63 Places off the Beaten Path in Charleston, SC

Finding and exploring hidden gems in nature is one of my favorite past times. Here are our personal favs along with undiscovered places we hope to check out soon. So load the kids up and get up close & personal with the great outdoors. {listed in no particular order}

1. Daniel Island Waterfront Park, Daniel Island
Situated on the shores of the Wando River and replicated to resemble the Charleston harbor, this park’s best feature  is the proximity to the waterfront trails. When facing the water, take the left hand trails and you will come to a small bit of shoreline where the trees are eroding into the river. If you aren’t able to boat out to Capers & Dewey’s, this is your next best way to experience an eroding shoreline.

2. Trails at Wannamaker Park
There are 2 miles of paved trails, as well as the 8 mile Wannamaker North Trail for bicyclist and nature explorers.

3. Charles Towne Landing
Great for bike riding but make sure to go when it is NOT hot. There is very little shade here.

4. Old Santee Canal Park

5. Charleston Library Society story time, Downtown
This is a completely different organization than the county’s library system. This non profit was founded to expound one’s natural curiosity through art, speakers, and ultimately – books. They have a summer reading time for kids.

6. Historic Charleston Foundation kid programs, Downtown
Who knew that the organization responsible for ensuring our city’s awe-inspiring architecture is protected, also has numerous after school & during the summer educational programs for children?

7. Trolley Rides, Downtown Charleston
Park at the Visitors Center and ride the FREE trolley around downtown.

8. Waterfront Park, Downtown Charleston
A great way to beat the heat and enjoy downtown all in one swoop. Even better, take advantage of the FREE trolleys (see #7) to get there and your kids will think you are the best mom ever.

9. Sunrise Park, James Island

10. Charles Pickney National Historic Site, Mount Pleasant
My favorite place in Charleston for family photos and kids being kids.

11. Marsh View Trail, Mount Pleasant
An easy paved trail for kids that takes you out to the marsh. Wear flip flops/crocs and you can explore the marsh. We recently found mussels here!

12. Seewee Shell Ring Trail

13. Awendaw Creek Landing
The trails are great for exploring and the dock is fun for crabbing.

14. Hampton Plantation
Explore nature trails and let the kids run wild.

15. The Custom Building, downtown Charleston
It may look formal & imposing, but there is nothing wrong with having your youngsters run up these steps to burn off some energy.

16. Crabbing
Catching crabs on a line of twine with chicken necks is one of my favorite past times, so no, I won’t be sharing my favorite crabbing hole. However, try your hand at these great locations – Shem Creek Park, Awendaw Creek Landing and Pitt Street Bridge. Stop by Haddrell’s for your crabbing and fishing needs.

17. Farmer’s Markets
Give your children a few dollars and let them pick out a new vegetable to try. Kids are much more likely to try food that they had a hand in picking out and cooking.
Luckily in Charleston, we have farmer’s markets almost every single day of the week.
Monday ~ Seabrook & Kiawah Islands
Tuesday ~ Mt. Pleasant
Thursday ~ Daniel Island and North Charleston
Saturday ~ Downtown Charleston, Goose Creek, John’s Island, & Summerville
Sunday ~ James Island

18. Shem Creek Park

19. SEWEE Educational Center
My kids love learning about all the ‘stuffed’ animals they are able to see here. Plus, they have a boardwalk trail you can explore.

20. Center for Birds of Prey

21. Caw Caw Interpretive Center
Your best chance to see an alligator is here. Perfect for older kids or at least have enough adults to corral youngsters that like to run.

22. Hazel Parker Playground, Downtown Charleston
Nestled behind a City of Charleston recreation department building, this little gem stays tucked out of view from all the tourists walking by. It has something for everyone…different sets of climbing equipment perfect for young & old, tennis, baseball, AND basketball courts. And if that wasn’t enough….THEY HAVE BATHROOMS!! Located inside the recreation department building, you will find restrooms and a water fountain. And if you are lucky enough, the inside doors will be open and your kids can play inside the building with plenty of toys while you get a break from the heat with some air conditioning!

23. Park Circle Butterfly Garden

24. Magnolia Gardens
Out of the 4 major plantations in Charleston, this one is my favorite. The gardens are romantic, beautiful, and splendid.

25. Tennis Courts (Whipple Road)
When my son was a rambunctious 2 year old that loved to run as far away as possible I would load him up and take him to the tennis courts. He could run & run and never run away from me. I would just hit tennis balls and he’d have to run and pick them up for me. I’m all about free & easy child entertainment!

26. Dunleavy’s Popcorn & Wings
When you need a cheap date with your husband and hiring a sitter isn’t possible, this is the next best thing. Kids eat unlimited popcorn and you take advantage of wings and the salty beach air. !

27. Belgium Gelato
Want to become #momofthedecade? Park at the Visitors Center, ride the FREE trolley, cool off at Waterfront Park, then head 2 doors down for this delicious gelato.

28. Charleston Park Conservancy
Find parks {think nice classical parks, not necessarily with playground equipment} all over town.

29. West Ashley Greenway

30. North Charleston Waterfront Park
Not only is there a beautiful meadow and large pavilion, but there are also sprinklers/spray fountains to cool kids off.

31. Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon, downtown Charleston

32. Hampton Park, Downtown

33. Jason’s Lake & Botnay Bay, Edisto Island

34. Edisto Beach State Park

35. Governor’s Park, Daniel Island
Zipline, playground, shade!, and access to trails perfect for exploring the marsh and estuaries habitats.

36. Smythe Park, Daniel Island
A pirate themed playground with a large lake for kid anglers’.

37. Library Programs, Charleston County
From Picolo Spoleto events to Magic Treehouse Clubs, the library has great programs all summer long.

38. $1 Movies at Regal Cinemas

39. Morris Island Lighthouse
Although you can’t ‘see & touch’ the lighthouse you can find a great view by going to the far end of the east side of Folly. Morris Island is a great lesson for your kids to learn about how the tides continually alter the landscape of our islands.

40. Bert’s Market, Folly Beach
One of my absolute most favorite places in Charleston! Complete beach dive…where else can you find cold pressed juices, organic hotdogs, and nightcrawlers for bait all in the same place? Seriously, I adore this place and my secret dream is to open one in Mt. Pleasant. I’ve already got the perfect corner spot picked out…think of superman gorillas and you’ll know where I’m talking about.

41. Pick Berries
Whether you pick in town or find an organic farm within an hour drive of Charleston, your kids will love running around dirt fields and eating berries to their hearts content.

42. Charleston Tea Plantation, Wadmalaw Island
Take your girls for ‘tea’ with their favorite babydolls. Or a perfect place to visit sans kids.

43. York Towne/Patriots Point, Mount Pleasant

44. Chapel Park
A favorite hidden gem with a gorgeous water fountain.

45. Charleston County Park & Recreation docks and trails
CCPRC has fishing docks and trails for exploring at almost every single park they maintain. My kids love the Palmetto Island County Park for its abundance of fiddler crabs found on the creek banks.

46. Bee City, Cottageville

47. Cypress Gardens, Monck’s Corner

48. Bamboo Forest, Sullivan’s Island
Next to the SI fire station, this bamboo forest is so neat and hidden away.

49. A Very Little Book Store, Summerville
The perfect place for a cozy story time.

50. Trophy Lakes, John’s Island
The perfect place to learn to water ski or wake board.

51. Graveyards {self-guided Gateway Walk}, Downtown Charleston
There are lots of graveyards throughout the Holy City but you may not know that there is a walkway that connects quite a few of the churches and graveyards. This would obviously be better for teenagers or sans kids.

52. Gates of Charleston
Here is another idea when you find yourself without children. The peninsula has so many homes with gorgeous gates containing intricate iron art.

53. The Angel Oak
A pretty neat way for kids to see a very old oak tree.

54. Mace Brown Museum of Natural History, Downtown Charleston
Who knew that College of Charleston had a history museum?? We have yet to check it out but have on our short list.

55. Awendaw Green, Awendaw

56. The Hunley Museum, North Charleston

57. Firefly Distillery, Wadmalaw
Part of Irvin House Vineyards and very close to Charleston Tea Plantation (see #42)

58. College of Charleston campus, Downtown
I am all about impromptu picnics in beautiful locations and the College of Charleston’s Cistern Yard and Porter’s Lodge are too beautiful not to visit.

59. Freshfields Village {Music on the Green}, Kiawah & Seabrook Island

60. Hunting Island, Beaufort
A climbable lighthouse PLUS a gorgeous eroding shoreline.

61.Pitt Street Bridge, Mount Pleasant

62. Seewee Outpost, Awendaw
You know a gas station must be pretty amazing to make it onto a list of the best things to do in Charleston, and this general store definitely delivers! It’s a destination in and of itself. We try not to let our kids out of the car when we stop here to get gas because there is no way you leave without buying some cool classic childhood toy.  You’ll find everything from Cabella’s clothing to the perfect BB gun for your son to that pink fishing pole your daughter just has to have. I’ve never been disappointed when we stop here.

63. The Pickled Palate, Mt. Pleasant
My favorite lunch spot! This funky eclectic panini shop serves up great food along with a one of a kind atmosphere.


Food Lion Frugal Cook-Off Update

This week was filled with many ups & downs but the high light was Food Lion’s Frugal Cook-Off.

Group Shot 2

(I’m the one in glasses, Katie’s on the far left)

Imagine Top Chef where the contestants have $15 and 45 minutes to prepare a meal consisting of a protein and two sides. But….you have no idea what your meat is and the mock store is very limited. I had been a bit apprehensive about what our meat would be and we lucked up with pork chops. As you may recall, cooking pork chops is not my specialty! My teammate & I did not win…but we had such a FUN time! And I learned quite a lot.

1. I cannot imagine how many cameras, video recorders, and other equipment there must be for TV cook-offs because just for this cook-off there were SO many! I walked in and felt like I was on a TV set. Here’s a fun teaser video of us all: https://vimeo.com/87181067

2. Knowing that pork should be pulled out of the oven at 138 degrees is only helpful if you actually check the meat’s temperature. Our pork chops were an astonishing 199 degrees!!!! when I checked. Wow. And even after finding out they were that overcooked I still tried to convince my wonderful teammate Katie that we should broil them to achieve a nice crispy exterior. Thankfully, a cooking pro from the store came over and hinted that perhaps we should just plate at that point.

3. Plating your food is WAY harder when you are on a time crunch. When I plate food for blog pics, I can take all the time in the world. No one is yelling out 2 minutes 1 second remaining. And, I had no idea that you should think about how things are going to look plated when you are determining what to  buy in the mock-up store. I mean, yes…I had thought the roasted carrots on our plate would add some nice color contrast to the sauteed spinach…but, our plate wasn’t quite as exquisite as what I had pictured in the beginning.

4. 45 minutes goes by WAY faster when you are under a time limit than when you are leisurely cooking at home. And, does anyone know how to get roasted vegetables to brown if you are using a sil-pat pan?

With all that said, I had the most wonderful time and the real reason behind that was meeting this fantastic group of bloggers. It was so nice to meet people face to face and learn about blogs that I had no idea existed. And my teammate Katie from The Perks was an absolute gem. I found someone in Charleston that composts!!! And she gardens (obviously…there is probably a good chance if you compost, you probably garden as well). The video team actually thought we were friends prior to the cook-off because of how much fun we were having together. I think I could write a post simply on how much fun it was hanging out with her.

You should check her and all the other lovely ladies out at the following blogs:

·       Megan Baker – Fried Green Pickles http://friedgreenpickles.blogspot.com/
·       Brittany Greer – Counting my Cupcakes http://www.countingmycupcakes.com/
·       Lisa Caplinger – Charleston Treasures http://www.charlestontreasures.net/
·       Valerie Kirkland – LiveFit Journey http://www.livefitjourney.com/
·       Sydney Gallimore – Queen of the Food Age http://queenofthefoodage.com/
·       Katie Perkinson – The Perks http://katiesperk.blogspot.com
·       Shelby Hanchey – Recent Somethings http://recentsomethings.blogspot.com

I will be back next week with a give away, recipes, and shout-outs to Food Lion and Charleston Cooks!. This post has already gotten so long. Food Lion so generously put together the cook-off and I want to share information with you that I learned about their store. They are making great strides in improving their quality of produce and store brand groceries. I was very impressed. And Charleston Cooks! hosted the event and CLEANED UP ALL OUR DIRTY DISHES!!! We had lots.

Thanks for reading this very long post and if you have a tip for roasting veggies with a sil-pat, I’d love to know your tricks.




Food Lion Frugal Cook-Off



UPDATE: I just found out that the cook-off is not open to the public due to space of the venue. So please just cheer me on virtually instead!

For the last month I have felt my world spinning faster than I would like and while I yearn for less matter to fill my brain, I realize that sometimes there are simply busy seasons in our lives.

Between a bathroom remodeling project that we are DIYing, launching a small business (yay! more details coming soon), and redesigning this blog (yay, again!) I feel that my somewhat orderly life is stretching me to the max. Life is a bit chaotic in its design but I try to keep things simple and focus on domestic and mom duties as my priorities. So these extra-curricular projects are throwing me for a loop.

What’s really kept me grounded though has been waking up around 5ish to have quiet time with Christ. I treasure those minutes, that hour, before my children wake. Time to have a mug of hot tea, envelope myself in scripture, and journal my prayers to Him. My time with Him renews me, encourages me, and reminds me to seek His guidance throughout the day.

So what’s a girl to do when a friend & fellow blogger sends her an email about a food cook-off? And not just any food cook-off but a FRUGAL food cook-off! She excitedly requests to be included! And then she prays about it. And then she feels bad that she didn’t seek God’s guidance first to see if she should be signing up. And then she realizes that, in all things, God can bring goodness…bring Him glory. So she tries to remind herself that God gave her passions and enthusiasms in life for a reason. It’s a really nice gift when you’re given the opportunity to do something you love…so perhaps she should just cherish this fun & exciting event!

So to the point of this post….

I am thrilled to be one of the contestants in Charleston’s Food Lion Frugal Cook-Off on 19 February. As any close friend of mine knows, I love food more than almost anything. Really. I have to work really hard on having conversations that do not revolve around food. And, I LOVE TO SAVE $. My favorite conversations sans food include me saying…”guess how much I just saved!” So this cook-off should be really neat. And challenging. And scary. I mean, do I really know how to cook good food without an arsenal of spices at the ready? What do I do if they hand me a pork tenderloin? (I don’t know that I’ve ever made a tender tenderloin…ever…not once!)

Oh, and did I mention that just by participating I will get a $100 gift certificate to share with one of you! And if I win, then the gift certificate becomes $250!

I’ll be back in touch after the event to let you know how it goes!