Where To Watch The Sunrise in Charleston, SC

Sunrise in Charleston SC

A Local’s Guide to the Best Spots to Watch the Sunrise in Charleston, SC

Waking up early enough to watch the sunrise is a rewarding experience, especially if you are in Charleston, South Carolina. There is nothing better than viewing the Holy City’s famous 18th-century buildings against the backdrop of spectacular shades of pink, orange, and blue in the early hours of the morning.

Sunrise in Charleston SC
Flickr: Pineapple Sunrise | by silicon640c Pineapple Sunrise | by silicon640c

Most people who visit Charleston are happy to see the city’s famous monuments during regular hours, but they miss out on a peaceful and whimsical experience by not seeing a Charleston sunrise. Waking up before the city comes to life is a great way to start your day, and you can capture some amazing photos if you know the best spots.  Most of the great spots to watch a sunrise in Charleston are swamped during the day, but these spots are much less crowded in the wee hours of the morning. This gives you the perfect opportunity to enjoy a quiet moment as the sun peaks above the horizon.  Whether you are just visiting the Holy City or lucky enough to call Charleston home, you should know about these great spots to watch the sunrise.

Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge

The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge spans the Cooper River, connecting downtown Charleston to Mount Pleasant. The bridge includes a wide walking and biking path called Wonder’s Way, which provides runners, walkers, and cyclists with a fun place to get some exercise.  This path also has two observation decks that offer spectacular views of the harbor and the many steeples that span across Charleston’s skyline. If you park on the Mt. Pleasant side, you can reach one of the observation decks within 20 minutes by walking along Wonder’s Way. From this point, you will have an amazing view as the sun rises over the city.

Be aware that it does get chilly on the bridge, and you may want to bring along some warm clothing, depending on when you visit Charleston. After you take in the sunrise, there is a park located at the base of the bridge in Mt. Pleasant that is ideal for picnics, watching ships pass by in the harbor, or taking a quiet stroll along the waterfront.
Melton Peter Demetre Park, AKA “Sunrise Park”

Melton Peter Demetre Park, AKA “Sunrise Park”
With a nickname such like “Sunrise Park,” it’s no surprise that Melton Peter Demetre Park makes the list of best spots to watch the sunrise in Charleston. Located next to the James Island Yacht Club on the north coast of James Island, this little park offers visitors a peaceful place to view the sunrise as it comes up from behind Mt. Pleasant.
The park also offers some magnificent views of the Charleston Harbor and the Arthur Ravenel Bridge. Admission is free, and you can even bring the dogs to get in an early morning walk as you catch the stunning sunrise. If you are there in the evening, you can catch the sun setting behind the Ashley River Bridge.

Folly Beach
Folly Beach at sunrise
Vimeo by David Crawford

There are few places more relaxing than Folly Beach. This 12-mile barrier island is a hot spot for both tourists and locals who want to take in the peaceful views as the sun rises and sets.  Most places along the six miles of beach on Folly island are prime spots for watching the sunrise, but you will get an excellent view from the Edwin S. Taylor Folly Beach Fishing Pier. This pier stretches 1,045 feet into the Atlantic Ocean and is easily accessible if you’re staying in a Folly Beach vacation rental. The pier also offers plenty of dining opportunities when you get hungry, including the newly opened Pier 101 that offers casual fare and dancing for locals and tourists alike.

Riley Waterfront Park
Charleston’s Waterfront Park is a beautiful park that has great views of the harbor and Cooper River, especially as the sun begins to rise. The large fountains (such as the signature Pineapple Fountain) make it a popular place to bring kids, but arriving early enough to see the sunrise allows you to get there before the crowds. Enjoy the waterfront with other early risers and relax on one of the park’s gentle swing benches or simply sit under a giant oak tree as you take in the rising sun.

The Battery
On the end of the peninsula in downtown Charleston is Battery Park, also known as White Point Gardens. This waterfront area is a great place for a morning or evening stroll and offers a great view of Charleston’s harbor. You can watch the boats or keep an eye out for dolphins as the sun rises over the city. After the sunrise, consider meandering along the long walkway and take in the southern mansions and cannons.

Sullivan’s Island Beach
Sullivans Island South Carolina
Wikimedia Commons By Jo Anna Barber from Hillsborough, NC, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0

What could possibly be better than taking in a gorgeous sunrise with a pod of dolphins?  Sullivan’s Island Beach is a relaxing spot to take in the sunrise and less busy than other beaches in Charleston, giving you plenty of privacy to take in the view with loved ones.  Keep in mind that there are no restrooms or lifeguards along the beach, but if you are there to simply stroll along the beach to take in the beautiful sunrise, that shouldn’t be an issue. Afterwards, you can head to The Bearded Cat for coffee and breakfast or have lunch at Poe’s Tavern, where they serve up good food and drinks in a laid back atmosphere.

Charleston offers many amazing sunrise views, due to the various islands that surround this beautiful town. Find your right spot and enjoy the beautiful, breezy sites that this historic city offers.

About The Author:  Traci Magnus was raised on the Charleston Coast and attended the College of Charleston before moving to New York City in the mid 1990s. Her first job in the Big Apple was with the renowned NYC real estate brokerage Douglas Elliman. For the next decade, she honed her marketing skills at some of Madison Avenue’s top advertising agencies. In 2006, she returned to Charleston along with her husband Glenn and their son Max. She joined the Dunes Properties team in early 2008 as Director of Marketing.


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