Next time you head to Charleston, think beyond the city limits.
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Pitt Street Bridge Mount Pleasant SC
Credit: Daniela Duncan

Just over the Cooper River from downtown Charleston's rainbow-hued homes and centuries-old churches, the town of Mount Pleasant embraces the Holy City's easygoing low country lifestyle—but with all the convenient amenities you'd expect of a suburb (looking at you, Trader Joe's). Even so, the state's largest town has its own distinct personality, with seafood dives, historic neighborhoods, and pedestrian-friendly routes that make the most of its position on the coast. Here's how to spend a weekend in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.

Walk the Bridge

When Charleston locals refer to "The Bridge," they're talking about the Arthur Ravenel Junior Bridge, a 2.5-mile, cable-stayed span that connects Mount Pleasant to downtown Charleston. Built in 2005, the eight-lane crossing also has a walled pedestrian and bike bath with sweeping views of the harbor.

Eat Good Food

Given its proximity to Charleston's celebrated food scene, it's little wonder that Mount Pleasant has plenty of restaurants to brag about too. Family-owned Page's Okra Grill is a beloved institution; don't miss the shrimp and grits or the fried green tomatoes. A homey spot with a drive-thru, Melvin's BBQ flips what Emeril Lagasse once declared to be America's best cheeseburger (it's this editor's favorite too). A relative newcomer to the scene, Little Miss Ha has become a near-instant classic; helmed by brother-sister duo Janice Nguyen Hudgins and Ryan Nguyen, the restaurant dishes out fresh, authentic Vietnamese inspired by their mother's recipes.

Paddle Shem Creek

The best way to experience Mount Pleasant's prime location is to get out on the creek that runs through it. Rent a stand-up paddleboard or kayak from Coastal Expeditions (which has a launch directly on Shem Creek) to wind through the marshes, churn past shrimp boats, and maybe even spot a dolphin or two.

Catch a Waterfront Sunset

For landlubbers who aren't sold on a kayak excursion, there's still plenty of fun to be had on the docks of Shem Creek. Settle into a table on the deck at Saltwater Cowboys for a boozy frozen lemonade and fried local shrimp (don't sleep on the Trash Can Nachos, either); and bring your pup—they have a dog-friendly menu for the four-legged set. Or you can pull up to Water's Edge Restaurant by boat and grab a drink at their Cabana Bar.

Score a Meaningful Souvenir

Rooted in an art form brought to the area by enslaved West African people, the tradition of making sweetgrass baskets has been handed down from generation to generation of the local Gullah community. Head to Sweetgrass Basket Makers Highway, a seven-mile stretch of Highway 17, to purchase the beautiful woven works directly from their artists, like Mazie Brown of Mazie's Sweetgrass Baskets.

Stroll the Old Village

First established in the 18th century with historic houses to prove it, Mount Pleasant's oldest neighborhood is easily its most charming. Once a summer retreat for affluent Charlestonians, the waterfront community today buzzes with residents and visitors year-round. Pitt Street, the area's main drag, is home to Post House Inn, a thoughtfully restored boutique hotel and restaurant; Out of Hand, a meticulous curation of clean beauty products, home goods, and gifts, with a flower bar to boot; and Pitt Street Pharmacy, an old-school drugstore and soda fountain. Fans of The Notebook and Outer Banks might even recognize some of the storefronts and houses; the movie and Netflix series were both partially shot here. Go for a walk or cast a line from the pier at the Pitt Street Bridge, a former trolley bridge that once connected Mount Pleasant to nearby Sullivan's Island.

Hit the Shops

Mom-and-pops are woven into the DNA of Mount Pleasant's shopping experience. Now helmed by the second and third generations of the same family, Abide A While garden shop stocks everything from houseplants to locally made hot sauce; stop by to peruse perennials, leaf through coffee table books, or sign up for a seasonal workshop. Another family-owned establishment, Gwynn's of Mount Pleasant has kept their finger on the fashion pulse since 1967; earmark an hour or two to browse their always-current designer styles. Inspired by the owner's global travels, Celadon Home peddles one-of-a-kind Turkish rugs, housewarming gifts from local makers, and high-quality furniture and home goods.

Visit Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum

Tour the USS Yorktown, a World War II aircraft carrier that played a significant role in the Pacific theater. The carrier was modernized and used as an anti-submarine aircraft carrier during the Vietnam War, and then served as the recovery vessel for the Apollo 8 astronauts and capsule after its lunar orbit. Admission to the museum also gives you access to the destroyer USS Laffey, the USS Clamagore Submarine (currently closed for maintenance), and the Medal of Honor Museum, among other attractions. Groups of 10 or more can book a one- or two-night stay on the USS Yorktown through Operation Overnight.

Plan a Detour to Sullivan's Island

Just across a short swing bridge from Mount Pleasant, the little hamlet of Sullivan's Island is worth the drive. Though only 3.3. miles long, the bitty beach town oozes salty, sandy charm in spades. Walk the wide beach, amble past porch-fronted beach cottages, or head over for sunset and a date-night dinner at The Obstinate Daughter, where the atmosphere and pizzas are first-rate, but never stuffy.