Top things to do in Isle of Palms year-round

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Jen Lyons

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Isle of Palms — a narrow barrier island just a short drive from Charleston, South Carolina — is an idyllic getaway with plenty to do. Explore the beautiful beaches, enjoy outdoor recreation or indulge in the local cuisine. Not sure where to start? Here are six must-do activities for any trip to Isle of Palms. 

Hit the beach 

While Isle of Palms is only seven miles long, there are more than 50 beach access points, so you’re always just a short walk from sinking your toes in the sand. Residents and local officials are dedicated to keeping the beaches pristine, which means you’ll enjoy crystal-clear waters and litter-free sands. Best of all, you don’t have to lug around a lot of stuff. Isle of Palms County Park rents beach chairs and umbrellas, and sells snacks and drinks. Beaches on the islands are also dog friendly, with leash rules varying depending on the season. 

Explore the barrier island ecosystem

Isle of Palms has an enviable location adjacent to the longest stretch of untouched coastline on the Eastern seaboard. Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the marshland with a kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding expedition. Local outfitters like Coastal Expeditions offer guided tours through Morgan Creek and connecting salt marsh estuaries. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, sea turtles, pelicans, egrets, herons and more. If you’d rather explore at your own pace, kayak rentals are available around the island. 

Enjoy live music at The Windjammer 

An Isle of Palms icon for a half-century, The Windjammer is one part beach bar, one part music and event venue. On any given day, stop by for appetizers, burgers, seafood and cold drinks — all served up with ocean views, of course. And, it’s dog friendly! Be sure to check out the events calendar for local and traveling musical groups as well as cover bands. The Windjammer also regularly hosts beach volleyball tournaments. 

Tee off at Wild Dunes Resort 

The centerpieces of Isle of Palms’ Wild Dunes Resort are undoubtedly the signature golf courses designed by Tom Fazio. The Links Course and the Harbor Course have been named among the best courses in the state by Golf Digest. All 36 holes are open to the public and designed to challenge players at every skill level — and the incredible water views don’t disappoint. 

Sample fresh Lowcountry cuisine 

Lowcountry cooking in Isle of Palms is more than just a meal — it’s a part of the culture. Chefs take inspiration from West African cooking brought to the area during the slave trade and continued in the Gullah culture, along with English, French and Caribbean influence. Of course, fresh local seafood like shrimp, clams, crab and fish play an important role. Classic must-try dishes include Frogmore Stew, a combination of spicy sausage, shrimp and corn on the cob; shrimp and grits; and hoppin’ john, a simple dish of black-eyed peas, rice, bacon and onion. Popular Lowcountry restaurants include Coastal Provisions, Acme Lowcountry Kitchen and Long Island Cafe

Take an excursion to historic Charleston 

If you can tear yourself away from the beach for a day, Isle of Palms is just a short drive from historic downtown Charleston. With over 300 years of history, Charleston is full of stories. Popular stops include the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum, the Old Slave Mart Museum and Fort Sumter National Monument, where the Civil War started in 1861. Self-guided and guided downtown tours are a great way to get the lay of the land —  you may even want to take a ghost tour to discover the city’s haunted past. 

Find your retreat in South Carolina

Pacaso can help you own a Lowcountry home away from home. With a second home near Charleston, you’ll have everything you need to explore the Isle of Palms and the rest of the Palmetto State, without having to worry about maintenance and upkeep. 

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