We recently had the opportunity to visit one of my favorite cities in America: Charleston, South Carolina. I’m probably a little biased because I was born there (and lived there for a summer during an internship in college), but if you haven’t been to the Holy City, I need you to ask yourself, why not? History, food, culture, shopping, and much more await you!
Things to Do in Charleston, South Carolina with Kids
Charleston, South Carolina prides itself on being one of the oldest cities in America. There is so much history to explore; doing it all on a weekend is impossible. My family visits Charleston at least once a year, and we are always discovering something new and exciting to do.
From the beaches to the museums to the downtown tours, my family always has plenty to keep us occupied (yes, even the kids). These are some of our favorite things to do in Charleston when we visit.
Visit the Museums
Kids love museums, and they especially appreciate ones that are geared toward children. Some of the museums in Charleston are hands-on while others are more “look with your eyes, not with your hands” kind of museums.
There are fantastic options to fit every budget and attention span. You’ll want to check out the museum’s page on the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau website for more details on each attraction as operating hours and admission prices vary.
- Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry- By far one of the best museums in the city for families with young kids. Everything is hands-on and interactive. Sarah’s tip: The museum is closed on Mondays, so plan accordingly.
- Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum- Located near the USS Yorktown, this museum features views of three vessels, the Medal of Honor Museum, the Vietnam Experience, and more.
- The Charleston Museum– Even though most of this museum is “look and learn,” my girls stayed engaged by playing a game requiring them to look for objects in the cases. The children’s area is fully engaging, and we enjoyed dressing up in colonial garb and learning about toys that did not have an electronic component.
Explore the Aquariums and Parks
Young children are synonymous with the outdoors. The weather never seems to bother them, so if parents know what’s good for them, they’ll find a park, a playground, or a long stretch of open space to let kids get their energy out. Charleston and its surrounding areas boast some of my favorite beaches, so don’t forget to pack your swimming gear (or crabbing gear if it’s cold when you visit)!
- South Carolina Aquarium– By far one of our family’s favorite aquariums. Educational opportunities and hands-on exploring abound, as well as picturesque views of the new Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge.
- Folly Beach Pier- My family usually stays on Folly Beach, so this pier is always on our to-do list. We love this beach because the crowds are relatively low.
- Mount Pleasant Pier- Gorgeous views of the harbor, fishing, swings, picnic tables, and rocking chairs make the pier a great place to slow down and take a minute to enjoy the scenery.
- Fort Sumter National Monument- My girls often need to run free, and Fort Sumter is a great place to do that. Walking and climbing all over the fort definitely gets their energy out.
Take a Tour of the Town
Finding a tour that will please kids and adults can be challenging. Some tours require walking, some are by carriage or boat, and some are by bus (which is a great option if the weather is not cooperating).
- Palmetto Carriage Works- These tours of historic Charleston happen the old-fashioned way. Riding in a horse-drawn carriage is a neat experience, especially for young kids!
- Charleston Walking Tours- Walking tours are all walking with infrequent breaks. My girls did not go on this tour because I knew we’d end up carrying the halfway through it. Tours like this are perfect for tweens, teens, and young adults.
- Charleston Harbor Tours (can be combined with a walking tour like Haunted Jail or Graveyard Tour)- The walking portion of these tours requires some stamina. The boat portion of the tour is a nice way to see all of Charleston Harbor very quickly and easily.
- Haunted Jail/Graveyard Tour- History comes alive during these other-worldly experiences. These are usually nighttime tours, so they’re best reserved for the tweens/teens in your family.
- Fort Sumter Tours- A great tour of history surrounding the first battle site of the Civil War. Young children will enjoy roaming the fort and learning about the battle (and they won’t have to sit still for a “boring” lecture because the guides walk and talk).
Charleston is Fun for Families
Charleston is a vibrant town with incredible history and many opportunities for family fun. Visitors planning their vacation on a budget can easily discover free or inexpensive things to do in Charleston. Preparing before a vacation will help families enjoy every aspect of their time.