Charleston is located on the coast of South Carolina and is part of a region that’s known as the “Low Country.” It’s the oldest city in the state and is home to not only some great cycling but some incredible places to grab a bite (and a beer).
What it lacks in hills, it more than makes up for in scenery and personality. Ready to explore? We’ve got you covered with these five fun rides that’ll give you a look and feel for what the Low Country is all about.
You’re going to want to bring a camera along for this ride. There are so many beautiful and historic homes and buildings downtown, many of which have perfectly manicured gardens and pastel facades that make you feel as if you have somehow ridden your bike backward in time.
Highlights include King Street, a jaunt through the campus of the College of Charleston, Murray Boulevard and East Battery, and as many of the smaller alleys and side road as you have time for.
Post Ride: Pop into Minero’s for some happy hour drinks and stay for dinner. Their tacos are super tasty, filling and reasonably priced. Plus the vibe is easy, fun and casual.
West Ashley Greenway
If you want to avoid vehicles and traffic and allow your mind to wander then make your way on over to the West Ashely Greenway. This (mostly flat) trail is 10.5-miles long and is a combo of hard-packed dirt and some gravel. It’s a great place for beginners, as well as those with kids in tow. There’s a free parking area just off McLeod Mill Road.
Post Ride: Rehydrate. Bring your own water if you parked at McLeod Mill Road since there isn’t a refill station.
Take a ride out of downtown and head north toward aptly named North Charleston. When you get there, make a loop around Park Circle and point your bike back toward the cluster of shops and restaurants along East Montague Avenue.
Post Ride: Commonhouse Aleworks is our top pick in the area to grab a drink. They just brought home a couple of medals for their Park Circle Pale Ale and their Broad Path Brown. But don’t take our word for it, go drink ’em for yourself. Come as you are, there’s no dress code at this brewery. The staff is cool, the space is fun to hang out in, and on Wednesday’s there’s axe throwing.
One of the best things about Charleston is how close it is to the beach (it’s about 11.5 miles from the city to the ocean). Life is a little more laid back and slower than it is in Charleston, so bring the cruiser for this ride. Ride up and down Center Street, explore the pier, and even ride along the sand.
Post Ride: Grab a drink called the Slowlife at LowLife Bar and then do your best to pry yourself away from the place.
The East Coast Greenway and Fort Moultrie
Explore nearby Sullivans Island and ride along a section of the East Coast Greenway which spans all the way from Maine to Florida and includes a section in South Carolina. While on Sullivans Island you can also learn a little history by taking a side trip to Fort Moultrie. This national historic park has a free parking lot for visitors and a bike rack so you can also explore on foot. (Note: Though the parking is free there is currently a $7 recreational fee that is going up to $10 in 2020). This ride can be done on any bike but we recommend something you can take on the sand for a little extra fun.
Post Ride: Get cleaned up and head on over to McCrady’s Tavern. Start with the local oysters and a delicious hand-crafted cocktail. When you’re ready, roll right into a thick and juicy filet mignon or their fish of the day. And be sure to save room for dessert. McCrady’s pastry chef Katy Keefe knows a thing or two about how to cap off the end to a perfect day.
A quick look at a map of the region will show a big patch of green to the north of the city. That's the Francis Marion National Forest. If you like to get a little mud on your tires, head north of the city and check out some of the mountain biking trails. There are several different trails within the park that are open to bikes including a section of the the 350-mile state-wide Palmetto Trail.
There is an active and thriving cycling community in Charleston. You can participate by joining one of the group rides that meet up weekly. For a list of who rides when and where as well as to access the required waiver, head on over to the Trek website.
Know Before You Go
Bring your own bike or make a quick stop at Affordabike where Dave and Dan can help you purchase or rent a bike for whatever type of riding you want to do. They have been designing and building their brand, Bilda Bike, since 2009 and are conveniently located downtown at 573 King Street.
There aren’t any designated bike lanes in downtown Charleston so ride with caution. (Bikes are not allowed on sidewalks.)
Though there aren’t any bike lanes downtown, you will find numerous bike racks sprinkled throughout the city. Check out the interactive map online that has photos of the racks as well as addresses to help you pick a place to park.
Erin McGrady and Caroline Whatley are based in Asheville, North Carolina, but are currently traveling the country in their van. You can follow along with their adventures at Authentic Asheville.
All Photos By Erin McGrady and Caroline Whatley.
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