By Meagan Moore; Guest Contributor
There are so many things to see and do in Charleston’s downtown historic district it’s easy to overlook one of Charleston’s most beloved modern destinations. The locals flock to the Arthur J. Ravenel Bridge for its challenging 6-mile trek (3 miles over – 3 back) and the tourists come for the panoramic views.
The Ravenel Bridge is an elegant jewel among the city’s renowned landmarks; 8 lanes of concrete delicately suspended above the Cooper River, connecting the Charleston Peninsula with the city of Mount Pleasant, Charleston’s lux neighbor to the north. When it was completed and opened in 2005 its design was celebrated for including a dedicated pedestrian walking & bike lane.
On a recent, crisp November afternoon my companion and I made our way to the entrance of the paved pedestrian path that leads up and onto the bridge from the parking lot at Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park. It takes a minute or two to become acclimated to the whir of vehicles zooming by on the other side of the concrete barrier that protects pedestrians from traffic. The climb is moderately steep when embarking from the Mount Pleasant side, but we reached the peak in no time.
The view was absolutely breathtaking. I was struck by how, from this vantage point, one sweeping glance encompassed the city’s entire essence. To the south I was able to see the steeples of some of Charleston’s most celebrated churches jutting out over the rooftops of the city's many beautiful and historic homes. A shipping freighter sat along the industrial waterfront port, exemplifying the city’s economic roots as a port town/trade hub of the south. Beyond that was docked an immense luxury cruise ship full of excited passengers about to set sail. We were lucky enough to have arrived just in time to see it depart, sailing away into the harbor and out to the sea.
Looking beyond the disappearing cruise ship, I noticed the spot where the Cooper River empties into the Atlantic Ocean creating an endless watery expanse. A small island, called “Shutes Folly,” punctuated the view. I could almost make out the ruins of the Castle Pinckney on its far bank. As I looked northward, my gaze was drawn to the USS Yorktown, a magnificent retired Naval aircraft carrier docked at Patriots Point. Beyond that was a posh-looking marina full of sailboats of all shapes, sized, and colors, their masts bobbing up and down with the rolling current.
For a long moment I stood simply taking in the beauty. When I’m driving around on the streets, hustling from place to place, it’s easy to forget about the amazing city around me. In that moment, taking in the view from the top of the Ravenel Bridge, I was reminded about all that makes up the spirit and soul of Charleston. There’s no place else quite like it.
NOTE: Every year nearly 40,000 people come to Charleston to participate in the Cooper River Bridge Run. This event brings runners from all around the world to Charleston and has grown to be considered a top marathon. This year's race is April 1, 2017.
Planning to attend? You can finish the race at Marion Square in the heart of the city then head to our trendy flat, Studio36, and get ready to experience all of the fun and nightlife of Charleston's Upper King District. Check out our entire portfolio of luxury vacation rentals and book your vacation to Charleston this spring ...