A guide to the best parks in Charleston SC. Surrounded by Victorian architecture, antebellum mansions, cobblestone streets, and quaint cafes, the real beauty of Charleston lies in its public squares and parks. A visit to this historic southern city is not complete if you don't take time to discover the city's most beautiful outdoor spaces.
The Charleston Battery and White Point Gardens are one of the must-see places when visiting Charleston. The park is located at the southeastern point of the city and is bordered by the Ashley and Cooper Rivers. The area got its name from the bleached oyster shells and white sand and is the spot where dozens of pirates were hung and left dangling from their nooses to deter other pirates from entering Charleston Harbor. In 1837, the City of Charleston bought part of White Point to create a waterfront park.The park has numerous monuments, a gazebo, and cannons that date back to the Civil and Revolutionary War era. The park is surrounded by beautiful antebellum mansions and massive oak trees draped in Spanish moss. From the Battery, you can see Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired.
Waterfront Park is a very popular park with residents and tourists and is one of the most visited parks in Charleston. The park is located a few blocks from the market and offers fantastic views of the Cooper River Bridge and Charleston Harbor. The park has a pier, where visitors can sit on family-sized swings and watch large container ships entering and exiting the harbor. The park also has two fountains, a splash fountain, and the famous Pineapple Fountain. These fountains are a great place to cool off on a hot summer day and are beautiful to watch when lit up at night. This park is a great place to visit in the evening after dinner. You can sit on one of the swings and enjoy the nighttime breeze while taking in impressive views of the Cooper River Bridge lit up at night.
The Angel Oak is located on John’s Island about 12 miles from downtown Charleston. It’s about a 20-minute drive, but it is well worth it to see this massive Oak Tree which is believed to be around 400 years old. The tree is not exceptionally tall, but the vast limbs that stretch out produce shade that covers about 17,000 sq ft. The pictures you see online of this massive oak, don’t do it justice. This is one tree you need to see in person. Parking is available at the park, and the admission is free. The park also has a small gift shop and a picnic area.
James Island County Park is a 643-acre park located about 15 minutes from downtown Charleston and about 20 minutes from Folly Beach. The park has so many fun things to do including saltwater fishing, pedal boats, kayak rentals, volleyball courts, campground, climbing wall, miles of paved trails, and an 18 hole disc golf course. The park also has a Splash Zone Water Park for kids and an off-leash park with a large lake for dogs. This park has something for the entire family. Parking is available at the park and admission is $2. General Admission to the Splash Park is $12, and admission for the climbing wall is $14.
This park is located on the original site where English settlers landed in 1670 and set up the first permanent European settlement in South Carolina. The park boasts a 12-room exhibit hall with interactive exhibits, a replica of a 17th-century sailing ship, and an Animal Forest natural habitat zoo. Visitors can tour the ship, take a peek at otters, bears, bison and more, or take an audio tour on the self-guided history trail. Bicycles can be rented by the hour or by the day for use on the 7 miles of paved and unpaved trails. The park has a small gift shop and offers free WiFi at the Visitors Center. Admission is $10 for adults, $6 for children ages 6-15 and kids under five are admitted for free.
The 60-acre park next to the Citadel is the largest park on the Charleston peninsula. The park is popular with runners, walkers, cyclists, and sunbathers who want to enjoy Charleston's beautiful weather. The park is equipped with public restrooms, a playground, picnic tables, a fitness trail, and free WiFi. Visitors will also enjoy landscaped floral gardens, a pond, and a fountain. The park is open sunrise to sunset and parking is available on-site.
The 10-acre park on the edge of the Ashley River is popular with families, fishermen, and attendees of concerts and festivals. The park features trails, paved pathways, a playground, benches, picnic tables, and a fishing pier with a boat dock. The park also has a long narrow stretch of marshlands which is home to birds and hundreds of native wildflower and plant species. An off-leash area for dogs is available at the north end of the park. The park is open sunrise to sunset and free parking is available.
Marion Square, one of Charleston's most popular parks, was initially used to defend against local Native Americans. Today the park is home to the Charleston Farmers Market from April until the end of November. Visitors will find over 100 local vendors including farmers, food concessions, artisans and crafters, live music, and fun activities. The park also hosts various festivals throughout the year including the Food and Wine Festival and the Spoleto Arts Festival.
Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park is a great place to relax and enjoy beautiful views of the Arthur Ravenel Bridge and the Charleston Harbor. The park, located under the Ravenel bridge, has a 1250-foot long pier which stretches out into Charleston Harbor. Guests can sit on bench swings, relax in rocking chairs, or do a little fishing. The park, which honors local war veterans, has a sculpture with the names of local veterans killed in action. Visitors will also find picnic tables, playground, store, and public restrooms. Open 6 am - 11 pm May - September and 8 am - 11 pm October - April. Admission to the park is free, but the park does charge a $5 daily fishing fee.
Folly Beach County Park is located on the west end of Folly Island between the Atlantic Ocean and the Folly River. Amenities include outdoor showers, restrooms, picnic tables and a boardwalk. Seasonal amenities include lifeguards, beach chair and umbrella rentals, and a snack bar. The park is open Sept. - Apr. 10 am - Sunset and May - Labor Day 9 am - 8 pm. Parking fees for the park are $5 Nov. - Feb., March $5 during the week and $10 on the weekend, Apr. $10 every day, May - Labor Day $10 during the week and $15 on the weekend, September $10 every day, and October $5 during the week and $10 on the weekend. Parking is limited so you will need to arrive early.
Isle of Palms County Park offers a beautiful oceanfront swimming area with seasonal lifeguards on duty. Other amenities include boardwalks, changing area, playground, restrooms, and a picnic area with grills. Seasonal amenities include beach chair and umbrella rentals, snack bar, outdoor showers and a retail store. The park is open Sept. - Apr. 10 am - Sunset and May - Labor Day 9 am - 8 pm. Parking fees for the park are $5 Nov. - Feb., March $5 during the week and $10 on the weekend, Apr. $10 every day, May - Labor Day $10 during the week and $15 on the weekend, September $10 every day, and October $5 during the week and $10 on the weekend. Parking is limited so you will need to arrive early.
Kiawah Beachwalker Park, located on the west end of Kiawah Island, has the only public beach access on the island. The park offers year-round amenities including a dressing area, picnic tables with grills, boardwalk, and public restrooms. Seasonal amenities include beach chair and umbrella rentals, lifeguards, outdoor showers, and snack bar. The park is open Sept. - Apr. 10 am - Sunset and May - Labor Day 9 am - 8 pm. Parking fees for the park are $5 Nov. - Feb., March $5 during the week and $10 on the weekend, Apr. $10 every day, May - Labor Day $10 during the week and $15 on the weekend, September $10 every day, and October $5 during the week and $10 on the weekend.