Kid-Friendly Activities for Your Family Vacation
Travel and Leisure Magazine readers consistently vote Charleston, SC as the Number One Travel Destination in the US and have done so every year since 2013. As a Licensed Charleston Walking Tour Guide, I have the pleasure of meeting travelers from all over the world. I particularly enjoy meeting families that are vacationing in our beautiful city. Kids are always a delight, and I find that we can learn a lot from one another.
As the school year comes to a close, more and more families will be flocking to Charleston for summer vacation. As such, I will be offering an early morning, 90-minute tour called A Kid-Friendly Stroll through History. This adaptation of my general history tour, A Stroll through History, departs from Washington Square at 8:30am (so we can beat the summer heat), and the presentation is designed to delight history buffs of all ages (both the young and the young at heart).
While on tour, I often make recommendations about things to do in see in Charleston. There are a number of family-friendly attractions in the area. I hope to take you on tour someday soon to tell you all about them. Until then, I’ve compiled a list of my favorites for your Charleston family vacation planning pleasure…
A summer vacation in Charleston would not be complete without a beach excursion. Charleston has five beaches to choose from, and my personal favorite is Sullivan’s Island. Sullivan’s is a short 10-mile drive from downtown Charleston. The traffic is reasonably mild in spite of the beach’s popularity. The strand is flat and large enough to accommodate all who visit. Tidal pools are ideal for young children, and the surf along Sullivan’s is relatively calm.
Sullivan’s Island is also home to some excellent restaurants. My favorites are Poe’s, Sullivan’s, and The Obstinate Daughter.
While on the island, I recommend visiting Fort Moultrie, an active fort during the American Revolution and the American Civil War. The property is managed by the National Parks Service, and it is open year-round for self-guided tours. Guided tours are usually available 11:00am-2:00pm.
Patriot’s Point Naval and Maritime Museum
The Patriot’s Point Naval and Maritime Museum is located between Sullivan’s Island and the City of Charleston. The aircraft carrier USS Yorktown CV-10 is berthed here and open for tours. On the Yorktown is the Medal of Honor Museum and home of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. The destroyer USS Laffey DD-724 and the submarine USS Camagore SS-343 are berthed at Patriot’s Point as well and are also open to tour. A visit to Patriot’s Point is truly a moving way to “Walk in the Steps of Heroes”.
Charles Towne Landing
The Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site offers a family-friendly glimpse into the first permanent English settlement in the Carolinas (settled in 1670). Here you will find a nature preserve, an animal forest, numerous trails, and an indoor museum depicting the lives of the area's early settlers. A full-scale replica of a 17th-century wooden ship, known as the “Adventure” is open to visitors as well. Charles Towne Landing is a popular destination for school field trips and offers abundant space to run in play. It is also conveniently located, only 6 miles from downtown Charleston at 1500 Old Towne Rd.
Kid-Friendly Attractions in Downtown Charleston
Downtown Charleston offers even more sites and attractions that families enjoy. In the lower part of the city The Colonial Powder Magazine (c1713) at 79 Cumberland Street and The Exchange and Provost (1771) at 122 East Bay Street are two of my favorites. Both of these Colonial Era buildings offer guided tours for visitors and are popular with local school groups.
The South Carolina Aquarium and local museums offer more ways to beat the summer heat. I recommend exploring the streets of Charleston in the morning and saving these stops for later in the day. The aquarium features live examples of local wildlife and a 385,000 gallon “Great Ocean Tank.” The aquarium is also home to a Sea Turtle Care Center where a team of experts specializes in the rescue and care of injured sea turtles. The Charleston County Museum, located at 360 Meeting Street, which was founded in 1773, is the nation’s first museum. Many of its exhibits and activities are designed to interest and educate kids. Charleston also has a children’s museum (The Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry, located at 25 Ann Street) that offers an even more interactive experience.
After hours of exploration on a warm summer day, nothing beats a bit of ice cream. My favorite is Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream at 501 King Street. It really doesn’t get any better than Jeni’s. For the cookie monster, Byrd’s Cookies at 139 Market Street is the best. They offer free samples to help customers decide so you can try them all. And if you are catering to a slightly more sophisticated sweet tooth, one of my all-time favorite spots is Carmella’s at 198 East Bay Street. Even if you aren’t hungry, I highly recommend stopping in, splitting a desert and grabbing a cup of coffee… You’ll be glad you did.
Book a Kid-Friendly Stroll through History
I hope that you and your family will have an opportunity to visit Charleston soon! If you have questions about any of my favorite kid-friendly activities, feel free to email me, and don’t forget to book A Kid-Friendly Stroll through History, open now through the end of August 2018.