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Just East of Charleston is a beautiful stretch of land bounded by Charleston Harbor, Shem Creek and Cove Inlet. English settlers in 1680 named the area Mt. Pleasant. Today it is still a treasure to behold, but is easy to miss among the modern sprawl of Hwy 17.

As visitors walk the docks of Shem Creek and the streets of Old Town, they connect with the natural beauty of the area that drew settlers here. The marsh spreads out from Shem Creek, opening glistening green and gold arms out to Charleston harbor. In Old Town along Pitt Street, massive live oaks spread moss-laden limbs over narrow streets.

The historic charm hides the underlying battle between the descendants of the early settlers and modern day developers. Locals wish to remember and conserve the area, while developers dream up ways to profit on the ambiance. The fight against progress is ancient, its roots running deep along the shorelines. Low Country residents have a history of fighting for their beliefs, keeping time honored traditions intact. Balanced compromise is called for to accommodate industry and preserve the way of life.

“The Creek” as locals affectionately call it, runs out of the marsh and into Charleston Harbor, beckoning travelers to explore the natural beauty and architectural nooks and crannies. While dolphins cavort in the creek, pelicans and gulls perch on shrimp boats, inviting visitors to pause and enjoy the view. As the sun sets, rays of golden light reach through thunder heads above, bounce off the surface of the water and flash silvery radiance that lights up the marsh grass.

Boats of all sizes and shapes line the docks on each side of the creek. This community has provided much of the shrimp supplied to the Charleston area for 30+ years. Shrimp season opens in late April with the Blessing of the Fleet festival, held at historic Alahambra Hall. Deep sea fishing charter vessels also dock here, as do kayak outfitters. Sail and power vessels tie up to the dock, their passengers encouraged to dine along the quay. The ‘no wake’ zone makes it easy to pause here for an experience of freshly caught local seafood at restaurants lining “the Creek”.

For longer term stays, dock your vessel at Patriot’s Point Marina. Located just outside the mouth of Shem Creek toward Charleston Harbor, Patriot’s Point is the largest marina in the area, with 459 slips. A majestic view of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Yorktown offers an opportunity to explore and connect with naval history. An entire day could be devoted to exploring the Yorktown, the Coast Guard Cutter and the Medal of Honor Museum. Tour boats to Ft. Sumpter leave from the Yorktown daily.

Patriot’s Point Resort and Hotel is also located here. Nautical themed guest rooms decorated in bright yellows and blues, comfy bedding and spectacular views of the harbor keep guests close to the water with all the comforts of home. The resort also offers an 18-hole championship golf course overlooking Charleston Harbor, Fort Sumter and Shem Creek. Known for its challenging waterfront finishing holes, the course is within minutes of the beaches at the Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island.

Patriots Point Resort is well acquainted with water lovers. Charleston Race Week is held here in the Spring, and sport fishing tournaments are throughout the season. Black and White photographs of previous tournament winners line the walls in the Reel Bar. A quick bike ride or shuttle from East Cooper Shuttle will transport you over to Shem Creek. For guests preferring to go into Charleston the Water Taxi leaves from Dock A hourly, dropping passengers at the Charleston Maritime Center, within walking distance of the Aquarium. Bikes and pets are welcome on the water taxi. Bring the camera for unique close ups of the hull of the U.S.S. Yorktown and the Arthur Ravenel Bridge.

For accommodations overlooking Shem Creek, check into The Shem Creek Inn. The Inn offers a 10% discount for fishing charters booked with Captain Rick Hiott’s Inshore Fishing Charters. Guests booking a fishing charter with Captain Rick Hiott’s Inshore Fishing Charters receive a 10% discount on room rates. Captain Hiott’s fishing expertise for Red Drum is widely known, both with locals and worldwide. Featured on the Discovery Channel – Europe and in Saltwater Sportsman Magazine, Captain Hiott is highly recommended for finding the best inshore fishing hot spots, and also for his genuine interest in teaching others about the inshore waters around Charleston.

The abundance and experience of local fishermen here provides for the ultimate in fresh seafood. Mt. Pleasant Seafood operates a retail store here at the Creek and has a booth at the Mt. Pleasant Farmer’s Market. For fining out, patrons at the Water’s Edge Cabana Bar delight at the antics of the playful goodwill ambassadors of the Creek. Arriving daily at 4 pm, the male dolphin makes his appearance, followed by the rest of the pod. Look closely and you will see the baby swimming along with his mother. It’s as if these creatures have come to just to welcome guests to the area. It would be difficult not to be infused with wonder as one watches these beautiful beings fish for their supper. Working in conjunction with brown pelicans and seagulls, they dive for fish remains from the charter boats.

Sunsets are an event here. Several restaurants offer outdoor and creekside dining, allowing guests to experience the wonder of a brilliant Charleston sunset with the ubiquitous charm of a small fishing village. Enjoy the view from the outdoor bar and dining area at Vickery’s. Watch as the suns rays cast over the marsh as it spreads toward the mouth of the creek. Feel the gentle breezes from Charleston Harbor waft through the palmettos. Even during a storm, the view from the indoor bar is a magnificent way to watch the drama without dampening the spirit. From the indoor bar, one can see the shrimp boats, wings spread out and up as if they were water angels ready to fly.

Looking across the creek offers an opportunity to check out the architectural nooks and crannies lining the docks. Magwoods Seafood still provides shrimp and fish to much of Charleston after 30 years in business. “Live long, Love long, Eat Seafood” is their motto, painted on the walls in red and blue. At The Wreck, Low Country culinary favorites are dished up informally on huge paper plates. The price is well worth the spectacular sunset view from the screened in porch dining room. This is one place the no-see-ums can’t reach during dinner.

Looking toward the bridge, R.B.’s and Red’s Ice House offer more choices for outdoor dining. RB’s is more upscale, and quite serious about proper patron parking, sometimes towing their own customers by mistake. Bright yellow signs warn fines for booting and towing. RB’s owns the Shem Creek Towing Company, and keeps a tow truck is parked in view on the lot.

Red’s is the casual local hangout with something going on at Happy Hour daily. Offering free parking in a huge gravel lot adjacent to the restaurant, they are more concerned with customers having a great time. Red’s is also the local “Yappy Hour” hotspot, so bring your canine buddies to meet and greet the locals. Ice cold buckets of water and doggie biscuits are favorites with the four-legged furry crowd. Upstairs, the view of the sunset is unparalleled. Cushions line the upstairs bar, which can be reserved for private parties. On holidays, this is a prime spot to view fireworks shot from the U.S.S. Yorktown.

Happy hours are special at Red’s Ice House. On Sundays, listen to local acoustic/rock/folk singers playing downstairs. On Thursdays, taste the freshly steamed shrimp served up at the bar for free. Best of all, Wednesday evenings feature a sunset cruise on the Palmetto Breeze, a 50′ sailing catamaran. This is a great way to watch the CORA (Charleston Ocean Racing Assoc.) races in the harbor, with plenty of photo ops on the trip. Ticket prices include adult beverages and a spread of hors du vours. Captain Ping is always cheerful, ready to take guests out on the water. He will even let you steer the boat, if you ask nicely.

A few blocks away from Red’s is the Old Town of Mount Pleasant. Listed on the National Register of Historic places, Old Town is home to quaint churches, colonial and antebellum homes and also the majestic Alhambra Hall, the original site of the Mount Pleasant Ferry Company. Built in 1847 by Charles Jugnot and Oliver Hilliard as a summer retreat and dance hall, Alhambra Hall sits nestled in a grove of massive live oaks. Rebuilt in 1937, it is a popular spot for community events. Located on a waterfront park lined with live oaks, and equipped with a fabulous community playground, this is a quiet peaceful place for an afternoon picnic. Wander over to the Confederate Cemetery, and don’t miss the tiny Post Office building on the way back over Pitt Street. Many streets end with a view of Charleston harbor, making it easy to see why the town founders named it Mt. Pleasant. Although there is no mountain per say, it is certainly a pleasant place to be.

A short distance away is the Old Town, where visitors can tap into nostalgia with an old fashioned ice cream soda from the Pitt Street Pharmacy. Down the block, the Old Post House Restaurant and Tavern operates in the building that served as a grocery store. Originally built by German immigrants in 1888, the Post House serves light lunch and dinner, with dining downstairs and a meeting room upstairs for private parties. She Crab soup, tuna, lamb shank, steaks, sauteed sea bass, and shrimp & grits await hungry diners here. The streets of Old Town point toward Charleston

If you’re in Mount Pleasant on a Tuesday afternoon, stop by the Farmer’s Market, held at the Old Moultrie Middle School on West Coleman Blvd. An abundance of fresh flowers, herbs, local produce, and seafood is found in this tiny market. Local Bluegrass or acoustic musicians perform while you shop. Snow Cones and face painting are available for kids of all ages and a barbeque stand ensures that you won’t go hungry before you get back to your floating home. The Market runs through the end of October, with a special Holiday Market and Craft Show scheduled on December 8 from 10 – 3 pm.

Shopping in this area offers a variety of delightful wares both in Old Town and on the Creek, and in some cases, a generous helping of local history. In the village, Utonga Gallery offers a unique collection of Shona (Zimbabwe) sculpture. Next door, Out of Hand Gallery is a feast for the eyes of cards, gifts and treasures to remember your visit. At the Charleston Candle Cottage on West Coleman Blvd., customers can chat with Rachel, the proprietress. A post office is located in the back for mailing art cards to folks back home. The candle selection here is vast as well. Behind the Candle Cottage, watch local artist Steven Jordan as he paints watercolors and oils of favorite Low Country scenery.

Across the way on Mill Street, a variety of shops are located in the Commons. For the right stationery and post cards, check out The Scratch Pad. Sue Tanis offers an appealing selection of quirky, fun locally oriented gifts, stationery and invitations for the right occasion. At the end of Mill Street, proprietress and local history expert Lou Edens offers a collection of select gifts, home furnishings and a generous helping of local history about the area at The Fifth Season. Lou owned and operated the Maritime Museum next door for years, and also owns Rice Hope Plantation Bed & Breakfast on the Cooper River.

Shem Creek Marina is across from The Fifth Season on Mill Street. Sailing vessels can’t navigate under the bridge, the marina specializes in long term dry dock storage for smaller power boats. The old Maritime Museum building is next door, now the recent home of Coastal Expeditions kayak tours. Coastal Expeditions offers kayak tours of Shem Creek, and passenger ferry tours to Bull Island year round.

Two more restaurants are on this side of Shem Creek. Shem Creek Bar & Grill has a spectacular view of the marsh from the outdoor dock bar and the indoor back porch. Inside the main restaurant, the bow shaped bar is unique, reminding all who enter that boating is a first love here. With a great selection of seafood and Low Country favorites, this family oriented restaurant has it all. Next door the new Creekside Bar & Grill offers lower priced favorites and outdoor roof seating overlooking the creek.

One could easily spend a week discovering the historic places in this area. Watching a sunset through the shrimp boat wings, strolling along the docks of the creek after dinner, and taking time to explore local shops will endear visitors to this charming spot so close to Charleston. A kayak tour will shed light on conservation efforts on the Creek, and a conversation with locals at Red’s will further enhance your visit here. Check out the many wonders of Shem Creek and Old Town Mt. Pleasant soon, before it’s too late to remember the way things were.

Sidebar

Lodging

Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina

20 Patriots Point Road

Mount Pleasant, South Carolina 29464

http://www.CharlestonHarborResort.com

843-856-0028

Toll Free: 888-856- 8333

Reservations

Toll free – (888) 856-0028

Shem Creek Inn

1401 Shrimp Boat Ln,

Mt Pleasant, SC

(843) 881-1000

Marinas

Charleston Harbor Marina

24 Patriot’s Point Rd.

Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina 29464

Office: (843) 284-7062

Mobile: (843) 297-2949 or (843) 297-2948

Fax: (843)856-8540

Patriots Point Links on Charleston Harbor

One Patriots Point Road

Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464

Phone: 843.881.0042

Fax: 843.881.0044

Toll Free: 877.709.5053

Restaurants

Water’s Edge

1407 Shrimp Boat Lane

Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina 29464

Reservations 843.884.4074

Vickery’s Bar & Grill

1313 Shrimp Boat Ln

Mt Pleasant, SC 29464

(843)884-4440

Reds Icehouse

98 Church Street

Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464

843.388.000

Shem Creek Bar & Grill

508 Mill St

Mt Pleasant, SC 29464

(843)884-8102

Creekside Grill

508 B Mill Street

Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464

843-856-4803

http://www.CreeksideBarGrill.com

Old Village Post House

101 Pitt Street

Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464

843-388-8935

Tours and Sightseeing

Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum

40 Patriots Point Road

Mount Pleasant, South Carolina 29464

866-831-1720 toll free

843-884-2727

Angie Bennett, Group Business/ Visitor Services

866-831-1720 toll free

groupreservations@patriotspoint.org

Aqua Safaris, Inc. (Palmetto Breeze)

24 Patriot’s Point Rd.

Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464

800-524-3444, 843-886-8133

Coastal Expeditions

514 B Mill Street

Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464

843-884-7684

Fishing Charters

Aqua Adventures

Capain Chuck Griffin

843-884-6696

843-860-1664

Captain Rick Hiott’s Inshore Fishing Charters

(843) 412-6776 cell

or (843) 554-9386 home

Transportation

East Cooper Shuttle

Elaine: 843-343-0484

John: 843-327-4700

Water Taxi

Charleston Water Taxi

843) 330-CWTX (2989),

One way $5

Round Trip: $8

All day Pass: $12.

Galleries

Steven Jordan Gallery

409 W. Coleman Blvd and

423 W. Coleman Blvd in the Peach Orchard Plaza

843-881-1644

Utonga Gallery

113 Pitt Street

Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464

800 732 4306

(843) 216 7686

Shopping

Out of Hand

113C Pitt Street

Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464

843-856-3585

The Fifth Season

510 Mill Street

Mt. Pleasant SC 29464

843-884-5000

The Scratch Pad

409 Mill Street

Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464

843-884-3433

Mt Pleasant – High Life in the Low Country

Mt Pleasant - High Life in the Low Country