Local’s Picks | Best Charleston Adventures
Want to explore Charleston like a local? Check out our Travel Guide to the best things to do outdoors in Charleston and get started planning your next day of outdoor activities with our Charleston Adventure Guide.
Local: Lindsey Graham, Wildlife Photographer, Flyaway Photography
Pick: Birding on Kiawah Island (Kiawah Island): “The scenic 6.5 mile drive across Kiawah Island to the shoreline behind the Ocean Golf Course provides a great opportunity to see the various birds inhabiting the Lowcountry. This barrier island boasts a mixture of maritime forest, brackish water ponds, and dune habitat, and is worth taking some time to explore. The species vary by season as migratory shorebirds and waterfowl arrive during the winter months. Make sure to stop by Willet Pond to see the endangered wood stork foraging during the early morning. Continue along the road and you may come across osprey nesting in nearby pine trees and bald eagles soaring overhead. Download the bird checklist from Kiawah’s website and see how many species you can find. If you decide to visit the beach along the Ocean Course, check the tides before you go, arriving a few hours either side of low tide. If you continue to the left you will get to a pond behind the driving range. There you will see numerous marsh birds and shorebirds including; black skimmers, American oystercatchers, along with various tern, heron, gull, plover and egret species.
Local: Benjamin Gruber, Trek Bicycle Store
Pick: Sewee Outpost Road Bike Loop (Awendaw): “Ride along the beautiful, peaceful and smooth roads of Francis Marion National Forest. Endless intersecting roads mean plenty of car-free roads and lots of fresh air to fill your lungs! Park at the Sewee Outpost parking lot and head counterclockwise on this fun 33-mile loop out Guerins Bridge Road and the beautiful Wando River marsh it bisects. Head right on Halfway Creek deeper into the forest and ride through the peaceful pine forest. Turn right onto Steed Creek Road back towards Highway 17. Take HWY 17 south (nice shoulder) for ¼ mile and hang a left onto Doar Road. Bike along this quiet country road to the Awendaw Town Hall and turn left onto Sewee Road. Follow this back to the Sewee Outpost for a snack or a cold beverage. Hang out at Awendaw Green (aside of the Sewee Outpost) on Wednesday evenings and enjoy some free local music, a cold beer, and some good company.”
Local: David Peralta, Charleston Angler
Pick: Cast for Red Drum (Charleston Harbor): There are few ‘urban’ fishing locales more scenic than Charleston Harbor. Captain David Peralta of the Charleston Angler recommends launching from the Wappoo Cut boat landing, cruising past the Battery’s historic homes in pursuit of red drum, sea trout, and flounder. “From Charleston Harbor, you have easy access to the quiet natural beauty of the marsh and creeks off of the Ashley, Wando and Cooper Rivers,” says Peralta. “Target areas along the marsh edge looking for schools of red drum and cast to creek mouths in hopes of finding sea trout and flounder. A seven-foot medium action spinning rod with matching reel will be ideal for this type of fishing, but sight casting to cruising and tailing red drum
with a fly rod will add an extra dimension of excitement.” If you don’t have a boat, the Charleston Angler can recommend and book an experienced fishing guide for you.
Local: Kathie Livingston, Nature Adventures Outfitters
Pick: Kayak Around Crab Bank (Charleston Harbor): It’s literally impossible to find an escape on the water closer than Crab Bank, just outside the mouth of Shem Creek. Nature Adventures Outfitters’ Kathie Livingston makes the trip frequently, paddling past Shem Creek’s historic shrimping village and out into the harbor, with its beautiful views of the Charleston skyline. Dolphins and pelicans are frequent companions here, as you paddle the circuit around a world-class rookery only a few hundred yards into the harbor from Mt. Pleasant. “What more can you ask for?” says Livingston. “Wildlife, culture, nature, and beauty, all in one trip, plus the wonderful warmth and smell of the salty air.”
Local: Mark Musselman, Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest
Pick: Old Growth Cypress and Tupelo Forest (Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest): Escape the noise and commotion and experience 1,000-year-old trees, native wildlife, and the serene beauty that have characterized this area for thousand of years. The 17,000 acre Beidler Forest features a 1.75-mile, elevated boardwalk through the old-growth forest, or the swamp can be experienced from water level via canoe or kayak. Although the forest is accessible year round, education director Mark Musselman particularly appreciates springtime: “Plants look fresh with new leaves, flowers are beginning to appear, birds are returning from migration for mates, reptiles are more visible during the warming days, and photography opportunities abound.
Local: Jess Vande Werken, Half Moon Outfitters
Pick: Stand Up Paddleboard (Mt.Pleasant): Mount Pleasant’s historic Old Village offers a great access point to explore ‘The Cove’ behind Sullivan’s Island or paddle through the harbor toward Shem Creek. “On a sunny Charleston morning, nothing beats getting up early and driving out to Sullivan’s Island for some stand-up paddleboarding,” says Half Moon Outfitters employee Jess Vande Werken. “I like to enlist my co-worker James Simons on these Sunday morning sessions. After a few hours of paddling around in the surf, we tend to build up quite an appetite. Shem Creek, which is just a short drive away from Sullivan’s, is the perfect place to flat-water paddle between dockside restaurants for some good brunch food and a Bloody Mary or two. There are also hundreds of smaller tidal creeks winding throughout the area which are fun (and sometimes challenging) to paddle through.”
Local: Brooks Geer, Sewee Outpost
Pick: Biking the Santee Coastal Reserve (McClellanville): For one of the best local access points to wild wetlands and plantation scenery, Sewee Outpost owner Brooks Geer recommends heading up to the old Santee Gun Club, now a protected wildlife management area. This 24,000 acre reserve features several trails built along impoundments, ideal for bicycling. “It’s not single track mountain biking,” explains Geer. “It’s dirt road mountain biking.” Those dirt roads take you through seven miles of old rice fields, three miles of freshwater cypress swamp (with an 800 foot boardwalk), and through long leaf pine woodlands. A central lake serves as one of the largest wood stork rookeries on the east coast. There’s also a 4-mile canoe trail. Parts of the reserve are open to the public for hunting during certain times of the year. Call 843-546-8665 for information on where hunting is open.
Local: James Justin Burke, singer/songwriter of James Justin & Company
Pick: Play Disc Golf at Trophy Lakes (James Island): “I always wake-up ready for the challenge to beat my last score at Trophy Lakes. Disc Golf is my “American Past Time.” And with my best friend Blue, we hit the course, eager for the challenge. Charleston is spoiled to have Trophy Lakes. Not only is it known for it’s premier water sports, but it has one of the best disc golf courses in the southeast. Like the disc, Blue is able to run through the pines and leap into the lake for a swim. After the round, we love stopping by The Pour House Deck for some of the best live music in Charleston! Blue hangs out with friends while his momma and I have a drink and dance away the night.”