The Patricks visit Awendaw Passage (Palmetto Trail) Isle of Palms – Charleston Area

We had an amazing time adventuring in the Charleston, SC area. While Charleston still has a down home feel, it is also a robust metropolitan area filled with varied activities and experiences just waiting to welcome you. We have always stayed in Wild Dunes, although we have heard Fripp Island is also a great, laid back community. We like Wild Dunes because we can bring our bikes and literally bike to everything. The entire Wild Dunes community is lined with biking paths, but we also venture outside of Wild Dunes throughout Isle of Palms on our bikes. You can get all the way to the IOP Connector Bridge easily and safely, which opens up even more dining and shopping options as well as Harris Teeter. There are several fun restaurants, ice cream shops and souvenir shops behind the water towers. We always enjoy a meal at Coconut Joes Beach Grill because we love eating on the water and the wait staff is super friendly. If you enjoy eating on the water, other options are The Boathouse (you’ll probably want to drive there) and Morgan Creek Grill at the Isle of Palms Marina (easy to bike to, also super friendly). In total, we biked over 30 miles, walked around 15 miles and I squeezed in a 2-mile run on the beach in 4 days with kids in tow.

So, what else did we do for 4 days… on Day 1, we spent that extra few hours between arrival and check in at Ft. Moultrie on Sullivans Island. The kids are working to fill their National Park Passports with stamps which has brought a heightened awareness for them to the National Parks system and is a nice addition to our travel. It offers a “destination” spot and increased interest to almost anywhere in the US. If your kids don’t have a National Parks passport, I highly recommend it – they can also get sworn in with ranger badges at all the National Parks that have visitor centers. If you're visiting Sullivan's island with small kids, there is a park with playground, basketball and tennis courts within walking distance of a restaurant row which includes Poes Tavern.
The kids love the beach of course, so we combed the beach every morning for shells and they found some good treasures doing that. We spent the warmest afternoon on the beach building castles and moats, running in the water and playing, our favorite, beach tennis. We spent a day exploring Mount Pleasant (what a lovely suburb) and Charleston. A stop at Park City Creamery on the way to Riverfront Park was a hit. Some of the creamiest, softest handcrafted ice cream I’ve ever had with interesting flavors like “German Chocolate” and Mex Vanilla”. They also have vegan flavors. All four of us give the Creamery two thumbs up. We spent an afternoon at Patriots Point, visiting the Patriots Point Museum, followed by dinner at Charleston Harbor Fish House right next door, which is a nice walk along docks and boardwalks (hint: if you're going to be at Patriots Point Museum until they close, think about parking at the Marina beforehand). There’s an outside deck for drinks and appetizers and a full indoor restaurant with delicious local flavors. If you haven’t visited this part of Charleston, I highly recommend it. It was our first experience on an aircraft carrier and the kids loved exploring the aircraft carrier and submarine. Plan to spend at least 3 or 4 hours here, there is so much to see and there is a lot of boardwalk and docks to keep you busy for even longer, all with a beautiful view of Historic Downtown Charleston from across the Cooper River. There is also a ferry to Ft. Sumter at Patriots Point.
Next stop, The Volvo Open hosted at The Volvo Car Stadium. The largest annual ladies-only tennis tournament in the US. Another quadruple thumbs up here. What a beautiful facility, surrounded by a well-developed restaurant and shopping area. Easy to get to, easy parking, nice walking area, family friend along with many food choices and food trucks inside the stadium with great viewing from the stands (hint: stadium seats are free for kids 16 and under). And great tennis, what more is there to say?
But the Big Kahuna for us was Awendaw Passage. Awendaw Passage is the Coastal Terminus of the still in development Palmetto Trail – a planned 500 miles (350 have been completed) of Interstate hiking and biking paths and camp sites – all development is currently in SC. The trail crosses lakes, mountains, forests and some parts are even through downtown areas. Awendaw Passage is an easy 7 mile hike or bike - so 14.2 miles there and back. We began at Buck Hall Landing which has public restrooms, picnic tables, camp grounds, a fishing dock, and boat ramp on the intracoastal waterway. There are also several greenspace areas canopied by huge oak trees. The trail is a flat nature biking trail plenty wide enough for single file (and at times double track) biking. We brought our Trek 4500 hybrid bikes and they were perfect. Awendaw Passage takes you through the forest, across marshland, along the intracoastal waterway on some natural groundcover (mostly pine straw and leaves), some boardwalks and some trail mats. Palmetto Trees and Angel Oaks are everywhere and the air is crisp and clean. It was a very pleasant ride for us as well as our 12 year old and 9 year old kids. There were enough twists, turns, tree roots and slight inclines to keep them entertained and the scenery, sounds of nature and fresh air were enough to keep us entertained. Be sure to bring water and bug spray and keep an eye out for critters. Always stay on the trail and follow the golden rule - don’t leave anything, don’t take anything.
* the roots were at times moderately challenging for our 9 year old to navigate, but then again, it was the end of our trip and she was probably just tired. Overall a very easy trail.
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