Milton P. Demetre Park on James Island is a 2.5-acre recreational gem tucked back in a residential neighborhood on the northeast end of the island.
While it might be small in size, it's big on views. From the banks of this waterfront park - set on a peninsula next to the James Island Yacht Club - you can see Charleston's Battery Park, Patriots Point and the Ravenel Bridge. The panorama farther up the harbor takes in Mount Pleasant, Sullivan's Island and Fort Sumter.
There are several benches and a picnic pavilion where you can sit and watch sailboats cruising around the harbor and ships coming and going from the Port of Charleston. Or better yet, bring your own lawn chairs and set them up on the park's small riverfront beach to enjoy the nautical doings.
A 190-foot fishing pier jetting out into the harbor was added last year, offering a new dimension to the park. On weekends, you might find several anglers catching whiting from the river.
The park also features a large pond that rises and falls with the tide. Plans are in the works to build a fishing and crabbing pier on the pond.
I was especially interested in a natural landing area used by kayakers to launch into the harbor. From the park, it's a 2.3 mile paddle to Fort Sumter. At low tide, you can beach your kayak on the sandy shore and visit the national monument. Entrance to the fort is free. The current can run fairly fast through the inlet, so check with one of the local kayaking outfitters for advice on the best route and tide conditions for paddling to the fort.
The park is located at 640 Wampler Drive. It's kind of tricky to find, so if you've got a GPS, use it. Take the James Island Expressway to exit No. 2 and go three miles on Harbor View Road. When you get to the end of the road, take a left onto Fort Johnson Road for half a mile, then turn left onto Wildwood Road. Follow Wildwood to the end, then turn left onto Wampler Drive. The park is on the right side of the road.