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Places to Beat the Heat in Charleston, SC

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Charleston has the perfect climate. We don’t get snow in the winter, we can celebrate the holidays on the beach and our spring always comes early. Yet in the summer, the temperature and the humidity can sneak up on you. These 10 activities will help you beat the heat in Charleston, offering a break from the smoldering temperatures.


Tips to Escape the Heat in Charleston

When summer rolls around, many Charlestonians head inside to take advantage of the air conditioning. Well, we’re used to the heat so we don’t mind it so much. But when you’re dealing with 90 F days and full humidity, sometimes you need to save face by cooling down for a bit.

We recommend the following activities in Charleston when you need a break from the heat:


  • Enjoy the air conditioning in museums, hotels, and restaurants
  • Head to a rooftop to catch a breeze
  • Make a beeline for Charleston’s many waterways
  • Cool down with a refreshing drink or snack


Museums in Charleston

One of our favorite indoor activities in Charleston is museums.

The Holy City has dozens of them. From educational to inspirational to kid-friendly, we’ve got a museum for every interest here. The best part? In the summer, the air conditioning is on full blast. Some of our favorite museums to hide from the heat include:


  • The Charleston Museum
  • Gibbes Museum of Art
  • North Charleston Fire Museum (kid-friendly)
  • Old Slave Mart Museum
  • Aiken-Rhett House
  • Any plantation museum


Charleston Beaches

We have some of the best beaches in America right here in Charleston. We pity the visitor who heads here in the summer and misses all the fun in the sun at the beach. Right in the city, we have five popular beaches that offer miles of soft sand and plenty of activities.


Head a little further out of the city, and you’ll find a few beach day trips, like Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head.


Our favorite Charleston beaches include:


  • Seabrook Island
  • Sullivan’s Island
  • Kiawah Island
  • Isle of Palms
  • Folly Beach


Boat Ride

We happen to think the best way to beat the heat is with a little wind flowing through your hair. Downtown Charleston is surrounded by water on three sides, which means there are plenty of opportunities for setting sail. Luckily, we have so many boat tours here that there’s one for just about every budget.


You can also choose how much involvement you want — paddle a kayak or canoe or pedal your own boat with Saltwater Cycle. Or, sit back and relax and enjoy a glass of wine while you enjoy the sunset from a sailboat. Our favorite Charleston boat rides to help beat the heat include:


  • Charleston Water Taxi (with guided narration)
  • Schooner Pride
  • Spiritline Cruises
  • Nature Adventures (kayaks and canoes)
  • Charleston Harbor Tours
  • Saltwater Cycle


Water Park

All this sunshine year-round means that water park season lasts longer! We have not one — but three — water parks here in Charleston, including Splash Island, Splash Zone, and Whirlin’ Waters. No matter what part of the city you’re in, you can cool down on a waterslide, in a wave pool, or in a lazy river.


If you’re craving a little more adventure, you can always head up to Myrtle Beach to hit up the Myrtle Waves Water Park or the Family Kingdom Amusement Park.


Charleston Aquarium

The Charleston Aquarium is possibly the most kid-friendly activity on this list. It’s one of the most popular aquariums on the East Coast and features animals and wildlife from Charleston’s diverse landscape.


You can check out sea turtles, jellyfish, eagles, and more here. The inside galleries are all air-conditioned, so it’s a great indoor activity in Charleston, SC, to beat the heat.


Rooftop Bar

We’re a little more than obsessed about our rooftop bars here in Charleston. And why wouldn’t we be? The city is home to dozens of bars with great views of the city and surrounding water. Some of our favorite rooftop bars include:


  • Stars Rooftop Bar & Grill
  • Eleve Rooftop Restaurant & Lounge
  • The Watch Rooftop Kitchen and Spirits
  • Red’s Ice House
  • Henry’s Bar & Restaurant
  • The Boathouse at Breach Inlet


Edisto River

You could head to one of our many water parks to float down a man-made lazy river. Or, you could do it the way we did in the olden days at the Edisto River.


Only a one-hour drive from Downtown, this river is where the locals go when they want to float. You can rent a tube for only $20 per person and spend the next few hours relaxing. At the end of the experience, you’ll get shuttled back to your car after returning your inner tube.


Ice Cream Parlors

Charleston’s warm weather just cries out for ice cream.

Luckily, there are plenty of ice cream parlors, stands and shops in our fair city. Whether you’re into gelato, soft serve, creative flavors or simple, classic vanilla cones, you can cool down from the inside out here. Some of our favorite ice cream shops include:

  • Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
  • Ye Ole Fashioned Ice Cream
  • Kilwins
  • Off Track Ice Cream

Not only are ice cream parlors an indoor activity in Charleston to beat the heat, but they also offer a refreshing treat!

Patriots Point

Another kid-friendly way to beat the heat, Patriots Point is a U.S. Naval and Air museum dedicated to the history of several wars, including World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Cold War.


The indoor spaces are air-conditioned; outdoors, you’re right on the water, so there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy summer breezes.


Spa Day

When all else fails? Head to the spa. They’re all air-conditioned here. If your skin is feeling a little charred from overexposure to the sun, you can even get a body wrap that will help soothe your dermis. Some of our favorite local spas include:


  • The Spa at Belmond Charleston Place
  • The Woodhouse Day Spa


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