City Escape: Charleston, SC

Text: Lynn Crothers • Photography: Chris Myers

South Carolina’s Lowcountry is rich in history, art, cuisine, and natural wonder, and the perfect setting for a late spring or summer ride. Take in Charleston’s brilliant colors and blooming azaleas and magnolias, then saddle up for a charming ride north through surrounding small towns and forests, with a breathtaking finale down the Edisto Island National Scenic Byway.

Length

Approximately 236 miles

Meet-up Spot

Starbucks, 475 E Bay St, Charleston, SC

Lunch Stop

A Po Boy with hush puppies, coleslaw, and sweet tea? Please and thank you. Find it at the Low Country Fish Camp, 903 Central Ave, Summerville, SC, (843) 285-8558.

Scenery (5 out of 5)

In spring and summer, expect to see blooming flowers, towering pines and bald cypress trees, Spanish moss, and wildlife-riddled swamps and marshes.

Traffic (3 out of 5) 

Traffic can be heavy near cities at rush hour and on weekends. 

Difficulty (2 out of 5) 

Not difficult; gentle rolling terrain with a few twists and sweepers. 

Road Conditions (4 out of 5)

The roads are paved and generally kept in very good condition.

Points of Interest

  1. Fort Sumter. The Battle of Fort Sumter was the first of the American Civil War. Set aside a few hours to take a tour of the stately fort, located on an island in Charleston Harbor. A 30-minute ferry ride departs twice a day from Liberty Square, near our meet-up spot. www.nps.gov/fosu/index.htm 
  2. Mount Pleasant. Follow Ravenel Bridge over the Cooper River and you’ll find yourself in Mount Pleasant, a site once occupied by the Sewee people, an Algonquin language-speaking tribe. There are endless opportunities for exploration, from the USS Yorktown at Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum, to the town’s historic district and its multiple parks. www.experiencemountpleasant.com 
  3. Francis Marion National Forest. Named for Revolutionary General Francis Marion, this 260,000-acre forest has camping, hiking, fishing, and picnicking spots, OHV trails, and more. Once home to Cherokee and other tribes, it was nearly destroyed by Hurricane Hugo in 1989. Several endangered animal and plant species make their home here, and it’s an excellent spot for birding. www.fs.usda.gov/scnfs
  4. Mepkin Abbey. Founded by the monks of Gethsemani in Kentucky, which we wrote about in our Lexington, KY, Shamrock Tour®, Mepkin Abbey was established in 1949. Home to a community of Trappist monks, the abbey welcomes visitors who want to stroll through its peaceful gardens or visit its church. www.mepkinabbey.org
  5. Summerville. Dubbed the “Birthplace of Sweet Tea,” Summerville broke the Guinness World Record for “Largest (Sweet) Iced Tea” in 2016. A 15-foot mason jar, at 200 S Main St, stands in honor of the town’s 2,542-gallon win. Check it out while strolling the historic downtown. www.visitsummerville.com
  6. Edisto Island National Scenic Byway. When it comes to Highway 174, the journey is the destination. The short, soothing route slices through Edisto Island, a barrier island with a history dating back to the 1600s. Expect to see moss-draped oaks, tidal creeks, roadside markets, and plenty of wildlife. You might even spot a bald eagle. www.edistoscenicbyway.org