Psst! Can you keep a secret? …Or how about 11? Charleston is known world-wide for its award-winning cuisine, deep-rooted history and rich culture, but much of the destination’s charm can be found in its hidden gems, from secret alleyways to natural treasures. Scroll on to discover 11 of Charleston’s hidden gems… but let’s keep it on the DL. 😉
To discover more of the Lowcountry’s best-kept secrets, explore our guide to Charleston’s Hidden Courtyards.
Visit the wharf where English settlers landed in 1670 at Charles Towne Landing. The 80-acre state park explores what life was like at the time of settlement with a reproduction period sailing vessel, a garden that recreates the first harvest and a natural habitat zoo populated by indigenous animals.
Thousands gather every May at the Charleston Tea Garden, North America’s only tea garden, for the First Flush festival celebrating the first harvest of the year. Take a trolley ride through the 127-acre plantation, tour the factory and take some tea bags home for a freshly steeped souvenir.
Charleston's Gateway Walk guides you through overflowing gardens and graveyards throughout the Holy City. Designed and created by The Garden Club in 1930, the walk received its name from the numerous wrought iron gates that you'll admire along the route. Visit The Garden Club's website for a printed map of the Gateway Walk and get ready to explore.
The original lighthouse, built in 1767, served as a beacon to ships out at sea. While it was destroyed during the Civil War, a new tower was built in 1876 and currently stands 161 feet tall with 201 steps leading to the top!
This historic park boasts bright blooms of camellias and azaleas in the winter and spring months, and roses in the summer. Enjoy a walk on the one-mile nature trail and around Hampton Park's pond.
Among many of Charleston's hidden alleyways is Longitude Lane, an off-the-beaten path that is most magical in the spring, when the heavenly scent of blooming jasmine lures you down this lovely lane.
Encompassing more than 36 acres, McLeod Plantation boasts a riverside outdoor pavilion and avenue of oak trees, including the McLeod Oak, which is believed to be more than 600 years old. The plantation is open for tours and pays tribute to the enslaved Africans who lived on the grounds from the 1800’s. Among the many opportunities to learn about the relationships between those who lived and worked on the plantation, guests may also tour homes built for enslaved families and view a display of antiques owned by former slave owners.
Cypress Gardens truly feels a world away from downtown Charleston, yet is equally as beautiful. You may recognize this serene scene from the blockbuster hits "The Notebook" and "The Patriot." Cypress is currently closed and will re-open to the public on April 13, 2019.
Take a trip to Charleston and picnic at the 1,500-year-old Angel Oak, reportedly the oldest living structure east of the Mississippi River!
Add a stroll down this charming path, once known as "Dueler's Alley," to your Charleston bucket list. You may recognize the alleyway from Grammy winner and Charleston native Darius Rucker's "Come Back Song" music video.
In addition to its 10 miles of beaches, enjoy Kiawah Island's perfectly preserved maritime forests, sand dunes and marshes where whitetail deer, alligators, bobcats, seabirds and sea turtles abound.