Frico in Friuli, Italy
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Charleston is a gorgeous city to wander around, particularly the historic area south of Broad Street—with its waterfront Battery (a seawall and promenade; pictured) and stunning variety of residential architecture spanning U.S. history—as well as east of Broad, where the harbor views and lit-up fountains of Waterfront Park await. Given the city’s rich history, you’d do well to consider Old Charleston Tours, which offers a handful of two-hours-or-less walking tours ($15.50 when purchased online): History & Homes, the Civil War & Slavery, and a ghost tour.
The pedestrian path of pretty cable-stayed Arthur Ravenal Jr. Bridge (map), connecting Charleston and Mount Pleasant, is another must—especially around sunset. The bridge is 2.5 miles in length, so extra drinking water is a good idea. Parking is available at either end. (Note: There’s a bike path too!)
Be sure to visit one of the area’s beautiful old plantations, like Middleton Place (4300 Ashley River Rd., map)—a National Historic Landmark with America’s oldest landscaped gardens (dating to 1741), where 65 pretty acres of gardens and pathways, cypress swamps and stable yards, make for a great day of outdoor exercise. Plus, there’s a mean Huguenot torte in the restaurant.
Another wonderful place for a walk or jog? The beach. Strolling the long, flat shoreline of one of Charleston’s area beaches—such as Isle of Palms (map), pictured above—is one of the best ways to start a day here.
The Lowcountry’s unique topography allows for plenty of opportunities to get on the water. Rent a kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddleboard from Mount Pleasant-based Nature Adventure Outfitters (map)—or book a tour, from two to six hours ($40-$80), which run the gamut from taking you up close to pelicans and bottlenose dolphins on Shem Creek or along a pristine blackwater creek through a protected-wilderness area in the Francis Marion National Forest. Out of Bowens Island, Charleston Outdoor Adventures (map) offers marsh and sunset kayak tours, among others, and a stand-up paddleboard tour ($45) on the saltwater estuaries of Folly Beach, as well as straight-up rentals.
At the aforementioned Middleton Place, you can rent a kayak ($40) for a different perspective of the marsh, the house, and the gardens, or book one of the few tours available.
Funky Folly Beach has the best waves in the area, particularly during storms. Bodyboard and surfboard rentals can be found at McKevlin’s Surf Shop (8 Center St., map); a number of outfitters also offer group and private surf lessons. End your session with a good beer at divey Jack of Cups Saloon (34 Center St., map), formerly Folly Beach Brewing Company, or get some oysters and a Lowcountry boil at scenic Bowens Island (1870 Bowens Island Rd., map), on your way back to town.
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