James Island is a large triangular sea island framed by Wappoo Creek and Charleston Harbor to the north, Morris Island and Folly Beach to the east, and the Stono River and John’s Island to the West. Less rural than neighboring John’s Island, it is essentially a bedroom community for Charleston, with small shopping centers scattered along Folly Road and Maybank Highway, the island’s main thoroughfares.
During the 19th century, plantations were built on James Island, along with the village of Secessionville, a summer retreat for plantation owners. The first shots of the Civil War were fired from the island’s Fort Johnson onto Fort Sumter in 1861.
All but a handful of dwellings were destroyed during the war. With the stately plantations gone, the island reverted to a sparsely populated rural farming area, much like its neighbor, John’s Island. Laced with creeks, and affording spectacular views of the city, James Island became a little piece of paradise enjoyed by few.
The island began experiencing renewed growth during the 20th century, but the opening of the James Island Expressway in 1993 suddenly made James Island and the other islands west of Charleston prime locations for new development. Today many business and residential areas cover James Island, making it a popular place for a family-oriented lifestyle in close proximity to the city. The island’s wide variety of housing options draws people from all walks of life.
All the conveniences and most of the pleasures of a larger city can be found on James Island. Restaurants abound, offering everything from a quick deli sandwich to an elegant evening dining experience.
Families can choose from a number of recreational opportunities, including those available at the popular James Island County Park. This incredible 643-acre park offers biking, nature trails, a climbing wall, an elaborate playground, pedal boats, kayaking, 16 acres of lagoons, fishing and crabbing dock, and picnic areas. There are 10 vacation cottages and a campground, with 125 sites. Splash Zone, located inside the park, is a well-rounded water playground offering two 200-foot tube slides, a 500-foot lazy river with an adventure channel featuring sprays and a waterfall, a leisure pool, and a Caribbean play structure with interactive elements.