Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in North Charleston, SC

  • Published 2023/01/09

North Charleston is a progressive city that offers a unique culture with its state-of-the-art recreation facilities.

Marked with a different Southern charm, this city’s laid-back atmosphere is what makes tourists come back to the place after a first visit.

Back in 1901, the city was famous for being home to one of the largest U.S. Navy Bases on the East Coast.

Years later, with the base gone, North Charleston has become a diverse destination known for its fine dining establishments, historic appeal, and riverfront sceneries.

It’s also the only city throughout the whole country that produces commercial vehicles, including automobiles and airplanes.

If you’re trying to stay within a certain budget, this city within the Tri-County Area of South Carolina is your destination.

It’s also within the Charleston region, so you have convenient access to the largest city in the state!

Discover the beauty of this city with these free things to do in North Charleston, South Carolina.

Walk by Historic Homes at Riverfront Park

Boardwalk at Riverfront Park

Cvandyke /

Riverfront Park offers an outdoor delight for those who prefer a budget-friendly park experience.

It’s nestled in the center of Lowcountry on Everglades Avenue.

Within the park are the residential homes of past naval officers, as well as the Charleston Naval Base Memorial.

It’s also right along Cooper River, offering majestic water views for a relaxing retreat.

Surrounding the park is Noisette Creek, where a meadow and grand oak canopies offer shelter from the summer heat.

When you’re done exploring the dock and Riverfront Park’s facilities, opt for a picnic with your loved ones and friends.

If you’re lucky, you might even get to celebrate with the community during the park’s hosted events and festivals.

Relax by the Pond at Quarterman Lake Park

Quarterman Lake Park is a neighborhood park famous for its peaceful charm and fishing opportunities.

Built around a small pond, this site is home to various waterfowl, including geese and ducks.

This is why many residents call this park Duck Pond.

The park’s walking paths offer relaxing scenery that visitors enjoy.

It’s also only a short mile from the bustling Olde Village Business District, where you may find a variety of shopping centers and restaurants.

You can find Quarterman Lake Park along the intersection of Buist Avenue and Spruill Avenue.

Listen to Live Music at North Charleston’s Annual Harvest Festival

Pumpkin decorating contest at North Charleston’s Annual Harvest Festival

North Charleston from North Charleston, SC, United States, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Celebrate autumn in North Charleston at the Harvest Festival!

Every October, this annual event welcomes everyone, young and old, for a day of festivities in preparation for Halloween.

If you have your little ones with you, let them enjoy a round of trick-or-treating where they’ll get a treat bag filled with goodies for their sweet tooth.

Make your way around art booths and the pop-up pumpkin patch while listening to live music.

Costume contest at North Charleston’s Annual Harvest Festival

North Charleston from North Charleston, SC, United States, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There are also costume contests you can join without a fee.

The Harvest Festival is free for everyone to participate in and enjoy!

Come by East Montague Avenue and join the festivities in Olde Village of North Charleston.

Sign Up for a Free Guided Tour at Holy City Brewing

A North Charleston trip isn’t complete without a stop at its brewing shops.

Situated along Aragon Avenue, Holy City Brewing has been a craft beer paradise since 2011.

Offering growlers and on-tap beverages, this brewery provides free guided tours.

Not only do you get samples of the beer the brewery specializes in, but you also get a feel of the taproom and the surrounding grounds of the site.

You don’t have to make reservations, too!

Whenever you feel like getting a taste of a fresh pint, drop by Holy City Brewing!

Marvel at the Street Art all Over North Charleston

Street art from the National Outdoor Sculpture Competition & Exhibition

North Charleston from North Charleston, SC, United States, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Strolling the streets of North Charleston is an art adventure on its own.

Whether you prefer art murals or public sculpture installations, there are many for you to admire and take photos of.

One example is the mixed media art exhibition at the North Charleston City Hall on City Hall Lane.

These art pieces go back to 1989 and come from assistance grants and donations.

Colorful street art from the National Outdoor Sculpture Competition & Exhibition

North Charleston from North Charleston, SC, United States, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can also check out innovative art pieces from the National Outdoor Sculpture Competition & Exhibition.

On Riverfront Park, find up to 14 sculptures with varying subject themes and inspiration.

North Charleston also has a wide collection of inspiring murals all over its downtown district.

Sculpture from the National Outdoor Sculpture Competition & Exhibition

North Charleston from North Charleston, SC, United States, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

View the Art Exhibitions at Park Circle Gallery

Looking for art inspiration while exploring the streets of North Charleston?

Be sure to add Park Circle Gallery to your itinerary.

This art gallery on Jenkins Avenue brings together an impressive collection of art pieces in two- and three-dimensional mediums.

Standing in what was once the Olde Village Community Building, it ensures every artist has a platform to showcase their talent with rotating monthly exhibits featuring their designs and works.

From ceramics and glassware to oil and acrylic paintings, there’s a lot for you to see at Park Circle Gallery.

Practice Your Batting Skills at Wescott Park

The field of Wescott Park

North Charleston from North Charleston, SC, United States, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ready to flaunt your swinging and aiming skills?

Wescott Park is not your ordinary park because its amenities are mainly baseball-centered.

From batting cages to a Ripken Training Facility, you have everything you may need for your baseball practice sessions.

There is also a volleyball court, a fitness area, and an off-leash dog park.

Its ball fields connect paved walking trails to native trees and wildlife, so you also get a glimpse of nature after a few practice rounds or friendly games with the family.

Wescott Park is on Dorchester Road.

Admire the Artworks at North Charleston City Gallery

Featuring selected pieces from the city’s permanent public art collection, North Charleston City Gallery offers both indoor and outdoor art exploration within the gallery’s premises.

Browse through abstract and subject-centered art from a wide variety of artists.

You can also take your significant other for a romantic date at the gallery.

It’s fun and free, so don’t miss it!

North Charleston City Gallery has carved a home within two corridors of the Charleston Area Convention Center on Coliseum Drive.

Experience the Magical Lights and Sights at the Annual Christmas Festival

A performer at the Annual Christmas Festival

North Charleston from North Charleston, SC, United States, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

North Charleston’s Christmas Festival is a must while you’re in the city for the holidays.

Within the green spaces of Felix C. Davis Community Center on Park Circle, there’s a holiday treat for everyone with festive music and decor.

Live music is a staple at this festival, as well as Christmas tree and snowflake decor lighting.

There’s also a parade you can watch!

Howliday at the Park is another Christmas feature that’s dedicated to your furry loved ones.

Other fun activities are available at the festival.

Enjoy Visual, Musical, and Performing Arts at North Charleston Arts Fest

When North Charleston celebrates art, it goes all out!

In the annual North Charleston Arts Fest, everyone can anticipate a multi-faceted program for everything related to art within the cityscape.

Happening every May, this festival spans multiple days in different venues, from libraries to community centers.

Get a front-seat view of theater performances and musical concerts.

Learn more about visual arts with a free lecture or workshop.

Your kids can also enjoy the magic show, exhibition tour, and dance presentations.

At North Charleston Arts Fest, every art showcase is free, so staying within your travel budget won’t be an issue!

Other Things to Do Nearby

Check Out the Animal Fossils at the Mace Brown Museum of Natural History

Exhibit in the Mace Brown Museum of Natural History

Akrasia25, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Set inside the liberal arts college, The College of Charleston, the Mace Brown Museum of Natural History is a historical wonder for everyone interested in paleontology.

Open to the public, it features an array of animal fossil exhibitions, from land-crawling creatures to marine life.

You can also find dinosaur bones, and rare animal remains, including those of the Oligocene mammals of North America.

An animal skull displayed in the Mace Brown Museum of Natural History

Akrasia25, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re a shark lover, you might like the Megalodon display that houses real teeth from the now-extinct mammal.

Everywhere you go in this museum, there’s something new for you to learn.

The Mace Brown Museum of Natural History is on the second floor of the School of Sciences and Mathematics Building along Calhoun Street, 15 minutes via car from North Charleston.

Travel Back in Time as You Walk Down the Battery

Scenic view of the Battery

Sean Pavone /

The nearby Charleston is an interesting city full of historical attractions, and the Battery is one of them.

Only 20 minutes from North Charleston, this promenade offers a seawall that was once a significant contributor to military defense back in the day.

In fact, the site was also where the 1737 Fort Wilkins stood before suffering demolition in 1789.

A trail at the Battery

Sean Pavone /

Now, the Battery keeps the history of Charleston alive with its collection of historic mansions.

You can also see Sullivan’s Island lighthouse, the USS Yorktown, and the Forts Sumter and Moultrie.

Drive down Murray Boulevard to get to the Battery.

World war mortar on the grounds of the Battery

Denton Rumsey /

Strike a Pose in Front of Rainbow Row

Colorful houses at Rainbow Row

Benita Lynn /

One of Charleston’s popular tourist attractions is Rainbow Row.

Rainbow Row refers to 13 pastel-colored houses, which you can find north of Tradd Street and south of Elliot Street.

It’s one of the most photographed spots in all of the city, and rightfully so.

Before becoming an aesthetically-pleasing attraction, it suffered from poor conditions after the Civil War.

Sidewalk of Rainbow Row

Trisha McQuade /

The area where Rainbow Row now stands is the result of the dedication of a woman named Dorothy Porcher Legge in the early 1900s.

Her inspiration for the color scheme came from the colonial Caribbean palette, which other neighboring owners soon followed.

On East Bay Street, Rainbow Row is approximately 18 minutes from North Charleston.

Carriage ride along Rainbow Row


Explore the Gardens and Graveyards at the Gateway Walk

A trail at the Gateway Walk

ehrlif /

While in Charleston, it’s possible to travel to an otherworldly place without paying a fee!

The Gateway Walk is one of the hidden treasures of the city.

Passing through cemeteries and old churches in downtown Charleston, it provides a unique historic tour that museums and community centers can’t offer.

Established in 1930, it’s the first civic project of The Garden Club of Charleston, which Mrs. C. P. McGowan spearheaded after an enlightening trip to Paris.

You can access the Gateway Walk through various entrances, but if you want to start at the very entrance of the route, head to the west cemetery of Saint Philip’s Episcopal Church on Church Street.

The walk’s route ends at Saint John’s Lutheran Church.

The Gateway Walk is only a 17-minute drive from North Charleston.

Catch Dolphins Swimming by at Waterfront Park

Scenic view of Waterfront Park

Sean Pavone /

Serene and grand, Waterfront Park on Concord Street is a tourist attraction many visit for a respite.

With stunning views of Cooper River, it has family-friendly amenities free for everyone to use.

Family-sized swings, a splash fountain, and large grassy spaces are only some of its noteworthy facilities.

People enjoying the waters of Waterfront Park's pineapple fountain

Fotoluminate LLC /

On top of that, this park is where the famous Pineapple Fountain resides.

If you’re lucky, you might even get to see dolphins making their way across the shore when you look out from the pier.

It will only take you 15 minutes to reach Waterfront Park when you travel from North Charleston.

A trail at Waterfront Park

JonathanLamb, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Final Thoughts

With North Charleston’s affinity for culture and art celebration, it’s no wonder many come to this city for a break.

Its array of free tourist attractions and recreational hubs is only a bonus to the city’s relaxing Southern atmosphere.

If the list above of the free things to do in North Charleston, South Carolina, helped you make up your mind about whether to go to this city or not, be sure to bookmark this page!

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