Even though most people believe that Johns Island's famous Angel Oak was named for its heavenly nature, it actually drew its moniker from the early owners of the land on which it sits. Regardless of that interesting fact, visiting it still creates an almost surreal experience. Maybe best of all, it's FREE to enjoy in all its splendor.
1. It's estimated to be well more than 500 years old. That's even longer than the honorable Joseph P. Riley was the mayor of Charleston. According to lore, it has literally captured the rapt attention of locals and visitors for centuries.
2. It is taller than most majestic live oaks. Although many other varieties of trees grow taller, 65 feet is impressive for a live oak. Keep in mind that excessive height is not an asset when continuously faced with substantial coastal winds.
3. Its impressive canopy is awe-inspiring. It extends nearly 2,000 square yards with ancient, outstretched boughs at all heights. That is impossible to comprehend without visiting the Angel Oak in person.
4. Its longtime allure transcends its natural status. Local civil rights activist Septima Clark, before her death in 1987, spoke of how, during segregation, black families would picnic by its boughs. They saw the tree as sacred in its own way and found it to be cathartic to be in its presence. Many people of all races and religions still find themselves feeling this way.
5. It is respected by the community in every way. So much so that the groundswell of public support led to the City of Charleston's 1991 purchase of 18.7 acres immediately surrounding the tree, in addition to a 17-acre parcel adjacent to that. That ensures that commercial development will not jeopardize the all-important root system that supports the majestic tree.
6. The Angel Oak is very visitor-friendly. There is plenty of parking as well as a gift shop and picnic areas. It is best enjoyed with family and friends, but it's not a bad place for a little "me time" either.
7. It is a short ride to most areas of Charleston. This mighty oak is officially located at 3688 Angel Oak Road. Only 12 miles from downtown, it's not like you will have to pack a lunch to get there. The ride is especially easy, although avoiding commuter hours is encouraged.
8. Speaking of food, it is surrounded by unique restaurants nearby. A personal favorite is the Fat Hen, a French Lowcountry dining experience that serves dinner 6 days a week and a wonderful Sunday brunch. It is one of many wonderful and eclectic restaurants in Johns Island within earshot of the Angel Oak.
9. It's on the way to Kiawah and Seabrook Islands. Literally. Whether you are heading to either of those inviting barrier islands for the day or the week, you will be driving right past this heavenly living piece of historic Charleston.
10. There are few better photo ops. Anywhere. Selfie! Yes. Video. Of course. Panoramic. Perfect. Especially with little ones. Just be prepared to capture its awesome, powerful beauty. You'll certainly be glad you did.
A visit to the Angel Oak Promises to be the highlight of your day. And theirs. Give yourself the time to be awed. To reflect. To laugh and to hug. Even those who grew up in this era of virtual excitement promise to be moved by its presence.