United States

Charleston, SC

A Guide to running in Charleston and nearby Kiawah Island

A popular visitor destination, Charleston, South Carolina is known for its rich history, antebellum homes, and attractive setting on Charlestown Harbor. The main downtown area is known as ‘the Peninsula’, separated by the Ashley River to the west and the Cooper River to the east, with The Battery at its southern end. Across the water, Fort Sumter is where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. Running in Charleston is a treat, with numerous scenic and historic routes, taking advantage of the city’s waterfront setting, historic architecture, and numerous rivers that spill into the harbor.

The best places to run in central Charleston are, naturally, the gorgeous streets of the historic district and some nice waterfront running as well. Just north of downtown, there’s a nice run combining historic Hampton Park and The Citadel campus. Another memorable route is to run from downtown Charleston to Patriots Point, using the imposing Ravenel Bridge, which has a wide, protected pedestrian path and great views. Just over the bridge near Patriots Point, the Mount Pleasant Historic District is a  ‘hidden gem’ run. We also recommend  Sullivan’s Island for more waterfront and beach running. A good nearby running ‘excursion’ is James Island Country Park. For a longer off-road run close to Charleston, the West Ashley Greenway parallels US 17 for 8 miles. For a great destination run, head to Kiawah Island for 10 miles of fantastic beachfront running and 30 miles of bike paths. Further north, see our guide for Myrtle Beach.

The central part of Charleston is very walkable. The bus system is operated by the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA).  Note that Charleston’s summer weather is very hot and humid, featuring near daily downpours and thunderstorms.

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Charleston’s climate is influenced by a combination of its relatively low latitude, generally low elevation, the proximity of the warm Gulf Stream in the Atlantic, and the Appalachian Mountains. Often rainy, winters are mild and summers are hot and humid.charleston-sc-climate

Charleston has a fairly compact downtown, with numerous places to stay. The Downtown Route, The Battery Along the Water Loop, Waterfront to Citadel Route, and the start of Cannon Park to Patriots Point runs are all accessible from downtown hotels. There are also a few places to stay over by James Island, near the James Island County Park. Although not shown on the map, there are a few hotels over by Patriots Point as well.

charleston-sc-google-maps-hotels (1) - Edited

Here is a guide to a few running stores in and around the Charleston area. All stores are easily accessible on public transportation via bus, if you don’t have access to a car.

The Foot Store (North Charleston)

10 Miles outside downtown Charleston

Accessible via the green bus line 11 from the Mary St/ Meeting St stop to the W. Montague Ave/ Calvin St stop.

Holds a Park Circle Group Run every Monday at 6:00PM. Run leaves from the North Charleston Rec Center. 2 – 4 miles long.

Fleet Feet Sports (Mount Pleasant) 

Roughly 5 miles outside downtown Charleston

Accessible via the purple line bus route 40 from downtown the Mary St/Meeting St stop to the Houston Northcutt Blvd/Ann Edwards Ln stop.

Hosts a free group run on Mondays at 6:30PM. Leaves from store location. Both 3 and 5 mile route options. 

Hosts a free Saturday morning Summer group run at 7:45AM from end of May – end of July. Leaves from Mount Pleasant store location.

Looking for road or trail races in this area? Find them on RaceRaves, the best online race calendar and reviews community for runners!

Find races in Charleston, SC

The Foot Store (North Charleston)

Holds a running clinic once a month (every third Wednesday) from 6:30 – 8:00PM, at North Charleston store location. Topics vary from running technique to medical conditions to new shoewear.

Fleet Feet Sports (Mount Pleasant)

Free 3-mile pub run: Second and fourth Wednesday of each month. 6:30PM. Different vendor sponsors run each month.