Category: The Best of the Lowcountry
In part one of four, I made it clear these locations are not “secrets,” but rather places that even some long-time Charleston residents have yet to find and explore. Here are two more delightful neighborhoods and another great activity hidden in plain sight.
Kiawah River Estates
Do you love the Kiawah Island (KI) lifestyle but find it a bit too exclusive? Kiawah River Estates (KRE) is a great alternative with many of the same great features KI offers at a premium. This gated community is less than 5 miles from the front gate at KI and prices are significantly lower for its executive homes. KRE has tennis, a community pool, tennis courts, pickle ball tournaments, and party house where I’m told they hold one of the area’s top notch Kentucky Derby Parties! The newly redesigned golf course at KRE is managed by the Kiawah Island Club. There is also a picnic area near the community dock and you’ll see more golf carts than cars on the quiet streets. Perhaps the best feature is that Beachwalker County Park is less than 5 miles away and is open to the public. The county park is connected to the beach behind the gate and features the same white sand, dunes and dolphins! At KRE you can enjoy one of the finest beaches in the country and live where the homeowner’s costs are thousands less per year.
Looking for a bargain near historic downtown Charleston? The Bourdeleaux condominiums are located in Wagener Terrace on the banks of the Ashley River. This delightful neighborhood on the north end of the peninsula is walking distance to Hampton Park, the Citadel and some of the best new restaurants in town! The condos share a pool and fabulous views of the river. Walk the dog, or bike through the lightly traveled streets. The tidy homes in this older Charleston neighborhood are hot properties, so if you haven’t been to Wagener Terrace lately, you are in for a treat. If you are looking for a real sense of neighborhood, a downtown bargain, and the convenience of a condo, Bordeleaux might be right for you.
For years I watched people fishing and shrimping off the edge of the Ashley River under the bridge that links West Ashley to North Charleston via Cosgrove Avenue. Folks would park precariously along the edge of the road to throw in a line or net while cars whizzed past them in four lanes of traffic over the bridge. A couple of years ago, the City of Charleston developed this de facto fishing pier into a charming municipal park with a proper dock, plenty of parking, and a safe ingress and egress for walkers, bikers, and cars. Other amenities include security cameras, lighting, and restrooms. Put in a kayak, take your fishing pole, pack a picnic, or just sit on a bench and watch the boats and dolphins navigate the waterway at the Northbridge Park. The sunsets are truly spectacular!
I won’t call these locations “secrets,” because they simply are not; they are however, places that many people have not yet discovered and each is special in its own way. Here are two delightful neighborhoods, and an array of lowcountry activities hidden in plain sight.
Tucked away behind the all too obvious Archdale neighborhood with its large, vibrant sign right on Dorchester Road, are Baker’s Landing I & II. It’s hard to imagine a busier thoroughfare in the Lowcountry than Dorchester Road, but these two communities are tucked away on quiet streets. Each houses a small enclave of executive homes situated on the Ashley River, with community docks and breathtaking sunset views across the river. Within walking distance to Bosch and just a short drive from Boeing, both might be your ideal North Charleston commutes.
Across the highway from the highly visible Carolina Bay in West Ashley is a gently “patina-ed” sign for Croghan’s Landing. The sign is a little faded, and hard to see as you travel the Savannah Highway, but it is worth the slight detour to check out this neighborhood. As you turn into the neighborhood from the highway, you will suddenly find yourself in a quiet and highly walkable area with huge trees and slow moving streets. The dog walkers and golf cart drivers are treated to marsh views along the Intracostal Waterway portion of the Stono River. You might also enjoy the West Ashley Greenway – a former railroad route that runs from James Island to Johns Island – perfect for biking, running, or a leisurely stroll.
This might be my favorite free thing to do in Charleston. Start at the garden and cemetery at the Unitarian Church on Archdale Street downtown. It is a treasure trove of plants and critters year round. I’d bet even your grandmother would be hard pressed to name every variety of plant found there. The paths twist around and end at King Street. Cross the street ever-so-slightly diagonally to the right, and enter the grounds at the Gibbes Museum just behind the Charleston Library Society. A more formally designed venue than the former garden, it has its own verdant charms that foster certain serenity in the heart of downtown Charleston. When you exit this shady green, you will find yourself on Meeting Street. Cross to the cemetery at the Circular Church and follow the Zen-like paths through the beautiful and ancient headstones.
“According to one gravestone historian, there are more of these unusual 18th century slate stones in this graveyard than anywhere else in the country.”  Enjoy this unique way to experience Charleston’s history and beauty.
 Circular Church website
Charleston, S.C. is one of the hottest travel destinations in the entire country right now, and after people visit once, they want to stay forever. If you’re looking for a truly unique place to go to college, Charleston is the city for you. With three beaches within a few miles of the campus and a bustling downtown scene with more bars and restaurants than you can count, you’ll love the atmosphere almost as much as the campus itself.
You’ll find gorgeous Spanish moss draped from ancient live oak trees almost anywhere you go on the College of Charleston campus along with historic buildings used as offices and classrooms. If you’ve never visited Charleston, find out all the reasons you should add this to your list of places to apply for school.
Reasons Charleston, S.C. Is a Great College Town
Southern Hospitality Is Real
For those who didn’t grow up in Charleston, S.C., it may come as a surprise that Southern hospitality is more than just a stereotype. As you walk around the downtown area, you’ll find yourself smiling and greeting strangers who are genuinely interested in how your day is going. For many northerners, this is an unfamiliar custom, but it makes it really easy to get comfortable in a new place when everyone you encounter is smiling and friendly.
Voted Most Beautiful Campus in the U.S.
We’re not the only ones who think that the College of Charleston has a stunning campus. Travel + Leisure voted this campus as the most beautiful in the entire country in 2017. The unique Roman architecture gives the impression that you’re stepping back in time as you walk through the sprawling campus. The cistern is the most photographed area of the college, which is where graduation is held each year. A large outdoor area, the cistern is filled with huge live oaks that are covered in enchanting Spanish moss. Perhaps the most unique aspect of the campus is the history and mystery that surrounds it. Professors’ offices can be found at the top of spiraling staircases connected to traditional Charleston single-style homes or even tucked away inside the arches that lead to the cistern.
Experience an All-American City
While many large universities have many forms of entertainment offered by the college itself, the College of Charleston is located right in the middle of the bustling city, providing students with access to the best activities in the area. From campus, students can walk through the streets admiring the brightly painted, Antebellum-style houses on their way to the tip of the peninsula known as the battery. Here, you can watch boats sail through the ocean or have a picnic at the White Point Gardens. You’ll find plenty of beautiful outdoor places to sit and enjoy the weather—from Marion Square, where the weekly farmers market is held, to Hampton Park.
For college students, there’s also no shortage of great bars and restaurants to check out. King Street is the hub for great dining, and you’ll find every type of food you could want—Italian, Vietnamese, classic Southern and so much more. On the weekends, King Street is flooded with young people bar hopping, exploring the best rooftop bars, hanging out in some of our favorite dive joints and listening to live music. It’s nearly impossible to be bored when you’re living right in the heart of historic Charleston, S.C.
Students living in Charleston are amongst the luckiest college kids in the country because not only do you have access to the city, but you can easily head to the beach on any day of the week. And, because of the area’s pleasant year-round weather, you can explore all of the Charleston beaches during any season. It’s not uncommon to see people heading to the beach in the middle of winter for a walk along the shore. Our climate may be mild, but you will still need to bring a jacket along for the stroll.
From downtown Charleston, S.C., students have three options when it comes to going to the beach—Folly Beach, Sullivan’s Island or Isle of Palms. The Isle of Palms is the furthest from the campus but has one of the most popular beach bars in the area, The Windjammer, which hosts live music and beach volleyball competitions each summer. Sullivan’s Island is much closer to downtown but also located in Mount Pleasant. This charming little beach area is the Charleston beach with the best selection for food. Order mimosas and oysters for a fancy brunch at Obstinate Daughter, or head to HomeTeam for some Southern-style barbecue and their famously potent alcoholic drink, the Game Changer. The last of the three Charleston beaches, Folly Beach is located on James Island and gives off more of a bohemian beach vibe. Many students opt to go here because of the laid-back atmosphere and bars along Center Street.
The Football Team Is “Undefeated”
A running joke amongst current CofC students and alumni, the College of Charleston football team is notoriously undefeated—because they do not exist. For some, the lack of a football team might be problematic, but Charleston is just two hours from Columbia, S.C., home of the Gamecocks, meaning you can easily drive up for the weekend to catch a game. Although Charleston does not have a football team, there are frequent basketball games at the TD Arena with BYOB tailgates beforehand, baseball games at Patriot’s Point and our olympic-level sailing team. In fact, sports are a major part of the College of Charleston community. Students can even opt to take sailing or yoga as a class during the year.
Achieve a Liberal Arts Education
In today’s world, your major doesn’t necessarily make or break your future career path, and getting a liberal arts education can provide you with a well-rounded knowledge of many subjects so you can use your skills in multiple fields. Liberal arts schools try to cover humanities and social and natural sciences, as well as mathematics to give students some insight into many different areas before they select a major. People with degrees from a liberal arts school are attractive to employers after graduation because they have been taught how to implement their skills across multiple areas of study, making these employees self-sufficient and adaptable.
Colleges in Charleston, S.C.
The College of Charleston
The most popular school in Charleston, S.C., the College of Charleston is a liberal arts school located in the heart of historic downtown with a variety of excellent programs and a knowledgeable staff of professors. For those who aren’t quite sure what career they would like to break into after graduation, the College of Charleston is a great choice because the liberal arts program will set you up to explore a variety of classes and industries. Most students at CofC live in one of the many dorms during their freshman year before moving off campus into a downtown apartment. Because the downtown area only covers a few miles, it’s easy to find an apartment near the campus. For those looking to get a top-notch education and stay close to the beaches and city, College of Charleston is an excellent choice.
Trident Technical College
Trident has both a downtown and North Charleston campus. The main location in North Charleston is much larger and offers a greater variety of classes, but some students elect to take as many classes as they can at the downtown location to stay close to all that the city has to offer. Trident is a two-year school, which makes it an excellent choice for anyone trying to save money on out-of-state tuition. Many students come to Charleston, S.C., attend Trident for two years and then transfer to the College of Charleston. This is such a common process that the two schools have a seamless system for transferring students over.
Charleston Southern University
This small Baptist college is located in North Charleston, not far from the downtown area. Overall, the college welcomes about 3,600 students each year. For those who thrive in an environment with more direct instruction and smaller classes, Charleston Southern is a great option. This school also implements a liberal arts program, but because it is a private university connected with the South Carolina Baptist Convention, the curriculum tries to tie in religion and spirituality.
Medical University of South Carolina
One of the top medical schools in the South, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) is also located right in downtown Charleston and is known for its outstanding programs. Many people seeking a career in the medical field will choose to attend the College of Charleston for a bachelor’s degree and then stay in Charleston and continue their education at MUSC. This school is located on the west side of the peninsula in a quieter, more residential area then the College of Charleston.
Charleston’s military college was established in 1842 as part of a state-organized military to educate young people and train them for service simultaneously. Over the last century, the college continues to incorporate its military origins with many of the students intending to serve in some branch of the military after graduation, though some students simply attend the college for a more rigid type of higher education.
American College of the Building Arts
Located in downtown Charleston, the American College of the Building Arts is a unique college in the city that focuses on more hands-on artistic avenues of education, such as different types of architecture, masonry and plasterwork. This is a great option for students who have an interest in this specific career path and are ready to jump into a curriculum designed to train them to move directly into their line of work after graduation.
Downtown Charleston is broken into 11 different neighborhoods that stretch across the peninsula from the affluent South of Broad, which houses many of the mansions located on The Battery, to Wagener Terrace and Hampton Terrace on the northern end of the city, featuring more family residential areas. For students attending a school downtown, staying near the campus is important because you’ll have quick and easy access to classes and all that Charleston’s nightlife has to offer. Here are some of our top neighborhoods for students and young working professionals.
Much of the College of Charleston campus is located within Harleston Village, making this the most desired area of town for younger residents. You’ll be able to walk to almost every building on campus within 10 minutes, and you’ll find tons of great restaurants nearby. This area of town is also just a few blocks from King Street, where nearly all of the most popular establishments are in the city. From coffee shops to dive bars, college students will find everything they need in Harleston Village.
This area is probably the second most desired neighborhood in downtown Charleston for those attending school. Cannonborough/Elliotborough is a few blocks further from campus than Harleston Village, which means many students living in this area will ride bikes or skateboards to get to class more quickly, though it’s still within 25 minutes to walk to the college. Here, you’ll find easier access to those same upper King Street bars and restaurants, but you’ll also discover a wave of new and eclectic spots that have been popping up in the neighborhood. In the evenings, you can grab tacos from the well-loved Charleston restaurant Fuel or check out the intriguing menu of Asian Fusion options at Xiao Bao Biscuit.
Though both Wagener Terrace and Hampton Terrace are not highly populated by college students, this neighborhood is great for young professionals looking to settle down after graduation without having to leave the peninsula. Further north than many of the other neighborhoods, both areas are more laid-back with many families choosing to settle in this part of town. Here, you’ll find far fewer traditional Charleston single homes that have been split into apartments and more quaint, cottage-style houses. The best part of this neighborhood? The beautiful nearby Hampton Park, where events like outdoor yoga are frequently held. You’ll also be closer to places like Moe’s Crosstown Tavern, a dive bar with killer burgers, and The Park Cafe, a charming little place for brunch or lunch.
So many people are attracted to Charleston, S.C., because of the city’s many options for college students, but once young people have experienced the beauty and excitement of our unique city, they never want to leave. Whether you’re interested in getting a liberal arts education from the College of Charleston, a more religiously oriented study program at Charleston Southern or a hands-on experience at the American College of the Building Arts, Charleston has many diverse options for every type of student. Pick the college that speaks to you most and come experience all that Charleston, S.C. has to offer.
Tax Credits for Historic Properties
People from all over the world love Charleston and its wonderful architecture. Our leaders years ago, knew that preserving that charm would be important to its future. What might seem to some like draconian rules that must be followed have become the unswerving guiding principles to preserving these beloved historic structures. Consequently, incentives have been put in place to encourage owners to “do it the right way” and truly restore and not just remodel historic buildings.
How does it work?
Taxpayers who rehabilitate their owner-occupied residence may be eligible to subtract 25% of the costs of many expensive repairs and renovations from their state income taxes.
How do I qualify?
Your building must meet both of these criteria:
1. You must own and live in the building or a portion of the building that will be rehabilitated. It can be a house or another type of historic building, such as a school or store, that you are rehabilitating to live in. An historic outbuilding associated with your residence, such as a barn or a garage, can also be eligible for the credit. The credit does not apply to buildings or portions of buildings that are used in a trade or business or produce income.
2. Your building must be one of the following:
• listed individually in the National Register of Historic Places
• contributing to a listed National Register historic district
• determined by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) to be eligible for individual listing in the National Register
• an outbuilding that contributes to the significance of a property listed in the National Register
One might be surprised to learn that tax credits are available all around the Lowcountry and not just downtown Charleston that qualify. Here are a few: Historic District (HD) in Summerville, Hampton Park Terrace, a carriage house downtown, a Freedman’s cottage in North Central, Mt. Pleasant HD, Ashley River HD Atlanticville HD Charleston Navy Yard Officer’s quarters HD, French Quarter HD, Moultrieville HD, Pinopolis HD, Pineville HD, Sullivan’s Island HD, Successionville HD to name a few.
What elements qualify?
Money spent in the following categories may be counted as “Rehabilitation Expenses” when calculating the amount of credit:
• restoration of historic plaster
• energy efficiency measures except insulation in frame walls
• repairs or installation of heating, air conditioning, or ventilating systems
• repairs or installation of electrical or plumbing systems exclusive of new electrical appliances and electrical or plumbing fixtures
• architectural and engineering fees.
Allowable expenses do not include the cost of new construction beyond the footprint or volume of the existing building, the cost of acquiring or marketing the property, the value of an owner’s personal labor, or the cost of personal property.
Are there other requirements?
You must spend more than $15,000 within 36 months on Rehabilitation Expenses that qualify. Remember, this is a government program. There will be forms to complete, timelines, reviews, and copious documentation is required.
What is the most important take away?
Do not start any work until the first form is approved by the state of SC. You must have documentation of every element you intend to claim with before and after photos. You must tract specific expenses scrupulously throughout the process and you must quantify all work. This is not easy and contractors don’t like doing it so you will likely be the project manager for the tax credit work. But remember, it pays well come April 15th.
Thinking about launching your career in Charleston, SC? You’ve chosen the right city. With its diversified economy, low unemployment rate and robust job growth, the Charleston-metro region offers plentiful job opportunities for those seeking employment.
On top of it all, Charleston is simply an incredible place to live. In addition to bountiful job opportunities, the Holy City’s coastal location also provides gorgeous beaches, scenic views and an endless array of recreational activities. Not to mention the city’s globally renowned food scene and rich history, which further contributes to the economy with its vibrant tourism.
If you’re ready to enter the job market, where you live can make all the difference to your success. Let’s take a deeper look into what makes Charleston one of the best cities for job hunters.
Charleston Labor Statistics at a Glance
Finding a job and settling down in Charleston, SC could be easier than you think. According to the SC Department of Employment & Workforce’s latest Charleston Community Profile, the Holy City’s low unemployment rate is outperforming both the state and the nation.
South Carolina’s monthly unemployment rate was at 3.3 percent for March 2019, while Charleston’s was at 2.8 for the same month. With the nation’s monthly unemployment rate at 3.9 percent, Charleston beats it by more than a whole percentage point.
Here are a few additional facts and figures from the report:
- Monthly Unemployment Rate (unadjusted): 8 percent
- Unemployed: 5,830
- Employed: 204,462
- Population in 2010: 348,370
- Projected Population for 2020: 366,380
- Notable Employers: The Boeing Company, Medical University of SC, The Citadel, Comcast
Why Job Seekers Are Flocking to Charleston, SC
There is no doubt about it: the Charleston job market is hot. A growing number of job seekers are turning to the Holy City for steady employment due to the region’s thriving economy, ideal port location and ongoing support from the local community.
As you could probably guess based on the labor market statistics above, Charleston’s economy is fueling job creation and contributing to the city’s prosperity. According to the Milken Institute’s Best Performing Cities index, Charleston’s economy ranked 16th-best in the nation, jumping six places up from last year.
What’s behind the city’s economic growth? The following economic trends are playing a significant role in Charleston’s economic expansion:
- Job Growth: Charleston’s job outlook is promising. According to a Talent Demand Study by the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, the city will add nearly 35,000 jobs by 2022. The report stated that 80 percent of this job growth will be in 10 specific occupations.
- Fast-Growing City: Job seekers—especially millennials—are flocking to Charleston. Attracted by the area’s lifestyle and promising job growth, young professionals are now scooping up homes in Charleston and contributing to the overall health of the economy.
- Promising Outlook: A healthy and diverse economy is essential to any metro region’s future success. Fortunately, Charleston boasts a diverse and flexible economy that is fueled by tourism, its vibrant shipping industry, retailers, airlines and more. This diversity is critical to reducing the potential negative impact of future recessions.
- Capital Investment: Thanks to its business-friendly atmosphere and innovative workforce, companies are continuing to invest heavily in Charleston. From the new Mercedes-Benz plant in North Charleston to Boeing, capital is an essential component for cities to grow—and Charleston has it in spades.
Prosperous Port City
Charleston’s coastal location plays an enormous role in its economic boom and prosperity. The region has benefited from the wealthy seaport dating back to the 1800s when Charleston first rose to prominence as a hub for Atlantic trade.
Today, the Port of Charleston is a key player in the city’s economy and providing hundreds of thousands of jobs statewide. According to an Economic Impact Study by the South Carolina Ports Authority (SPCA), the Port of Charleston provides an estimated $53 billion in annual economic activity, 187,600 jobs and $10.2 billion in labor income.
The Port of Charleston—which is owned and operated by the SPCA—is continuing to pave the way towards a brighter future for Charleston. Not only did the SPCA report a record-breaking year for container shipments in 2018, but the Port of Charleston is also unveiling new infrastructure to accommodate “super ships.” With this major milestone, the Holy City is continuing to grow its presence in global trade and laying the groundwork for a booming manufacturing economy.
Job Seeker Resources and Assistance
Charleston residents and lawmakers have strived to create government agencies and organizations that can help job seekers and business owners achieve their life goals. If you’re currently searching for employment in the Holy City, be sure to make use of the resources available to you:
- Charleston Job Network: Job opportunities, resume and cover letter writing help, career events, webinars, etc.
- Charleston County Public Library: Job opportunities, technology learning services, business resources (printing, copying, scanning), one-on-one business counseling, etc.
- Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce: Networking events, expert panels, professional career development, etc.
- SC Works: Job opportunities, employer/employee resources, career coaches, veteran assistance, etc.
- Charleston Regional Development Alliance: Resources for entrepreneurs and established companies, connecting them to organizations such as Charleston Digital Corridor and Holy City Collective.
- Charleston, SC SCORE: Business-to-business mentoring, online workshops, local guidance and other assistance for entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Strong and Supportive Community
There is little doubt that Charleston’s economic success is bolstered by its tight-knit community. Whether you’re a transplant or you were born and raised in the Lowcountry, the locals embody true Southern hospitality and are willing to go the extra mile to help their neighbors out.
This is especially true for those who wish to launch a business in the Holy City. The community is incredibly supportive of startups, entrepreneurs and small business owners, with residents making a conscious effort to shop local. From supporting Small Business Saturday to participating in the Charleston Art Walk, locals regularly support businesses large and small.
Top Industries in Charleston
As a coastal city with a deep port and a busy, international airport, it probably comes as no surprise that Charleston is teeming with business activity. While not every profession within an industry will have the same job outlook, you can maximize your chances of employment by launching your career in one of the city’s top-performing industries.
Charleston’s tourism industry is a huge driver of the economy and job opportunities in the region. According to CHS Today, tourism accounted for 20.1 percent of sales in 2017 in the Greater Charleston Metro and resulted in an economic impact of $7.4 billion for the same year.
It’s no big surprise, given the city’s vast amenities and offerings. Charleston has been voted the best U.S. city by Travel + Leisure Magazine for six years running and consistently ranked in the magazine’s ‘best cities in the world’ category as well.
What’s not to love? With the city’s historic houses, vibrant culture and award-winning food, Charleston has remained a hot travel destination for all types of adventure-seekers, from retirees and families to single ladies throwing bachelorette parties.
The hospitality and tourism industries often go hand-in-hand. After all, the millions of people who visit Charleston each year need somewhere to stay and eat as they explore everything the city has to offer.
The hospitality industry (which includes things such as restaurants, lodging, parks, transportation and travel) has plenty of open positions for job seekers. In fact, Charleston’s growing tourism industry has led to a staffing shortage as business owners struggle to fill positions in their restaurants and hotels.
Whether you’re a chef hoping to start a restaurant in Charleston or you want to work as a concierge at one of the city’s many hotels, the industry is ripe with opportunities.
Almost a decade ago, Boeing chose North Charleston as its new production facility, driving up the city’s aerospace sector along with it. Since then, other manufacturing companies have followed suit, including auto manufacturers Volvo and Mercedes-Benz.
The manufacturing industry has long been contributing to Charleston’s economic growth. In addition to tax-friendly policies and pro-business climate, the region has supported the advanced manufacturing sector through its workforce strategy. From rethinking school curriculum to apprenticeships and internships, the city has made a conscious effort to reduce the skills gap and produce a qualified workforce.
If you’re a nurse or physician, finding a job in Charleston is almost guaranteed in the current economic climate. Home to top-notch facilities such as the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and Roper St. Francis, the Holy City boasts a diverse concentration of healthcare talent that is growing all the time.
As the need for healthcare services grows, Charleston is once again finding itself in a staffing shortage crisis for certain positions. If you’re a qualified nurse or physician, chances are good that you’ll easily land a job in the city.
Forget Silicon Valley—Charleston’s new nickname, ‘Silicon Harbor’ reflects its thriving tech scene that has been steadily growing in the past decade. Fueled by the increasing number of millennials moving to the region, Charleston’s tech scene is now home to more than 500+ tech companies and offers a vast array of job opportunities and resources for tech workers.
If you’re searching for a job in the tech sector, be sure to check out the Charleston Digital Corridor. Launched more than a decade ago, the community-backed initiative aims to attract and nurture tech workers in the Greater Charleston Metro area and grow the city’s sizeable talent pool.
Finding a Home in Charleston, SC
After securing employment in a new city, the next logical step is to relocate. If you’ve landed your dream job and are now ready to start searching for a home in Charleston, SC, you’ll no doubt want to explore all the options available to you.
Explore Charleston’s Diverse Neighborhoods
From its vibrant and historic downtown area to the small-town appeal of Mount Pleasant, each area around the Charleston coast has something unique to offer residents. Depending on where you’re at in life, some areas may appeal to you more than others.
Are you a retiree looking for privacy and relaxation? If so, life on Kiawah Island or Sullivan’s Island could be right up your alley. Searching for the best place to raise a family? Check out the award-winning schools on Mount Pleasant and see if it’s a good fit for you and your little ones.
Remember that buying a home is one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll ever make. To ensure that you make the right choice, be sure to talk with Charleston real estate experts who can give you the inside scoop on what it’s like to live, work and play in the Lowcountry.
Spend a Few Weekends at the Beach
If you love white sands and the sound of crashing waves, consider relaxing on Charleston’s pristine beaches for a weekend. Spending time at one of the city’s gorgeous beaches is an excellent way to find your ideal beach—and choose a home in close proximity to it.
From the family-friendly shores of Isle of Palms to the unspoiled beaches at Seabrook Island, Charleston’s varied beaches are as beautiful as they are unique. Book a vacation rental and spend quality time with the family as you discover your ideal beach.
Historic Home or Modern?
One of Charleston’s key attractions for tourists and homeowners alike are its historic homes. Full of charm and beauty, historic homes can be a dream come true for some homeowners—and a total nightmare for others.
If you’re considering the possibility of buying a historic home, make sure that you consider the rules and regulations that the city has put in place. Renovations can be a tricky process that may not be worth the charming qualities and features.
To sum it all up, Charleston’s thriving economy and vast array of amenities has transformed the city into a haven for job seekers and entrepreneurs. Whether you want to try your hand at a career in the restaurant industry or take advantage of the growing opportunities in the technology sector, moving to Charleston could be the key to launching your career.
Charleston’s lively downtown area is far from its only attraction. Beyond its cobblestone streets and picturesque cityscape, the Lowcountry’s outdoor recreation and wildlife opportunities are begging to be explored. Whether you’re fishing for Red Drum in Charleston’s inshore waters or cruising the coastline and taking an island-hopping adventure, the Lowcountry offers an incredible outdoor experience for all.
The surrounding Lowcountry is a one-of-a-kind mix of history and natural splendor, beckoning families to discover her fascinating and majestic natural landscape. From visiting historic Charleston plantations to delving into the city’s rich equine history, one thing is certain: you’ll never lack for things to do!
Even those who have lived in Charleston their entire lives are still becoming acquainted with the area’s natural beauty and wonder. If you’re eager to learn more about the vast array of outdoor opportunities in Charleston, S.C., you’ve come to the right place.
Why Explore the Charleston Outdoors?
You don’t need to be an accomplished outdoor enthusiast to enjoy Charleston’s rolling rivers, tranquil marshes and miles of white-sand beaches. History lovers, adrenaline junkies, bird watchers and Lowcountry families alike can and do take advantage of the endless number of ways to experience the region’s natural landscape.
Those who live in Historic Downtown Charleston are accustomed to the urban hustle and bustle. But there is something to be said about stepping beyond the city limits to explore its natural wonders. What do you have to gain by going on an outdoor adventure in Charleston? Let’s take a look.
A Unique Blend of History and Nature
While most visitors flock to the Holy City for her impressive architecture and vast array of historic attractions, many history enthusiasts overlook the rich stories that nature has to tell. Hidden within the city’s marshland and live oaks are a millennium of history just waiting to be discovered.
Whether you’re sailing a few hundred feet off the coast to see the Morris Island Lighthouse, taking a guided bike ride around Charleston or going on an exciting eco tour, both visitors and residents alike can appreciate the Lowcountry’s natural and cultural history.
Healthy Outdoor Recreation for the Entire Family
If there is one reason why you and the entire family should spend more time outdoors, it’s for your health. Research shows that spending time in nature can improve both mental and physical well-being. According to a 2018 study from the University of East Anglia, living in close proximity to nature and spending time outdoors can reduce the risk of numerous diseases and lower stress.
Charleston’s great outdoors has everything you need to live a healthy and active lifestyle. If you don’t want to go too far to get your sweat on, stop by one of the city’s many county parks, playgrounds and green spaces. Whether you want to run across Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge or take a relaxing stroll through the city’s gorgeous public gardens, you’ll find plenty of ways to stay active in the Holy City.
Educational wildlife opportunities abound in the Lowcountry. With its wide variety of diverse ecosystems, South Carolina has no shortage of educational programs for both youngsters and adults to learn more about the region’s natural habitats.
When you live in a region as beautiful as the Lowcountry, it just makes sense to teach the next generation to love and respect the land. Additionally, Charleston and the surrounding Lowcountry are one of the fastest growing places along the East Coast. As the region continues its fast-paced growth, the importance of land preservation and conservation can’t be ignored.
Outdoor Activities in Charleston, S.C.
Charleston has a bounty of outdoor opportunities that are ripe for exploring. Whether you prefer an adrenaline-packed kayaking adventure along the city’s gorgeous waterways or enjoy taking the entire family on pleasant nature walks, there is an outdoor Lowcountry experience for everyone to enjoy.
It’s not just the sheer volume of outdoor activities that makes the Lowcountry appealing to so many. With average temperatures hovering around the 60s during the fall and winter, you won’t be stuck indoors during the cooler months. Thanks to the city’s subtropical climate, Charleston has become one of the most popular and affordable snowbird destinations, with many temporary residents choosing to stay in Charleston vacation rentals or their second homes to escape the frigid cold up North.
Learn and Appreciate Lowcountry Wildlife
Ready to gain a newfound appreciation for the thriving wildlife in the Lowcountry? Along with Charleston’s many natural history museums and beloved South Carolina Aquarium, the city also offers a vast number of hands-on learning experiences and wildlife groups for you to explore.
- Visit the Caw Caw Interpretive Center—Be sure to check out the Caw Caw Interpretive Center in Ravenel, S.C. for a fascinating lesson in Lowcountry nature, culture and history. Experience the many different types of natural habitats, from dry upland forest to cypress swamps, all while learning about the landscape’s rich history.
- Take a Guided Eco Tour—If you’ve always wanted to see dolphins and manatees up close, try taking a guided, multi-day kayak tour from Coastal Expeditions. Located in Mount Pleasant on Shem Creek, the Lowcountry outfitter takes people of all ages and skill levels on guided kayak and canoe tours to explore estuaries, blackwater and barrier islands.
- Join a Conservation Group—Want to appreciate the outdoors with like-minded individuals? Discover an enormous list of conservation groups in South Carolina, and you’re sure to find an organization that’s right up your alley.
- Go Bird Watching—Charleston has a large and active bird watching community. This is hardly surprising, given the roughly 300 species of birds in Charleston County alone. You don’t need to look far for bird watching opportunities. From Folly Beach County Park to the Caw Caw Interpretive Center, bird lovers will have no trouble finding a place to cozy up with their binoculars. Don’t forget to check out the Center For Birds of Prey for fascinating flight demonstrations and educational programs!
Get Active with Outdoor Sports
Looking for a way to work off Charleston’s savory, Lowcountry cuisine? With its many unspoiled waterways, nature trails, parks and playgrounds, Charleston offers plenty of ways to get your heart rate up all year long. Here are a few of the most popular outdoor activities in the Lowcountry:
- Surfing—Charleston boasts a huge surfing community and hosts several big surfing events each year which include both shortboard and longboard. Along with friendly surf competitions, many surfing groups and organizations seek to raise money through their competitions to benefit water-related non-profit organizations to keep oceans healthy and safe for all.
- Kiteboarding—On any given day, you’re likely to spot more than a few kiteboarders zipping through the water and doing flips in the air. If you’re a newcomer to the sport, take a few tips from Holy City Kiteboarding and get in the water for a thrilling afternoon.
- Paddling—The Holy City is truly a paddler’s paradise. With so many diverse waterways to paddle upon, it’s no wonder that Charleston is home to the East Coast Paddlesports Symposium—one of the biggest and best paddlesport festivals in the region.
- Golfing—Golf enthusiasts will have no problem finding a place to tee off in Charleston. Daniel Island is home to two PGA golf courses, while Mount Pleasant boasts an Arnold Palmer signature golf course, the only one in all of Charleston.
- Trail Walking, Running and Hiking—It takes no special skill to get out and walk a trail, and fortunately, Charleston has plenty of nature trails to traverse. From hiking Awendaw Passage to strolling along the West Ashley Greenway, there are plenty of trails to get your daily dose of nature. Want to combine nature and history? Take a stroll through one of Charleston’s gorgeous plantations and learn more about botany, husbandry, as well as the plantation’s historical and cultural significance.
- Biking—With a mild climate year-round, Charleston is a great place for a pleasant bike ride around the city. The city is also home to a strong cycling community and numerous recreational bike clubs.
This is just a small taste of the outdoor recreation opportunities in Charleston that sports-minded individuals can enjoy. Spend some time with the locals, and you’ll soon be exposed to a variety of interesting outdoor hobbies and recreational pursuits that may tickle your fancy.
Take a Stroll Along Charleston’s Beautiful Beaches
When it comes to exploring the Lowcountry’s great outdoors, you definitely don’t want to miss out on Charleston’s breathtaking beaches. From taking romantic strolls on Sullivan’s Island to catching waves and relaxing on Folly Beach, Charleston’s beaches are just waiting to be explored.
- Folly Beach—One of the most popular beaches in Charleston, Folly Beach has helped many families make lasting memories with its abundance of outdoor recreational activities. Laid-back and slower-paced, surfers can catch a wave in its dolphin-filled waters before grabbing a hearty breakfast at Lost Dog Café. Once summer rolls around, families enjoy booking a Folly Beach vacation rental to spend quality time on “Charleston’s Beach Town.”
- Isle of Palms—An idyllic coastal town, Isle of Palms offers a relaxing, yet fun atmosphere for everyone to enjoy. In addition to its beautiful, white-sand beaches and typical beach activities (surfing, shell-hunting, etc.), IOP is home to a large turtle population. It also offers numerous eco tours that allow guests to view dolphins at sunset or venture to Capers Island, an undeveloped barrier island just north of Charleston.
- Sullivan’s Island—Don’t appreciate the crowds at Folly or IOP? Check out the quiet shores of Sullivan Island instead. The quiet and quaint atmosphere on Sullivan’s Island makes it perfect for romantic walks along the beach, while its strong winds and occasional swell make it ideal for kiteboarders and surfers.
- Kiawah Island—If the sound of award-winning recreational activities and top-notch golf courses sound appealing to you, be sure to check out Kiawah Island. Golf enthusiasts flock to this unique barrier island for its PGA Championship Gold and world-class amenities. To top things off, Kiawah Island is well known for its sustainability and commitment to the environment. Along with many outdoor recreational opportunities, the island boasts numerous nature programs and conservancy efforts to preserve Kiawah’s natural beauty.
Make a Splash with Water-Related Activities
If you don’t get out on the water, you’re missing half the experience of Charleston’s great outdoors. In addition to the water activities we’ve already mentioned, here are other ways to explore the Lowcountry’s plentiful waterways:
- Paddleboard—Kayaking and canoeing along the city’s waterways and hearing dolphins come up for air beside you is a truly remarkable experience. Rent a kayak or paddleboard and weave through brackish waters, blackwater swamps, creeks and rivers teeming with wildlife.
- Dragon Boat Racing—It takes incredible mental and physical power to propel a massive boat through the water. Even if you don’t partake in dragon boat racing yourself, Charleston’s Dragon Boat Festival is something you don’t want to miss!
- Crabbing—Ready to give crabbing a try? Head to Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant, S.C. and give it a shot. Be sure that you’re familiar with the rules first and to get your crabbing license in advance. Once you’ve got that taken care of, drop a line and plan to spend a relaxing day on the water.
- Fishing—If you’re looking to relax with a fishing pole in hand, Charleston won’t disappoint. King Mackerel, Amberjack and Bull Redfish are all prevalent in the coastal waters, and there are plenty of helpful guides who will take you out on the water to reel in your first big catch of the day.
- Water Fountains—Need something for the kiddos to do? There are free water fountains scattered around Charleston that are perfect for the kids. Visit the Waterfront Park for a variety of fun fountains that will help everyone cool off during the summer.
Enjoy the Great Outdoors in Charleston, S.C.
Breathtaking beauty and natural wonder are mere minutes from downtown Charleston, and yet, many don’t take advantage of what awaits them just beyond city limits. Don’t let the Lowcountry’s stunning beauty pass you by! From aquatic experiences to relaxing on the beach with a book in hand, there is something for every outdoor enthusiast to enjoy.
For more than 20 years, Daniel Island residents have enjoyed the scenic beauty and modern amenities of its master-planned community. From its gorgeous parks and playgrounds to its tree-lined streets and Southern-style homes, the 4,000-acre island offers a tranquil setting for families, retirees and anyone looking to experience Lowcountry living at its finest.
It’s all thanks to the community’s master plan which has earned the island numerous awards and accolades for its smart design and strategic growth. Affectionately known as “Charleston’s island town,” Daniel Island has done an exceptional job over the years incorporating the island’s natural, scenic beauty into its traditional neighborhoods, retail businesses, churches and schools.
It’s not surprising that so many people consider living on Daniel Island to be a dream come true. Located just 15 miles from Historic Charleston, this special island town provides small-town vibes with easy access to upscale dining and shopping opportunities.
So, is Daniel Island the right choice for you and your family? Let’s explore the ins and outs of this special island town:
The History of Daniel Island, S.C.
Although the development of Daniel Island, S.C. has been ongoing since the 1990s, the island’s history dates back much further. From its first Native American inhabitants to its modern development, Daniel Island has a unique and storied history.
Etiwan Indians and the Arrival of English Settlers
When English settlers sailed from Barbados and arrived on Daniel Island in 1673, it had long been occupied by Etiwan Indians. According to fossils and arrowheads found in the area, the Etiwan tribe had been living on Daniel Island for thousands of years.
One of the men arriving on these early ships was Robert Daniell, whom the present-day island is named after. A descendant of King Edward III, Robert Daniell acquired land on Daniel Island in the late 17th century and began building a house along the Wando River. He later became deputy proprietor of the Carolina colony, as well as the deputy governor of North Carolina and South Carolina.
Robert Daniell and some Etiwan Indians fought together when Spanish ships invaded the Port Royal River. Years later, the Etiwan moved to the Goose Creek area after accepting an agreement with the English.
The Guggenheims’ Vision for Daniel Island
Fast forward a few hundred years to 1947, and the Guggenheim family of New York saw something special in Daniel Island. The Guggenheims purchased Daniel Island and used it mainly to raise cattle and as the occasional hunting retreat. In 1971, the island was officially passed to the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation with the intention of transforming it into an island community.
The Guggenheim Foundation selected The Daniel Island Company to participate with development advisors to create a master-plan for the development of the island. The team worked together to create a development plan that would produce an extension of Charleston without disturbing too much of the island’s natural beauty.
Present-Day Daniel Island
In 1997, The Daniel Island Company purchased the island and continued developing the area. Rural farmland and cattle ranches began transforming into a recognizable suburb.
Soon enough, a welcoming community and vibrant downtown emerged, slowly fulfilling the Guggenheim’s vision. Today, Daniel Island is a walkable town complete with scenic parks, traditional neighborhoods, top-rated schools, golf courses, marsh views and much more.
Its impressive master plan has been recognized with numerous awards and accolades, including being named America’s Best Master-Planned Communities by Where to Retire Magazine and receiving the Urban Land Institute Award for Excellence. And while it may not have the Old-World architecture seen in Historic downtown Charleston, it nonetheless has a peaceful beauty that has made it an enviable place to live, work and play.
Living on Daniel Island
Now, for the important question—why are families and empty-nesters flocking to Daniel Island? Its family-oriented atmosphere and small-town vibes are only a smart part of the equation. For many families, there is simply no better place to raise their kids than Daniel Island.
In addition to providing a safe and secure place to let their kids play, families also have everything they could possibly need without ever leaving the island. Modern amenities, great schools, hundreds of parks and a chic commercial district make Daniel Island a highly-sought after place to live.
Residents of Daniel Island come from all walks of life and are a tightknit, yet welcoming bunch. If you have kids, you’ll easily make friends with neighborhood parents and will soon be roped into carpooling for soccer practice.
Even if you don’t have kids, Daniel Island residents are generally quick to welcome anyone who wishes to contribute to their peaceful island community. There are also plenty of events and neighborhood gatherings that will allow you to integrate yourself into the Daniel Island community. You can find the latest Daniel Island news and events by checking out their webpage regularly.
Daniel Island has a wide variety of established neighborhoods, each with its own unique and charming appeal. Most of the neighborhoods feature gorgeous, tree-lined streets and detached garages to deemphasize cars, further enhancing the area’s visual appeal.
- Daniel Island Park—Centered around the Daniel Island Club, the Daniel Island Park neighborhood is one of the most desirable in the Lowcountry. Residents typically live in luxury homes with easy access to the Club’s private golf courses, fitness amenities and facilities.
- Smyth Park—Surrounding the scenic Smyth Lake, this neighborhood is a popular gathering place for locals and is within walking distance of the Daniel Island School. Enjoy miles of beautiful trails, ample opportunities for a scenic picnic and a fun pirate park for the kids.
- Edgefield Park—One of the newest neighborhoods in Daniel Island, Edgefield Park is located on the southeastern tip of the island and features stunning views of the marsh. Full of lush, natural scenery, the neighborhood is conveniently located near the newest Olympic-sized swimming pool.
- Downtown –If an urban setting is what you seek, there are plenty of townhomes and condominiums in Daniel Island’s downtown area. Although you will pay more for your close proximity to shops, restaurants and recreational activities, the energy and convenience simply can’t be beaten.
- Codner’s Ferry Park—One of Daniel Island’s first neighborhoods, Codner’s Ferry Park is a charming neighborhood with large trees and traditional, Lowcountry-style homes. The neighborhood is located near a nature preserve, Scott Park and the community pool.
- Barfield Park—Full of single-family homes and townhomes, Barfield Park is surrounded by a natural park full of mature trees and beautiful marshes. Residents enjoy being close to the pool at Pierce Park, along with many meandering trails.
- Center Park—Aptly named, Center Park lies at the center of Daniel Island. This diverse neighborhood is known for its elegant homes and townhomes in traditional Lowcountry style. Center Park is a two-acre park that boasts a spacious kids’ play area and tree-shaded areas, making it a popular place to relax while the kids play with interactive structures.
- Cochran Park—If quiet and scenic is what you seek, check out Cochran Park. Home to beautiful marsh views and peaceful streets, this coveted neighborhood features homes with traditional southern architecture and streets that often end in cul-de-sacs.
- Etiwan Park—Etiwan Park, named after the Indian tribe that first inhabited the island, is a seven-acre park that is a common gathering place for community events. On any given day, you’ll find a lively game of volleyball, basketball or soccer taking place on the green space while Snowy Egrets hunt for food just off the path.
- Pierce Park—Centrally located to all the island schools and library, Pierce Park features many townhomes and single-family homes that offer a lovely view of the Wando River. Residents of Pierce Park enjoy easy access to recreational activities and the nearby clubhouse and swimming pool.
One of the perks of living in Daniel Island is that the entire island has over 25 miles of walkable trails and bike paths with stunning views of the marsh and tidal creeks. All the trails have easy-to-follow markers and an iOS mobile app (known as DITRAILS) that you can download for fun, hassle-free exploration.
You don’t need to be in tip-top shape to traverse them, either; with relatively flat trails, you can bike or walk at a leisurely pace while taking in the beautiful Lowcountry views. The trails are also convenient for biking or walking to the grocery store or café.
Daniel Island has been carefully developed so that you can easily access modern amenities, with or without a car. This convenience, along with its beautiful layout, is something that many Daniel Island residents deeply appreciate.
Daniel Island boasts three excellent schools with great reputations. The Daniel Island School is the town’s highly-rated public school and was a South Carolina Palmetto Gold Award winner during the 2009-2010 school year.
If you’d rather send your kids to a private school, you’ll be delighted with Daniel Island Academy. The private school is accredited by the National Academy for the Education of Young Children, has a LEED-certified building and has an excellent teacher-to-student ratio.
For high school students, Bishop England High School is a fantastic private school that is highly praised for its rigorous curriculum and SAT and ACT scores which are well above the national and state averages.
Proximity to Charleston
Daniel Island is centrally located, offering relatively easy access to Historic downtown Charleston, Mount Pleasant and North Charleston. Residents of Daniel Island can fully enjoy Charleston’s award-winning dining, shopping and nightlife while still being able to retreat to their quiet island after a fun night out with friends and colleagues.
The island is also a short drive to the airport, which is a significant benefit to those who take frequent business trips. Even if you aren’t a frequent traveler, it’s always helpful for when you need to pick up the in-laws from the airport or jet off on a family vacation.
A Diverse Mix of Home Styles
If you’re thinking about buying a home in Daniel Island, you’ll be pleased to find a variety of townhomes, condominiums, luxury homes and single-family homes at varying price points. Whether you’re raising a family and need a big single-family home or empty-nesters looking for your luxury dream home, there is an island living situation to perfectly suit your needs.
Things to Do
With its luxurious homes and high-class amenities, Daniel Island has all the makings of a stuffy, prestigious island. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth! Daniel Island residents enjoy having a good time, whether it’s in the form of a laid-back outing on the Wando River or watching a riveting tennis match during the annual Family Circle Cup.
Shopping and Dining
As a master-planned community, Daniel Island’s walkable downtown area has all the modern conveniences a resident could want. The island has essential banks, medical offices, churches, a public library, a supermarket and seasonal farmers’ market, along with the modern amenities including charming boutiques and relaxing spas.
When it comes to dining opportunities, you won’t be disappointed with Daniel Island’s offerings. Stop by Bin 526 for Italian wines, flavorful cocktails and delicious charcuterie. For an elegant, Lowcountry vibe, check out Laura Alberts and savor their amazing house-made pimento cheese dishes.
Sports and Events
If you love sports, Daniel Island is sure to delight. Home to two impressive sports facilities, the island’s traffic gets out of control during the week of the Volvo Car Open (previously known as the Family Circle Cup).
When the Volvo Car Stadium isn’t being used to host WTA tournaments, it’s often a venue for special events and concerts. Check out their events page to catch the latest happenings.
The professional tennis tournament isn’t the only sports attraction on the island. You can also take in a soccer match at the MUSC Health Stadium, home of the Charleston Battery.
Surrounded by creeks, rivers and waterways, Daniel Island boasts an impressive offering of recreational activities. Whether you’re into golf, fishing, boating, paddle boarding, soccer or tennis, there are plenty of opportunities to get out and sustain a healthy lifestyle.
Tee off at the Daniel Island Club, the island’s in-town country club, or mingle with others in the prestigious clubhouse and nosh on exceptional dining. If all that sounds too stuffy for you, consider taking a swim or using the club’s tennis courts instead.
Daniel Island also has hundreds of acres of parks for you and your family to enjoy, with more than 25 miles of extensive trails. You can take a picnic with family and friends, watch the little ones explore playgrounds, take a run along the water’s edge or paddle out onto the beautiful Lowcountry waters.
Make Daniel Island Your Forever Home
Daniel Island truly offers the best of both worlds. Despite its close proximity to Charleston, this one-of-a-kind island has its own distinct vibes and lifestyle.
Is Daniel Island the place to call your forever home? Check out the many Daniel Island homes for sale and feel free to get in touch with one of our Daniel Island experts. We’re happy to answer any questions you have about this master-planned island.
Originally constructed in 1924 as a schoolhouse known as the Sullivan’s Island Graded School, the building now known as Sullivan’s House was built in the Craftsman architectural style. By 1938, two wings were added to the east and west, and a portico was constructed at the west wing’s façade. Over the years, this building served as a church and a gathering place and the 1938 footprint remains intact today.
A recent restoration blends historic details mingled with artfully selected modern finishes to create the four luxury residences of Sullivan’s House. The project was developed by a group led by Patrick W. Marr, Steven G. Kleiman, and David C. Stern. Laura Middleton was the lead architect of The Middleton Group, an award-winning firm that has completed many historic renovation projects in Charleston. With interiors by designer Carol Lund, and timeless landscaping by Kelly D. Messier, Sullivan’s House is as beautiful as it is historic.
We’ve been making the most of our 30th year in business by supporting some of our favorite local charitable organizations, and since it’s Valentines Day, our February donations are all heart.
And finally, Very Special Thanks to Rebecca & Jeff Narkiewicz, Jack Hurley, Judd Borders, Scott Pierce, Betty Poore, John Grimm, Nicole Brooks, Christy Humphries, Donna Bell, Beth Putman, and Susan Petty for volunteering with Adopt a Highway – on a Saturday – to keep Palm Blvd clean 🙂
Searching for a place to settle down near Charleston, SC? You’ll be delighted with the convenience and charms offered by James Island. Located just five minutes from downtown Charleston, this large sea island is close to the best shopping, dining and amenities in all of Charleston County.
Easy access to historic downtown Charleston isn’t the only appeal of James Island. Boasting top-notch schools, outdoor amenities, as well as a rich, lively culture, it’s not difficult to see why so many families plant their roots on the beautiful sea island. Let’s explore more deeply why James Island is a great place to live, work and play.
History of James Island
One of Charleston’s most unique sea islands, James Island boasts a rich history that dates to the 17th century. First established as Jamestown in 1671 by English settlers, the island was previously occupied by native American nomads. They primarily hunted for their food, taking advantage of the plentiful seafood along the island’s waterways.
Early Settlement of James Island
As early as 1609, Spanish explorers documented their encounters with the Stono tribe, who occupied both James Island and Johns Island. In 1666, English settlers also recorded two different tribes — the Stono and the Kussoe — on James Island.
Although early settlers initially found the tribes friendly, tensions between the native Americans and the colonists came to a head in 1674. This resulted in the tribes coming together to fight against the European settlers. Their combined forces were no match for the colonists, who defeated them handily and took control of the island thereafter.
Early Military and Naval History
With its proximity to Charleston, James Island made for an ideal location to set up lookouts for pirates in the 17th century. Prior to early colonial settlement, pirates frequented the island to stock up on supplies before heading back out to sea.
In the early 18th century, the island raised its first militia. Led by Colonel William Rhett, the militia was born out of concern over a French and Spanish invasion in 1706.
In 1708, construction of historic Fort Johnson began. Located on the banks of the Ashley River, the fortification is named after Sir Nathanial Johnson, proprietary governor of Carolina. The fort remains a popular historical site on the island and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The American Revolution and the Civil War
James Island played critical roles in both the American Revolution and the Civil War. It acted as a defensive wall for Charleston in 1780, and later in 1862 through 1864. The island was the site where the last battles of the American Revolution took place, as well as the site from which many shots of the Civil War were fired from Fort Johnson.
Benefits of Living in James Island
Today, James Island is known for its laid-back, unpretentious vibe. The island’s picturesque views and relaxed atmosphere are just the beginning of the many benefits this island has to offer its residents.
Apart from living on the peninsula itself, James Island is the closest suburb to Downtown Charleston. Those who choose to work in the Holy City and live on James Island will find the commute much easier compared to Charleston’s other sea islands.
James Island boasts some of the best public schools in all of Charleston County. Because of this, many families choose to send their kids to James Island Charter High School because it is highly rated and provides great opportunities.
There are two middle schools and four elementary schools on James Island for parents to choose from as well. Of these schools, Fort Johnson Middle School and Harbor View Elementary School stand out with high ratings.
James Island provides a warm, welcoming and inclusive atmosphere. Because of this, residents here are generally not pretentious and fit the island’s laid-back vibe.
However, don’t mistake being laid-back for a lack of caring. James Island residents are passionate about preserving the natural environment. Many fight vigorously against large-scale development of the area. This is especially true when it comes to protecting trees like ancient live oaks.
Although families are serious about protecting the small-town feel of the island, the community is also welcoming to newcomers and visitors alike. If you want the best for your kids and do your part to make James Island a better place to live, you’re sure to fit right in with this welcoming crowd.
Minutes from the Beach
Living in James Island, S.C. means that you’ll have easy access to the beach. James Island is essentially Folly Beach’s neighbor, making it a convenient 5-15 minute drive to one of the most family-friendly beaches in all of Charleston.
Some homes on the island are within biking distance of Folly beach. If you’re looking for a home on James Island, chances are good that you’ll find an attractive home just minutes away from the sound of ocean waves.
For a modest island, James Island has a lot of history packed into it. When your friends and family visit your home in James Island, there are plenty of fascinating historical sites you can take them to.
One of the most popular historical sites in James Island is McLeod Plantation. Located along Wappoo Creek, the historic plantation was established in 1851. It was largely successful due to its production of Sea Island Cotton. The plantation played a significant role in the American Civil War is an important Gullah Geechee heritage site.
Another notable historical site is Fort Johnson. Located at the northeast point of James Island, the fort held military and political significance during the colonial era. It is also the site where the South Carolina state flag was first flown in 1775.
Lesser known is Secessionville Historic District, an area on the island that honors those who fought in the Battle of Secessionville. The district includes a few historic homes — one Victorian and two Antebellum Greek Revival homes — as well as the unmarked grave representing over 300 Union soldiers.
What to Do on James Island
James Island boasts a wide variety of fun activities for the entire family to enjoy. From live music and concerts at the Pour House to the family-friendly James Island County Park, you won’t have trouble finding things to do on this quaint sea island.
James Island County Park
Searching for fun, outdoor activities to do with the kids? Need ideas for date night in James Island? You can always count on James Island County Park to make lasting memories.
James Island County Park has it all: playgrounds, a water park, a dog park, open spaces, a climbing wall and a fun splash pad that your little ones will love. That’s not all the 643-acre park has to offer. The park also features plenty of activities like nature trails and paved trails, tidal creek fishing opportunities, volleyball courts, kayak rentals and much more.
During the holidays, the park is lit up with millions of lights as part of the annual Holiday Festival of Lights. A dazzling spectacle, this much-loved event is a delightful tradition for many Charleston families.
Catch a Movie at Terrace Theater
The unique Terrace Theater is a five-screen art house cinema with a funky, retro vibe. This James Island Movie theater is a fun place to catch both independent films and popular showings.
Serving both traditional and unique concessions, the theater is also a fun place for date night. With a huge variety of craft beers and fine wines, independent films and quality atmosphere, it’s not surprising that the Terrace is consistently voted the best movie theater by Charleston City Paper.
Terrace Theater is locally owned, and residents love to support this treasured cinema. The theater owners are known for giving back and are deeply involved in many charity events that aim to enhance the community.
Take in a Local Performance
If you’re interested in Charleston’s local music scene or simply want to take in a live performance, the Pour House in James Island is the spot to go. With eclectic street art, music and a fantastic bar, this no-frills tavern is a favorite hangout for locals.
Featuring local and national touring bands, the Pour House has earned its reputation for being one of the best concert venues in the Charleston area. This top-notch venue has incredible sound, relaxed atmosphere, great beer and exceptional eats.
If you’re more interested in a great dining experience with a side of live music, check out Kwei Fei the popular Chinese restaurant that opened next door to The Pour House in November 2018.
Get Outside with the Entire Family
If you’re looking to disconnect for a while and breathe in some fresh air, James Island has plenty of opportunities for you to do so. In addition to the massive James Island County Park, the island also features a host of quiet spots to explore.
The Fort Lamar Heritage Preserve is not only a cool historical site, but it’s also a nice little nature trail with trees providing ample shade. Melton Peter Demetre Park — aka, “Sunrise Park” — provides a fantastic view of downtown Charleston and a great place to cast a fishing line off the pier.
Get out with the kids and let them explore the playground at Pinckney Park. Or, take the older kids and walk along the beautiful nature trails.
Have Fun with Fido
When we say the entire family, we mean the dog too! James Island has no shortage of pet-friendly places to bring your furry friend.
Many of the places we’ve listed here are pet-friendly, including James Island County Park and the Pour House. But, there are also top-notch restaurants that welcome Fido.
For instance, Smoky Oak Taproom is renowned for having some of the best barbecue in all of Charleston. They also welcome dogs in the outdoor patio area. The Barrel features 33 taps of local and regional craft beer, has live music and food trucks and is perhaps Charleston’s most dog-friendly bar.
Want to get social with your dog? Take your pup to James Island’s Yappy Hour. This family-friendly social event features live music and beverages at the dog park located at James Island County Park. Most importantly, you’ll find plenty of other folks who love their four-legged friends as much as you do!
Attend a Festival or Annual Event
The Holiday Festival of Lights is just one example of the many fantastic events that James Island puts on each year. From cultural celebrations to savory food festivals, the island attracts visitors from all over the world for its lively festivities.
As a resident of James Island, you’ll have easy access to all the fun activities located on the island. Therefore, you’ll also be close to nearby Folly Beach and Charleston. Take the kids to the Lowcountry Cajun Festival at James Island County Park and let them enjoy the carnival. This will give you a chance to taste of the numerous Cajun and Creole foods.
The Charleston Outdoor Fest is another yearly event that takes place on James Island. It is the perfect time to try out stand-up paddleboarding or test your skills at archery.
Nearby on Folly Beach, there are always exciting events that the family will love. Check out FollyPalooza, a festival that raises money for cancer patients. Packed with activities, live music and food trucks, this fun-filled fest is a guaranteed good time.
An Outstanding Community
With its welcoming, family-friendly neighborhoods and easy commute to Charleston, James Island is no longer a well-kept secret. Today, families are flocking to this charming island to settle down and raise their kids.
Is James Island calling your name? From spacious lots and grand homes to smaller townhomes, there are James Island homes for sale that could be your new forever home. Get in touch with us! One of our James Island experts will answer any questions you might have about this wonderful, family-oriented island.