The beach may be the marquee attraction on Sullivan’s Island, but you owe it to yourself to slip into your flipflops at some point during your vacation and explore some of the other interesting and fun locales in town.
When you’re ready to venture off the shoreline, check out these hidden gems:
Bench by the Road – Inspired by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, the 6-foot-long black steel bench facing the Intracoastal Waterway in Fort Moultrie was the first of a series of benches placed at historically significant sites to honor the memory of enslaved Africans and commemorate the many forgotten moments in African American history. The “African Slave Trade Point of Entry” bench on Sullivan’s Island overlooks the waterway that brought thousands of slaves to Charleston. Since it launched the program in 2006, the Toni Morrison Society has placed another 19 benches around the world, from Paris, France, to Harlem, New York, to Mitchelville on Hilton Head Island.
Stella Maris Roman Catholic Church – One of the oldest Catholic churches in the Charleston area, Stella Maris, which means “Star of the Sea,” was built in the early 1870s to serve Irish immigrants who came to Sullivan’s Island to work on projects for the Army Corps of Engineers. Bricks from the ruins of Fort Moultrie, extensively damaged during the Civil War, were used to construct the church located in the Moultrieville Historic District. The first Mass took place on Aug. 3, 1873. The interior of the church, including the grooved ceiling resembling a ship’s hull, was completed over the next several years. An illuminated statue of Our Lady, Star of the Sea, stands in the dome of the striking steeple tower.
Beardcat’s Sweet Shop (@beardcatsweetshop) – Tucked below The Obstinate Daughter restaurant, this little establishment is part gelateria, part coffee shop, part retail store. Stop in for some small-batch artisanal gelato made from scratch using locally sourced Lowcountry ingredients. For the full Beardcat experience, complement it with a delicious cappuccino. The shop’s whimsically decorated interior and patio are inviting spots to linger with friends. Along with gelato, the offerings include gelato sandwiches, gelato cakes, pastries, cookies, grab-and-go sandwiches and a variety of artisanal drinks.
The Co-Op Grocery and Deli – This island cafe serves breakfast all day, gourmet sandwiches, coffee, wine and craft beer in a friendly atmosphere that welcomes visitors to hang out for a spell. They are most famous for their frosé (frozen rosé wine) available in a variety of delicious flavors. A local neighborhood treasure, the Co-Op is a must-stop on any visit to Sullivan’s Island.