If you are planning a family vacation to the SC coast, a stellar beach to visit is Isle of Palms. Things to do at IOP near Charleston are endless. Isle of Palms is convenient, family-friendly, and fun. You can even make a fun day trip out of it! She shares all the information that you need, including things to do, where to eat, and how much parking costs if you’re just planning a quick day trip at this local South Carolina beach.
About Isle of Palms
Recently my family traveled to Charleston to spend the day at Isle of Palms. Yes, you read that right – we went for the day. Isle of Palms is completely doable as a day trip. It’s perfect if you’re like me and live on a budget but long to breathe in the salt air.
Let me tell you, I was so impressed. There’s a quaint beachfront road lined with restaurants and shops. The shops are your typical beach shops filled with t-shirts, trinkets, and every size/shape boogie board to hit the market. You know, the kind of shops full of souvenirs found only on the coast.
There are also plenty of unique places to eat, a wonderful and clean beach, and fun shops to explore!
Isle of Palms: Things to Do With Your Family
Hang out at the Beach
One of the best things to do while in town is to head to the beach. The beach at IOP is flat, and there is plenty of room, even during high tide. The boys had a great time with boogie and skimboards. You can also spend the day looking for seashells, building sandcastles, or just enjoying the sounds of the Atlantic Ocean. You can occasionally catch live music right by the dunes!
South Carolina’s crazy weather pattern has created a more hazardous environment for swimmers, so always be cautious of rip tides. In the midst of your family fun, make sure to keep an eye on the colored flag at the lifeguard stand.
Big Family Day Trip Tip: Isle of Palms County Park
If you park at Isle of Palms County Park, you’ll have restrooms, outdoor showers, and changing rooms available to you. This is a big deal when you’ll have 3 hour plus ride back home!
The beach can get pretty crowded, especially on Saturday, so plan to get there early in the day if you want a large space on the beach to set up camp. If you are in need of chair and umbrella rentals, there is a company for that! You can rent surfboards, bikes, chairs, and umbrellas from IOP Beach Chair Co. They even rent accessible beach wheelchairs.
You’ll also find rentals for chairs, umbrellas and boogie boards available at a cart by the restrooms at Isle of Palms County Park.
Bonus tip: There is a Harris Teeter across the street from Isle of Palms park. It’s a good place to stop before the beach to load up on snacks, fruit, or even some pre-made sandwiches. You’ll save some money here over restaurants and beach carts!
Grab Some Delicious Seafood
There’s certainly no shortage of food choices. Whether you enjoy live music and seafood, or you’re looking for some good ol’ American burgers and fries, you will find a delicious meal at Isle of Palms. One of the most popular places is Acme Lowcountry Kitchen. They have mostly seafood options and use fresh and local ingredients, which would make for a great dinner after a long day on the beach. They also have a pretty decent kids’ menu, which is always a plus.
If you are looking for something delicious right off Ocean Boulevard, then Smugglers Island Eats and Raw Bar will hit the spot. They pride themselves on a family-friendly atmosphere with a casual vibe. Smugglers, of course, offers seafood like fried shrimp baskets but also has smash burgers and vegetarian options if you want something else. Their frozen daiquiris are delicious by the way!
One of the most popular beach restaurants in IOP is Coconut Joe’s Beach Grill. They have lots of seafood dishes like crabcakes and shrimp and grits that are delicious, but they also have burgers and sandwiches. The restaurant is located by the ocean on Ocean Boulevard and offers a rooftop bar for patrons to enjoy a delicious cocktail while taking in the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean.
Take a Barrier Island Ecotour
If you are a nature lover, then going on an ecology tour of the waterways and marshes near IOP would be a perfect addition to your trip. Barrier Island Eco Tours has public tours that are guided by a naturalist and include boat excursions, dolphin tours, an exploration of Capers Island, and more. You are certain to see lots of sealife on your excursion, and it is a wonderful way to learn more about the SC coast while also having a blast. The company offers public trips, private charters, school trips, and special events throughout the year.
Isle of Palms Beach Parking
The beachfront Isle of Palms County Park offers great parking, snack bars, restrooms, and beach access. Admission prices vary depending on the season but car prices do not exceed $15 during the week, and $20 on Saturday. If Saturday is your only option for travel, you’ll want to get an early start. The County Park lot will fill up, I promise. I’m speaking from experience.
Parking on the street is an option, but the spaces are limited on the weekends. There are electronic pay-boxes along the sidewalk, so make sure to have a card handy (it’s inexpensive). We lucked out with a spot on the street directly in front of beach access with a clean bathhouse.
Between the County Park and plenty of public beach access, you can’t go wrong with a trip to the Isle of Palms. Whether you are renting a home, having a day trip, staying at Wild Dunes Resort, or vacationing at one of the few hotels in town, you are certain to find your Isle of Palms vacation worthwhile.
Visit the Isle of Palms website for more information on where to eat, what to do, and where to stay if you need more than a day trip.
Find a Place to Stay in Isle of Palms
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What’s your favorite thing to do when visiting the Isle of Palms?
Are you a beach lover?
Check out our list of the 20 Best Beaches in the Southeast!