Mount Pleasant, SC: A Guide to Southern Charm & Natural Beauty

oh at the pitt street bridge in mount pleasant scAs a typical yuppie, I tend to look down on suburbia and places like Mount Pleasant, SC.


Even though I know that’s the fate that life has in store for me, as a typical American.


And yet Mount Pleasant is by far one of the more pleasant places to settle down in America.


Pun intended.


Yes, it has strip malls and highways for which suburbs are famous. But it also hosts unique charms that you’ll only find in a Southern town. And ones special to one just across the harbor from Charleston, SC, to boot.

Read more: Mount Pleasant, SC: A Guide to Southern Charm & Natural Beauty

Mount Pleasant offers a serene escape separate from downtown Charleston with plenty of:

  • Great food
  • Gorgeous waterfront views
  • And exciting activities


If you’re visiting Charleston, be sure to check out Mount Pleasant too! Most visitors cross the Cooper River via the Arthur Ravenel Bridge and spend a day at Patriots Point. But don’t miss out on all the exciting things to do in Mount Pleasant while you’re here.

Outdoor things to do in Mount Pleasant

Mount Pleasant, SC is the place to enjoy outdoor activities and witness the natural charm of the Lowcountry. With a range of options available, you can indulge in hiking, biking, kayaking, or fishing. The city offers several local parks and trails, with nearby beaches and islands, ready for exploring.

Walk the Ravenel Bridge

ravenel bridge over the cooper riverIn 2005, the Ravenel Bridge was opened along with a 12-foot-wide pedestrian path on its eastern side facing the Atlantic Ocean. The path was named Wonders Way in memory of Garrett Wonders. Mr. Wonders was a Navy officer from here who died while training for the Olympics, cycling across the Cooper River Bridge.

Visitors to Wonders Way can park at two locations on the Mount Pleasant end of the bridge:

  • Mount Pleasant Waterfront Memorial Park
  • Or the gas station at the end of Patriots Point Road

If you choose to park at the gas station, be sure to use only the parking spaces facing Coleman Boulevard. From either location, you’ll start your walk with a steady ascent up the bridge.

Wonders Way is a five-mile road that reaches East Bay Street in Charleston. That said, if you’re heading to the scenic overlook at the first towering bridge support, it’s only a two-mile hike from the parking area. Although it’s a difficult hike filled with joggers and bicyclists, the breathtaking view from the top is worth it.

The cyclists do not take kindly to people straying into the bike lane, so take care.

Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park

The Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park now stands where the old bridge used to connect to Mount Pleasant.

Start at the Visitor Center at the entrance to the park. Near the Visitor Center, you can find the Sweetgrass Pavilion, which hosts many events. The River Watch Café and Gift Shop are behind the Visitor Center. You’ll find a small selection of clothing and souvenirs alongside a made-to-order deli serving decent food, for a park.

This is also the site of the majestic Mount Pleasant War Memorial. The impressive statues and water features warrant a moment of peaceful reflection.

The fishing pier extending 0.3 miles from Mount Pleasant is always worth a visit. The pier is next to the bridge and extends over the river. There are three covered seating areas on the pier, including one at the end. It’s a perfect place to sit and enjoy the view with benches, tables, and chairs.

palmetto islands county park in mount pleasant scPalmetto Islands County Park

Palmetto Islands County Park offers 943 acres of beautifully preserved natural areas. You can enjoy bike trails, boardwalks, and a variety of picnic areas in this tropical setting. With admission, you get free access to the observation deck, tidal creeks, fishing, and the renowned Big Toys Play Park.

When you visit, be on the lookout for a 50-foot observation tower overlooking the area that includes a children’s play area. There is also a water park to keep cool during the boiling Lowcountry summers.

Laurel Hill County Park

allee of oaks at laurel hill county parkLaurel Hill County Park is another great park in Mount Pleasant. This is a beautiful site with various hiking and biking trails spanning miles covering different landscapes. The park occupies 745 acres of land with many recreational facilities.

This place offers many spacious meadows and a small lake for even more outdoor activities. Visit the lake overlook to spot the various animals inhabiting the park.

Waterfront District at Shem Creek

Shem Creek is a tourist trap. There’s no way of getting around it.

That said, it’s a wonderful place to visit, especially over the afternoon into the evening.

Shem Creek is a small body of water that ultimately joins the Cooper River after passing under Coleman Boulevard. Historically, it’s where the fishing boats would bring their catch into town. The area between the highway and the end of the creek is a great spot for outdoor activities, observing the natural world, and enjoying a meal.

shem creek in mount pleasant scShem Creek Park

If you want to enjoy the natural beauty of Shem Creek without tourist traps and crowds, then Shem Creek Park is the spot for you.

You can find the Shem Creek Boardwalk, a 3,000-foot-long boardwalk, leading from a parking area to the end of the creek. The end has a covered shelter for fishing, watching wildlife, or even waiting for the trawlers to return with a trail of dolphins following.

You can stroll on the boardwalk and admire the serene view of the historic creek and the surrounding marshes.

Coastal Expeditions offers kayak and paddleboard rentals starting at:

  • $45 for a four-hour kayak rental
  • Or $34 for a two-hour paddleboard rental

You can paddle out to the end of Shem Creek and explore the narrow channels for hours.

Shem Creek Restaurants

If you’re looking for a place to dine with a beautiful view in the area, Shem Creek is popular with locals and tourists alike. There are several fantastic dining options available, including:

Across Coleman Boulevard is The Mill Street Tavern and Shem Creek Bar and Grill a little further up the creek. Both also offer great food and similar scenic views.

Beaches near Mount Pleasant

young woman sitting on one of the beaches near mount pleasant scThere are no beaches in Mount Pleasant itself. That said, two of the best beaches nearby are closer to Mount Pleasant than they are to the Holy City.

Isle of Palms

The Intracoastal Waterway is all that separates this beach community from Mount Pleasant. Isle of Palms is on a barrier island and boasts several hotels, a marina, and many restaurants. The island features a stunning beach with over 50 access points available to the public.

Sullivan’s Island

Sullivan’s Island neighbors the Isle of Palms to the west. As a barrier island, it’s also just across the Intracoastal Waterway from Mount Pleasant. This island is quieter and famous for its charming shopping and dining district. History buffs can explore historical landmarks on the island such as:

  • Fort Moultrie
  • And Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse (also called the Charleston Light)

Folly Beach

This beach nearby has a relaxed atmosphere that appeals to surfers. You can have a small-town beach experience with excellent restaurants, live music, and surf shops just across the street from the beach. Folly Beach is a bit of a drive from Mount Pleasant. You’d have to cross the harbor and downtown Charleston, plus James Island, to get there.

Mount Pleasant Farmers Market

If you’re looking for locally grown and made products, check out the Farmer’s Market in Mount Pleasant. You can find a diverse range of goods and support the community’s farmers and artisans. The market has a lively festival atmosphere, with extra activities for children and other events.

Don’t forget to explore the amazing seasonal products brought by vendors during your visit. There is also a unique market that appears as the holiday season approaches.

Swing a Club at RiverTowne Country Club

stars and stripes at patriots pointGolf enthusiasts should add Mount Pleasant to their list of must-visit destinations. The town offers beautiful coastal courses that feature:

  • Scenic views of the Charleston Harbor
  • Charming houses
  • Rolling fairways
  • And palmettos galore

These courses are perfect for golfers of all levels, from beginners to seasoned pros.

There are many beautiful golf courses in the area, and RiverTowne Country Club is one of them. It provides excellent resort golf and genuine southern hospitality. Golf Digest rated it 4.5 stars.

Charleston Fun Park

Charleston Fun Park is one of the most fun things to do in the Charleston area with kids.

art at shem creekThough this writer still finds reasons to come here, with or without kids in tow.

There are many activities here including:

  • Two mini-golf courses
  • Go-karts
  • A jumping area
  • An arcade
  • A climbing wall
  • And a gemstone/fossil digging spot

The last one I don’t personally do. Promise.

Charleston Zipline Adventures

Charleston Zipline Adventures has a course for kids and a climbing wall. And that’s before the main zipline course, for a unique view of the Lowcountry.

The Center for the Birds of Prey

If you love animals, be sure to visit The Center for the Birds of Prey located a few minutes north of Mount Pleasant in Awendaw. The center has almost 50 different bird species. You can watch flight demonstrations every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

It’s a great stop along the way of a Charleston to Myrtle Beach road trip.

Historic Sites in Mount Pleasant

Mount Pleasant and its surrounding region are rich in history, especially during the Antebellum and Civil War periods. As such, it’s home to several historical attractions.

Old Village District of Mount Pleasant

spanish moss and white picket fence in old townDespite spending a lot of time in Mount Pleasant for work, it took me years to appreciate the city.

And an accidental discovery of Old Town Mount Pleasant is what did it for me.

During the 1700s, as Charleston grew on a narrow peninsula, a few English villages were established on the other side of the Cooper River. Old Town Mount Pleasant is the best preserved.

In 1803, James Hibben created the village of Mount Pleasant along the riverfront just south of Shem Creek. This area is now known as the Old Village and it is Mount Pleasant’s oldest neighborhood.

At the corner of Pitt and Venning Streets, there is a huge oak tree that is as large as a house. This tree marks the start of the one-block shopping district, which is a serene escape even when it’s bustling. On one side of the “main street,” you’ll see charming shops, and on the other side, private homes with white picket fences.

You can visit Studio Shoppe to view local artwork or you can go to Out of Hand to find unique items for your home. At Rudi’s Old Village Wine Shop, you can find ideal wine and cheese pairings to buy and enjoy later.

If you’re visiting the Old Village, be sure to stop by the Pitt Street Pharmacy. It’s been compounding drugs since 1937, with old-fashioned features like a soda fountain. They serve a variety of tasty items, including grilled cheese sandwiches, cheeseburgers, and hot dogs.

But their ice cream is a major draw in the hot months.

A block away from here is Patjens Post Office on Pitt Street. It was constructed in 1899 and was the sole mail hub for residents for decades. In 1971, the Alhambra Garden Club bought the building, relocated it to Edwards Park, and restored it.

USS yorktownPatriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum

The Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum is a tourist destination in the Lowcountry that features museum ships and exhibitions:

  • The USS Yorktown WWII aircraft carrier museum
  • The USS Clamagore submarine museum
  • The USS Laffey destroyer
  • And a Medal of Honor museum

The collection of this Charleston museum is amazing and features various items from across the globe. These include the uniforms that Admiral Nimitz wore while heading the Pacific Fleet operations against Japan during WWII. You’ll also find a vast Vietnam Experience Exhibit and view several military aircraft on display.

Pitt Street Bridge

pitt street bridge in mount pleasant scThe first bridge linking Sullivan’s Island to Mount Pleasant was constructed in 1898. It was initially designed as a trolley bridge but was later expanded to accommodate private vehicles. The bridge was decommissioned in 1945, when the Ben Sawyer Bridge, currently used to access the island, was erected.

Charleston County gave the bridge to Mount Pleasant in 1950. This paved the way for the establishment of Pitt Street Bridge Park. It initially served as a fishing pier before a fire destroyed the bridge. Instead, the city rebuilt a smaller pier using some of the remaining supports from the previous structure. The rest of the unused bridge supports are intact, stretching into the creek.

Along the park today, you can meander past palmettos along a slender grassy field. There are benches where you can enjoy the view of the Charleston skyline across the water. It is the perfect spot to watch the sunset over Charleston and see the Carnival cruise ships and big cargo vessels come and go.

Boone Hall Plantation

boone hall plantation houseBoone Hall Plantation and Gardens is an ancient plantation spanning over 470 acres. It is one of the oldest-running plantations in the USA, established in 1681. The plantation includes the main house, cottages, gardens, and a historic Avenue of Oaks, which boasts trees planted back in 1743. Visitors can partake in guided tours throughout this top of the Charleston plantations, including various movie and TV filming sets. Boone Hall also hosts yearly events such as Boone Hall Fright Night and the Lowcountry Strawberry Festival.

Boone Hall Farms has a grocery store, situated on nearby U.S. 17, that sells products only grown on the farm.

The price of general admission at Boone Hall covers all tours, including a 40-minute Plantation Tractor Tour and a 30-minute House Tour. If you’re more of a rebel, you can explore the plantation grounds on your own and discover a secluded spot to spend your afternoon.

Charles Pinckney National Historic Site

charles pinckney national historic siteHistory buffs should head to a part of the Snee Farm dating back to the 18th century. This farm was the plantation and country farm of the eponymous Colonel Charles Pickney.

At this site, you can see well-preserved structures from the farm which were part of the plantation between 1754 and 1816. These structures include the caretaker’s residence, a barn, and a corn crib.

When you visit the Visitor Center, you can explore archaeological digs as part of its exhibits. The center occupies a Lowcountry cottage built in 1828.

The Charles Pinckney National Historic Site preserves Charles Pinckney’s legacy. He was an important yet little-known figure who played a role in the creation of the United States Constitution. The site is across the road from Boone Hall Plantation. During his trip to the South in 1791, George Washington stayed at Snee Farm, which Pinckney owned since 1782, for one night.

Developers bought, divided, and sold much of the land as residential property. The National Park Service stepped in to protect what remained.

The house standing on the site of the original plantation house is not the original. That said, it houses the visitor center and museum that explain Pinckney’s draft of the Constitution.

Even more things to do in Mount Pleasant, SC

While the historic attractions and outdoor activities are drawing enough to Mount Pleasant, there’s still more to enjoy here.

Dining and Restaurants in Mount Pleasant

old building at boone hall plantationMost have a hard time leaving downtown Charleston restaurants to explore culinary experiences outside town. And yet many restaurants in Mount Pleasant offer cuisine just as good as the ones across the river.

Vicious Biscuit makes everything in-house using their famous homemade buttermilk biscuits. The Vicious, a buttermilk biscuit with cheddar and jalapeno toppings, is what started it all. One serving style is with crispy chicken breast and homemade maple sausage gravy, with a drizzle of maple syrup.

Melvin’s BBQ is a great spot to try some of the top barbeque in the area, including chopped BBQ pork, brisket, and burnt ends. They excel at southern cuisine in their small local establishment. For seafood dishes in Mount Pleasant, Grace & Grit is a top pick.

Boxcar Betty’s offers “gourmet fried chicken,” a seeming oxymoron. While the menu options are limited, they are all incredibly delicious. The owners focus on using locally sourced ingredients and making everything from scratch.

If you’re looking for a satisfying Southern breakfast in Mount Pleasant, head over to Page’s Okra Grill. Keep in mind that it’s a popular spot, so try to arrive early or be prepared to wait for a table. They also offer scrumptious lunch and dinner options.

Sample Beer from Westbrook Brewing Company

controls on the uss yorktownBefore the establishment of Westbrook Brewing Company, no craft brewery existed in Mount Pleasant. If you are a beer lover, this is the perfect spot to visit. Westbrook Brewing Company strives to create the most fascinating, thrilling, and exceptional beer in the Southeast.

You are welcome to visit for a tour and enjoy some complimentary samples. You can also purchase a growler, bottles, crowlers, or cans to take home and savor later. With 22 different beers available on tap, you can relish your beer in their taproom or beer garden.

Grab Souvenirs from Sweetgrass Basket Makers Highway

The local Gullah people are descendants of enslaved West Africans. The most famous aspect of their culture is making sweetgrass baskets. Originally used as containers for storing rice, these baskets have evolved into exquisite works of art. It’s now a tradition passed down from one generation of women to the next. Despite the passage of time, the craft of weaving sweetgrass baskets remains an integral part of Mount Pleasant’s culture.

Many tourists head straight for the Historic Charleston City Market or nearby for baskets. But you’re paying extra for expensive real estate when you buy those.

Instead, head to a seven-mile section of Route 17 in Mount Pleasant. The Sweetgrass Basket Makers Highway honors the cultural impact and lasting legacy of the baskets and their makers. It’s a better way to shop local.

pelican flying in charleston harborFort Sumter

This historical park includes a federal fort that was captured by the state militia in 1865, marking the start of the Civil War. A 30-minute ferry ride from Mount Pleasant’s Patriots Point brings you to Fort Sumter.

The boat ride isn’t dull thanks to a narration of information about the area. You can enjoy the picturesque views of Castle Pickney and downtown Charleston while sailing to the attraction.

Best Places to see the sunset in Mount Pleasant

I’m not an early riser, so I can’t make recommendations for the sunrise.

But I’ve seen plenty of Lowcountry sunsets with or without a drink, here are my favorite vantage points in Mount Pleasant:

  • Shem Creek
  • Pitt Street Bridge
  • Mount Pleasant Pier

Hotels and Places to Stay in Mount Pleasant

There are plenty of places to stay in Mount Pleasant, such as chain hotels and Airbnb rentals.

If you plan to explore Mount Pleasant, consider staying in one of the hotels on the east side of the Charleston harbor.

Hotels in Mount Pleasant are generally cheaper than downtown hotels. Pick one of the chain hotels near the Ravenel Bridge, for easy access to downtown areas and Mount Pleasant attractions.

And don’t forget to read our guide to the best places to stay in Charleston, SC, and nearby, including Mount Pleasant.

Keep exploring more towns and islands near Charleston, SC, like Mount Pleasant

window at boone hall plantation and gardensStretching from Awendaw to Edisto Island, there’s a lot to explore in this stretch of South Carolina Lowcountry.

Don’t miss our guides to the closest sea islands to Mount Pleasant:

Or plan a road trip or two from Charleston, including some points north of MTP in Cape Romain along the Charleston to Myrtle Beach drive on Route 17.

Ready to dive into downtown Charleston? Be ready for data overload, but you can start with our full guide to attractions, activities, and things to do in Charleston, SC.

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