The Best Parks You Should Visit in Charleston, SC

Photo of Richard Tulis
9 February 2017

If you’re searching for shade among the scorching South Carolina heat, seek out one of its urban parks and sit on a bench that’s nestled below an old oak tree. For more adventure, dog parks and waterfront destinations are plenty in number as well. This pleasant city’s parks are highly conducive to event hosting, so you never know what you might stumble across – giving visitors to Charleston all the more reason to stop by a park.

Charleston, South Carolina | © Alistair Nicol/Flickr

James Island County Park

The parks in Charleston are well kept and many in number. For a jovial day in the sun, pick child and pet-friendly James Island County Park. With its own ‘dog beach’ and a four-acre, wide-open grassy area, the park is often crawling – literally – with activity. There’s water to take a dip in, and the park extends beyond the furry friend zone, amounting in all its glory to about 600 acres of space. Bicycling, jogging, and simply walking trails are all perfectly suitable activities at this park. Want to try something new? Grab a paddle-board and push off into one of the Stono River’s tidal creeks.

James Island County Park, 871 Riverland Drive, Charleston, SC, USA, + 1 843 795 7275

Angel Oak Park

Angel Oak Tree
Angel Oak Tree | © Inhabitat Blog/Flickr
Just across the Stono River is Angel Oak Park, appropriately named, hence the massive, awe-inspiring ‘Angel Oak’ tree – estimated to be roughly 1,500 years old – occupying the park’s center. Undoubtedly the park’s magnum opus, newcomers are often baffled by its twisting, seemingly endless branches and overall size (the tree covers about 17,000 square feet in all). The Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission tends to this three-acre park by ensuring cleanliness, so pick a picnic table, enjoy lunch, and don’t forget to pick up your trash before you go.

Waterfront Park

Waterfront Park
Waterfront Park | © A. van Zwienen/Flickr
Waterfront Park is home to two beautiful fountains that are iconic in nature, decoratively modeled after palm trees and featuring spouting jets of water. The park itself occupies 12 acres alongside the Cooper River, with a 1,250-foot pier jutting out into Charleston Harbor. The photo-worthy park and its Southern flower gardens are attractive for afternoon walks through dozens of pathways, and there are plenty of benches to stop and rest on. The eight-acre park is also filled with spectacular ocean views.

Marion Square

Home to the Charleston Farmer’s Market on Meeting Street, Marion Square is perpetually milling with the freshest local fruit and vegetables available. Full of Charleston farmers, gardening aficionados, and food vendors, the Square makes a valuable addition to the Charleston Park Conservancy’s list of locations. The park is ten acres and hosts several interesting historic monuments. The park also has free Wi-Fi, but don’t use that as an excuse to stay on your phone too long – you might miss something. Come the holiday season, visitors can take pictures in front of the city’s very own Christmas tree.

Marion Square, 329 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC, USA, + 1 843 724 7327

Charles Towne Landing

This public space preserves the inaugural site of permanent settlement made by the English in Carolina. Though the park is home to a 17th century replica sail ship and plenty of historical background, remember it also contains an animal forest-natural habitat zoo, walking trails, and ongoing archaeological excavation sites. Over 600 acres, the park sits on the banks of the Ashley River and is heralded as the ‘birthplace of South Carolina.’ Stop by for a visit and take a walk through nature in the heart of the low country.

Charles Towne Landing, 1500 Old Towne Road, Charleston, SC, USA, + 1 843 852 4200

Washington Square

Occupying the inner space of the block formed by Broad, Meeting, and Chalmers Streets, historic Washington Square is a more urban park, yet home to a rare sort of inner-city peaceful leisure nonetheless. With dozens of large trees, the park provides enough shade and benches to satisfy those looking for a small escape from the hustle of Downtown. The statue of George Washington gives the one and a half-acre park its name, and a 42-foot obelisk model of the Washington Monument provides a pleasant backdrop.

Washington Square, 80 Broad Street, Charleston, SC, USA

Charleston Battery

Take in the outdoors of this charming beach town by strolling through the Battery – a paved, public bulkhead lined with sturdy antebellum mansions. The Battery is one of the most picturesque portions of Charleston, rife with enchanting, pastel, plantation style edifices, white picket fences included. Amid the moss-draped oaks of this scenic promenade are sights such as archaic Civil War-era cannons and commemorative plaques dedicated to the historical significance of many different structures and locations. The Battery is drenched in the history and culture of the low country. Bring your camera to the promenade and snag a photo of Fort Sumter across the harbor… and maybe even a few dolphins if you’re lucky!

White Point Garden, 2 Murray Boulevard, Charleston, SC, USA, + 1 843 724 7327

By Richard Isaac Tulis

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