What are the five best free things to do in Charleston?

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Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge©iStock/rivernorthphotography

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.

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