Charleston, South Carolina, is the bees-knees of Southern cities. Ask the people at Conde Nast Traveler who ranked Charleston the best small city in the United States for 10 years in a row (2011-2021) about the city and they say it stands the test of time – from history, architecture, climate, restaurant culture, and amenities for every age level – the city has drawn millions of tourists and hundreds of thousands of new citizens into its hive.
And, while downtown Charleston offers splendid attractions from National Park Service Historic Sites to waterfront restaurants, palatial mansions on The Battery to small neighborhood markets, getting outside of the tourist center may offer visitors a closer look at the Lowcountry’s natural environment.
Our very first camping trip in our new-to-us travel trailer in July 2020 was to the KOA Holiday in Mount Pleasant. Located just 13 miles east from our home and 14 miles north from the center of the historic peninsula downtown, the KOA Holiday Mount Pleasant is ideally situated to be a great choice in a city with few camping options (KOA Charleston is actually in Ladson, South Carolina, about 18 miles northwest of the city, off of Interstate 26, and is also a convenient location). We chose a one night, close to home campout to test the systems of our trailer before we took her on a longer road trip. Sure enough we found a few glitches that were easily repaired and parts replaced by doing a brief test run.
About the Campground
The KOA Holiday Mount Pleasant is a lovely campground with water views of a well maintained small lake and features many of the attractions that are expected with Holiday status. There is a playground, a swimming pool, a recreation hall, and a general store. The staff is friendly and helpful, stopping to chat while doing regular rounds. At night, the campground is quiet as it is far enough away from the hubbub of U.S. Route 17 North to be in a world of its own. Yet, it is surprisingly close to everything you might need. When we first moved to Charleston in 2008, the KOA property was considered at the far reaches of the city of Mount Pleasant. Today it is in the center of the sprawling suburb considered South Carolina’s fourth largest city (pop. 95,393). Close by are grocery stores, gas stations, a Costo, a Lowe’s, and more.
Campsites at the KOA are spacious and there are many trees throughout the grounds. There is a hiking path that takes you through old plantation grounds and if you look closely you can see the remnants of rice dykes.
With 114 sites, there are 62 pull throughs, 70 full hook ups, 40 with electric/water hookups and 20 tent only sites. In other words, there are plenty of camping choices for any size camper or set up. Additionally, the grounds feature camper cabins which offer a nice alternative. And, there is one very special cabin: a red caboose that has been transformed into an adorable camper cabin.
The KOA Mount Pleasant is located at 3157 US Hwy 17 North, Mount Pleasant, SC, 29466. (800) 562-5796. https://koa.com/campgrounds/mount-pleasant-charleston
Do Not Miss
The greater Charleston metro area features some of the best restaurants on the planet. Everything from fine dining at swanky white tablecloth places to hotdogs for $1.50 at Costco is within your reach from the KOA. Here are just three fun places that are not expensive and will curb your hunger for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
There are so many local places to support that feature great breakfast foods. When I’m on vacation or away from home, I love to indulge in coffee and a donut, something I might not eat when I’m at home. Super close to the KOA Mount Pleasant is the fun Joey Bag A Donuts (that is not a typo – that is the name of the business – just go with it). Joey’s is a small donut shop that offers coffee service, as well as smoothies, bagels, breakfast sandwiches, and some amazing pastry in the form of the humble donut all dressed up from glazed to sprinkled, stuffed with jelly or cream. It’s sugar heaven in a bag. Joey Bag A Donuts is located at 1118 Park West Blvd., Suite 6, Mount PLeasant, SC. 843-856-5639. https://joeybags.net
If the donut at breakfast made you long for a bit more nostalgia in your life, fear not as lunch at Jack’s Cosmic Dogs will gladly fill the bill. Jack’s is iconic for its outrageous decor inside and out. There’s nothing fancy about Jack’s and the menu is basically a hot dog in as many variations as your heart could desire with some of the best french fries around. Get a Ne-Hi soda bottle and you will be a happy camper, indeed. Step up to the counter, place your order adn find a seat. Listen for your name, pay for your order and tell your cardiologist about it later. Jack’s is known for a blue cheese slaw, sweet potato mustard, and a few other specialties. Jack’s Cosmic Dogs is located at 2805 N. Hwy 17, Mount Pleasant, SC. 843-884-7677. https://jackscosmicdogs.com
Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ is now an institution and has branched out with locations further afield. However, it’s humble beginnings in 2006 in a 1900’s gas station make it a beloved favorite. Lucky for visitors to the KOA Mount Pleasant, as there is a location opening within 2 miles of the campground in fall 2022. Other locations include a signature spot on nearby Sullivan’s Island where you can take in the beach with your delicious barbecue. Personally, I am a fan of Home Team’s chicken wings, which are some of the best in the area. The pulled pork, chicken and brisket are all well worth the visit. And, they make a delicious cucumber and tomato salad that is equal parts light and refreshing. To visit their locations and menu, go to https://hometeambbq.com
Close by with several miles of walking trails, a nature island habitat, a dog park, a playground, and a kayak/canoe launch is Palmetto Islands County Park. The park is open from dawn to dusk and entrance fees are $2 per person. The park offers views of the marshes and creeks that helped make Charleston a thriving economic rice producer. Palmetto Islands County Park is located at 444 Needlerush Parkway, Mount Pleasant, SC, 29464. (843) 406-6950. https://ccprc.com/69/Palmetto-Islands-County-Park
Historic Boone Hall Plantation and the Charles Pinckney National Historic Site are within 2 miles of the park, making it possible to visit all three very easily.
Also very close to the KOA is Laurel Hill County Park. This gem is well located in the heart of the Park West residential development but you would not know it upon entering its shady trail system. Built on former plantation grounds, the park features easy, flat and wide trails for walking and biking. Its signature feature is Oak Allee, the original oak lined driveway that at one time led to the plantation home. While the home and buildings are long gone, the grounds are remarkably well preserved. The well to the original dwelling is still in place and gives the visitor a good idea of where and how the home was situated. Remember to keep dogs on a leash at all times. The park entrance is at the back of the parking lot of the Mount Pleasant Recreation Center grounds behind the baseball fields. A donation box is at the gate entrance. Laurel Hill County Park is located at 1251 Park West Blvd., Mount Pleasant, SC, 29466. https://ccprc.com/2005/Laurel-Hill-County-Park