We recently got back from visiting Charleston, South Carolina! I thought I’d share what all we did, the best time for the beaches, parking, and I’ll have a separate post about eating gluten free in Charleston.
Where we stayed
We stayed in Mount Pleasant which was about 20 minutes from downtown Charleston and 15 minutes from the beach! We knew we wanted to spend the majority of our trip at the beach so we prioritized that over being downtown.
Beaches and Parking
Isle of Palms Beach:
Our first day there we arrived about 1pm (we stayed in Asheville, NC the night before) and went straight to the beach! It was the afternoon on a Saturday and the beach was incredibly busy! We ended up going back to Isle of Palms around 10am on our last full day (Tuesday) and it was not near as busy. I highly suggest going on weekdays, early/late morning, and at the end or beginning of the summer- you’ll be missing fellow tourists and school will have been in session as well! Our first day there we parked near the hotels in the large parking lot- where everyone parks. It was $18 for the day since it was a Saturday. This was a convenient location cause it was close to the restrooms/changing rooms. On our last day there we had the parking figured out! If you’re willing to walk a little bit to the restrooms/changing rooms you can get free parking on Palm Boulevard (more details here). At first glance we weren’t sure if these were free parking for the public or if they were just for residents because they were in front of people’s beach homes. Turns out, they are free for everyone! There is a beach access nearby. We were able to score this free parking when we arrived at 10 am on a Tuesday, but I would suggest getting there earlier if you go on the weekend!
We went to Folly Beach on Sunday and it was not as busy as Isle of Palms was. A guy was charging $15 parking for the day at his home so we decided to do that and not mess with the large parking lot where the crowds were. 5 minutes later he increased his price to $20 so we got a deal haha! We only went there one day so I can’t say as much about Folly Beach in regards to parking. This beach had more shells than Isle of Palms which I liked, but if you’re one to actually swim in the ocean Isle of Palms may be better. Trenton was the farthest one out in the ocean while I was the one wading in the water haha 🙂
Sullivan’s Island Beach:
We went to Sullivan’s Island Monday and Tuesday mornings for sunrise. The beach was not busy at all and it was the ideal time to go. Sullivan’s Island beach isn’t as busy as the other two because hotels do not line it, only residents so you don’t have to worry about other tourists. This was my absolute favorite time at the beach. There are about 3 free parking spots at the lighthouse and other free street parking not far away. While we were there we got to see fish jumping, dogs playing, and a small shark! Also a kind lady took our photos who works for the sea turtle conservation program and showed us where a nest was located!
We designated Monday as our day to be downtown because we scheduled a harbor tour then. Definitely suggest doing a harbor tour when in Charleston! We got to see Fort Sumter, the USS Yorktown, learn about Charleston, and even see some dolphins! Downtown Charleston is beautiful. Definitely the prettiest city I have been to. Be sure to check out the famous Rainbow Row with colorful Georgian row houses. While downtown we also went to the city market and went in shops on King Street- we ended up walking about 6.5 miles that day! The best parking we found was the parking garage on Queen street- $10 for the entire time we were there which was about 7 hours!
Let me know if you’ve visited Charleston in the comments!