Charleston, South Carolina, is a warm, pleasant, and historically rich city that often ranks high on lists of America’s most visitable. There will be something to do and see in this beautiful city with beautiful beaches and rivers. In addition, Charleston is among the country’s top cuisine cities.
Most importantly, visiting Charleston with kids is a blast. You can easily move about, the weather is usually pleasant (though the summers may be sticky or humid), as well as the atmosphere is quite family friendly. With kids in tow, our family has been visiting Charleston and the nearby barrier islands for over a decade.
Charleston Museums & Family Fun
1. Charleston Museum
In addition to its natural history display (which includes a megalodon jawbone), the city’s museum of art and culture’s permanent Kidstory exhibit has hands-on art projects & kid-sized reproduction of a historic Charleston house, making it a must-see on any sunny day in Charleston.
2. South Carolina Aquarium
Getting tired of the heat (or the rain)? In South Carolina Aquarium, near the historic Arthur Ravenel Bridge on the Cooper River. These interactive exhibits, touch tanks, and kid-friendly exhibitions like Lego Alive, that recreates some of Charleston’s most beloved aquatic inhabitants in tiny LEGO blocks, will keep the kids entertained for hours! The two-story 385,000-gallon ocean tank featuring sea turtles, sharks, & daily diving displays deserves at least an hour of your time.
3. Children’s Museum of Lowcountry
If your kids like creative play, take them to this charming children’s museum: They have a castle, a pirate ship, a giant water lab, an art studio, a little outside play area, and more. Membership in an Association of Children’s Museums Reciprocal Network member museum allows you entrance for FREE with your membership in this museum. They provide military discounts and allow guests to bring their own meals.
4. North Charleston Fire Museum
Have a firetruck-obsessed kid? Entrance to the Fire Truck Museum is free and open to the public.
5. Piccolo Spoleto
It’s possible to catch the annual Spoleto Event, an interdisciplinary international arts festival bringing music, dance, cinema and art to Charleston in late April. Not only is Spoleto action-packed and enjoyable, but so is Piccolo Spoleto’s array of family concerts, films, art and craft exhibits as well as kid-lit readings and activities. Reserving seats for concerts in advance is advised.
Beaches are beautiful and clean all year long in the barrier islands around Charleston. A 20-minute trip from downtown are the Isle of Palms or Sullivan’s Island. We prefer Acme Lowcountry Kitchen & Sea Biscuit Café for lunch and ice cream. Isle of Palms is a simple day excursion with clean public toilets and changing facilities. There are no public restrooms on Sullivan’s Island, but the natural beauty & small-town charm more than compensate. 30 minutes away, Kiawah Island has unspoilt beaches and luxurious resorts. See here to know 5 Amazing Restaurants In Charleston, SC.
7. Schooner & Pirate Cruises
Schooner Pride, a three-masted ship, conducts 2 afternoon and sunset cruises. In 1718, the famed pirates Blackbeard held the port captive, the crew knows. Take a 12-hour Pirates of Charleston cruise along the North Edisto River, replete with facial expression, & lots of “arrrrrrghs” to learn more about Charleston’s pirate heritage.
8. Angel Oak Tree Park
Visit the state’s one of the country’s oldest trees on St. John’s Island. One of the park’s many highlights is the majestic Angel Oak Tree. The animal pond with ducks, turtles, or geese is a kid’s delight. The park is a great alternative to plantation excursions for youngsters.
9. Nature and Wildlife Boat Tours
Exploring Charleston by boat is the finest option. Ocean-going bottlenose dolphins reside year-round in the seas of Charleston and may be seen in the port. Charleston Maritime Center offers a variety of highly rated private excursions. An uninhabited island, Capers Island, was recently explored by our family on a fantastic sunset wildlife cruise, with such a naturalist on board giving a lively interactive discussion and even picking up some crabs to show the kids.