Nestled just a short drive away from historic Charleston, South Carolina, lies James Island County Park. If you want to experience the Lowcountry’s stunning natural beauty on your visit, head here first. This park is a must-visit destination for locals and tourists alike. And that goes especially for the James Island County Park Festival of Lights. So pack your bags, gather the entire family, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure as we explore James Island County Park!
- Discover James Island County Park for a fun family day trip or weekend getaway with 4.5 miles of paved trails.
- Enjoy outdoor activities from 50-foot climbing walls to disc golf courses and off leash dog parks
- Check out the range of events & programs like Reggae Nights Summer Concert Series, Festival of Lights and more!
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Discovering James Island County Park
James Island County Park is a 643-acre haven for recreation. And it is the perfect combination of natural beauty and outdoor activities. Only 15 minutes away from downtown Charleston and 20 minutes from Folly Beach, this park is easily accessible for a fun day trip or a weekend getaway. Some of the major draws here include:
- Saltwater fishing
- Pedal boat rentals
- Kayak rentals
- An 18-hole disc golf course
Paved Trails and Outdoor Activities
The park’s 4.5 miles of paved trails will surround you with lush greenery and the soothing sounds of nature. It’s an ideal spot for a leisurely walk, run, or bike ride. Bike rentals are available at the Picnic Center.
Plus, there’s a variety of playgrounds and recreational amenities scattered throughout the park.
Kids of all ages are guaranteed to have a blast.
And if you’re looking for more adrenaline-pumping activities, the outdoor zone features a 50-foot climbing wall. You’ll also find a bouldering wall, top-rope climbing wall, and lead wall available at the park. They’re sure to challenge your climbing skills.
More exceptional recreation offerings
Aside from the paved trails and climbing walls, James Island County Park also offers a variety of other outdoor activities. You can rent pedal boats, stand-up paddleboards, and kayaks, or bring that canoe you have lying around.
You can also cool off at the seasonal water park.
If you’re up for a friendly competition, challenge your friends to a disc golf match at the park’s 18-hole disc golf course here. Complete with a practice basket and pro shop, this well-maintained course is a great way to spend an afternoon with friends and family.
Or test your balance at the slack-line park.
Dog Park and Off-Leash Areas
For the furry members of your family, James Island County Park offers a fantastic multi-acre dog park, complete with:
- Ample grassy running room
- A beach
- A lake
This off-leash dog park is perfect for letting your pup roam free and socialize with other dogs.
Be sure to follow the standard etiquette rules of pet ownership when at the dog park:
- Dogs must stay on leash outside of the off leash dog park
- Owners are responsible for picking up after their pets, including in the dog park
- And aggressive dogs are not permitted in the dog park
Admission and Hours of Operation
To enter James Island County Park, you’ll need to pay a park admission fee of $2 per person. The park’s hours of operation vary throughout the year. From January to April, it’s open from 8 am to one hour before sunset, while from May to August, it’s open from 8 am to 8 pm. In September and October, the park returns to its 8 am to sunset hours, and from November to December, it’s open from 8 am to 5 pm.
Check the park’s website for reservations or any updates on hours of operation or special events. Restrooms are at the Park Center.
Events and Programs at James Island County Park
Throughout the year, James Island County Park hosts an array of exciting events and programs.
Reggae Nights Summer Concert Series
The Reggae Nights Summer Concert Series is a lively event. It features traditional old-school roots reggae music with a new-school attitude. Held on summer evenings from 8 pm to 10:30 pm, this concert is the perfect opportunity to groove and unwind with friends and family.
Festival of Lights at James Island County Park
There are certain holiday traditions that we all look forward to. And attending the James Island County Park Festival of Lights is one of them. Even though winters in the Lowcountry are typically mild, you’ll feel the holiday spirit in the air when you attend this event. Millions of twinkling lights create displays that you can walk and drive through. It’s the perfect way to kick-off holiday season celebrations.
James Island County Park transforms into a winter wonderland every winter. Begin with the three-mile ride through the light displays. Then, head to the walking portion for even more lights and festivities.
Warm up in front of one of the fire pits, and don’t forget to buy a marshmallow stick to roast! Then, grab a cup of hot chocolate to keep you warm as you continue your festival exploration. You can shop at Santa’s Attic, view local art, ride the festival train, and even leave a wish list for Santa.
Aside from the stunning light displays, the Festival of Lights also offers a variety of holiday activities for the whole family. Be sure to:
- Visit Santa’s Village to meet Santa and his elves
- Explore the Winter Wonderland filled with festive decorations
- And attend the spectacular New Year’s Eve fireworks display to ring in the new year with a bang
The Festival of Lights runs from early November to the end of December from 5:30 pm to 10:00 pm. Admission to the Festival of Lights is $35 per car, with a maximum of 15 people per standard-size vehicle.
Accommodations Near James Island County Park
As befits James Island‘s location, there are plenty of options when you’re looking for the best places to stay in Charleston, SC.
Options include everything from chain hotels to boutique hotels in downtown Charleston.
For a stay within the park itself, James Island County Park offers ten charming rental cottages. These cozy accommodations provide the perfect home away from home.
The Campground Experience
At 871 Riverland Drive, Charleston, SC, the Campground at James Island County Park offers a serene and picturesque setting for your stay. The campground is equipped with Wi-Fi and offers a variety of amenities, facilities and services, including pet-friendly sites and stays of up to 28 days.
The campground features several facilities and a variety of sites, each site offering:
- Plenty of space
- Shade from trees
- Picnic table
- And full hookups with 50 amp service
They’re perfect for setting up tents, tent campers, camper vans, Class B motorhomes, and small trailers. Even car camping.
Be sure to follow the directions provided on the campground’s website. Some GPS devices may lead you to bypass Central Park Drive and take Camp Road instead.
Cabin and Cottage Rentals
For a more comfortable and cozy option in James Island County Park, the park offers ten charming rental cottages. These cottages provide the perfect home base for exploring the park and its surrounding attractions. They’re also a peaceful retreat at the end of a fun-filled day.
Besides the park’s on-site cottages, there are many more cabins available for rent near James Island County Park. Just check your favorite vacation rental website.
Campground Policies and Rules
Campground policies, fees, amenities and rules at James Island County Park include:
- Maintaining quiet hours from 10:00 PM to 7:00 AM
- Displaying your camping pass in your vehicle at all times
- Visitors under 18 are accompanied by a parent or guardian during quiet hours
- Respect designated no-smoking areas
- No pets allowed in the Spray Play area
- There’s a limit of six people per campsite
- You’ll pay a one night cancellation fee if you wait too long to cancel your reservation
Family-Friendly Attractions near James Island County Park
After enjoying the activities within James Island County Park, there’s even more nearby.
Some popular options in the Charleston area include:
- Whirlin’ Waters Adventure Water Park
- Charleston Fun Park
- And Shem Creek Kayak and Paddleboard rentals
You’ll find fun activities at each, from thrilling water slides to mini-golf, go-karts disc golf, biking and kayak rentals.
Exploring Historic Charleston
Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past few decades, you’ve likely heard of Charleston.
Some notable historic attractions to explore include:
- McLeod Plantation, also on James Island
- Charles Towne Landing in West Ashley
- Magnolia Plantation & Gardens, also in West Ashley
- Fort Sumter National Monument Visitor Center in Charleston harbor
- The Nathaniel Russell House Museum in downtown Charleston
- And the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, also in downtown Charleston
Dining and Shopping Options
When it comes to dining and shopping near James Island County Park, your options won’t disappoint. Local stores and delicious dining spots surround James Island County Park. Choose from options such as:
More Parks near James Island County Park
Charleston County has a fantastic parks system. Arguably one of the best in the country.
And different spots are ideal sites for different activities. You can head to any of the beaches near Charleston, or hit a hiking trail or two.
Or rather, an easy walking trail. There’s no elevation to speak of in the Lowcountry.
Some other parks that you need to include on your list when you’re in town are:
- Folly Beach County Park on Folly Beach
- Isle of Palms County Park on Isle of Palms
- Beachwalker County Park on Kiawah Island
- Palmetto Islands and Laurel Hill County Parks in Mount Pleasant
Be sure to read the full guide to attractions, activities, and things to do in and around Charleston, South Carolina!
Frequently Asked Questions
And now, random questions that didn’t make the cut in the above guide’s edit.
Do you have to pay to get into James Island County Park?
Yes, there is a fee of $1.50 per person for admission.
You’ll be fine.
How much is it to camp at James Island County Park?
Camping costs $30 per night for residents, and $40 per night for non-residents. So if you’re a local, it won’t break the bank to enjoy this great park with lots of things to do!
Can you live on James Island?
Yes, you can live on James Island! With its small-town feel and rural vibe, you’ll find the amenities of city living combined with a laid back lifestyle. Plus, you’ll get to enjoy the many restaurants, parks and other attractions available to residents.
What is Johns Island known for?
Johns Island, SC is a paradise of unique attractions and experiences. It’s the fourth largest island on the East Coast, so there’s plenty to see and do! It hosts the iconic Angel Oak Tree, seafood restaurants and outdoor activities. Johns Island is famous for its natural beauty, friendly locals, and vast opportunities for recreation.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach day, a day of fishing, or a night out on the town, Johns Island has something for everyone.