quite often dolphins will be almost right beside you.
Depending on what you like to do and whose with you, head over to Patriots Point to get on one of the Harbor Cruise boats (approx. 90 mins) and/or combine a tour with the USS Yorktown, a Navy Aircraft carrier turned museum (as my Grandfather was a Navy and developed Alzheimer’s and therefore couldn’t remember a lot, it was cool seeing what he used to do). If you do decide to head over to Sullivan’s Island, possibly for the beach over there, remember that it is mostly residential area and mind your parking (more so where you park and read your signs). As for food in Mount Pleasant and Sullivan’s Island, I’m not really over there much anymore and Mount Pleasant certainly has grown (2 Walmarts on opposite ends, it was needed trust me). Over on Sullivan’s Island, I recommend Taco Mamacita, it’s a cute little place. I’m not big on the Mexican, but it sure hit the spot and I like 75% hate vegetables, but some of their stuff is really amazing. Face it, I took a picture of the menu so that I could remember the place and I made sure I checked into it on Facebook. That good.
So it’s your last day in Charleston. What to do? Well, I have different options for you with it depending on the weather, how tired you are, whose with you and how far you want to drive.
Option 1 – James Island/Johns Island
Head on out to Johns Island to view the extremely beautiful Angel Oak tree, an estimated 400-500 year old oak tree. This oak tree has limbs so huge and expansive, it’s currently being held up with stilts and wire ropes. It’s a free venture and it’s a very cool tree to see, depending where you’re staying, its WELL worth the 20-40 minute drive. I’m pictured here with the tree on a cloudy day this January and I look so tiny compared to this beauty!
You might be hungry by now and I recommend that you hit up the quaint La Carretta’s (if you’re coming back from Angel Oak from Maybank Highway, once you’re back on Folly Rd, it’ll be on your left). May not look like much, but that food is also fantastic and I’ve never had a problem with service. If Mexican isn’t your thing or you’re tired of it, hit up Charleston Crab House on Wappoo Creek (The road to the Charleston Crab House will be on your left before you get back to the Maybank Highway/Folly Road light). It has good seafood options and other non-seafood items with good drinks right on the water is sure to please anyone. Who wouldn’t want to enjoy a sunset on the water?
Option 2 – Folly Beach
In my opinion, the best beach in Charleston is Folly. Not to say Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s isn’t nice, but if you’re searching a relaxed and casual beach town, Folly is where you want to go. You can usually find adequate parking, just make sure that you park in the direction traffic is flowing and that ALL 4 tires OFF the road or you may find a ticket (or two depending on the mood of the ticket writer). The Edwin S Taylor Pier/ Folly Beach Fishing Pier (not to be confused with Folly Beach County Park at the very opposite end) has parking that can range from $5- $15 (depending on day and season) for all day as long as you don’t leave the lot, a restaurant, a gift shop, bathrooms and quick spray off showers.
For food, I’d recommend Rita’s, Snapper Jack’s, Loggerhead and only hotel out there, Tides Folly Beach, has its own restaurant and bar called Blu that’s worth checking out, especially the tiki bar
Option 3 – West Ashley
I would definitely recommend visiting at least 1 plantation while you’re here. My favorite is Magnolia Plantation. It offers several tour options and alot of things to do, even if you don’t have time or want to catch everything, the general admission gets you into the petting zoo, the gardens, observation tower and the labyrinth. I’d spend $8 to get into the Audubon Swamp, it’s pretty neat and VERY green. You can also find peacocks roaming freely on the plantation grounds, fanning out and showing off their tail feathers. See if you can catch the albino peacock, it likes to be more to itself, but I’ve seen it roaming a time or two. I found the mini horses, mule, the black goat and one of the deer particularly friendly. The deer actually followed me for awhile, apparently I tasted good haha.
If you don’t eat at the plantation’s little cade, I’d recommend Senor Tequila’s on Ashley River Road (very good food and drinks), Bessinger’s BBQ on Savannah Highway or Bushido’s on Glenn McConnell (very good Japanese place, their sushi chefs have been trained IN Japan. I don’t like sushi, but their non-sushi options are very good too). If you want to restaurant/bar hop a bit, hit up Avondale in West Ashley. Lot of smaller places with good food, only thing is parking can REALLY suck. If you park behind the Alley, it’s one way street parallel parking, but you’ll be treated to a work of art all down the alley.
Option 4 – Hampton Park and Charleston RiverDogs
If you’re not dog-tired or its not 90+ degrees, drive over the Hampton Park, just next to The Citadel. Hampton Park used to be a horse race course, but was eventually bought by the City of Charleston and made into a park. 60 acres and oval-circular make it unique. If it is super hot and you want a cool, indoors spot by the water, California Dreaming is a good choice. Technically yes it’s a chain restaurant, but it does offer a little bit of everything, it’s unique design looks like a Fort (it’s not though) right on the Ashley River heading out towards the Charleston Harbor, beautiful for sunsets and good times.
Everyone loves the good old American pastime – baseball. If it’s the summertime, head on over to the Charleston Riverdogs, class A division of the Yankees and also a typical rehab spot for when the big timers get hurt. I’ve worked there as an intern, cashier and a concession stand manager and no 2 seasons are alike! Every year they have the classic food, but they also feature a new and sometimes insane sound menu. One of the years I was there, they offered alligator sausage dogs, duck sausage dogs and beer floats. I know, sounds crazy, but all 3 were pretty delish.
So, I hope that you enjoyed your long weekend in Charleston. There is so much to do here and it’s hard to get in the full flavor of Charleston. Really you’d need 1-3 months here to enjoy everything. Even as born/raised/living here native, I haven’t even covered everything! As Charleston is growing and getting stronger, things change and get better so some of the places I went to as a kid have been improved. If you ever come to Charleston, hit me up in the comments! I’d be happy to help out and I know that you’re just gonna love it here