Charleston's attractions are so well-documented, it is hard to imagine anything there as "hidden." But like any other wonderful place, there are secrets not to be missed. Here are a few to explore on your next visit.
For gorgeous views of the Ashley River and stunning sunsets, head to Brittlebank Park, a 10-acre network of pathways and trails favored by local walkers and bikers. Located just off Lockwood Boulevard, its marshlands are rich with native plants, wildflowers and waterfowl. If you've got kids in tow, you'll appreciate the playground and picnic tables. Partake in the time-honored Lowcountry tradition of crabbing; the park's fishing pier is a prime spot for snagging the feisty critters. If you're traveling with a pup in tow, there's also an off-leash dog park located on the property's north side. This is definitely the place where everyone gets to stretch their legs.
Boats brought the earliest settlers to Charleston, but they also brought pirates and potential invaders. To protect themselves, early Charlestonians built a wall that ran along Meeting Street to Cumberland to East Bay and back to Water Street. The remnants of that wall are marked with bronze markers that can be found on a tour put together by Historic Charleston.
Boats are still one of the best ways to see Charleston. Check out Charleston Sailing Charters for sunset sails and other sailing tours of the city.
Charleston is filled with historic churches, and many of them still have their original cemeteries. A few of the more interesting are at the Unitarian Church, 4 Archdale St., and at its "mother church," the Circular Congregational Church, 150 Meeting St. The earliest grave in the Circular cemetery dates back to 1695. Both historic churches welcome visitors for tours as well as for Sunday services. You can extend your tour to include the city's Gateway Walk that also meanders through the peaceful gardens and cemeteries of St. John's Lutheran Church, St. Philip's Church, the Library Society and the Gibbes Museum of Art. For help making your way through, download the map at the Garden Club of Charleston which maintains the walk.
Charleston is famed for its welcoming of all religious faiths, leading to its nickname; "The Holy City." The city is the birthplace of Reform Judaism and the synagogue where that movement was born is Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim. Visitors can take a tour of the historic sanctuary and museum six days a week. The cemetery is the oldest surviving Jewish burial ground in the South.
Wrap up your world religions tour at the French Protestant Church. The Huguenots came to Charleston in the late 17th century to escape persecution by the Catholic Church in France. By 1700, there were 450 French protestants living in the Charleston area.