Whether you're looking for a place to entertain the kids in the summer months or some great activities to enjoy all year long with friends, these are the features of some of Charleston's best parks. 

From playgrounds to nature trails, the things to explore at these little slices of paradise will take you from scenic waterfront locales to neighborhood oases. Let the adventures begin. 

Palmetto Islands County Park, Mount Pleasant 

  • Scale the 50-foot-tall Observation Tower for incredible views.
  • Take the kids to the Big Toy playground.
  • Seasonally, enjoy cooling off at Splash Island.
  • Walk or bike the trails to Nature Island.
  • Let the pups run loose at the dog park.
  • Rent pedal boats and bikes or bring your kayak for the kayak launch.
  • Book picnic table and barbecue space for a birthday party, family reunion or gathering of friends.
  • Enjoy creek fishing and crabbing.
  • Go on a scavenger hunt to find all the accompanying signs for the park’s mobile interpretive tour.

James Island County Park, James Island

  • Scale the 50-foot-tall climbing wall.
  • Bring a group and test your endurance during the Challenge Course.
  • Rent discs and play on the 18-hole disc golf course.
  • Let the dogs romp at the large off-leash dog park.
  • Rent kayaks, pedal boats, stand-up paddleboards or bikes to explore the park’s waterways and miles of trails.
  • Make a splash at the Splash Zone waterpark. 
  • Get adventurous and stay overnight in the campground, or in one of the park’s three-bedroom cottages.
  • On select dates, enjoy events on-site in the park such as the Lowcountry Cajun Festival, Reggae Nights Summer Concert Series, Yappy Hours in the dog park, the Holiday Festival of Lights and more.

 Wannamaker County Park, North Charleston

  • Visit the area’s largest waterpark, Whirlin’ Waters, seasonally.
  • Get soaked on the splash pad, a free water feature of the park.
  • Explore paved and nature trails throughout the park.
  • Bring your mountain bike or hike along the Wannamaker North Trail.
  • Play in open meadows or on the park’s large play hill, a favorite spot for rolling in the grass.
  • Let the kids romp at the Tot Lot and Fun Lot playgrounds, divided by age
  • Cast your line for some freshwater fishing.
  • Challenge friends to a match at the volleyball courts or horseshoe pits.
  • For an adventure, try bike and boat rentals.
  • Let the Fidos run free at an off-leash dog park.

 Caw Caw Interpretive Center, Ravenel

  • Traverse over 7 miles of scenic trails and boardwalks with wayside exhibits.
  • Learn more in the exhibit hall, highlighting the park’s natural and cultural history.
  • View former rice fields from the 18th century and thousands of naturalized tea plants from a 20th-century tea farm.
  • Try to spot a variety of wildlife; it's known as a birding “hot spot” and favored habitat for many wildlife including deer and alligators.
  • Register for a nature programs.
  • Take a guided canoe tour.
  • Join the park’s early morning bird walks twice weekly with a certified naturalist.

Johns Island County Park (Mullet Hall Equestrian Center), Johns Island

  • On select dates, be a spectator at a variety of horse shows and competitions at the equestrian center.
  • Bring your bow and arrow for the archery range or try the 3-D archery course.
  • Go horseback riding or hiking along miles of trails. 
  • Enjoy annual events like the Harvest Festival or Mullet Haul Trail Run.

 Waterfront Park, downtown

  • Take a photograph in front of the iconic Pineapple Fountain.
  • Wear your bathing suits and splash through the park's other, many-jetted fountain.
  • Get beautiful views of the bridge and more along the Cooper River.
  • Catch some breezes while swaying on the pier's bench swings.
  • See a spectacular sunset.

Gahagan Park, Summerville

  • Let the kids have a ball at the Plantation Playground.
  • Scale a large climbing wall.
  • Spend hours exploring walkways, overlooks and climbing structures.
  • Pack a picnic or use the picnic tables for a birthday party or gathering.
  • Play ball at the baseball, softball and football fields.

Reach Kalyn Oyer at 843-371-4469. Follow her on Twitter @sound_wavves.

Kalyn Oyer is a Charleston native who covers arts and entertainment for The Post and Courier's Thursday edition, Charleston Scene. She used to write about music for the Charleston City Paper and Scene SC.