The Gateway Walk
Secret string of gardens and churchyards
This walk, that gets its name from the ten wrought iron gates you pass through on your journey, starts on Archdale Street in the churchyard of St. John's Lutheran Church and ends at Church Street's St. Philip’s Episcopal Church. While the walk that was put together by The Garden Club of Charleston in 1930 sometimes feels like you are trespassing in some magical, private gardens, it is completely open to the public. Occasionally, a few of the gates are locked, but if you go out to the the street you can usually find another access point. In order, the stops are the gardens of St. John's Lutheran Church, Unitarian Church, Charleston Library Society, Gibbes Museum of Art, Circular Congregational Church and St. Philip’s Episcopal Church. When you are passing through the churchyards, be sure to look at the dates on some of the oldest graves in the country.
4 Archdale St, Charleston, SC
Pitt Street Bridge
Locals favorite for picnics and sunsets
One of the best views in Charleston isn't exactly in Charleston, but rather across the river in Mount Pleasant. This repurposed trolly bridge used to connect Mount Pleasant to Sullivan's Island. Now it is a linear park that reaches most of the way, but not quite all the way to Sullivan's Island. Come at dusk for one of the best sunsets around and follow it up with a stroll around the Old Village of Mt. Pleasant and a glass of wine at Rudi's Old Village Wine Shop.
Morris Island Lighthouse
Graffiti covered path leading to views of the lighthouse
When this lighthouse was originally built in 1876, it was sitting on the shore of Morris Island. However, rapid erosion over the years has left the lighthouse stranded in the middle of Charleston Harbor. To see the lighthouse, you will walk about half a mile on a paved path that is covered from beginning to end with colorful graffiti. The beach at the end is a perfect place for collecting shells or a picnic. Make sure you park with all four wheels off the road on East Ashley Avenue and at all beaches in the area.
chART Outdoor Gallery
Alley covered in murals for nearly two blocks
In 2011, Geoff Richardson started chART Outdoor Initiative & Gallery in order to bring public art to the greater Charleston area. This Avondale installation in Alycia Alley that goes on for nearly a quarter of a mile is their first gallery. It features many murals by multiple artists on both sides of the alley, so walk slowly to make sure you don't miss anything!
Ring the doorbell to enter this locals bar
This hidden gem that some would call a lounge, others a dive, has cheap beers and great cocktails. Ring the buzzer to get in to hang out with all the cool kids or dance if they have a DJ doing a set. If you like the vibe here, check out the pizza and natural wine bar across the street, Renzo, that is run by the same people.
Philip Simmons Garden
Secluded garden dedicated to the famed ironworker
You can't talk about Charleston's beautiful ironwork without paying homage to Philip Simmons, the legendary artisan who turned that work into an art form. Simmons started out his blacksmithing career forging parts that were necessary for wagon transportation, but as the automobile grew in popularity, he turned to repairing the famed iron gates in the city. His incredible craftsmanship didn't go unnoticed and soon he was commissioned to create original gates all over the city. He is known for incorporating animals and religious symbols into his gates, something he did for the piece that the Smithsonian commissioned in 1976. This small but beautiful garden tucked behind St. John’s Reformed Church was donated to the Philip Simmons Foundation by the Spoleto Festival USA in 1997. Pearl Fryar handled the topiary design and Philip Simmons contributed the ironwork to this calming oasis. While he passed away in 2009, you can tour his home and studio as part of Alphonso Brown's Gullah Tours or you can visit on your own, just note the limited operating hours.