One can’t just visit Charleston, South Carolina once and think that everything worth seeing is around the Historic Downtown. Believe it or not, there are so many things to do beyond the main drag of King Street, Rainbow Row, and the City Market. With a mix of island fun, beaches, great food, and more, you’re going to want to take some notes about the places we’re going to share. Ready? Okay, let’s explore Charleston, beyond its best-known places.

Visit Mount Pleasant

Charleston, South Carolina

Marina at Shem Creek

Cross the beautiful Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge and make your first stop at the town of Mount Pleasant. Hang out by the Memorial Waterfront Park with a lunch and relax for the day. It’s also fun to take a boat or kayak out on the area’s mazy marsh. Searching for dolphins on Shem Creek is another great way to enjoy Mount Pleasant. Walk along a nicely maintained boardwalk and if you’re lucky, one the world’s smartest mammals will be chasing shrimp boats in the hopes of an appetizer falling into the water.

Explore John’s Island

Charleston, South Carolina

Photo courtesy of Christina Riley

Cross even more bridges from Charleston and you’ll reach John’s Island. We’ve long been a fan of this place, especially for the famed Angel Oak Tree. Estimated to be anywhere between 400–1,500 years old, stand in front of it and try not to be impressed. It’s amazing to think that this tree still stands (knock on wood), considering the many hurricanes that have devastated the Charleston area. Try to arrive early in the morning for photos without tons of people around, because the crowds come by midday.

Sip Moonshine at Wadmalaw Island …

Charleston, South Carolina

Photo courtesy of Christina Riley

Are you really in the South if you haven’t sipped on some moonshine? Drive out to the fun-to-pronounce Wadmalaw Island (Wahd-mah-law) for an unforgettable imbibing experience. Firefly Distillery is South Carolina’s largest distillery and shares property with Deep Water Vineyard. Many people know Firefly for their Sweet Tea Vodka that is made with local tea (more on that in a minute), but we recommend a tasting and including Apple Pie Moonshine. They’ll give you free popcorn to munch on between sips of various vodkas, rums, and of course, moonshine!

.. Or Sip Tea Instead

Charleston, South Carolina

Photo courtesy of Christina Riley

Also on Wadmalaw is Charleston Tea Plantation, site of the only tea grown in North America. Step inside and try a wide variety of flavored teas before taking a trolley tour, where the guide will share how the plantation started, how tea is manufactured and beautiful views of the plants. There are plenty of rocking chairs outside for one to enjoy some tea and hopefully a breeze. Don’t leave Wadmalaw (isn’t it fun to say?) without taking five or six boxes of Plantation Mint Tea home with you, because it really is delicious!

Soak Up the Sun at Folly Beach

Charleston, South Carolina

Photo courtesy of Christina Riley

Being on the Carolina coast, you can’t forget about the beach! Everyone talks about Myrtle or Hilton Head, but Charleston’s very own Folly Beach has been an area favorite for almost forever. Folly has just enough pristine sand, long piers and all the seafood and cold beer you need for a beach vacation! Spend all day on the sand before grabbing some food at a nearby crab shack or bring a lunch, so you don’t have to leave at all. Either way, enjoy Folly Beach and remember that it’s just a short drive away from one of the South’s biggest cities.

Grab a Snack at Sullivan’s Island

Charleston, South Carolina

Home team BBQ | Photo courtesy of Christina Riley

Want to go even further away to stick your toes in the sand? Try Sullivan’s Island! It’s even smaller than Folly Beach, incredibly quiet and has some of the best food you’d find in such a tiny place. Find a spot to park and plan a bit of a walk, since spaces are limited. Walk along the beach and you’ll see a lot of people lazily riding their bikes and couples meandering. You might think packing a lunch is a good idea, but don’t worry, the folks at Home Team BBQ came to Sullivan’s Island to fill your belly. The place gets packed fast, and with so much delicious food on the menu (Hint: Please order the nachos), it’s no wonder!

There is so much to do around the Holy City that it’s worth finding a place to live, we mean, stay. Whether you’re admiring the dolphins or savoring a sip of tea or moonshine, there’s a lot going on in the city’s outskirts, don’t you think? We’ll leave it to you, though.

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