For years we’d heard about all the pet friendly things to do in Charleston. From stunning beaches and tranquil parks, to mouth-watering eateries and unique attractions that roll out the “pets welcome” mat. When we were finally able to visit, Ty and Buster were positively drooling to sniff out the top pet friendly things to do in Charleston!
The only disappointment of our trip was that we couldn’t stay longer! This historic city has so much to offer that we couldn’t get to it all. And we don’t want the same thing to happen to you. So, to help you plan your next pet friendly vacation, we’ve gathered the top 11 pet friendly things to do in Charleston.
Pet Friendly Hotels in Charleston
The first order of business is finding a place to say. Fortunately, you’ll find a great selection of pet friendly hotels in Charleston. And plenty of restaurants welcome pets on the their patios, so covering the basics is no trouble at all. After that, it’s time to have fun! We have the suggestions you’ll need to ensure you and your furry travel buddy enjoy the best of Charleston.
Top Pet Friendly Things to do in Charleston
1. Stroll King Street
One of the most interesting aspects of Charleston is its architecture, specifically the elegant old homes that line the streets. Many residences date back to the days before the Civil War and speak to a more cordial, less hectic life. The grand side porches facing Charleston Harbor were built to catch the evening breeze. And take a peek at the impeccably-kept side yards as you pass by on the sidewalk.
2. White Point Garden
At the bottom of King Street, where the thoroughfare meets the harbor, you’ll find White Point Garden. This lush park overlooks the point were the Ashley and Cooper Rivers empty into the Atlantic. Historical cannons and mortars dot the periphery, a reminder of the city’s instrumental place in Civil War history. But now this park is an oasis of serenity in the bustling city.
From dawn – 9am and 5pm – 11pm, this 5.7 acre park is an off-leash dog area, and there are plenty of dog-savvy squirrels to give your pup a run for his money! The park is not enclosed by a fence, so a reliable recall is important for any dogs playing sans leash.
3. The Battery
White Point Garden is just a few steps from The Battery – a fortified seawall protecting the tip of the peninsula. Originally built as an important defense for early Charleston, the seawall is now a promenade lined by antebellum homes. You’ll also get some great views of Fort Sumter, Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse, and Castle Pinckney.
It’s a lovely place to take a walk with your dog when it’s not too hot or crowded. And watch over your shoulder for the dolphins that like to play just off the shore!
4. Waterfront Park
Heading up East Battery brings you to Hazel Parker Playground. Here you’ll find a fenced off-leash dog run and Waterfront Park. This award-winning, 12-acre park stretches for a half mile along the Charles River and serves as Charleston’s front yard. Whether you’re looking for a spot to play frisbee, a shady corner to curl up with a book, or a rambunctious splash in the fountain, Waterfront Park has you covered.
5. Charleston’s Dog Friendly Restaurants
From small cafés to fine dining restaurants, Charleston has oodles of options when you’re looking for a bite to eat on a dog friendly patio. Ty and Buster recommend Kitchen 208 for a lovely breakfast on the shaded patio, and the fabulous Fuel Cantina for its Caribbean-influenced cuisine and friendly atmosphere.
6. James Island County Park
When your dog is really ready to cut loose, take the short drive to James Island Park. His eyes will absolutely light up when he sees the four-acre dog park and beach! The $2 admission fee is money well spent as you watch all the delighted pups bound in and out of the water, chasing balls and doing belly flops with wild abandon.
James Island County Park also has a campground and RV park, and a series of paved trails where dogs are welcome. It’s a fantastic place to stay for anyone traveling with a pet.
7. Charleston’s Dog Friendly Beaches
Charleston is situated on a peninsula surrounded by islands, which provides for a fantastic selection of beaches. From Sullivan’s Island and Isle of Palms to the north, to Folly Beach and Kiawah Island’s Beachwalker Park to the south, there is is a perfect beach for everyone!
- Isle of Palms welcomes dogs on the beach all day, year-round. Dogs may be off-leash from 4pm to 10am during winter (September 15th – March 31st), and from 5am to 9am during summer (April 1st – September 14th). At all other times dogs must be on leash, with their owner holding the leash, even when in the water.
- Kiawah Beachwalker Park provides the only public access to the beach on Kiawah Island, and leashed dogs are welcome all day, year round. In addition, dogs under voice control may be off-leash year round in the designated “dog use area” located between the eastern boundary of the Beach Club and the Ocean Course pedestrian access.
- At Folly Beach leashed dogs are welcome to run, walk, fetch, and swim any time of the day from October through April. During summer (May – September) dogs may not go on the beach from 10am to 6pm.
- Sullivan’s Island requires all dogs to obtain a Sullivan’s Island dog permit – residents ($25) and visitors ($35) – at city hall. During winter (October – April), dogs may be off-leash from 5am to noon, and on-leash from noon to 5am. During summer (May – September), dogs may be off-leash from 5am to 10am, on-leash from 6pm to 5am, but are not allowed on the beach from 10am to 6pm.
8. Angel Oak Park
One of the most breathtaking trees we’ve ever seen is growing in a small park about 12 miles west of Charleston on Johns Island. Angel Oak and estimated to be 400 to 500 years old. It has enormous branches that spread into a magnificent crown – some reaching for the sky and other lying across the ground.
Dogs may admire Angel Oak from the picnic area, but are not allowed under the tree’s canopy.
9. Charleston Tea Plantation
About 20 miles southwest of the city, past Johns Island, is the Charleston Tea Plantation. This is one of just a few places where tea is grown in the United States! If you’re curious about how tea gets from the field to your cup, this is a stop you won’t want to miss.
They have a lovely front porch where your dog is welcome to wait with you while your party takes turns visiting the tea bar and enjoying a video tour of the production facilities. Then take a walk to get a closer look at the plantation. Unfortunately, dogs aren’t allowed on the trolley tour through the tea plantation and to the greenhouse.
10. Fort Moultrie
In 1776, South Carolina’s early settlers started building Fort Moultrie to protect Charleston Harbor. The original structure was constructed of palmetto logs, which are soft and did not crack under bombardment. In fact, they say cannonballs bounced right off!
Dogs may not enter the fort. But you can explore the cannons and interpretive exhibits around Fort Moultrie and Battery Jasper with your furry companion. The grounds also provide excellent views of Fort Sumter (sadly, not pet friendly) and downtown Charleston.
11. Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
Nestled on 464 acres along the banks of the Ashley River, Magnolia Plantation dates back to 1676. Thomas and Ann Drayton started the estate as a rice plantation. Reverend John Grimke-Drayton developed the now famous gardens after he inherited the property in the 1840s.
The property was opened for public tours in 1870, and your dog is very welcome to join you in exploring the gardens. Dogs are even welcome on all the guided tours, with the exception of the house and zoo tours.
READ MORE ⇒ Visiting Magnolia Plantation with Pets
We hope that gives you a good starting point for your pet friendly trip to Charleston. If you know of any other great spots we missed, please share them in the comments below!
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