We’ve traveled a lot of miles over the past four years of RVing with our kids and we’ve seen a lot of amazing places. But every so often we stumble upon spots that capture our hearts and leave us yearning for the next time we can return. Charleston has been one of those places for our family. When we first visited nearly four years ago, we knew Charleston and James Island County Park Campground was a place we’d want to return.
So when we needed to make a change to our winter travel plans a few weeks ago, Charleston was calling our name. Little did we know when we made those reservations that this visit would be just as memorable as the last–but for entirely different reasons.
The timing of our visit to Charleston this year just so happened to coincide with unusually low temperatures … and then the arrival of Winter Storm Grayson. (It seems we have a penchant for attracting cold and rare weather … which was also the case last year during our winter adventure to Texas.) According to the National Weather Service, more than 5 inches of snow fell on Jan. 3, 2018, making it the third snowiest day on record in Charleston. So while the entire city of Charleston came to a halt, our family and a few other brave souls hunkered down at the campground.
Here’s some video from our snowy visit:
We obviously spent a lot of time in the camper this visit, but when it’s not suffering under the effects of ice and snow, James Island County Park Campground in Charleston, S.C., is one of most conveniently located campgrounds that we have ever stayed at. The park is not far from downtown Charleston and a whole host of attractions, and yet the park is tucked away in a peaceful, quiet setting.
Getting to the campground
The first thing to know about this park is that you should not follow your car’s GPS instructions. Trust me–one neighborhood we drove through was NOT made for campers! Instead, follow the James Island County Park brown signs. I suggest using Route 700 and then going south on Riverland Drive. Additionally, while there are many gas stations in the area, the ones we passed in the immediate vicinity of the campground were NOT designed for RVs or travel trailers, so make sure to fill up near the highway or when you are unhooked.
Once you drive into the park, the friendly attendants at the guard house will direct you to make a right turn just past the guard house. During heavy traffic times, this can be a tight turn for large campers and RVs. One other option is to go straight and loop around the park to see all it has to offer and then you’ll be conveniently positioned to turn left onto the park road.
The campground itself has several amenities that you would normally only find at an RV resort, yet this park is run by the county. The campground was very clean and well maintained with many of the sites having a good deal of vegetation between them to make the sites more private. The James Island County Park website includes pictures of every campsite in the campground, which was very helpful in selecting a spot. If you are camping with family or friends, the campground offers several paired “buddy” sites.
On our first visit we found the bathrooms to be clean and in good repair, but they were not heavily used since all sites at the campground have full hook-up connections. At the time of our latest visit, the bathrooms and laundry areas were closed for remodeling.
- Laundry facilities
- Community center (with fireplace, TV, cooking area, tables, chairs, ping pong table)
- Outdoor game area
- Outdoor covered picnic area
- Camp store (with firewood, ice, propane, etc.)
- Excellent WiFi reception.
With your campground reservation you will also gain access to many of the resources within James Island County Park that you would normally have to purchase a day or season pass to access. Your camping reservation will also gain you access to other James Island County parks that would normally require an entrance fee. (But keep in mind that park policies may change from the time of our visit, thus, always verify information with the park office.)
Other amenities in the park complex include:
- a popular dog park (separated into large and small breed areas, each with a lake swimming area);
- a seasonal pool and water park;
- a HUGE playground complex that features three play areas geared for three different age groups;
- a climbing wall;
- and a seasonal holiday light show.
Before the arrival of Snowmageddon 2018, we did manage to enjoy the final day of the park’s holiday light show. It’s definitely worth the trip if you are in the area. Here’s a quick video from the night:
Once you leave the county park, Charleston and the surrounding area is one of the most family-friendly areas we have visited. Those of you traveling with kids or grandkids should start your travel planning by going to the Charleston Family Fun webpage. There you will find lots of resources and links to help you plan your visit.
Some of the places we visited on our first and second trip included:
- Charleston Fire Museum: a great collection of fire trucks and interactive fire-safety displays
- Patriots Point: the U.S.S. Yorktown aircraft carrier
- Charleston Tea Plantation: the only active tea plantation in North America
- Angel Oak Tree: an incredible tree that is thought to be over 1,500 years old
- City Market: one of the nation’s oldest public markets
- Folly Beach: one of several area beaches to enjoy some surf
- Folly Beach Lighthouse: a must see at sunset!
- Fort Moultrie National Monument
Other things to see in the area:
Date(s) of visit: March 2014, January 2018