Freaking out about our new POTUS? Can’t stop retweeting @BadlandsNPS? Having nightmares that Kellyanne Conway in her Hot Dog on Stick costume is chasing you down the National Mall screaming alternative facts? Relax. Unplug the screen — yes, all of them. We see you over there with your Palm Treo. Shut that shit down too. Now go outside. It’s time to take a mental health break, Charleston. Trust me, this is just the beginning and it’s exhausting. We need to keep it together in the meantime.
With that in mind, here are 10 great Lowcountry activities that have nothing to do with politics, or border walls, or curtailing immigration, or (breathes into paper bag) silencing journalists.
1) Picnic at Hampton Park
Smack in the middle of the peninsula is one of the dreamiest outdoor spots in the Lowcountry. Pack a picnic, or better yet grab some grub from nearby Harold’s Cabin — it’s just a few blocks away on President Street — and skip the sad desk lunch for a moment in the sun. The Park Angels work hard to keep that green space looking nice and you get to enjoy its beauty for free. Trust me, a stroll will do you good.
2) See a show at Theater 99
I shouldn’t have to say it, but dammit you could use a laugh. For real, those worry lines by your eyes are doing you no favors. Get your ass over to Meeting Street for Laugh for a Lincoln and chill. Nothing improves the feels like an improv show and this is the place to see one.
3) Jump in the Ocean
No seriously. Do it. I think we could all use a shock to our systems right now and an icy shot of the Atlantic will clear your head in no time. Pick a beach, any beach, it doesn’t matter, so long as you’re not singing that God awful “Toes in the water, ass in the sand” song.
4) Go listen to Clarence McDonald play the xylophone
In Charleston our buskers are few and far between. That’s why we’re so lucky to have Clarence McDonald. Nearly every evening you can find McDonald playing his xylophone on East Bay Street. Tonight stop and listen. As Paul Bowers discovered in 2014, McDonald played bass with a touring soul band during the ’70s and traveled around the world in the Army during the ’80s. He’s a true Charleston original. Check him out and don’t forget to tip.
5) Go eat the free benne wafers in the Historic Foundation store
Shhh. Don’t tell them we sent you.
6) Buy a Palmetto Rose
How many times have you said no? Ten? 20? Instead of walking King staring at your cell phone, put it in your pocket and pull out some cash. Then buy a palmetto rose, one of the truly unique folk art traditions in the country.
[image-2]7) Read a Historic Plaque
Did you know Andrew Jackson’s mother is buried somewhere on CofC’s campus? You would if you’d read the marker near the College’s old library that reads: “Near this spot is buried Elizabeth Jackson, Mother of President Andrew Jackson. She gave her life cheerfully for the independence of her country on an undisclosed date in Nov. 1781, and to her son Andy this advise: ‘Andy, never tell a lie, nor take what is not your own. nor sue for slander, settle those cases yourself.'”
8) Thank a street cleaner
You always see them at night. They’re the ones picking up the trash along the gutter and making sure this city shines. It wouldn’t hurt to stop one and say, “Thanks.”
9) Walk to the Northern end of Folly to the ruins of the old Coast Guard Base
Collect shark teeth, then walk back and treat yourself to a frozen margarita from Taco Boy or a grapefruit crush from Rita’s.
10) Eat some boiled peanuts
Drive to a roadside stand — Timbo’s is a great place to start — and get yourself some goober peas. Sit on the back of your car, pop a coke, and enjoy those squishy, savory peanuts that George James, an African-American farmer in 1930s, described as the “unexplainable twang which makes every peanut something to linger over and enjoy.” Bonus: The mere act of opening them will prevent you from swiping through Twitter.
And, finally, for the love of liberty, hydrate. If you don’t hydrate, you could die and we need you.