Family Friendly Activities in Charleston
Charleston’s rich history, warm hospitality and casual cuisine make it the perfect destination for families. There’s plenty of attractions that are geared toward children. Many of them teach kids about the importance of history and have an educational spin. Yet these activities are astill so much fun that your kids might even forget they’re learning.
Both Fort Sumter and Patriots Point are great for kids and bring history to life. They offer a historical and educational experience for kids (and parents) of all ages.
At Fort Sumter, kids can explore the island where the Civil War began. It all starts with a ferry ride to the island, where kids can snag great photos of the harbor — and possibly even get a glimpse of some dolphins. On the island, they’ll have just enough time (about 45 minutes) to explore the fort.
Patriots Point was practically built with kids in mind. Here, you can tour ships and aircraft carriers that served in several U.S. wars. You can also check out a submarine and aircraft while you’re here.
Another way to get up close and personal with history is by visiting a Charleston plantation. Magnolia is possibly one of the most famous plantations in Charleston. They offer seasonal activities geared toward families and kids, such as Halloween and Christmas activities, crafts and snacks.
They also do a great job of explaining the history of the plantations — and approach the topic of slavery that’s kid friendly.
If your children are under the age of 10, they’ll love the Charleston children’s museum. Located in Downtown Charleston, this museum teaches kids about the history of the South through interactive play and exhibits.
This museum is especially great for kids who are too little for Fort Sumter and might not understand the gravity of the island’s history. Kids can board a play ship, crawl through playground obstacle courses and explore a kids’ version of Fort Sumter.
South Carolina is full of unique wildlife. While a trip to the aquarium isn’t a replacement for visiting some of Charleston’s wildlife sanctuaries, it does offer interesting information about its habitats.
Exibits focus on the many different animal habitats in South Carolina. Kids can learn about animals that reside in the mountains, forest, sea and more. There’s even a touch tank for little ones. The museum even teaches kids about its work with the conservation of sea turtles on South Carolina’s shores.
We’ve all been there: that moment when your child gives you the look that says, “I can’t possibly walk any further today.”
You could whip out the stroller. Or, you could take a break from walking. A horse and carriage ride of historic Charleston will give your kids a break. Little ones also love “meeting” the horses and experiencing the city from atop a carriage.
Your driver will tell you all about Charleston’s rich history and point out famous landmarks. As your family relaxes in a comfy carriage seat while the wind whips by, you’ll have so much fun that you might even forget you’re learning something.
South Carolina is known for its beaches, and Charleston has plenty of them. Isle of Palms has one of Charleston’s most famous beaches. Families love heading here for the soft sand and clean facilities. If you’re here on a Thursday, stop at the farmers market (open September and October) for some fresh flowers or produce.
Home to the largest collection of professionally restored LaFrance fire equipment in the country, the North Charleston Fire Truck Museum appeals to both kids and adults alike.
The museum gives kids the opportunity to become a firefighter for the day and learn the ins and outs of the job. The next time your kids say they want to be firefighters when they grow up? They can actually learn about the job right here.
There’s also a theater that shows movies depicting real fires — offering visitors a unique insight into what happens during an actual fire.
The best part? There’s a “real” fire hose the kids can use to learn about the hose’s back pressure.
Take the Charleston Water Taxi if you want all the fun of a ferry ride to Fort Sumter — without the trip to Fort Sumter.
This is another great activity for those times when your feet just need a break.
The water taxi is relatively inexpensive for families and it stops at major attractions in Charleston’s harbor. It’s also a great way to get to Patriot’s Point if you don’t have a car. There is no guided narration on the taxi, but you’ll still get to see some pretty cool sights. The Ravenel Bridge, Fort Sumter — and even dolphins — are some of the common sightings onboard.
You already know what to do when your kids need a break from all the lowcountry fun. Yet what can you do when they need to expend a little energy?
Sullivan’s Island and Shem Creek offer a little extra space that you can’t always find in the city. These spots are perfect for families that crave some nature on their vacation. Paddle kayaks through Shem Creek while your kids spot sea turtles, fish and birds. Bring a picnic blanket to Sullivan’s Island and relax while the kids run in the sand.
The Audubon South Carolina is a plant, animal and environmental sanctuary. Kids can get close to wildlife while learning about South Carolina’s habitat.
The organization hosts a variety of activities each month, geared toward families. Past events have included family strolls through Mount Pleasant, bird walks and a nighttime journey through the Beidler Forest swamp. Animals spotted include alligators and barred owls.
It doesn’t matter if you’re heading to Charleston with older or younger kids in tow; you need a plan to keep them occupied. Pepper a few of these activities into your day, and your kids will never complain about boring vacations again.