Top 5 Natural Areas to Visit
Because Charleston’s history depends in large part on its natural resources and diverse ecosystems, Charlestonians take a vested interest in ecological conservation. Zero George guests who want to learn more about local conservation efforts, or simply wish to enjoy some time in the great outdoors, should be sure to check out the following excursions that came highly recommended to us by local author and conservationist Virginia Beach.
Beach described a walk along Charleston’s waterfront, beginning at the Battery and White Point Garden and winding around to the Waterfront Park on the Cooper River, as a “rejuvenating experience” that offers tranquil views of dolphins and egrets, as well as of the marsh and estuary that give Charleston its unique beauty and abundant wildlife. It’s also less than a mile from Zero George, so it’s a great place to bike ride!
Twenty to thirty minutes outside of Charleston lies a natural sanctuary where you can spy herons nesting, alligators swimming, and dozens of other native species in their element. Beach raved about the up-close views of plants and wildlife afforded on a peaceful boardwalk promenade through the swamp garden, which once bolstered Charleston’s economy as a freshwater reserve for rice.
Just up the Ashley River Road from Magnolia Plantation lies Middleton Place, which boasts gardens that showcase fresh blooms year-round and features a rice-growing operation where you can learn how the grain is cultivated, harvested, and processed (for more information, see Beach’s Rice and Ducks). It is also a National Historic Landmark that displays Charleston’s natural beauty in the context of a captivating historical narrative.
This is a breathtaking example of the historical and environmental preservation that influences modern Charleston. Located along the Ashley River, Drayton Hall exhibits a lush riverside garden and long-standing live oak trees. Right next-door is Middleton Place, so stop by both while you’re in the neighborhood.
A fifteen-minute drive or 45-minute bike ride over the beautiful Ravenel Bridge will take you to Shem Creek, where Coastal Expeditions will outfit you with kayaks and/or paddleboards to explore the wonders of Shem Creek and Charleston Harbor–home to nesting seabirds, dolphins, osprey, pelicans, and working shrimp boats.
See our interview with Virginia Beach for more information!
Virginia Beach Headshot by Dana Beach
Middleton Place image courtesy of Middleton Place