12 Nov 2021
The South Carolina Lowcountry is blessed with fantastic weather. While much of the country is blanketed in snow, you can spend the day here walking the beach or paddleboarding under sunny, Carolina blue skies.
That being said, we do have our occasional bouts of rainy days on Isle of Palms and Charleston. After all, how else can all these gorgeous gardens bloom so beautifully?
So we take the showers in stride. It usually doesn’t take long for the sun to shine again, and those blue skies to remind you you’re in one of the Carolinas. What to do when the showers fall? Here are some ideas of fun Charlestonian things that aren’t weather-dependent.
Hit the Aquarium
Charleston is the home of the official aquarium of South Carolina. Our state is known for its coastline and abundant sea and water life (“Salt Life,” as the ubiquitous stickers and logos say). The SC Aquarium is the perfect place to learn all about it and experience it without getting wet. Many displays are interactive - truly fun and educational at the same time, for all ages.
They have over 60 exhibits, including sharks, dolphins, the adorably playful river otters, and last but not least - the unofficial mascot of the Lowcountry, the beloved loggerhead sea turtle.
The South Carolina Aquarium also boasts a world class Sea Turtle Hospital that rehabilitates injured or sick turtles. It recently underwent a massive renovation/expansion and is now known as the Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery center. It’s a state-of-the-art facility with the best medical care, a massive exercise pool and a CT scanner. Special windows allow visitors to observe the sea turtle treatments without any disruption in their important work.
Since its start, the turtle hospital has nursed back to health hundreds of loggerheads (both adult and juvenile) and other sea turtles like Kemps ridleys, green and hybrids.
Much like visitors to our vacation homes, loggerheads pay a visit to the IOP beaches between May and October. In the turtles’ case, they are laying nests of eggs. Local “turtle team” volunteers monitor them carefully to ensure their safe hatching and return to the ocean.
You’ll learn all about the loggerheads and the many other amazing creatures that live in the waters in and around South Carolina, at the SC Aquarium.
It’s located in downtown Charleston at 100 Aquarium Wharf. There’s a covered parking garage nearby which is especially nice to keep you out of the rain.
Shop at the Historic Charleston City Market
One of the area’s must-sees is the Charleston City Market downtown. Their tagline is, “The Cultural Heart of Charleston since 1807.”
Located between East Bay and Meeting Street, it’s the perfect place to find souvenirs, unusual local products and handmade artisanal goods, jewelry, food products, etc. This is the spot to purchase quintessential Lowcountry items like the iconic sweetgrass basket, direct from the makers.
City Market underwent a major renovation a while back, and now it’s better than ever. The first building closest to Meeting Street, the Charleston City Market Great Hall, is completely enclosed and climate-controlled. It houses some fantastic local permanent vendors as well as places to grab a quick bite.
The lower two buildings are open-air sheds, but they have roofs and are covered from the rain. As long as there’s not blowing rain or street flooding, it should be fine and open.
By the way, you can feel good about the things you purchase at the City Market. All vendors are 100% local with 100% locally-made items for sale.
Stay home and have a Lowcountry Movie Fest…
If you’d rather stay put and relax in your luxury vacation home, we totally get it. It’s a perfect place to watch the weather come in over the ocean and listen to the rain.
It’s also a great spot to watch movies. Why not have a marathon of flicks and shows that were filmed in the Lowcountry? Hollywood has come to Charleston a slew of times, to film some terrific productions.
Then, when the rain clears, you can go and visit these filming locations in person.
1) The Notebook - The ultimate romantic chick flick that’s even been known to bring a tear to a tough guy’s eye. It was filmed all around the Lowcountry. Favorite Notebook scenes and their filming locations include:
Allie’s summer house - Boone Hall Plantation;
Allie & Noah’s first date - American Theater on King Street. King Street is also the location of the scene where they’re lying in the street under the stoplight;
Sarah Lawrence College - College of Charleston;
Restaurant where Noah spots Allie with her new fiancé - High Cotton on East Bay;
The Town of Seabrook - the Old Village of Mount Pleasant;
The canoe scene with all the birds - Cypress Gardens.
2) The Patriot - Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger’s 2000 movie on the Revolutionary War. Look for scenes filmed at South Carolina Society Hall, Middleton Place, Cypress Gardens, Randolph Hall at the College of Charleston, and homes on Meeting and Tradd Streets.
3) Halloween - the 2018 version. Jamie Lee Curtis lived here while filming. Locations include Old Windermere neighborhood in West Ashley, Military Magnet High School and Burton’s Grill in Mount Pleasant.
4) Dear John - Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried fall in love at the beach on the Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island, Folly, Edisto and the Citadel.
5) Army Wives - The Lifetime series filmed on the old Naval Base and all over Charleston.
6) North and South - A big budget miniseries in 1985 starring Patrick Swayze, Elizabeth Taylor, Kirstie Alley, Johnny Cash and Hal Holbrook, it featured Boone Hall Plantation and the Calhoun Mansion.
7) Outer Banks - Netflix’s #1 streaming show filmed its two seasons here, using local spots like Shem Creek and Lowndes Grove (“Tanneyhill Estate”) to stand in for the NC Outer Banks.
Other productions filmed here include Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, Die Hard with a Vengeance, Cold Mountain, and Righteous Gemstones.
Pro tip: order pizza from neighborhood fave Luke ‘n Ollie’s on Isle of Palms’ Front Beach (1101 Ocean Boulevard). Yes, there’s a Domino’s on the Isle, but local is so much better.
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger