There are so many ways to fill a perfect summer day in Charleston- even those of us who live here have a hard time fitting it all in! This list is a compilation of some popular local pastimes and favorite summer treats, all perfect ways to fill out that travel itinerary while planning a last-minute summer trip to Charleston or thinking of one for the future.
Also, we’ll use the term summer flexibly here- Charleston’s warm weather means most of these activities can be enjoyed throughout the year.
Hit the beach!
Folly Beach, Sullivan’s Island, and Isle of Palms are all within a 25-30 minute drive from downtown Charleston. My personal favorite is Sullivan’s, known for being the locals beach (no short term rentals here), as well as former home to Edgar Allen Poe. Local celebrities like Bill Murray and Stephen Colbert have homes on the island, but all the beach stations are public and popular with locals and tourists. Grab a burger at Poe’s Tavern and ice cream at Beardcat’s Sweet Shop after a beach day and stay for sunset.
Order a Game Changer at Home Team BBQ.
It’s all in the name, you’ve been warned! This beloved SC BBQ spot’s frozen drinks are just as well-known as their meats. The frozen Irish coffee is also delicious, just make sure to start with some water if you are at their Sullivan’s Island location and in need of re-hydration following a fun beach day.
Paddle board on Shem Creek.
Historically, Shem Creek was home to the shrimp docks and ice house in the small town of Mt. Pleasant. You can still go there to buy fresh caught Mt. Pleasant Seafood, but most go to drink and dine along the water or get out on it with their boat or paddle board. All great options, and you are bound to spot both dolphins and a few drunken visitors on tiki boats in the process.
Order a Paradise Whip from Pineapple Hut.
Nothing says summer in Charleston like a Pineapple full of whip, which you can buy at locations on Folly Beach or downtown Charleston. The paradise whip is not only delicious, but incredibly instagram-worthy, as the vegan soft serve comes in a full pineapple. It also melts fast, so share with a friend or opt for a smaller cup topped with sprinkles or Tajin.
Bike or walk along the Battery seawall.
The Battery stretches along the southernmost point of the Charleston peninsula, with an elevated seawall and sidewalk along one side, and prime Charleston real estate along the other. Walk along the water while admiring a row of antebellum mansions facing one of the city’s most historic landmarks. The Battery seawall was used for protection from artillery fire during the Civil War, and now from flooding during hurricane season. You can also see Fort Sumter from here when looking out at the harbor, and the adjacent White Point Garden down at the promenade has some of the oldest iconic oak trees on the Charleston peninsula.
Power Hour at Edmund’s Oast Brewing Co.
Its the best outdoor happy hour in all of Charleston! Every day of the week from 4-5, everything on the Courtyard Menu at Edmund’s Oast Brewing is half price. Yes, everything! The vibe is casual, so you can grab a few pitchers following a beach trip or Battery visit and relax outside under an umbrella.
Visit a rooftop bar downtown.
There aren’t too many tall buildings in downtown Charleston, since historically none could stand higher than the neighborhood church steeple, which later lead to it being nicknamed the Holy City. So while there are less rooftop bars, they have wonderful, unobstructed views. My all time favorite is The Citrus Club, located at the top of The Dewberry (also a top hotel rec), as you get views of downtown, church steeples, and Marion Square, plus water views and Ravenel Bridge. Other popular rooftop spots downtown are The Rooftop Bar at the Vendue, Fiat Lux at Hotel Bennett, Pavilion Bar, and The Watch.
Sunday brunch & farmer’s market at Holy City Brewing.
Speaking of the Holy City, that’s also the name of one of its most popular, longtime local breweries. Its located 15 minutes north of downtown in the trendy Park Circle neighborhood, with a huge outdoor bar and patio along Noisette Creek. Sunday brunch is served all day, and a monthly Holy City Farmer’s Market. If your dates don’t line up with the market, no worries, there is bound to be another special event happening that weekend.
Get on a boat!
Why settle for views of the water when you could be out on it? The Daniel Island Ferry is an easy, affordable option that takes you to and from downtown. For dolphin or sunset tours of full day boat charters, check out Coastal Expeditions or Holy City Boat Tours.
Order an ice cream flight at Off Track
Tucked just around the corner from bustling King Street, Off Track offers innovative, made from scratch ice cream flavors with local ingredients, so its hard to choose just one! Luckily you don’t have to when you spring for an ice cream flight, or opt for an ice cream sandwich between their freshly baked snickerdoodle cookies.
Attend a Charleston RiverDogs baseball game.
The local minor league baseball team keeps a full summer schedule, where Thirsty Thursdays will get you cheap beer, Friday night games end with fireworks, and every day gets you gorgeous views of the sunset over the marsh! Plus, Bill Murray is part owner and self-appointed “Director of Fun” for the Charleston RiverDogs baseball team and often attends the games, so you might fit in that Bill sighting after all.
This is just a starting place of all the ways to fill a gorgeous (albeit, humid) Charleston summer. Haven’t done all these yet? Don’t worry, me neither! Lucky for us, summer holds on for a while here in the Lowcountry, so we’ve got some time.