14 places to catch the best views of Charleston
Vista (n): a distant view through or along an avenue or opening. Charleston (n): a city which boasts 360º views spanning from oceans, to metropolitan skylines, to Lowcountry marshlands.
As one of the top destinations in the world, you’d be hard-pressed to find a view of Charleston that isn’t breathtaking in some way. We basically live in a postcard.
With so much to choose from between city, land, + sea– sometimes it’s tough to select just one view. Luckily, you don’t have to.
Harbor Walk/Aquarium Wharf
📍 360 Concord St.
In a quiet of corner of the peninsula, near the S.C. Aquarium sits Harbor Walk. Once Charleston’s IMAX theatre, the building is now houses College of Charleston classrooms + office space. Away from the hustle + bustle of the city’s busiest streets, here you can take in stunning views of the Cooper River, Ravenel Bridge, Patriot’s Point, + the S.C. Port.
Bonus: Harbor Walk formerly served as the set for the short-lived CBS drama Reckless. The show itself received a score of 46% on Rotten Tomatoes, but we bet if it were judged solely on its location, it would’ve easily netted a 💯.
The Battery + White Point Gardens
📍 2 Murray Blvd.
Due to its sweeping panoramic views of the harbor + the historic homes surrounding it, White Point Gardens/the Battery has become one of the most popular tourist spots downtown. Fort Sumter, Sullivan’s Island, Mt. Pleasant, + James Island can be spotted from this stunning locale. And inside the park is just as perfect as what it looks out upon: green space, oak trees and gazebos are featured throughout, along with a display of Civil War cannons, monuments + statues.
Pro tip: You can find the best view over on the East Bay Street side.
Bonus: You’re more than likely to run into a precious pup or two roaming the gardens– and who doesn’t appreciate that?
📍 360 Fishburne St.
There’s more to see at The Joe than just a RiverDogs game (though those are pretty awesome too). The stadium backs up onto stunning marshland– something you’ll want to make sure you catch before grabbing a seat in the stands. Many of the boxed seats have windows overlooking the marsh, but even if you’re in general admission seating, you can check it out by taking a walk along the stadium’s perimeter.
The Rooftop Bar at Vendue
📍 19 Vendue Range
Of course, no list of Charleston’s best views could be complete without mentioning a rooftop bar. With a gigantic patio overlooking every direction of Charleston, The Rooftop Bar at Vendue is one of our favorites. Here, you can get a shot including both the Holy City skyline as well as the Charleston Harbor.
Folly Beach Fishing Pier
📍101 E. Arctic Ave.
At 1,045 feet, the Edwin S. Taylor Folly Beach Fishing Pier is the longest fishing pier in South Carolina. From it, you can see most of Folly + the north end of Kiawah, and it is an excellent location to watch the sunrise over the water.
Bonus: Grab a bite at Pier 101 Restaurant + Bar for one of the most scenic oceanfront dining experiences in CHS.
Sullivan’s Island Beach
📍Near Middle Street, Sullivan’s Island
Due to its prime location as the closest beach to the Charleston Harbor, beachgoers can watch ships traveling into the port. The Holy City skyline, Fort Sumter, + James Island are all within view of the island’s western end. Behind you, find miles of jaw-dropping beachfront homes, along with the Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse.
📍 Folly Beach, near Morris Island
On the far end of Folly Beach you’ll find The Washout. From there, you’ll get a one-of-a-kind glimpse of Morris Island. The 840-acre island is now uninhabited– but it is home to an important piece of history. During the Civil War, a fort called Battery Wagner stood there. That’s where the first regiment of free black soldiers fought for the Union. After the war, erosion eventually claimed the part of the island where the fort once stood, but the Morris Island Lighthouse can still be seen from the shores.
Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge
📍US 17 over the Cooper River
The Ravenel is easily one of Charleston’s most iconic landmarks. But just as beautiful as the construction itself, are the 360º views that can be seen from atop it. At its highest point, the bridge’s road bed is 186 feet above the Cooper River, giving you a priceless glimpse at Mount Pleasant, Charleston, + more.
Bonus: Get a second perspective of the same space by stopping by Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park, located near the foot of the bridge in Mt. P.
📍Main Road, Johns Island
The bridge connecting Johns Island to the mainland of West Ashley is a high-level structure. The view from this bridge is vast, as the vertical clearance is 65 feet above the river– meaning you can see much of West Ashley + Johns Island.
James Island Connector
Spanning the Ashley River + James Island Creek, the James Island Connector provides sweeping views of downtown Charleston, James Island, the Charleston City Marina, and some of the region’s barrier islands. Though not accessible for pedestrians, the annual James Island Connector Run (scheduled this year for Oct. 27) gives runners + walkers to see it all from outside an automobile.
Pitt Street Bridge
The Pitt Street bridge once served as the passage between Sullivan’s Island + Mount Pleasant, but after the construction of the Ben Sawyer Bridge, it was converted to a fishing pier. It now treats walkers, fishermen, + explorers alike to a scenic view of Sullivan’s Island, Mt. Pleasant + downtown Charleston. It’s also an excellent location to watch a sunrise or sunset.
Melton Peter Demetre Park
📍640 Wampler Dr., James Island
This cozy park tucked away on James Island allows for ample vistas of the entirety of the Charleston Harbor, downtown Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Sullivan’s Island, the Ravenel Bridge, and the local forts. Though somewhat small, the park draws crowds by the hundreds for special events like July 4 fireworks shows, or last year’s solar eclipse.
North Charleston Riverfront Park
📍1061 Everglades Ave.
North Charleston Riverfront park features a large meadow + performance pavilion for concerts and other events. With waterfront views of the Cooper River + Noisette Creek, this is easily one of the most beautiful music venues in the region.
Joe Riley Waterfront Park
Since its completion in 1990, Joe Riley Waterfront Park has become the Charleston’s most visited park. From one of the park’s many benches, one can sit + enjoy the incredible views of the Cooper River + downtown Charleston provided by its central location on the peninsula.
Want to explore more of the region’s parks? See some of our other favorites here.
As a born-and-raised Charlestonian, the views available from my own backyard are something I love the most about this city. One of my favorite pastimes is to walk along the pedestrian path on the Ravenel Bridge. No matter the time of the day– whether it is late at night, with few cars on the road, or in the middle of rush hour– I get an adrenaline rush from seeing the entirety of Charleston right in front of me.
With so much beauty surrounding the Lowcountry, we know there are plenty of lovely locales missing from our list. Make sure to share your personal favorite places to soak in the scenery in the comments below.