There’s a right way and a wrong way to live in Charleston in the summer, and there’s a fine line in between. Because whether you just moved here or you’ve lived here all your life, it’s easy to get lazy when all you want to do is to escape the wrath of the humidity.
I’m certainly guilty of spending a whole summer either plopped on the sand or by a pool for lack of any better ideas. And I’m not condemning that whatsoever. I’ve said more than once that my version of nirvana is a good book and a sea breeze.
However, as residents of one of the most coveted destinations in the world, we owe it to ourselves to get out and explore all those things that make Charleston come alive in the summertime. Why should tourists get to have all the fun, am I right?
So, let’s start planning some adventures. Here are seven of my very best ideas and tips on how to enjoy — and I mean really, truly enjoy — a Lowcountry summer.
They happen every single day, but somehow sunsets on the water never get old. The battery around Lockwood Boulevard is a popular spot for good reason. In the summer, it’s one of the few places downtown you can get in a good afternoon run without keeling over from heat exhaustion. Plus, you’re flanked by the Charleston Harbor on one side and beautiful historic homes on the other.
Another favorite place to watch the sunset is the Pitt Street Bridge in Mount Pleasant. It was built as a trolley bridge in the 19th century to get to and from Sullivan’s Island.
Now, it’s a long grassy park that stretches into a wooden dock overlooking Cove Inlet. From there, you can see the coast of Mount Pleasant, all three beaches, the Charleston battery and one of the best views of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge.
You’ll feel a lot better about sitting in beach traffic for an hour if you’re going with a purpose. And there are plenty of reasons to hit the sand beyond sunbathing, like the Folly Beach Wahine Classic this weekend, the Lowcountry’s only all-female surf competition (see David Quick’s Get Out column this week for more details). There’s also the Governor’s Cup surfing competition Aug. 8-9, which is on Folly Beach at the Washout.
Hundreds of spectators gather for these competitions, and it’s a great way to meet new people while cheering on some local talent.
If land-side games are more your thing, head over to the Isle of Palms and play beach volleyball for free near The Windjammer on Front Beach. More serious players can also join a league. The next junior season starts June 10 and is held each Wednesday until Aug. 5. For more information, visit www.the-windjammer.com/wp/volleyball-inf.
Growing up here, the live oaks were always my quiet refuge, a place to read or write or simply lay down and gaze up at the branches. I love the sunshine, but after a while, the summer heat will make you feel right at home under the shade.
If you’re seeking some peace and quiet in between carpools to summer camp or entertaining guests from out of town, take an afternoon and head to Mepkin Abbey, the shade-lovers paradise. The historic plantation on the Cooper River just North of Moncks Corner is home to a Trappist monk community that opens the beautiful gardens to the public from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 1-3 p.m. on Sundays. You can stop in the gift shop to pick up fresh oyster mushrooms harvested on-site by the monks.
Another one of my favorite peaceful activities is stand-up paddleboarding. It can be a relaxing way to take in the sights of Charleston’s many creeks, and it’s a good workout at the same time. Plus, anybody can do it.
The boards are huge, so it’s pretty easy to balance and get the hang of it on your first try. There are several rental companies in town that will let you take out a paddleboard on your own for about three hours for a fee of $30, such as Nature Adventures Outfitters on Shem Creek and Charleston Outdoor Adventures on Bowen’s Island, which is off of Folly Beach.
Those companies also rent out kayaks and canoes, which can be easier to navigate for those unfamiliar with paddling and navigating the creeks.
A family trip to the movie theater these days can be pretty expensive, so do your wallet a favor this summer and take advantage of all the outdoor movie screenings around town.
Most of the films are family-friendly, and it’s nice to enjoy the big screen on the breezy summer nights rather than having to sit quietly in a dark theater.
Wannamaker County Park in North Charleston shows outdoor movies once a month starting at about 8:15 p.m. The next one is “Maleficent” on June 13. Visit www.ccprc.com for more information.
The Tides hotel on Folly Beach screens free movies on the beach every Wednesday at sundown. Next week, audiences will watch “Jurassic Park.”
Over at the Village Green near Freshfields Village on Kiawah, there will be free movies for 15 weeks every Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. “National Treasure” is on the roster for next week. For all the screenings, be sure to bring your own blankets or lawn chairs, and of course, plenty of bug spray.
There’s something about the summer air that makes us all want to let loose a little bit. On the weekends, you’ll have no problem finding a good party with live music, and many of them are either cheap or free. The Party at the Point concert series is one of the most popular weekend events in the Lowcountry.
The Friday night party at the Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina will host the Jack Johnson tribute band Banana Pancakes this week and Sol Driven Train with Jordan Igoe the week after. The last event of the 2015 season is June 26. The city of North Charleston just announced it will host a free concert every month at Riverfront Park with food trucks and a wine and beer garden, (see here for details).
The Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission has several outdoor concerts, including the Moonlight Mixers on Folly Beach, the Shaggin’ on the Cooper series at the Mount Pleasant Pier and Reggae Nights at James Island County Park.
The one activity every local must add to their summer bucket list is a float down the Edisto River. If you’ve ever been on a “lazy river” ride at a water park, this is a lot like that, except more scenic and a lot more fun if you get a big group together.
A popular entry point is Givhans Ferry State Park, where you’ll have to pay a $1 admission fee. Many groups will take two cars and park one downstream at Messervy Landing, which can be accessed off Boat Landing Road. That will give you a few hours of float time and an easy exit strategy.
If you’re going to bring beer, be sure to keep it in coolers. Drinking while in the river is permitted, but public displays of alcohol aren’t allowed on state park grounds.