Answers from Our Experts (1)
When seeking out the five best free things to do in Charleston, look toward the water. Charleston’s harbor and creeks are public, and the city does a good job of making them accessible to those without a boat.
1. Take in the view. There is no better view of Charleston than from the apex of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, connecting downtown to Mount Pleasant. A wide walking and biking lane extends from either side of the river, welcoming hundreds of daily visitors who stretch their legs on the way to the 575-foot “summit.”
2. Visit Fort Moultrie. For a different vantage point, continue down Coleman Boulevard to Sullivan’s Island, where Fort Moultrie sits at the island’s southern tip. Although there is a $3 admission fee to enter the fort, it’s free to walk around the perimeter and enjoy the crowd-free beach that wraps around the island to views of the city skyline.
3. Marvel at the ancient neighborhoods. Back downtown, a walk through the neighborhood south of Broad Street to White Point Gardens (also known as the Battery) is a must on any itinerary. Amidst the centuries old houses, it’s easy to slip back in time and forget that this is, in fact, a bustling and functional modern neighborhood.
4. Wander the farmers’ market. On Saturday mornings from mid-April to mid-December, head to Marion Square, the hub of downtown Charleston, for the farmers’ market. From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., the grassy park is transformed into a bustling market full of local produce, artwork, crafts, food vendors and live music.
5. Go to the beach. For a taste of a true laidback beach community, head out to Folly Beach, just 20 minutes from downtown. There is no charge to walk to the end of the 1,045-foot-long fishing pier, jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean. An onsite tackle shop even offers rod rentals for a chance to fish deep water without a boat.
At Folly Beach’s eastern tip, the iconic Morris Island Lighthouse rises from the water, its sandy base having washed away decades ago. A small ‘boneyard’ beach exists here, where the skeletons of trees emerge from the surf at high tide. It’s perhaps the most picturesque natural place close to Charleston.