Parent’s Guide to the Best Parks in Charleston, SC
Charleston’s reputation for having amazing parks is well deserved. There is nothing better than seeing the kids splash around in the fountains or having a blast on playgrounds that fosters their imagination.
The best part is that these parks aren’t limited to one area of Charleston. Whether you live in Mount Pleasant, Daniel Island, or downtown Charleston, there are plenty of kid-friendly parks that are guaranteed to be a good time. With so many choices, you might have trouble deciding which park you visit first. But don’t worry—this guide will help you find the best parks in Charleston so that you can find the best park for your family.
James Island County Park
West of downtown Charleston is James Island County Park, a beautiful 643-acre park that also has a full-service campground. At this park, there is no shortage of things to do.
The park offers grassy open meadows, playgrounds for the kids, paved walking trails, picnic sites with grills, volleyball courts, spray fountains, and much more. For additional fees, you can get access to amenities including Splash Zone Waterpark, The Climbing Wall, a disc-golf course, and the campground itself.
Depending on the season, certain amenities may be closed, so make sure to check the hours on the Charleston County Park website. If you are bringing a group, consider reserving The Challenge Course, which is a wonderful team-building exercise that encourages people to work together to complete different tasks.
James Island County Park also offers the best dog park in the city. Truly a pup’s paradise, there’s a dog beach for swimming and splashing, 4 acres of grass for running, a fenced area for smaller dogs and stations for cleaning and containing waste.
Charleston Waterfront Park
Image: Wikimedia Commons by Johnathan Lamb
The Charleston Waterfront Park is one of the best places to go to let the kids cool down on a hot day. Located off of Concord Street in Historic downtown Charleston, the park’s eight acres has many fountains to play in, including the famous Charleston Pineapple Fountain.
The park also provides multiple places to sit and relax, taking in the stunning views of the Charleston Harbor. Visitors can walk along the pier and watch boats go by, enjoy an afternoon picnic, or rock gently on the big swings scattered throughout this charming park.
After you and the kids have had your fill of fun, you can stop by Belgian Gelato for a refreshing gelato or a delicious sandwich.
Palmetto Islands County Park
Image: Wikimedia Commons by Brain Stansberry
If you are searching for more than just a playground, Palmetto Islands County Park will provide you with plenty of activities. Located in Mount Pleasant, this 943-acre park has a water park, picnic spots with grills, a place to rent bikes and kayaks, a huge toy playground, a boardwalk trail, and so much more.
The park itself is nature-oriented, and you would never guess that you are only minutes away from downtown. It’s the perfect place to escape the busy city for a while and relax with your family. With so many activities to choose from, it’s also an excellent choice for parents who have kids of various ages.
North Charleston Wannamaker County Park
Wannamaker Park is a true gem for families who live in the North Charleston area. As a County park, there is an admission fee of $2/per person, but the price feels small compared to what you get in return.
This nature-oriented park has dozens of well-kept trails, two expansive playgrounds, swimming pools, a splash pad, picnic areas, and a large play hill. Wannamaker also has a snack bar in case you get hungry, in addition to nice restrooms and plenty of shaded areas.
For additional fees, your family can rent bikes to ride along the miles of paved trails or rent a boat to explore the lagoon. You are guaranteed to make some good memories at Whirlin’ Waters Adventure Waterpark, which has shallow pools for toddlers and exciting rides for older kids.
Image: Wikimedia Commons by ProfReader
Named after Civil War General and South Carolina governor Wade Hampton, this 70-acre park has some intriguing history to keep you busy while the kids play. The park is beautifully landscaped and is a hotspot for photo shoots because of its picturesque settings.
At Hampton Park located on the upper peninsula, you can feed the ducks and geese that swim in the pond, relax in peace and quiet while the kids enjoy the playground, or explore the grounds and find a spot to play Frisbee. The park is a favorite among locals and prized for its serene atmosphere.
Governor’s Park on Daniel Island
On the bank of the Wando River near the Family Circle Tennis Center is Governor’s Park. Although the park is only 40-acres, it has plenty of charm and features that your kids will love.
Perhaps most appealing, the park has a playground of a “wrecked” pirate ship with a zip line that will provide endless entertainment for the young ones. The playground also has slides, swings, and pirate-themed structures.
The park has waterfront trails that you can explore, which offer beautiful marsh views. If you are looking for a park that is quiet and not packed with tourists, Governor’s Park is a good choice.
Isle of Palms (IOP) Recreation Center
Hours of fun can be had at the IOP Recreation Center, which has a playground, dog park, Frisbee golf course, picnic sites, and more. Once your kids have had their fill of the big playground, you can walk to the beach that is located just minutes away.
If you want to bring Fido along, the Recreation Center also has a dog park that will give your four-legged friend the chance to play with other dogs in a fenced-in area. Even if you don’t have a pet, your family may enjoy watching the dogs play for a few minutes before exploring other activities that the Recreation Center has to offer.
Whatever experience your family is seeking, Charleston has a great park that will satisfy everyone. With over 11,000 acres of property, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the land and water in Charleston, SC.
About The Author: Traci Magnus was raised on the Charleston Coast and attended the College of Charleston before moving to New York City in the mid 1990s. Her first job in the Big Apple was with the renowned NYC real estate brokerage Douglas Elliman. For the next decade, she honed her marketing skills at some of Madison Avenue’s top advertising agencies. In 2006, she returned to Charleston along with her husband Glenn and their son Max. She joined the Dunes Properties team in early 2008 as Director of Marketing.