Picture Charleston: the historic churches, colonial architecture, unique restaurants and bustling downtown shops.

All are lovely, defining aspects of the Holy City but fall short of capturing the complete Lowcountry experience. Here are a few lesser-known spots to take you out of the tourist bubble. 

Melton P. Demetre Park

Located on James Island, this park, often called "Sunset Park" by locals, offers sweeping views of the Charleston peninsula and the harbor. While not huge, it's dog-friendly, offers fishing, picnic tables, free admission and is an all-around great place to spend a leisurely weekend afternoon. 640 Wampler Drive, Charleston

Santee Coastal Reserve

This 24,000 acre wildlife management area just north of McClellanville offers several marked trails for hiking and bicycling, bird-watching opportunities, a boardwalk over a freshwater swamp and includes two barrier islands accessible by boat. Visitors must get a free, daily use card at the entrance. In addition, all service roads can be used for hiking and biking. Primitive camping is also available. 220 Santee Gun Club Road near McClellanville.

Seewee Shell Mound, Seewee Visitors Center

The mystique surrounding the area encompassed by this 1-mile, self-guided, interpretive trail dates back 4,000 years. The trail begins along a shady lane of trees and features a 120-foot-long boardwalk that overlooks a prehistoric shell mound and offers five interpretive stops in addition to breathtaking views of the salt marsh, tidal creek and the Intracoastal Waterway.

Louis G. Gregory Baha'i Museum

This fascinating piece of history is tucked away on a quiet alleyway in Radcliffeborough, close enough to the hustle of downtown to easily explore. The museum opened in 2003 in the childhood home of Louis G. Gregory, a Charleston native and descendant of slaves who championed the Baha'i's core belief in equality. Gregory is considered to be the father of the Baha'i Faith in the United States. 

Admission is free. 2 Desportes Court in downtown Charleston. Tours are available by appointment and at noon Sundays. Advance reservations are encouraged. Call 843-779-9634 for information or to schedule a tour.

Pitt Street Pharmacy

This family-owned fixture in Mount Pleasant not only serves up malted milkshakes and grilled cheese sandwiches but also a strong sense of nostalgia. Its old-fashioned lunch counter is within a short bike ride of either Shem Creek or the Pitt Street Bridge.

Reach Gregory Yee at 843-937-5908. Follow him on Twitter @GregoryYYee.

Gregory Yee covers breaking news and public safety. He's a native Angeleno and previously covered crime and courts for the Press-Telegram in Long Beach, CA. He studied journalism and Spanish literature at the University of California, Irvine.

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