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16 Jun 2023
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Charleston County, SC is blessed with some of the most beautiful – and the most fun – public parks in the country.

Parks and facilities are expertly designed to take full advantage of the natural beauty of the Lowcountry, in all its many forms and variations. There are more than two dozen to choose from. From sandy beaches along the Atlantic Ocean, to tidal creeks and marshes, to shaded forests and massive live oaks dripping with Spanish moss - Charleston parks are a great resource to enjoy during your Charleston or Isle of Palms vacation!

They’re all worth strolling through, if for no other reason than simply spending time outdoors and soaking in the natural beauty.

But if you’re craving something a bit more challenging, they offer plenty of activities for all ages and skill sets.

Here are four fun suggestions…

Bike or Pedal Boat at Palmetto Islands County Parks

Palmetto Islands County Parks (aka PICP) is one of my favorites, with its lush tropical setting. Located in Mount Pleasant, it’s a short hop from all our Isle of Palms vacation rentals.

In just this one single park, you have a whole slew of great things to explore, including miles and miles of paved trails and boardwalks through the woods and waterways, a secluded and uninhabited Nature Island, 50-foot observation tower, the top notch “Big Toy” playground for kids, a large dog park, huge fields for games and gatherings, picnic pavilions and so much more.

A super way to travel through the 943-acre park is to rent bikes. After you enter the main gate, just head left to the main office. Bikes are just $5 per hour, or $15 for all all-day rental. Then pedal to your heart’s content, and prepare to see a whole lot of wildlife along the way.

Speaking of pedaling, you can also rent a pedal boat for a really retro, sweet jaunt around the central pond, with its overhanging bridges and meandering canals. Your legs provide the power; no paddling needed. Pedal boats come in both two- and four-seater models. Rates are just $5 for a ½ hour or $7 per hour for a two-seater, and $7 per ½ hour or $9 per hour for a four-seater.

PICP is located at 444 Needlerush Parkway in Mount Pleasant, just across the creek from Boone Hall Plantation.

Tackle The Challenge Course in James Island

James Island County Park is situated on the other side of the downtown peninsula. It plays host to the hugely popular Holiday Festival of Lights each November/December. It’s also the locale for the Challenge Course - an adventure-based learning experience.

Basically, it’s a course with three levels of activities that put you to the test, in a fun way. You can take on the course by yourself, or with a team of friends and family.

Choose from Static High Elements, Dynamic High Elements, or Low Elements Teambuilding. It involves solving problems and completing objectives along the way, as you step out of your comfort zone. Get ready for things like zip lines, catwalks, faith falls, and high climbs. They also offer a special Odyssey Adventure program that’s good for beginners and lets you sample some of the highlights.

James Island County Park is located at 871 Riverland Drive in Charleston. For more information about the Challenge Course, you can reach them at (843) 762-8035.

Rock Climbing at James Island County Park

Yes, the Lowcountry is relatively flat. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get your climbing fix in these parts.

James Island County Park has yet another great activity to try - their massive Climbing Wall. It’s one of the biggest options around, towering 50 feet up in the air.

The stats on it are impressive. It offers over 4,500 square feet of space to climb. There are 16 different climbing stations, with top ropes, ten auto-belays and six lead climbing walls. There’s also a separate bouldering wall with an additional 1,500 square feet of climbing space.

All levels of experience are welcome, and trained staff are on hand to help, whatever your age or ability. They even have a store called The Rock Shop with supplies if you need them.

They ask that you preregister to make sure you get a spot, although walkups may be available. I wouldn’t count on it in peak season, though.

Read more about the Climbing Wall and sign up for a time slot here.

Skateboard or BMX at SK8 Charleston

Charleston Parks even runs a very popular and cool skatepark. Appropriately named SK8 Charleston, it was designed by the experts at Team Pain Skate Parks and clocks in at 32,000 square feet. That’s a whole lot of concrete just waiting to be attacked.

A snake run stretches over 200 feet long and funnels down to a nine-foot deep pocket. Two different bowls - Pro and Intermediate - have plenty of depth and vert. There’s also a 315-foot street course with skate art and granite. A large viewing deck allows your fans to watch you in action.

Tuesdays are BMX days. No skateboards are allowed, but there are plenty of bikes shredding the course.

You can buy gear in the skate shop. They also offer skateboard and helmet rentals. Skateboards are $10 with a $25 refundable deposit, and helmets are $5 with a $25 refundable deposit. Helmets are required, by the way.

SK8 Charleston is located at 1549 Oceanic Street, on the upper peninsula of downtown Charleston.

So check out some of Charleston’s parks and the awesome activities they offer. It’ll take your Charleston vacation to a whole new level of fun.

All best, Lowcountry Lisa

your Isle of Palms vacation blogger