Everything you need to know about Johns and Wadmalaw islands 

Flyover Country

Learn to wakeboard at Trophy Lakes

Jonathan Boncek

Learn to wakeboard at Trophy Lakes

With Kiawah and Seabrook booked up by PGA players and executives, the riffraff are having to find accommodations elsewhere, which means Johns Island's scenic live-oak lined roads will be seeing an inordinate amount of car traffic. But this island isn't just a throughway. It has enough charming delights of its own to encourage you to slow down and stay awhile. According to the newly formed Johns Island Conservancy, Johns Island has a population of 17,000, lots of wildlife, and a burgeoning agricultural industry. It also has a handful of restaurants and some unique natural sights. Nearby Wadmalaw also has a few uniquely appealing Lowcountry attractions that you might want to take in while you're out there.

What to See & Do

Rural roads lined with moss-laden live oaks

The best thing about Johns Island might be its byways, which golf fans will be seeing a lot of. Don't be frustrated by the traffic jams — just take a look around at the majestic moss-laden live oak trees. And be careful not to plow your car into one on your drive back home. The roads are dark and the lanes are narrow, which is one reason the Kiawahans are trying to bulldoze a new parkway and interstate through the island.

Gullah Sweetgrass Basketry

On Betsy Kerrison Parkway, you'll usually encounter a basketweaver or two. During PGA week, we expect there will be plenty of enterprising women with booths set up selling their wares. Sweetgrass baskets are unique to this part of the country, and the women who weave them are masters of an ancient trade that's been passed down for generations. The baskets aren't cheap, but they aren't easy to make, either. Each one takes weeks to weave, and most weavers will guarantee their handiwork, promising to reweave it if it should come apart (don't expect it to).

Angel Oak Park
Johns Island. 3688 Angel Oak Road. (843) 559-3496

Take a right off Bohicket Road, drive down a pitted dirt road, and you will be rewarded with the most majestic tree of the Lowcountry. A live oak specimen that is hundreds of years old and spans 17,000 square feet, the Angel Oak is a breathtaking example of living history. Its massive branches spread across the forest floor and offer some spectacular photographic opportunities. If it's a quiet, misty morning, you can also expect to have a spiritual moment or two. There are picnic tables and a gift shop on site. A sweetgrass basketmaker is usually there too, if you want to take a piece of authentic Lowcountry history with you. Just remember, no climbing on the tree!

Trophy Lakes
Johns Island. 3050 Marlin Road. (843) 559-2520

This private freshwater lake offers wakeboarding and waterskiing lessons with an overhead CableBahn Watersports Cable Park for an easy learning environment. An hour on the water costs $25. Trophy Lakes also has a disc golf course with a couple of water holes and 35 concrete tee pads. It costs $5 per player, per day. Ladies are free on Saturdays.

Rockville
Wadmalaw. Maybank Highway

On the tip of Wadmalaw at the very end of Maybank Highway is the town of Rockville, a tiny fishing hamlet with beautiful white clapboard homes and a breathtakingly beautiful waterfront location. Drive on down to Cherry Point to see the water and get some fresh shrimp off the boat at Cherry Point Seafood.

Johnson's Baby Grand
Wadmalaw. 5983 Maybank Highway

This roadside juke joint serves the local island folk, but they'll crack open a can of Bud Light for a friendly face. They've got pickled hot dogs, pool, and live music on the weekend.

Charleston Tea Plantation
Wadmalaw. 6617 Maybank Highway (843) 559-0383

The only tea plantation in America was purchased a few years ago from Bigelow. Stop by for samples and a tour.

Irvin House Vineyards & Firefly Distillery
Wadmalaw. 6775 Bears Bluff Road. (843) 559-6867

This isn't just a vineyard where you can sample their muscadine wines, it's also a distillery where they make the popular Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka. Taste wines from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., let the kids pet the farm animals, and grab a souvenir bottle of Sea Island Rum for your friends back home. It's a beautiful setting on a beautiful island.

Wild Olive has expanded their hours this week for the PGA crowd - JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek
  • Wild Olive has expanded their hours this week for the PGA crowd

Where to Eat & Drink

Tomato Shed Café and Stono Farm Market
Johns Island. 842 Main Road. (843) 559-9999
Serving lunch

For a taste of the islands, stop by the Tomato Shed. Owned and operated by the Ambroses, who grow everything they sell on nearby Wadmalaw, the Tomato Shed serves old-fashioned Southern specialties like tomato pie, crab cakes, and squash casserole. They are open for lunch every day from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and usually have a pretty big crowd, even when it's not PGA week.

Sunrise Bistro
Johns Island. 1797 Main Road. (843) 718-1858
Serving breakfast and lunch

This little mom-and-pop coffee and lunch spot is a friendly, tiny place with ambitious specials every day at lunch. They open each morning around 7 a.m. with piping hot coffee and tasty breakfast treats like bagels, French toast, and shrimp and grits.

Wild Olive
Johns Island. 2867 Maybank Hwy. (843) 737-4177
Serving dinner

Chef Jacques Larson and crew serve some of the best Italian fare in the area. They are staffed up and ready for the crowds this week, with expanded hours. They'll be open every day from 4 to 11 p.m. They've also stocked the wine list with some higher-end, hard-to-find Italian wines like older Barolos and a 1999 Super Tuscan.

Fat Hen
Johns Island. 3140 Maybank Hwy. (843) 559-9090
Serving dinner and Sun. brunch

They've been preparing for weeks at Johns Island's popular Fat Hen. Chef Fred Neuville has stocked his larder and staffed his kitchen. They're not expanding their hours, but he expects to be able to serve all his diners. In other words, they won't be kicking you out if you finally get seated at 10 p.m. The menu here is a tantalizing infusion of French country cooking made with local ingredients from the nearby farms.

Stono Breeze
Johns Island. 2408 Maybank Hwy. (843) 414-7612
Serving lunch, happy hour, and dinner

Located on the Stono River at St. Johns Yacht Harbor, the Stono Breeze has great views of the water, a breezy outdoor deck, and plenty of drink and food specials to fill you up after a day on the links.

Chez Fish Restaurant and Seafood Market
Johns Island. 3966 Betsy Kerrison Pkwy. (843) 768-8901
Serving lunch and dinner

Located within spitting distance of the gates of Kiawah, this seafood restaurant will be streamlining their menu and staying open a bit later to accommodate the PGA crowds. Chef Rene Constantin has made a name for himself by keeping his seafood preparations simple and fresh.

Crave
Johns Island. 4430 Betsy Kerrison Pkwy. (843) 801-2774
Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Crave is a catering operation that doubles as a coffee shop and deli. They'll be stocking their cases with plenty of options for people to grab and go between 7 a.m.-7 p.m. every day this week.

Daily Dose
Johns Island. 3714 Betsy Kerrison Pkwy. (843) 641-7257
Serving breakfast, lunch, and early dinner

Looking for a healthy, energy-infused lunch? "Mama" D (Duffy Ingle) has been making her signature wraps and salads for more than a decade in various locations. She moved out near Kiawah last year and is pretty stoked that her parking lot near ACE Hardware will serve as the pass gate for the PGA tournament. She'll be open every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and will have healthy grab-and-go options along with organic coffees and a full dine-in menu.

Red's Ice House
Seabrook Island. 1882 Andell Bluff Blvd. (843) 518-5515
Serving lunch, happy hour, and dinner

With its waterfront setting, buckets of cold beer, and casual vibe, Red's will surely attract big crowds this week. To serve the people, they've set up tents outside with a standing cocktail area and a small menu available with items like bacon-wrapped scallops, pork sandwiches, tater tots, corndogs, and draft beer. They plan to be open until 10 p.m. during the week and 11 p.m. on the weekend.

Rosebank Farms Café
Seabrook Island. 1886 Andell Bluff Blvd. (843) 768-1807
Serving dinner

Rosebank isn't expecting too many regulars this week — the person we spoke to says that most people out on Kiawah and Seabrook are "getting out of dodge." The restaurant is only running a dinner service during the tournament, but they'll be open a bit earlier (at 4 p.m.) and a bit later (until about 9:30 p.m.). All week long, they'll have a special 20-oz. bone-in rib-eye as a special, or you can just go for the traditional fried chicken, shrimp and grits, or their favorite, the fish and grits.

Freshfields Village
Johns Island. freshfieldsvillage.com

The shopping village between the entrances to Kiawah and Seabrook will be ground zero of the PGA festivities this week, with food trucks, pop-up restaurants, music concerts, and outdoor movies.

Hege's
Johns Island. Freshfields Village. 275 Gardners Circle. (843) 768-0035
Serving dinner

This casual fine dining restaurant will open its bar at 4:30 and begin serving dinner at 5 p.m. The menu ranges from Chilean sea bass and grouper to rack of lamb. They will be staying open later than normal.

King Street Grille
Johns Island. 679 Freshfields Drive. (843) 768-5444
Serving lunch, happy hour, and dinner

King Street Grille is expecting to get crushed this week, but they've got a strategy. They'll be serving up their regular menu and will also have grab-and-go sandwiches. Across the street, the restaurant will host a beer garden featuring an Anheuser-Busch portable bar.

Ladles Homemade Soups
Johns Island. Freshfields Village. (843) 243-9881
Serving lunch and early dinner

With 14 rotating soups every day, plus sandwiches, salads, pizzas, and beer and wine, Ladles is a good choice for a quick lunch stop. The local chain is expecting business to be crazy during the weekend, but in a good way, and they'll be ready with she-crab, buffalo chicken, and Greek lemon chicken soups. Ladles will be open until the customers stop coming in.

La Tela Pizzeria
Johns Island. Freshfields Village. (843) 768-1951
Serving lunch and dinner

This excellent little Neapolitan pizza place will keep serving until people stop walking in. Give them a call if you're going to be late, and they'll do their best to stay open for you. Tip: order the quail egg pizza. It's great. They also have salads, pasta, and sandwiches, too.

Vincent's Soda Fountain
Johns Island. Freshfields Village
(843) 243-0007
Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner

This old-school pharmacy lunch counter has soda jerks, great cheeseburgers, and big classic shakes. Bring the kids by for some ice cream or just get an old-fashioned egg salad or grilled cheese sandwich. They're open all week from 8 a.m.-10 p.m.

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