A bonus to having a home at Timbers Kiawah is it puts you near Charleston, SC — consistently rated the #1 city in America by Travel + Leisure. In less than an hour, you can be downtown taking in the many attractions that have made this charming city so popular. We’ve assembled a few spots below that you could combine into a full day of sightseeing.
SOUTH CAROLINA AQUARIUM
Interested in a closer look at creatures you’ve caught glimpses of on Kiawah Island? The South Carolina Aquarium, located in downtown Charleston, houses these and thousands of other native species, representing the great biodiversity of the state. More than 60 exhibits take you on a journey “from the mountains to the sea” — including forest, piedmont, coastal plain, river, salt marsh, beach, ocean, and reef habitats.
Specializing in education and conservation, friendly staff can answer all of your questions about the playful river otters, majestic bald eagle, slithery snakes, stealthy alligators, eek-worthy eels, and of course a multitude of fish in all shapes, sizes, and speeds.
The Aquarium is especially fun for children. Daily dive shows in the two-story Great Ocean Tank (the deepest in North America), stingray feedings you can help with, and windows into the Sea Turtle Care Center™ (South Carolina’s official sea turtle hospital), offer fascinating ways to observe and connect with our underwater friends.
The Harbor Overlook out back provides a great vantage point for photos of the iconic Cooper River Bridge and the USS Yorktown across the way. Spectacular views continue at your next destination for today…
RILEY WATERFRONT PARK
Riley Waterfront Park is a ten-acre linear park along the Charleston Harbor that is immensely popular with locals and visitors alike. Dedicated preservation efforts transformed this 17th century fishing and shipping wharf into a beautiful encapsulation of Lowcountry relaxation.
Distinct sections flow from one to the next as you stroll where the spirit takes you. The wide pier at the northern end is sheltered by a giant gazebo with family-size porch swings and picnic tables. A floating dock at its end provides unobstructed views of the harbor, Patriot’s Point, Castle Pinckney, and Fort Sumter. The middle of the park contains a dense canopy of live oak trees and intimate gardens, a large rectangular lawn perfect for spreading out a blanket or tossing a football, and a 1,200-foot esplanade alongside the river lined with palmetto trees. As the shore curves toward the southern end, the park melds into salt marsh and another, smaller pier rebuilt from the centuries-old original.
Waterfront Park is an ideal spot for bird watching, and people watching too. Wide paths and dozens of old fashioned benches attract those looking to be active and those looking for a rest. Its two picturesque fountains, (including the famous pineapple one signifying hospitality), are delightful during the day and romantic lit up at night. Enjoy the free wi-fi and check out the adjacent City Gallery before heading a few blocks over to your next stop for today…
CHARLESTON CITY MARKET
No trip to downtown Charleston is complete without a visit to The City Market. Pro Tip: Unless you are parked nearby, definitely stop here last so you don’t have to carry everything you’ll purchase around all day! The Great Hall and blocks-long open-air sheds feature local companies and skilled artisans peddling art, jewelry, apparel, food items, housewares, toys, books, and every Charleston memento imaginable. This hopping place is the largest hand-made market in the Southeast and open every day except Christmas. If shopping makes you hungry, no worries, you are in the right place. Grab a delicious coffee, lunch, dinner, or dessert at any of the wonderful establishments in the area.
South Carolina Aquarium, 100 Aquarium Wharf, Charleston, SC 29401
Riley Waterfront Park, 1 Vendue Range, Charleston SC 29401
Charleston City Market, 188 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29401
Not ready to leave the island? Kiawah is a nature-lover’s paradise. Read more here.