Located just a short drive from the bustling metropolis of Charleston, Summerville, South Carolina is the perfect place to experience the beauty and rich culture of the Low Country away from the crowds in the big city. Summerville is home to a spectacular collection of gardens, historic plantations, scenic parks, and fun activities to make your next trip to South Carolina one to remember. Check out this list of nine awesome activities for your trip!
1. Experience pre-Revolutionary War South Carolina at the Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site
Located along the Ashley River just a few miles inland from Charleston, the town of Dorchester was a bustling trading town from 1697 to the beginning of the Revolutionary War. While the town is no longer inhabited, some of its buildings are fantastically well preserved and form the bulk of the Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site. While at the Historic Site, visitors can experience the early colonial history of South Carolina as it would’ve been in the 17th and 18th centuries. A trip to the Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site is the perfect opportunity to learn more about South Carolina’s history in an exciting and interactive way.
Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site
Address: 300 State Park Rd, Summerville, SC 29485
2. Enjoy the cream of the crop at the Summerville Farmers Market
The Ashley River is the lifeline of the greater Charleston area, and is the driving force behind the area’s fertile farmland and bountiful annual crop harvests. While in Summerville, don’t miss your chance to enjoy local produce, meat, seafood and baked goods and to talk to the farmers and fisherman who produced your food. The Summerville Farmers Market is open every Saturday from April through December and is located behind Town Hall in downtown Summerville. In addition to good food and great people, there is live music in the nearby Market Cafe every Saturday from 10:00am-1:00pm. Whether you come for the food or for the fun ambiance, the Summerville Farmers Market is an experience you won’t want to miss!
Summerville Farmers Market
Address: 200 S Main St, Summerville, SC 29483
Website: Summerville Farmers Market
3. Stop and smell the flowers at the Azalea Park and Sculpture Garden
If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Summerville, you can seek solace in the quiet and scenic Azalea Park and Sculpture Garden. Located just blocks from historic downtown Summerville, the Azalea Park and Sculpture Garden is home to a beautiful array of flowers and bronze sculptures. This garden is interlaced by a series of shaded walking pathways, making it a great place for a leisurely stroll on a hot afternoon.
The garden also hosts two great annual events, the Summerville YMCA Flowertown Festival and the Sculpture in the South. Whether you visit for a festival or for an afternoon, a trip to the Azalea Park and Sculpture Garden is a must do when you’re in Summerville.
Azalea Park and Sculpture Garden
Address: 105 W 5th S St, Summerville, SC 29483
Website: Azalea Park and Sculpture Garden
4. Visit the county’s oldest unaltered plantation at Drayton Hall
If you want to learn about early American history, Drayton Hall is the place to go. A typical 18th-century estate in the South Carolina Low country, Drayton Hall is a reminder of the wealth and power of early American plantation owners and the enslavement of the people who worked there. Originally built in the 1750s by John Drayton, today’s Drayton Hall is a pristine example of Palladian architecture and the people who lived inside its remarkably well preserved buildings and grounds.
While at the estate, don’t miss one of the guided tours of the house and grounds of Drayton Hall. The estate also offers a speaking series and a collection of educational workshops about the buildings, grounds, people, and culture that shaped early South Carolina. A trip to Drayton Hall is something you won’t want to miss on your next trip to the South Carolina lowlands.
Address: 3380 Ashley River Rd, Charleston, SC 29414
Website: Drayton Hall
5. Stroll through the United States’ oldest landscaped gardens at Middleton Place
Situated on the banks of the Ashley River, Middleton Place is a home to centuries-old camellias and azaleas that blanket the hillside each spring in addition to a host of other flowers planted specifically so something is in bloom every season. A National Historic Monument and the oldest landscaped garden in the country, Middleton Place is a destination of intrigue for history buffs and flower fanatics alike. While at Middleton Place, you can stroll through the garden to appreciate its beauty, or visit the house museum and plantation stable yards.
The Middleton Family has been a mainstay in Southern American history since they bought the property in 1755 and the house has been well preserved for generations to come. In addition to exhibits inside the house, you can venture to the plantation stable yards, where costumed interpreters demonstrate the different tasks involved in running a rice plantation in the Low Country, while heritage livestock breeds roam around the grounds. If you’re interested in history or beauty, Middleton Place is the destination for you.
Address: 4300 Ashley River Rd, Charleston, SC 29414
Website: Middleton Place
6. Drink local at Homegrown Brewhouse and Oak Road Brewery
Beer lovers can rejoice in Summerville at the Homegrown Brewhouse and Oak Road Brewery. Both taprooms are located in the heart of downtown Summerville and are the perfect place to visit after a long day of adventuring in and around the South Carolina Low Country. Oak Road Brewery is Summerville’s only microbrewery and South Carolina’s first brewery to make their beer exclusively in micro batches. The Brewery taproom is open five days a week and is home to a fine collection of Oak Road’s classic beers, in addition to weekly and monthly rotational beer to keep you on your toes.
Homegrown Brewhouse, on the other hand, is a pub and eatery with over 40 taps serving up South Carolina’s finest beers. The Brewhouse’s goal is to have every South Carolina-brewed beer on tap for visitors and locals alike to appreciate alongside a great meal in a fantastic, laid-back setting. Beer lovers won’t want to miss these two destinations on their next trip to Summerville.
Address: 117 S Main St, Summerville, SC 29483
Website: Homegrown Brewhouse
Oak Road Brewery
Address: 108 E 3rd N St, Summerville, SC 29483
Website: Oak Road Brewery
7. Enjoy the Sawmill Branch Multi-Use Trail
The Sawmill Branch Multi-Use Trail is a unique type of outdoor park for Summerville residents. Located alongside the Sawmill Branch Canal, the paved and flat trail is a popular local destination for walking and biking. The trail is 6.5 miles (10.5 km) long, but contains many side trails that connect to different neighborhoods in Summerville, so a walk along the trail can be as long or as short as you’d like. A walk along the Sawmill Branch Multi-Use Trail is a great way to get some exercise and experience the beauty of Summerville’s many neighborhoods.
Sawmill Branch Multi-Use Trail
Website: Sawmill Branch Multi-Use Trail
8. Walk along the boardwalk in the Francis Beilder Forest
Located just outside Summerville, the Francis Beilder Forest is home to ancient trees and a dynamic swamp ecosystem. The forest is owned by the National Audubon Society and is dedicated to protecting the thousand-year-old trees and native wildlife that have inhabited the area for centuries. The Francis Beilder Forest exists within the Four Holes Swamp system, a series of swamps and gum flats that act as a tributary to the Edisto River.
Visitors to the Francis Beilder Forest can take a self-guided 1.75 mile (2.8 km) tour of the boardwalk, which brings you deep into the swamp without getting your feet wet. There are also a series of canoe and kayak trips, guided tours, bird walks, and activities available seasonally and by reservation. Don’t miss your chance to experience this unique and ancient landscape near Summerville!
Francis Beilder Forest
Address: 336 Sanctuary Rd, Harleyville, SC 29448
Website: Francis Beilder Forest
9. Appreciate the beauty of the Ashley River at the 17th-century Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
South Carolina is known for its plantations, and the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens are the greater Charleston area’s most famous and most visited in the state. The Magnolia Plantation and Gardens were founded in 1676 by the Drayton family (of Drayton Hall) and are the oldest public tourist site in the Low Country. While at the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, you can marvel at the splendor of the romantic-style landscape alongside the Ashley River or journey to the Audubon Swamp Garden, where you can experience the unique cypress and tupelo gum tree ecosystems.
The gardens are open for self-guided tours, but interested visitors can also sign up for a nature train ride tour or a rice field boat tour which allow you to take a break from walking and learn about the grounds from a local naturalist. The Magnolia Plantation and Gardens are a great way to experience the beauty of the Low Country’s diverse ecosystems on a full or half day tour.
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
Address: 3550 Ashley River Rd, Charleston, SC 29414
Website: Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
Explore beautiful South Carolina
Whether you’re a nature lover, a history buff, or someone looking for a relaxing vacation, Summerville, South Carolina has an activity for you. Check out some of the Summerville area’s historic buildings and sites or some of its beautiful gardens along the Ashley River. Regardless of what you choose to do, your visit will be one you will remember for a long time to come.
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