If you’ve done some pre-vacation research, you know much of what the Charleston area has to offer in terms of outdoor activities: beaches, golf courses and all those historic neighborhoods to explore. The Town of Mount Pleasant is very much the same; not as many options, perhaps, but enough to fill any active tourist’s days.
Besides the historic sites to visit, folks who love walking, hiking and exploring outdoor areas should venture out to Mount Pleasant’s crown jewel: Memorial Waterfront Park, featuring the magnificent Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge as its backdrop. Lawn areas are perfect for picnicking, there’s a nautical-themed playground modeled after the bridge that will delight youngsters — adults will enjoy the shade and views of the Cooper River — and a 1,250-foot-long pier where you can sit and swing. Should hunger strike, take the family for soft-serve ice cream at the River Watch Café, which also has views to enjoy while you snack.
Laurel Hill County Park is another outdoor destination featuring several miles of running, walking and biking trails winding through the grounds of this former plantation. With more than 745 acres of green space, it offers open meadows, a small lake and great scenery, plus an oak allee (or oak-lined path/”alley”) and areas available for private rentals. Add to the list, Edwards Park, featuring a dock on a creek.
Strolling isn’t enough for you? Then make your way to Hog Island’s trailhead and historical marker, where trekkers can partake of exercise and history. Hog Island played a role in defense of Charleston Harbor in both the Revolutionary and Civil wars. In 1775, Patriots sank old ships in Hog Island Channel to block British ships from the Wando and Cooper Rivers, and nearly 100 years later, Confederate forces mined the channel and placed a gun battery on the island’s tip. In 1975, Hog Island was annexed to Mount Pleasant; you know it now as Patriots Point.
On this same historic land, you'll find Patriots Point Links, one of the city’s most scenic golf courses, offering views of the harbor, downtown Charleston and even Fort Sumter. The view from the par-3 17th hole, with the harbor stretching out behind the green, is a highlight of any round.
Also for the golf enthusiast are Charleston National Golf Club, a Rees Jones design rated the best non-resort golf course in the Charleston area by Golf Digest; Dunes West Golf Club, an Arthur Hills design; and RiverTowne Country Club, a former private club and site of the city’s former LPGA tournament named in honor of superstar Annika Sorenstam.
You’re within sniffing distance of the Atlantic Ocean, so no vacation is complete without a day (or more) at the beach. Mount Pleasant is close to both Isle of Palms, also known as IOP, and Sullivan’s Island, two beaches that offer different ends of the enjoyment spectrum.
IOP is a residential and resort community with beachfront pizza and ice cream shops, plus a local icon in The Windjammer, where one can play beach volleyball during the day and enjoy live music at night. For upscale visits, Wild Dunes Resort on IOP’s north end has condominiums and cottages, plus two more golf courses, the Tom Fazio-designed Links and Harbor courses.
By contrast, Sullivan’s Island is more old-school — mostly residential with fewer than 2,000 permanent residents, no hotels or B&Bs and few short-term rentals. Most of the homes are old-fashioned beach houses with screened porches, decks and outdoor showers. History buffs also can visit former coastal fortifications that have been converted to single-family homes.
If you’re not totally recreationed out by now, one final suggestion, especially for families with children: Skyzone Trampoline Park, where kids (adults, too) can dunk basketballs, enjoy freestyle jumping, ultimate dodgeball and volleyball, or chill in the Foam Zone. Birthday parties are a staple of the place.
Got kids with energy to burn? An afternoon soaring high should fix that — and let the adults soak in all the rest that Mount Pleasant has to offer.