Sometimes you've just gotta get the heck out of dodge, err, Charleston. While we love our fair city, we try to expand our horizons every once in a while, traveling just a short distance to find a number of hidden gems all over the Lowcountry. Here are our top five picks for day-trip worthy spots nears Charleston.
Located in Moncks Corner, Mepkin Abbey is a great day trip, whether you're in the mood to check out the church or the abbey's gardens. You've probably heard of Mepkin Abbey mushrooms, which are grown onsite, and you can purchase those, and goods from other Trappist Abbeys at the gift store. Mepkin Abbey is open Tues.-Sat. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and tours are given every day at 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. for just $5.
Givhans Ferry State Park
Givhans Ferry State Park, about an hour drive from downtown Charleston, is located on the Edisto River, perfect for kayaking and canoeing — or our favorite summertime activity, river tubing. There are trails and cabins for land-lovers, too, and the park is open to visitors from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. everyday. Admission is $5 per person. Pro tip: learn all about our state parks, including nearby ones like Edisto Beach state park and Hampton Plantation state historic site at southcarolinaparks.com.
Columbia Museum of Art
When it gets really hot outside, sometimes you just want to escape into some beautiful, air-conditioned buildings. The Columbia Museum, located in Columbia, in case you couldn't tell, always has incredible current exhibitions, as well as a solid collection lineup of everything from old Master Renaissance and Baroque paintings to a large number of Asian sculptures and pieces of pottery. The museum is open Tues.-Sun. with varying hours. The museum is currently undergoing renovations, limiting what you can check out, but that also means the ticket prices are slashed — $6/adults, $5/senior citizens and military, $2.50/students, Free/kids six and under.
If you're like us, you grew up visiting Brookgreen Gardens every summer, possibly rolling your eyes at the endless sculptures your grandparents wanted to look at, but still stoked to see if you could spot an alligator during one of the boat rides through the gardens. There's something truly charming about Brookgreen, about an hour and half up highway 17, and you can see it for yourself this summer during 'cool summer evenings,' a program that runs Wed.-Fri. through August 11, with evening boat rides, music under the oaks, and activities on the butterfly field. The gardens are open daily, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. and admission is $16/adults, $14/seniors, $8/children.
An hour and a half from Charleston, Beaufort is a delightful little seaside town with historic streets and waterfront views. From the Beaufort history museum to river tours to boutique stores and art galleries, Beaufort is a very, very mini Charleston. And you've gotta check out Old Sheldon Church while you're in the area (trust us, one of your friends has instagrammed pictures there before); the church ruins, burned first during the Revolutionary War, then later, during the Civil War, are pretty to look at — and often frequented by ghost hunters.