A vacation doesn’t have to break the bank! Just because you’re looking for entertainment doesn’t mean you have to pay. There are tons of things to do in Charleston, SC, for free. Spend the day exploring the city without taking out your wallet.
6 of the Best Things to Do in Charleston, SC, for Free
1. See the Famous Pineapple Fountain in Waterfront Park
If you’ve seen photos of Charleston, you have probably seen the famous Pineapple Fountain. Waterfront Park is an eight-acre park along the Cooper River, so it’s a great place to take a stroll. After you’ve tired yourself out exploring, take a seat on one of the benches by the fountain and enjoy the view.
2. Explore Rainbow Row
Rainbow Row is one of the most quintessential spots in downtown Charleston. This series of brightly-colored homes is one of the most photographed places in the city, and when you visit, you’ll see why. Each of the 13 homes is a beautiful, pastel shade, and each has a story to tell.
3. Walk the Ravenel
When the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge was erected in 2005, a bicycle and pedestrian path was included on the side. The bridge itself connects Charleston and Mount Pleasant– park on the Mount Pleasant side to walk all the way downtown or park on the Charleston side to walk to Mount Pleasant. You’ll be treated to gorgeous views of the harbor below; we recommend walking at sunrise or sunset for even better scenery.
4. Go on an Artwalk
On the first Friday of every month from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., the art galleries of Charleston open their doors for the monthly Artwalk. Spend the night browsing gorgeous paintings, sculptures, and ceramics created by the local artists of the city.
5. Visit a Farmers Market
The Charleston area has multiple farmers markets throughout the week from late spring to early fall. The Charleston Farmers Market is one of the biggest and is conveniently in the heart of downtown. Walk around and browse all of the vendors, and don’t forget to try some free samples along the way!
6. Hit the Beach
While there is no beach in downtown Charleston, there are multiple beaches you can choose from in the Charleston area. Sullivans Island, Isle of Palms, and Folly Beach all offer free parking as long as you know where to park. Stay within the parking signs on the side of the road and make sure your car is at least four feet off the pavement.
Book Your Getaway Today
Now that you know some things to do in Charleston, SC, for free, it’s time to book your stay! Charleston Coast Vacations offers gorgeous properties that will be your home base for your getaway. Browse our vacation rentals based on size and location, then book your stay! Booking directly through us always ensures you’ll get the best rate. We can’t wait to host you!
Looking for things to do on the Charleston Coast this April? We’ve gathered some of our favorite local events and activities. Check them out and let us know which one is your favorite!
Migratory Bird Walk
April 14 & 21, May 12
Visit the Center for Birds of Prey for a Migratory Bird Walk with experienced birding guides. Recreational birdwatching is becoming a favorite past time across the country. Be sure to bring your binoculars and camera!
Charleston Outdoor Fest
April is the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors in the Lowcountry. Head to the James Island County Park for a weekend of canoeing, stand-up paddleboarding, rock climbing, and more! Enjoy live music and vendors all weekend. And even try your hand at archery or mountain biking with the Try It Pass!
Shaggin’ on the Cooper
Put on your dancing shoes and head over the Mt Pleasant Waterfront Park for an evening of shag dancing and live music. The Carolina Shag is a descendant of the Jitterbug and originated in Carolina Beach, North Carolina. You don’t want to miss this fun-filled evening!
Blessing of the Fleet & Seafood Festival
Join locals and visitors alike for the Blessing of the Fleet. Spend the day celebrating the local fishing and shrimping industry. Watch the Boat Parade, enjoy delicious seafood tastings, and participate in a shag dance competition
The Charleston Coast is full of things to do year-round but things really amp up in Spring. What are some of your favorite Lowcountry events and things to do? Let us know in the comments!
Today, we cover Dewees Island Frequently Asked Questions!
What time is check-in? Check-out?
Check-in and check-out times are house specific. Please refer to the “Important Check-In Information” email that we send to you 15 days prior to your check-in date.
Occasionally, early check-in is available for a $100 fee. To arrange early check-in, please call or email us at least 72 hours prior to check in.
Do we have to bring all our groceries on the ferry?
Yes, but you don’t have to bring them all on the same run you are arriving on. Some families choose to have part of their group take all the luggage on the check-in ferry, while the rest of the group then shops and returns on a later boat. It is entirely up to you. We will assist the first group of arriving renters in each home; subsequent arrivals need to be greeted by your party.
Watch this video for helpful tips on how to pack for Dewees Island!
Does everyone in my party need to check in at the same time?
No, but you are responsible for picking up and orienting guests who arrive on later ferries.
Where should we stand while waiting for the ferry?
Please wait at the top of the ferry waiting area, and not on the dock. Be aware that your luggage carts should be under the awning and out of the way in order for passengers to disembark (think airplane).
Do I wheel my own cart down onto the dock?
Unless the mate tells you otherwise, able-bodied passengers should wheel their own carts on the dock to the loading zone of the ferry. The mate will help you get the cart onto the boat.
What’s with the Ferry Passes?
Dewees Island is a private island and access is provided via a ferry system. Ferry passes allow you to come and go as you please. The cost is a $53 pass, per person, for the week. Day visitors pay $27 (good up to 2 nights).
We will have called in all the names for the ferry. Board the ferry and find a seat. You will sign in on a clipboard once the boat pulls away. Sign in for Lot 200 – that’s the code for Charleston Coast Vacations! Please send names of all members of your party by 30 days prior to check in. You may add names here. Name additions within 72 hours of your check-in date are not guaranteed.
What are the Ferry hours?
The Dewees ferry runs hourly. The first run to the island on weekdays is 6:00 am and off the island is 6:30 am. Saturday, the first run to the island is 7:00 am and off the island is 7:30 am. On Sunday, the first run to the island is 8:00 am and off the island is 8:30 am. The last run to the island is 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. On Friday and Saturday, it runs until 12 midnight. To save money and fuel, the ferry does not run is there are no riders.
Ferry runs off the island are “on demand” on the half hour. Be sure to call the ferry at 843-568-3990 at least 45 minutes before you want to leave the island. For example, if you want to go off the island at 10:30 a.m., call the ferry BETWEEN 9:30 and 9:50 am and say, “I’d like to be picked up on the 10:30 am ferry.” Tell them how many people, carts of luggage, dogs, and wheelchairs/strollers you may be bringing. The captain will then decide which boat to bring. If you have not called for a reservation, then you may have to wait until the next ferry. Here is a link to the latest video about catching the ferry.
Can we ride on the top deck?
Yes! Be sure pets are leashed and kids are supervised. Hang onto your hat and have fun watching for dolphins, turtles, and manatees!
What if we are late catching the ferry?
The ferry leaves Isle of Palms on the hour and departs from Dewees Island on the half hour (as long as you’ve called to reserve). You are late if you arrive one minute after your scheduled ferry check-in time. It takes a few minutes to unload your cart and get your gear onto the boat. Please don’t stress out the captain by arriving at the parking lot exactly at departure and expect to get on the ferry. It is his job to depart on time. If you miss your scheduled ferry, Charleston Coast Vacations cannot guarantee there will be room for your party on the next ferry. Bottom line: if you’re not early, you’re late.
How much bottled water will I need for the week?
NONE! Please don’t stress out our resources by bringing bottled water to the island. The water on the island is perfectly safe to drink, and there is a great tasting R-O filtration system at the landings building. If you must, bring your own 3-gallon bottle– and leave it behind for the next guest to refill. Cases of individual bottles of water should not be on the ferry: you will be subject to a fine.
Speaking of water, can I take a 20-minute outdoor shower on Dewees Island?
Water is EXTREMELY expensive on Dewees! I know you’re on vacation, but being on an island with its own recycled water makes it unique. Only shower when needed and make it quick. Only do laundry when you have a full load. Only run the dishwasher when you have a full load. Make sure all outdoor hoses, showers, and fish cleaning sinks are OFF. If you notice a running toilet, shut that toilet off and email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (888) 250-8730 IMMEDIATELY. If the owner is billed for excessive use of water, it’s possible that the bill will be passed along to you, the guest. So please be mindful of water usage!
How should I pack?
Please pack lightly. Most homes have basic beach gear and chairs. Don’t hesitate to call if you have questions. You can use one or two of the rolling hand carts at the Dewees Marina to load your groceries and other belongings onto the ferry. Handcarts are limited to two per property so please be mindful. If you arrive at a crowded time, your luggage may need to wait for the next boat, or you can choose to hand carry your luggage onto the ferry. Click here for more packing tips.
Where do we go when we get off the Ferry at Dewees?
Once you land on Dewees, roll your luggage cart up the ramp and out of the way. Find your assigned golf cart and drive it up towards the front of the dock. Load your luggage onto your golf cart and return the luggage cart to the top of the ferry landing. Use your map to locate your lot number. If you will be arriving after the sun has set, please bring a flashlight to see the lot numbers.
Will we have house keys?
You will receive house keys in your check-in packet. Two keys are provided per property.
Where do we find the golf carts?
When the ferry arrives at Dewees, the mate will take your handcart off the ferry. You then roll it to the top, past the covered dock and out towards the golf carts. Leave the handcart at the golf cart loading and unloading area. Golf carts will be labeled with the Lot Number of the property you are renting or the reservation holders last name. They are labeled on the front and driver side. The golf carts are all individually owned. Please only drive the carts designated for your home.
BE SURE to plug the golf carts in overnight, every night. When plugged in correctly, the meter on the charger will move to the right and show how many amps are being used. If the meter doesn’t move, try plugging in the cart again. It can be a little tricky when you first learn to plug in the carts as it sometimes takes force to get the plug completely in.
Renters must have a valid driver’s license. All drivers must have a license on them while behind the wheel. Absolutely NO children behind the wheel of a golf cart. It is a motor vehicle and you are subject to a fine.
Does the house come with linens?
The house comes with sheets and towels. Clean towels and sheets will be stacked on the beds when you arrive.
What grocery items does the house have?
Each property has two rolls toilet paper in each bathroom, one roll of paper towels in the kitchen, a kitchen towel, dish sponge or brush, hand soap in the bathrooms, two dishwasher tablets, laundry detergent, dryer sheets, a standard coffee maker, coffee filters, and a few garbage bags.
These items are meant as a starter supply to get your vacation off on the right foot. If you are staying longer than a few nights, you will likely need to provide your own supplies to last the duration of your trip.
Does the property have wifi?
Every private house offers internet access through AT&T. As the island is remote, this service can be intermittent at times and should not be expected as an amenity.
Can I have a bonfire on the beach?
No. Bonfires, fireworks, and firearms are strictly prohibited on Dewees Island. If these items are found, you will be fined and asked to leave the island.
Does the property have a grill?
Propane grills are accessible for every property. Houses offer private grills and suites share a community grill. Public Safety refills propane as needed. They can be reached at 843 296 4952.
Where do I put my garbage and recycling?
Please separate and deliver all garbage and recycling to the on-island facility. Please reference your map for the garbage and recycling location.
Will my cell phone work on Dewees Island?
Cellular service is intermittent on the island, however, all private homes offer a phone for local calls.
Are there restaurants on Dewees Island?
Dewees Island does not offer restaurants or stores, however, excellent options are available on the Isle of Palms and surrounding areas.
What is there to do on Dewees Island?
Our Environmental and Social Committees have scheduled a wide variety of programs on the island, particularly in the summer. If there are events happening during your stay, they will be posted on a sign hanging from the Dewees dock as well as our Facebook page.
Check out our Sea Turtle conservation program. Every day a volunteer walks the island to look for turtle tracks and report to the island’s turtle conservation team. If you are interested participating in this, please call Judy at 843-259-1713. Here is a video about walking with the turtle team.
FISHING: Click here for specific tips. Anyone fishing on Dewees is required to have to a South Carolina Saltwater Recreational Fishing License. This includes anyone recreationally harvesting fish, oysters, clams, shrimp, and crab. For additional details, please see SC DNR’s website. Fishing licenses can be purchased online or by telephone, 1-866-714-3611, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; or by visiting fishing gear stores.Fishing gear and bait can be purchased at Haddrells Point Tackle, Charleston Angler, or the Isle of Palms Marina Store.
If you are not sure what you are doing and would like to rent a kit for a crabbing or fishing lesson, let us know and we can schedule that for you. Or you can hire a captain for a private inshore fishing lesson. Captains Ben Floyd and Chad Ferris will both pick you up at the Dewees Dock for a day of fishing.
Here is a link to ourisland map. Print a copy and bring it along!
As always, if you haven’t liked us on Facebook or followed us on Instagram, be sure to do so! And don’t forget to download the Dewees Island app for the most up to date information.
The age-old question you ask yourself, your family, and your friends, when packing for the beach! Here is a list of our recommended items plus our must-haves at the beach.
Linens, Towels, & Toiletries
All vacation rentals have standard bed and bath linens. The beds will be neatly made and towels will be nicely placed in the bathrooms. We recommend bringing any toiletries you will need during your stay. If a hair dryer is a must, toss it in your suitcase. Bring or plan to purchase your beach and pool towels.
Kitchens are stocked with plates, silverware, glasses, cooking utensils, pots and pans, and mugs. Coffee makers and toasters, as well as blenders, are found in most rentals.
The type of coffee maker, 12-cup or Keurig, depends on the property. If this is important to you, check the amenity list for your property or send us an email! Special cookware items, such as crock pots, gravy boats, and large steamer pots, are not always provided.
If special cookware items are important to you please plan to bring or purchase them. Items like salt, pepper, and olive oil are not guaranteed but are often left behind by the previous guest.
A starter pack of items such as dish soap, dishwasher detergent, paper towels, toilet paper, and bin liners will be present at check-in.
Plan to purchase extras of these items or bring them with you.
Beach chairs and umbrella are not provided with every rental. We strongly recommend bringing any necessary beach equipment or planning to rent or purchase upon arrival.
You can rent all beach items, including games, from the Things To Do section of our website!
Our Beach Day Must-Have’s
Packing for a day at the beach should be a no-brainer. Here are our favorite items to when beaching on the Charleston Coast!
Let’s start off with the most important item, both on and off the beach: SUNSCREEN! The sun on the Charleston Coast is strong and no one likes getting a sunburn. Remember to apply sunscreen on overcast days, too!
And don’t forget your beach towels. These are the second most important item at the beach. We love extra big, fluffy beach towels. And, if you want to sit on the sand or sunbathe without getting your towel sandy, bring a beach blanket with you! An old sheet, blanket, or even a huge old scarf or sarong work well as beach blankets.
Beach chairs & umbrellas, do you use them? Everyone is different. Some people swear by beach chairs, some only go to the beach if they can sit under an umbrella or canopy. Whatever your fancy, make sure you grab it on your way out the door. Beach carts and wagons are handy for transporting bigger items. If you don’t feel like lugging beach equipment on vacation with you, check out the Things To Do section of our website for rentals!
A visit to the beach with family or friends (or both) is always more fun with beach games. You can play bocce, volleyball, or bring a soccer ball or football for a quick game of pass.
If you prefer a more mellow beach trip, bring a good book.And don’t forget your sunglasses and hat so you can read the pages! Check back soon for our list of favorite beach reads!
When packing for a beach day, snacks are of the utmost importance. Packing plenty of water, Gatorade, and seltzer is important. It’s good to have a balance of snacks: potato chips (we love Cape Cod!), fresh fruit, carrots, and pretzels are a few of our go-to’s. Remember, alcohol is not permitted on any of the Charleston Coast beaches.
And finally, you have all your stuff together, now you need something to carry it in! A good, sturdy beach bag, sometimes more than one, is important to a solid beach trip. We love canvas bags or our Blue Dunes tote bags (you can pick up extras from our office!)
There is no way around it, we LOVE the beach! Our must-have lists evolve and change each year, so be sure to check back for more tips!
What are your beach must-have’s? Let us know in the comments if there is something we just HAVE to try!