Every time we visit Charleston, South Carolina we end up just over the Arthur Ravenel Jr. bridge in the lovely town of Mount Pleasant.
Though it rarely gets recognized as a tourist destination in its own right, this seaside town is overflowing with history, beauty, and iconic southern charm. We’re drawn to its relaxing vibe, scrumptious local food, and sunrise views over Charleston Harbor.
You may be surprised just how many of Charleston’s popular attractions are actually in and around Mount Pleasant.
Where to Stay for Mount Pleasant
Most visitors come to the area to visit Charleston, however only 20-minutes away, Mount Pleasant can offer better value when it comes to accommodation.
- Homewood Suites Mount Pleasant – We love this area of Mount Pleasant. The prices are better value, and it’s so close to everything. There are even some great dining options within walking distance.
- Inn at I’On, Ascend Hotel Collection – If you’re looking for something with a bed-and-breakfast feel, but the convenience of a hotel, this one is perfect and reasonably priced.
Climb Aboard History at Patriots Point Navel & Maritime Museum
Decommissioned over 50 years ago, the USS Yorktown (CV-10) served in both WWII and the Vietnam War. Today, this floating time capsule is the headline attraction of the Patriots Point Navel & Maritime Museum.
It takes a few hours to walk through the ship, talk to the knowledgeable volunteers about life on the vessel, and grab a few selfies in front of the 28 historical aircraft. However, to see the whole museum would take at least a full day.
In addition to the aircraft carrier, there’s a submarine, a destroyer, a three-acre Vietnam Experience, and a Medal of Honor Museum to explore.
Step Through Time at Fort Moultrie National Historical Park
Defending South Carolina’s coastline since 1776, Fort Moultrie has gone through many changes over the centuries. From a palmetto log structure to a brick fortification, to a thick concrete bombproof shelter, it played a major role in South Carolina’s history.
The National Park Service has done an amazing job recreating the fort’s major time periods. Visitors walk back in time as they follow the guided path through the fortification.
Stroll the Gardens of Boone Hall Plantation
No matter when you visit, you’ll find something pretty blooming in the gardens of Boone Hall Plantation. Known for the long oak tree-lined drive to its picture-perfect Colonial Revival manor home, Boone Hall is a must when visiting Mount Pleasant.
However, behind its beautiful facade is an ugly past, which it doesn’t try to hide. Visit the former cabins of the enslaved to learn more about their lives. Boone Hall also runs a presentation about the Gullah Culture, which is a big reason to visit this former plantation.
Enjoy the Grounds of Charles Pinckney National Historic Site
Just down the road from Boone Hall is another former plantation, Snee Farm, known today as the Charles Pinckney National Historic Site.
Written out of history, you’ve likely never heard of Charles Pinckney. However, he’s one of the founding fathers and played an integral role in the development of the U.S. Constitution.
The park and homestead are free to visit. It’s a nice place to walk the grounds, have a picnic, or just read up on a bit of history.
Get Your Southern Chill On at Mount Pleasant Pier
Another free favorite is the Mount Pleasant Pier. Tucked behind the iconic Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, the pier stretches out 1250 feet into the Charleston Harbor. The pier gives great views of the bridge and Patriots Point.
Not surprising, it’s popular for fishing, but it’s also a great place to grab a rocking chair and catch the sunset.
Appreciate the Beauty of the Marsh Lands at Shem Creek
With a 2,200-foot boardwalk, Shem Creek was one of our favorite finds on our latest trip to Mount Pleasant. From the parking lot, we followed the boardwalk to the end for stunning views over Charleston Harbor at sunrise.
On our way back, we took the boardwalk through the shipyard, where fishermen readied their nets, and the local birds were already on the hunt. It’s a wonderful spot for bird watching.
In the evenings, it is even better. The docks come alive as the restaurants open with local seafood specials and live music.
Grab a Local Bite to Eat
Not being huge fans of large-scale chain restaurants, we love that Mount Pleasant has lots of good local choices. Here’s a list of our favorites from our trips.
- Vicious Biscuit – From sweet to savory, they have everything that pairs well with a biscuit. Plus, they have a few other signature plates, like the Bird and the Belgian, chicken and waffles.
- Page’s Okra Grill – Southern cooking at its finest, plus the sweet tea and pecan pie to pair.
- Pickled Palate – Quirky cafe with sandwiches and salads.
- Not Just Franks Café – Hidden gem on the side of Ace Hardware. Always fresh sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs and even breakfast. PS. Great fries!
- Six Mile Eats – Sandwich shop near Boon Plantation (Ruben pictured above).
- Shem Creek Restaurants – Shem Creek is the place for fresh seafood. With lots of choices, you can go fancy or casual. For a casual spot, try the Wreck of the Richard and Charlene. It’s a bit hard to find at the end of Haddrell Street. It also doesn’t look like much from the outside, but all the seafood is fresh caught. Though, it’s worth noting, everything is seafood, with the exception of sides.
Something a Little More Fancy:
- Opal Restaurant – With a contemporary California – Mediterranean menu, Opal makes a great night out for a special evening. Everything is fresh, and local where possible, they even make their own pasta.
- Nick’s German Kitchen – We have a weakness for German food and Nick’s kitchen does it very well… hmmm schnitzel. It’s a tiny place so be sure to make reservations.
Wander the Beach at Sullivan's Island
Head towards the water at Mount Pleasant and you’ll reach Sullivan’s Island. White sandy beaches are the draw, but the lack of parking is the draw back. There’s free parking all over the island, but only a few spaces at each spot, mostly at each beach entrance station.
Around the center of the island is Sullivan’s Lighthouse. Though quite odd looking, it’s actually very historic as the last major lighthouse built in the U.S. In 1962 it was also one of the world’s brightest at 28-million candlepower.
Isle of Palms Beach
Another nearby beach is on the Isle of Palms. With a public park and plenty of paid parking, it’s the busier of the beaches. However, it’s so big that a bit of a walk will get you away from most of the crowd.
Go For a Walk at the Old Pitt Street Bridge
Prior to the Revolutionary War, planks laid over barrels connected Mount Pleasant to Sullivan’s Island at this spot. By 1898 a trolley bridge replaced the planks, until 1927 when it became a vehicle bridge. Today, the bridge doesn’t go completely over Cove Inlet, but the walkway does provide some pretty views.
The Avian Conservation Center
On the far east side of Mount Pleasant the Avian Conservation Center is a non-profit that cares for injured birds of prey and shorebirds. As a visitor you can enjoy flyover demonstrations and tour the facility. They even offer photography experiences for those who want to photograph these beautiful creatures.
Lauren Hill County Park
Though not quite as grand as the oak tree corridor at Boone Hall Plantation, Lauren Hill County Park is a close competitor. With over 745 acres, several miles of hiking and biking trails, and only a $1 admission fee, it’s worth enjoying the peaceful grounds.