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Mount Pleasant's Hidden Gems Include Places to Eat, Drink and See

Bob Gillespie Bob Gillespie
Bob is a former sports writer at Columbia’s The State newspaper. He enjoys golf at South Carolina’s 350-plus courses, and after a round, sampling craft beers from the Palmetto State’s breweries.
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The term “hidden gem” means different things in different cities or towns. In Mount Pleasant, it can mean — well, the list is lengthy and unique, from places to quench your thirst, satisfy your appetite and enjoy the great outdoors.

Craft brewing is a relatively new industry in South Carolina, and the Charleston area, including the city, Mount Pleasant, North Charleston, Summerville and other locales, is the most beer-crazed part of the state with north of 30 breweries offering up their unique takes on beer. One of the largest of these, yet located off the beaten path, is Westbrook Brewing.

Westbrook, which has crafted a reputation for special offerings, has a best-in-show, only-available-now-and-then brew called Mexican Cake that aficionados rank as perhaps South Carolina’s finest. The tasting room, open Tuesday-Saturday, offers free tours and serves cheeses to enjoy with the beer. Food trucks also make stops.

Less well-known but coming on strong is Two Blokes Brewing, a small brewery with a penchant for British-style beers as well as more typical ones. It’s a great place to hang out, shoot darts and sample their offerings — and there’s a play area for kids.

If you prefer to make your own beer choices, House of Brews occupies an old house near Sullivan’s Island with an outdoor area for kids and dogs, but no food other than bags of chips.

Now, for the non-drinkers (but lovers of seafood): The Wreck of the Richard & Charlene is a dilapidated-looking restaurant in Mount Pleasant’s Old Village offering good food and a great backstory. On Sept. 21, 1989, the legendary Category IV Hurricane Hugo smashed into a derelict North Atlantic trawler moored next to the Wando dock and lifted the vessel, impaling it onto the dock pilings. The restaurant owners named their place — located on the R & C's final resting place — in honor of that event. Good story, good food, too.

For students of Catholic history, a must-visit spot is Stella Maris Roman Catholic Church on Sullivan’s Island, where all of the services are conducted in Latin — the only church in South Carolina offering Latin-only liturgy, according to local authorities.

Students who have read Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Gold Bug” know the renowned author of macabre stories used Sullivan’s Island as the backdrop for that one, so it’s only fitting that the Edgar Allen Poe Library is housed on the island in Battery Gadsden, a former Spanish-American War gun battery. Poe was stationed on Sullivan’s Island as a U.S. Army private from 1827-28.

Still thirsty, but tired of tourist stuff? Check out Dunleavy’s Pub, a local institution since 1992. Sister and brother Patti and Bill Dunleavy fulfilled their father’s dream of opening an Irish-style pub with New England influences. The owners take pride in avoiding the tourist traffic, though they delight in reports of Dunleavy T-shirts showing up in Las Vegas, Ireland and (they swear it’s true) the Vatican. Stop in and they’ll tell you all about it.

A bit of a drive from north Mount Pleasant (15-20 minutes on U.S. Highway 17 north) is Awendaw Green, an outdoor music venue that presents mostly bluegrass and country rock concerts during tourist season as well as other times of the year. Locals say it’s worth the drive.

Speaking of locals, they have two favorite spots to relax and enjoy the outdoors. Shem Creek Park & Pier is a relatively new place to take in vistas of Shem Creek and the surrounding marshlands. The town installed boardwalks and trails through the area, allowing visitors to enjoy views of fishing boats and even get in a little fishing, too.

Perhaps the ultimate insiders' destination — a perfect hidden gem — is the Pitt Street Bridge at Pickett Park. A former trolley bridge that connected Mount Pleasant to Sullivan’s Island, the “bridge to nowhere” (it ends mid-river) is a fun place to fish, kayak or walk and relax, with rustic benches where you can sit and savor the stunning view of Charleston Harbor. Entrance is through the Old Village Historic District and it’s not all that easy to find. Just ask a local.

Bob Gillespie
Bob is a former sports writer at Columbia’s The State newspaper. He enjoys golf at South Carolina’s 350-plus courses, and after a round, sampling craft beers from the Palmetto State’s breweries.