Expert Tips


Best Parks in Charleston

Savor Every Season in Charleston's 10 Best Parks

Welcome to Charleston, South Carolina! Expect to fall in love with the unique beauty of the lowcountry, where the Deep South meets colonial charm and a strong local community. The loveliness of Charleston is evidenced by its original, colorful architecture, the friendliness of its people, and of course, the idyllic views only found in a Southern harbor town.

One of the best ways to enjoy Charleston's subtropical climate is with time spent at a local park–a picnic lunch or quick break from city exploration both work well as excuses to linger outside. You won't have to venture far to find an ideal park pit stop, as Charleston's best parks are close by in Mount Pleasant, West Ashley, James Island, and of course, downtown.

At each Charleston park, you'll encounter different special features and views, but enjoy the same comfortable, laid-back atmosphere at each. Exercise lovers will enjoy a bike ride or run through historic Hampton Park and its surrounding downtown neighborhoods, as well as the path at the old Pitt Street Bridge in Mount Pleasant. Beach babes can hit the sand and surf (with chair and umbrella rentals) at Folly Beach County Park, while adventurous kiddos will enjoy James Island County Park and the Charles Towne Landing National Historic Site. No trip to Charleston is complete without a visit to the Whitepoint Gardens at Battery Park. Rest in the shade under ancient live oaks draped in Spanish moss, with inspiring views of Fort Sumter and the Charleston Harbor.


Quite often the site of local festivals such as the Charleston Beer Garden and XXX, Brittlebank Park is chosen as a spot for celebrations due to its near-downtown waterfront location overlooking the Ashley River from Lockwood Drive. Also just a short walk from the Charleston Riverdogs minor league baseball stadium, the 10-acre Brittlebank Park makes for a nice place to spend some time with the kids before or after going to a ball game. There are swings and playground available here, and the park is open (free of charge) year-round. There is also a public water access dock and fishing pier available at Brittlebank, which makes a nice spot to launch a small boat or kayak.

Recommended for Parks because: Lucky Brittlebank Park visitors may come for a festival or afternoon with family, but get more than they expected with beautiful Ashley River views.

Clare's expert tip: Bring your kayak to Brittlebank Park to launch a paddle along the serene Ashley River! This park has a public boat dock and fishing pier.

Read more about Brittlebank Park →

This expansive, 943-acre Mount Pleasant park is part of the Charleston County Park system, and located just 20-30 minute drive from downtown Charleston. Situated along Horlbeck Creek off of the Wando River, Palmetto Islands County Park affords any visitor an untouched view of Charleston's natural beauty, flora and fauna. This park was made for groups and families, including such features as a boardwalk trail, bike paths, an observation deck, and picnic facilities with grills. You can also fish and crab at Palmetto Islands Park, as well as launch a kayak onto this stunningly beautiful marsh creek. The kids will also love the (seasonal) Splash Island Waterpark, open from late May to early September.

Recommended for Parks because: Why NOT go to Palmetto Islands County Park? There's something here for everyone, from kayaking to family picnic facilities and even a crabbing dock.

Clare's expert tip: Pick an evening of cool weather to hang out and grill out with the family at Palmetto Islands County Park. Try fishing and crabbing beforehand for a true lowcountry park picnic!

Read more about Palmetto Islands County Park →

More of a historic colonial settlement brought to life in authentic fashion than a simple park, a visit to the Charleston Towne Landing historic site makes for an excellent afternoon activity off-peninsula for people and groups of all ages. Just a short drive from downtown Charleston across the Ashley River, Charles Towne Landing brings the past to life at the site of the first permanent European settlement in the Carolinas. This state historic site offers bike rentals, nature and walking trails (including nature and history trails), and 80 acres of gardens and greenery. There's even a natural animal habitat on site, home to animal species that the early settlers would have encountered when they first colonized the area.

Recommended for Parks because: See rare animal species, bike or walk beautiful trails, and learn the history of the area's first English settlement. History abounds at Charles Towne Landing!

Clare's expert tip: Charles Towne Landing is an excellent activity for all ages and all seasons, with exhibits and events taking place year-round.

Read more about Charles Towne Landing →


Waterfront Park is one of the peninsula's most visited parks, and is located at the southern tip of the downtown peninsula, just a few short blocks from East Bay Street, as well as Battery Park and White Point Gardens. Finished in 1990, Waterfront Park is a favorite of visitors and locals alike, offering fantastic views of the Charleston harbor. The park covers more than 1,000 feet along the coasts and allows visitors a chance to sit and relax after a long day of shopping and sightseeing. Visitors can watch sailboats cruising the waters and large ships heading in and out of the harbor.

Recommended for Parks because: Ah, the famous Pineapple Fountain, a symbol of Southern hospitality in Charleston. Waterfront Park is worth visiting for the views, people watching, and refreshing breeze.

Clare's expert tip: Don't miss out on a photo opportunity at the famous Charleston pineapple fountain!

Read more about Charleston Waterfront Park →

Folly is without question one of the most iconic spots in Charleston, and one of South Carolina's most popular beach vacation destinations. The beach park itself boasts over 2,500 feet of ocean frontage speckled with amenities like dressing areas, outdoor showers, restrooms, boardwalks, picnic areas and a snack bar. Boogie board and surfboard rentals are also on hand for visitors who want to take advantage of some of the best surfing north of Florida on the East Coast. Bring your shades, sunblock, and surfboard to take advantage of this beachtown treasure, an area of the beach usually less crowded than other stretches of Folly outside of park grounds.

Recommended for Parks because: Folly Beach County Park offers a protected beach open to the public year-round(lifeguarded during the summer). It's a safe, fun place for the whole family!

Clare's expert tip: Folly Beach is the Charleston beach best suited for surfing! Head here when the tide is high--but only if you're an experienced surfer!

Read more about Folly Beach County Park →


This 643-acre park offers a full-service campground as well as 10 modern vacation cabins overlooking the Stono River marsh. For additional fees, you can enjoy other activities, including Splash Zone water park and a 50-foot rock climbing wall which can accommodate 12-15 climbers at a time. Bike rentals are available, as is a crabbing dock and unrestricted ocean fishing. This county park hosts several major festivals throughout the year, such as the Lowcountry Cajun Festival in April. Educational programs for various ages include the Challenge Course, turtle walks, and tidal creek exploring. The Splash Zone Water Park is a huge draw for local and visiting families, as is the picnic and Spray Play fountain area and public dog park.

Recommended for Parks because: Climb rock walls, run or bike paved paths, or treat Fido to a rowdy dog park afternoon; it's all here at JI County Park!

Clare's expert tip: Bring the whole family (and pets) to this large county park to experience a wide variety of outdoor activities, including a rock wall and waterpark!

Read more about James Island County Park →

Are you in search of a free attraction or outdoor space that's close to downtown Charleston for a romantic day trip or sunset viewing? You're in luck - Mount Pleasant's Pitt Street Bridge, as it is typically referred to, is located just a short drive across the Ravenel Bridge from the peninsula, and makes an excellent picnic spot or intimate evening outdoors when the weather is nice. Locals often visit Pitt Street Bridge, once the site of a longer dock bridge connecting Mount Pleasant to Sullivan's Island and a training spot for the Hunley, to launch kayaks or try their hand at some shore fishing. Parking and admission into the park is free!

Recommended for Parks because: Often touted as the best sunset views in all of Charleston, "Pitt Street Bridge" is so beautiful, it's one of Charleston's most popular engagement spots.

Clare's expert tip: Got a bike, a kayak, or a fishing pole? Bring 'em here for great fun on the water! You'll find an excellent starting line for an adventurous afternoon with some killer views!

Read more about Pickett Bridge Rec. Area & Pitt Street Bridge →

Battery Park & White Point Gardens
Photo courtesy of Clare Sweeney

Battery Park is the quintessential image of Charleston for most Holy City locals. Walking along East Bay Street, with the famous Battery mansions to one side, the Charleston harbor to the other, you'll be able to spot Ft. Sumter in the distance, and imagine the first shots of the Civil War that took place here in 1861. Over many centuries, the Battery has seen many wars, such as the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, and was even the hanging grounds for famous pirate Stede Bonnet, among others. Here you are completely surrounded by the charms that Charlestonians love the most- antebellum historic homes, a view of the Ravenel Bridge across the harbor, and centuries old oaks alongside stately palmettos.

Recommended for Parks because: Stroll through Battery Park and White Point Gardens for the views: antebellum mansions, Charleston harbor, tall Palmettos, and ancient live oaks. Take it all in.

Clare's expert tip: Parking can, at times, be difficult in this area (even though most spaces here aren't metered, a rarity in Charleston). Luckily, this park is within walking or biking distance of anywhere downtown!

Read more about Battery Park & White Point Gardens →

Marion Square
Photo courtesy of Clare Sweeney

Marion Square's 6.5 acres of green city park space is always a great spot to picnic, take a break from shopping, or catch some Charleston sun. Once used as drilling grounds for The Citadel, Charleston's local military college, Marion Square Park is now home to weekly Saturday Farmer's Markets, as well as many other special events, including Charleston Fashion Week, Food + Wine Festival, and the Piccolo Spoleto Festival. Often referred to by local college students as Marion Square "Beach" in warmer months, the park is frequented by locals playing Frisbee and sunbathing with their laptops and textbooks. Don't miss an opportunity to stop and rest a while (or even picnic) on the wide open field space here--so very convenient to every city attraction.

Recommended for Parks because: Anytime of year, the centrally-located Marion Square is a buzz of activity, from the Farmers Market to Fashion Week and the Wine & Food Festival.

Clare's expert tip: Don't miss the Saturday Farmer's Markets from April to December - a great way to try the best of Charleston's local farmers, artisans, and food trucks!

Read more about Marion Square →

This nearly 70-acre green space, named for General Wade Hampton, a Civil War general and governor of South Carolina, is located just north of Charleston's bustling downtown, close to The Citadel military college. Hampton Park has been popular with walkers, runners, sunbathers and others wishing to take advantage of the warm and sunny Charleston weather. The park, which is equipped with public restrooms, a playground, picnic tables, and free WIFI, is home to a beautiful variety of annual blooms, as well as a fountain and pond. Hampton Park is also a popular public space for weddings and engagements, photo shoots, and even exercise meet-ups.

Recommended for Parks because: Hampton Park is everything a park should be: lovely patches of green grass, blooming colors, winding paths, in the middle of a charming historic neighborhood.

Clare's expert tip: Rent a bike as your mode of transportation to Hampton Park. It's a decent bike ride from the historic district to north downtown, and once you arrive, there's a bike loop waiting for you at the park!

Read more about Hampton Park →


Meet Clare Sweeney

A South Carolina native and avid locavore, Clare is always venturing between traveling abroad and her beloved Lowcountry. 

Clare works and plays in downtown Charleston, spending her days...  More About Clare