Updated: October 2021. Originally published: April 2016
From stunning beaches and tranquil parks to mouth-watering eateries and unique attractions that make for a “Welcome to Pets” mat, you’ll love spending time with your pet in Charleston!
For years we had heard of Charleston’s hospitality, both to people and to pets. So when we finally got to visit him, Ty and Buster were drooling over smelling the best pet-friendly things to do in Charleston!
The only disappointment with our trip was that we couldn’t stay any longer. This historic city has so much to offer that we couldn’t get to everything. And we don’t want the same thing to happen to you! So to help you plan your next pet vacation, below you will find our favorite pet stuff to do in Charleston.
Pet Friendly Hotels in Charleston
Of course, the first job is to find accommodation. Fortunately, in Charleston you will find a large selection of pet-friendly hotels and several nice campsites. There are also many restaurants that welcome pets in their patios, so covering the basics won’t be a problem.
Then it’s time to have fun! With these suggestions, you and your furry travel friend will enjoy the best of Charleston.
READ MORE ⇒ Tips on how to protect your dog from barking in a hotel room
The best things for pets in Charleston
1. Take a walk on King Street
One of the most interesting aspects of Charleston is its architecture – especially the elegant old houses that line the streets. Many of these residences date back to the days before the Civil War and speak of a more cordial, less hectic life.
Take a look at the large side verandas facing Charleston Harbor, which are built to catch the evening breeze. And take a look at the immaculately maintained side yards as you walk down the sidewalk!
2. White Point Garden
At the bottom of King Street, where the artery meets the harbor, you will find the White Point Garden, suitable for pets. This lush park overlooks the point where the Ashley and Cooper rivers flow into the Atlantic Ocean.
Historic cannons and mortars are dotted around the periphery, reminding of the city’s important place in the history of the Civil War. But now this park is an oasis of calm amid the noise and bustle.
From dawn to 9 am and from 5 pm to 11 pm, this 5.7-acre park is an area for dogs without a leash. And there are many experienced dog squirrels to make your puppy run for his money! The park is not fenced, so reliable pulling is extremely important for all dogs that play without a leash.
3. The battery
White Point Garden is just steps from The Battery, a fortified sea wall that protects the top of the peninsula. Originally built as an important defense for early Charleston, the coastal wall is now a promenade lined with pre-war homes. You’ll also get great views of Fort Sumter, Sullivan’s lighthouse and Pinkney Castle.
This is a great place to walk your dog when it is not too hot or crowded. And watch out over the shoulder for dolphins who love to play on the beach!
4. Waterfront Park
Heading for the East Battery, it takes you to Hazel Parker. Here you will find a fenced, leash-free dog track and a waterfront park.
This 12-acre award-winning park stretches for half a mile along the Charles River and serves as Charleston’s front yard. Whether you’re looking for a place to play frisbee, a shady corner to curl up with a book, or a lush splash in the fountain, Waterfront Park will cover you.
5. Get on board the water taxi
From Waterfront Park (and other places around the city) you can take a water taxi. The Charleston water taxi accepts dogs with leashes of all sizes and travels back and forth between Charleston Harbor Harbor and Patriot’s Point in Mount Pleasant. Dogs ride for free, and people can get a $ 12 all-day pass.
Along the way, enjoy great views of the USS Yorktown, Ravenal Bridge, Fort Sumter (dogs are not allowed) and many dolphins.
6. Restaurants suitable for dogs in Charleston
From small cafes to fine restaurants, Charleston has many options when you want to dine in a courtyard suitable for dogs. For a fun lunch, the amazing Fuel Cantina offers Caribbean-influenced cuisine and a friendly atmosphere.
7. James Island County Park
When your dog is really ready to go, take a short drive to James Island Park. His eyes will shine absolutely when he sees the four-acre dog park and beach!
The $ 2 entry fee is well spent money as you watch all the adorable puppies come in and out of the water, chasing balls and doing belly slaps in the wild.
James Island County Park also has a campsite and pet park, as well as a series of paved trails where pets are welcome. This is a fantastic place to stay for anyone traveling with a pet!
8. Beaches for dogs in Charleston
Charleston is located on a peninsula surrounded by islands, and boasts a fantastic selection of beaches suitable for pets. From Sullivan Island and Palms Island to the north, to Folly Beach and Beachwalker Park on Kiawah Island to the south, there’s a perfect stretch of sand for everyone!
Palms Island welcomes dogs on the beach all day, all year round. Dogs can be without a leash from 16:00 to 10:00 in winter (September 15 – March 31) and from 5 to 9 in the morning in summer (April 1 – September 14). At all other times, dogs must be on a leash, with the owner holding the leash, even when in the water.
Sullivan Island requires all dogs to have a Sullivan Island dog permit – residents ($ 20) and visitors ($ 40) – at City Hall.
In winter (October – April) dogs can enjoy the beach without a leash from 5 to noon and on a leash from noon to 5 in the morning. In summer (May – September) dogs can be on a leash from 5 to 10 in the morning and on a leash from 18 to 5 in the morning, but are not allowed on the beach from 10 to 18 hours.
READ MORE ⇒ Explore Jekyll and St. Simons Islands in Georgia with pets
9. Angel Oak Park
One of the most breathtaking trees in the country grows in a small park about 12 miles west of Charleston on Jones Island. Angel oak is considered to be the largest living oak tree east of the Mississippi and is estimated to be 300 to 400 years old.
The tree is 65 feet tall with a circumference of 25.5 feet, shading an area of 17,000 square feet. Some of its huge branches reach the sky, while others extend across the earth.
You and your pet can visit for free six days a week. The park is closed on Wednesdays and holidays and donations to help preserve the tree are appreciated.
Dogs can admire the angel oak from the picnic area, but are not allowed under the canopy of the tree.
10. Charleston Tea Plantation
About 20 miles southwest of the city, along Jones Island, is the Charleston tea plantation. This is one of the few places where tea is grown in the United States! If you are curious how tea gets from the field to your cup, this is a stop you will not want to miss.
They have a lovely front porch where your dog is welcome to wait with you while your party alternates between visiting the tea bar and enjoying a video tour of the production facilities. Then take a walk to take a closer look at the plantation.
Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed on a trolley tour through the tea plantation and to the greenhouse.
11. Plantation and gardens with magnolia
Nestled on 464 acres on the banks of the Ashley River, the Magnolia plantation dates back to 1676. Thomas and Ann Drayton started the mansion as a rice plantation, and the Rev. John Grimke-Drayton developed the now famous gardens after inheriting the property in the 1840s.
Magnolia Plantation welcomes dogs with a leash 365 days a year to join you in exploring the gardens.
Leashed dogs are also welcome on Drayton Hall and especially enjoy solo walks in nature. The area of the highly filmed Boone Hall plantation is also suitable for pets, although pets cannot go on tours.
READ MORE ⇒ Visit to a magnolia plantation with pets
Bonus attractions suitable for pets
Fort Moltry National Historical Park
Dogs cannot enter the fort, but you can view the cannons and interpretive exhibits around Fort Moultrie and Battery Jasper together. The area also provides excellent views of Fort Sumter (unfortunately, pets are not allowed) and downtown Charleston.
Charles Town Landing State Historic Site
Charles Towne Landing is located on a swampy point by the Ashley River and is where a group of English settlers landed in 1670 to find out what would become the birthplace of the Carolina colony.
Dogs are welcome in most open areas of Charles Towne Landing, as long as they are on a leash no longer than six feet. However, pets cannot enter the animal forest.
Palmeto Island County Park
This 943-acre park near the Boone Hall Plantation is the perfect place to spend an afternoon. Built in a tropical setting, with bike paths, promenades and picnic areas with a grill, the little ones will surely enjoy the fenced dog park
We hope this gives you a good starting point for your pet trip to Charleston. If you know of other great places we missed, please share them in the comments below!
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