Charleston’s Hidden Gems
December 31, 2014
I am frequently asked questions concerning the “must dos” on a Charleston vacation. While I’m happy to name several attractions that should be on everyone’s Charleston itinerary, I also like to point out a few excellent, but lesser known, attractions as well. I’ve listed a few of my favorites below, in no particular order. I hope you’ll find time to visit one or more of these attractions during your next trip to Charleston. Of course, if you have any questions concerning these suggestions, or anything else related to Charleston, please send me an e-mail and let me know!
- Charleston’s Alleys — I think so much of Charleston’s Alleys that I’ve devoted an entire walking tour to exploring them further! I find these enchanting passages simply fascinating. They are distinguished by their beauty and they offer remarkable insight into the history of the Holy City. Because they are narrow and frequently inaccessible by automobile, they are often overlooked.
- Mount Pleasant’s Old Village and Pitt Street Bridge — Mount Pleasant’s Old Village is truly a hidden gem, just across the Cooper River from Charleston. Mount Pleasant was a summer retreat for residents of Charleston, offering cool breezes as a respite from the summer heat. Laid out in 1803, the Old Village retains much historical charm and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. From the Old Village, follow Pitt Street along the harbor onto the Pitt Street Bridge. The Bridge formerly connected a trolley between Sullivan’s Island and Mount Pleasant. Although the Bridge is now gone, the right of way is now used as a public park with gorgeous views of Charleston Harbor and Sullivan’s Island.
- Angel Oak — This massive live oak has a height of 65 feet and a circumference of over 28 feet! It is believed to be over 1,500 years old! The City of Charleston now owns the tree and operates a park open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday – Saturday and 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Sundays. Admission is free. The Oak is located at 3688 Angel Oak Road on Johns Island, about 40 minutes from downtown Charleston.
- Hampton Park — This 60 acre park is the largest on the Charleston Peninsula. Used as a racetrack, a prisoner of war camp, a zoo and the reported site of the first Memorial Day celebration, the Park has a colorful history. Today the park is a popular destination for walkers, joggers and cyclists in the rapidly developing Hampton Park Terrace and Wagener Terrace neighborhoods.
- Colonial Lake — This charming lake is located in the heart of the Harleston Village neighborhood on the Charleston Peninsula. Although the Lake and its park were established by an act of the Commons House of Assembly in 1768, the Lake itself was not created until 1869 when Ashley Avenue was extended to Broad Street, enclosing the Lake. The Lake is well known for the Christmas Tree which is placed in the middle of the Lake. With wide sidewalks and numerous benches, this is a wonderful place to take a stroll or simply sit and watch the world pass by.
- Gateway Walk — Maintained by the Garden Club of Charleston, this self guided walkway passes through several historic walkways and cemeteries in downtown Charleston. Landscape architect Loutrel Briggs designed the original walk which is named for the ten wrought iron gates along its course through the city. The walk begins at the gates of St. John’s Lutheran Church on Archdale Street, crosses King Street and Meeting Street, and concludes at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church. It opened in 1930 to coincide with the 250th anniversary of the founding of Charleston. This delightful passage is a wonderful way to enjoy Charleston’s quiet charms.