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Climb, crawl, slide, scurry, and scoot your way across the area’s numerous parks and playgrounds
Ashley River views and breezes abound, as does super-fun equipment. Favorites include the S.S. Brittlebank ship, lots of slides, and talk tubes. Free. Lockwood Dr. Bathroom (Porta-potties). Picnic Tables. Playground.
Roam free under the oaks and magnolias or stick to the paths and paved jogging trail. Every spot is a beauty here, including the duck pond and bountiful flower beds. A medium-sized dog run is also just up the street on the corner of Rutledge Avenue and Grove Street. Free. Cleveland St. & Mary Murray Dr. Bathroom. Picnic Tables. Playground.
Hazel V. Parker Playground
Wrought-iron benches and a brick patio give the feel of a South of Broad garden, and there’s a separate fenced-in area for little ones. Don’t miss the new-fashioned merry- go-round, play jeep, and small dog run behind the playground. Free. 70 East Bay St. Bathroom. Picnic Tables. Playground.
The playground is only part of this 10-acre park with fishing piers, a fenced dog park, and a walkway along the river. You’ll also find a fountain for cooling off and tons of green space for running. Free. 1001 Everglades Dr., North Charleston. Bathroom. Picnic Tables. Playground.
North Charleston Wannamaker County Park
Awesome playground equipment with a special area for tots, plus “The Sprinkler” spray fountain, beach volleyball, and paved trails, make this a well-rounded spot. There’s something for everyone: a huge slide on a 20-foot hill made for climbing and playing, freestanding porch swings nestled under the trees, bicycle and paddleboat rentals, and a fenced dog park with benches. $1; free for child under three. 8888 University Blvd., North Charleston. Bathroom. Picnic Tables. Playground.
Park Circle & Quarterman Park
Park Circle has a modest playground surrounded by lots of green space and magnolias. Only a short way down Buist Avenue is Quarterman Park with a pond where you can feed the very friendly ducks and geese, plus benches and moss-draped trees. Free. Quarterman Park at Buist & Spruill aves., North Charleston. Bathroom. Picnic Tables. Playground.
With quintessential Old Village charm from shady oaks and ocean breezes, this is a hot spot for playdates in the sandbox and on the pirate ship, as well as parent socializing. Across the street is a harbor-front lawn for running free. Free. 131 Middle St., Mount Pleasant. Bathroom. Picnic Tables. Playground.
Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park
In addition to the shrimp boat with jumping net and climbing dolphins, more equipment is in
the works for this shady and sparkly new spot. Be sure to use the parking lot adjacent to the playground. $0.50 parking. Wingo Way under Ravenel Bridge, Mount Pleasant. Bathroom. Picnic Tables. Playground.
Palmetto Islands County Park
Commune with nature on a boardwalk over the marsh, take to the paved paths through jungle-like vegetation, or launch your kayak from the dock. Favorites include the 50-foot-tall observation tower, the new and much improved “Big Toy” playground, and picnic tables tucked here and there as if you’re on your own deserted island. There’s also bike and paddleboat rentals and a fenced dog park with bleachers and tables. $1; free for child under three. 444 Needlerush Pkwy., Mount Pleasant. Bathroom. Picnic Tables. Playground.
Isle of Palms Recreation Department
Here you’ll discover a multitude of equipment, such as the climbing web and suspended stepping platforms, varied enough to satisfy toddlers to tweens. Free. 24 28th Ave. Bathroom. Picnic Tables. Playground.
Sullivan’s Island Playground
This park boasts a separate fenced-in playground for little ones, plus a soccer field and beach volleyball, basketball, and tennis courts. Don’t miss the climbing wall and choo-choo train. Free. Middle St. at Station 21, Sullivan’s Island. Bathroom (Porta-potties). Picnic Tables. Playground.
This place is perfect for the pooches and the skaters, with a shady, fenced dog run offering plenty of benches for human socializing and a skate ramp for less talking and more, well, skating. Free. 55 Sycamore Ave. Bathroom (Porta-potty).
James Island County Park
A fishing dock, well-equipped playground, and water park are just the beginning. This county gem features miles of paved trails for walking and biking, a climbing wall, and a “Spray Play” sprinkler. You can rent bikes, paddleboats, and kayaks on site. There’s also a large fenced dog park with a lake and lots of benches. $1; free for child under three. 871 Riverland Dr. Bathroom. Picnic Tables. Playground.
This is an old-school jewel on beautiful Elliott Cut. There’s no real green space, but you will find abundant shade from mossy trees and lots of benches, plus a large play structure with slides and boat-watching at the adjacent boat ramp. Free. Plymouth Ave. in Riverland Terrace. Picnic Tables.
HOOPS & HOOFS: As part of their regular biweekly training days, Charleston’s mounted officers participate in horseback basketball. The two-on-two games help make the horses more aware of their riders, desensitize them to crowding, and teach them to stand their ground. Typically on Tuesdays at the police stables adjacent to Hampton Park, the tourneys take place under a 12-foot-tall basketball goal.
LEARN THE ROPES: Charleston County residents can get all-day access to the state’s tallest outdoor climbing facility for only $10 (plus a $3 harness rental fee if you don’t have your own). Beginners and advanced adventurers are welcome at James Island County Park’s 50-foot wall, where staff gladly assist with technical and safety procedures. Experience isn’t required, but closed-toe shoes are a must!
Bring home the fun with classic and contemporary lawn games
String a net between two trees and see how long you can keep the shuttlecock flying high.
Try tossing slippery bean bags into a hole on a platform in this reinvented carnival competition.
Throw colorful balls towards the jack (small white ball). Precision earns points in this bowling game.
Fling a bolo towards a small ladder, and score points when you get it to wrap round a rung.
Test your skill with a mallet as you work your way through the hoops on a grassy course.
Horseshoes meets bocce in this Swedish game. Pitch batons to knock over wooden blocks before taking aim at the king pin.
Close counts in this low-stakes game that pits two teams against each other in a challenge to ring heavy horseshoes round a post.
Photograph by Wendy Mogul