The parks and outdoor spaces Penelope visited this week are a bit off-the-beaten path, but close enough to her Kings Courtyard Inn accommodations to easily explore. After a month in Charleston, Penelope essentially considers herself a local. So this week, she’s doing as the locals do and letting you in on secret places many first-time travelers miss.
Spot 1: Cannon Park, wedged between the residential Ashley and Rutledge Avenues. The park is surrounded by historic homes with perfect Southern porches to accompany them. Flower beds are blooming year round thanks to the Charleston Parks Conservancy, Live Oak branches twist through shaded walking paths and smiling pet owners watch their dogs sniff around off-leash. A red brick walkway and four striking Corinthian Columns frame a snapshot of Charleston history: remnants of a blaze that destroyed the original Charleston Museum.
Spot 2: Next up, Hampton Park! Ask a local how to get here and they’d tell you it’s “Above Crosstown.” That means, you’ll need to cross through the true center of town (Highway 17) and meander through neighborhoods where both modern and historic architecture uniquely meet. Believe Penelope, it’s worth the trip- especially if you can rent a bike.
Hampton Park has a rich history and has lived many lives. Penelope’s favorite? It’s late 1700’s takeover by The South Carolina Jockey Club when it became the “Washington Race Track.” During its heyday, the entire city of Charleston would press pause and gather here for a lively Race Week in February. This was the place “to see and be seen.” Fast forward to modern day, Hampton Park is just the opposite. If you’re looking for peace, quiet and beauty, escape here for an afternoon.
Penelope’s tips for extra enjoyment: Bring a picnic and sprawl out beside the beautiful gardens. Sit near the fountain and wait for a breeze. Jog around its 1-mile perimeter/original race track. Explore the Citadel’s nearby campus, especially during the Cadet’s weekly Parade.
Spot 3: Some colleges have quads, but the College of Charleston has The Cistern. Over 10,000 students pass by the Cistern each day, which is the green center of the College’s urban campus. The Cistern was built in the 1850s and is tucked inside George, Coming and St. Philip Streets. The campus it sits on was established in 1770: the first college south of Virginia. Campus is stunningly beautiful. Penelope wishes she had a second chance at college. If she did, she’d walk across The Cistern during commencement in a traditional white dress.
Penelope’s tips for extra enjoyment: The Cistern is an easy stroll from our inns. The College’s energy is contagious. Claim a spot on a bench, grab a book and wait for passing time. Be inspired by the unique mix of students and faculty, then enjoy the lull that follows soon after class begins.
Ah, feeling relaxed? Penelope sure is. Follow along with her last few days at the Kings Courtyard Inn on Facebook and stay tuned for her fifth and final week of vacation, Monday October 10th!