Without spending a dime, there are plenty of places simply to hang out and enjoy the scenery and watch people in Charleston.

Here are five of them.

Waterfront Park

Just a short walk from the City Market, this is one of the best places in Charleston to hang out for free. The fountain, covered swings, benches, shade trees, big lawn, brilliantly planned horticulture. What’s not to love on a pretty day? If you need a break indoors, walk up the steps and check out the art at the City Gallery. For nearby shopping, East Bay Street is a bustling cluster of restaurants and shops.

Marion Square

The big grassy square just north of Calhoun Street is a favorite spot to get some sun, chill by the fountains or relax in the shade on the benches. Every Saturday morning from early April through November, it becomes Charleston Farmers Market, and the produce, food, wares and entertainment draw big crowds. A holiday market runs on weekends in December.

Aquarium wharf

Visitors who follow Calhoun Street east to its end will find plenty of places to relax by the harbor. Liberty Square is a vast green lawn between the South Carolina Aquarium and the Fort Sumter National Monument. Walk a short distance to the south to the Maritime Center and you can sit by the water and watch the boats.

Hampton Park

The city’s biggest park is near The Citadel and the bridge to West Ashley. This park has it all — acres of grass, duck ponds, great live oaks with limbs near enough the ground to sit on, picnic tables, pavilion, restrooms, walking trails, and onsite parking. The flowers and bushes are meticulously maintained and are the most impressive in the city.

During the spring and summer, the roads are closed to vehicle traffic from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays and from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays for walking, running, bicycling or skating.

Brittlebank Park and 'The Joe'

At the end of the Spring Street, on the western edge of the peninsula, is Brittlebank Park, a relaxing spot by the Ashley River with a pier. Adjacent to it is Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park, better known as "The Joe," home to the Charleston RiverDogs. It’s more than a baseball stadium, it’s a gathering place. Not only is the park beautiful, there are wacky promotions to keep you entertained and inventive food to try, such as beer milkshakes.

Reach Dave Munday at 843-937-5553.

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