There are countless things to do in Charleston with kids! One of America’s favorite historic and foodie cities, this kid-friendly destination should make every family’s bucket list. It has over 300 years of history, including historic Antebellum mansions, cobblestone streets, and the location of the start of the Civil War. Plus, miles of shoreline, with plenty to do and see for kids of all ages! Families will also delight in Charleston’s culinary traditions. Try the famous shrimp and grits, oysters, and Carolina Gold rice at restaurants throughout the city! When it comes to the best things to do with kids in Charleston, any season is great to visit. Enjoy mild weather in the spring and fall, a warm summer, and cool winter temperatures. If you need suggestions on what to see, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s our list of Best Things To Do In Charleston With Kids!
Outdoor Things to Do in Charleston with Kids
Take advantage of the warm weather Charleston has to offer. Bring kids to do outdoor tours and activities in and around the city. Keep reading for our picks for the best outdoor things to do in Charleston with kids!
Stroll Historic Charleston with Old South Carriage Company
Families will love exploring historic Charleston with a guided day or nighttime carriage or walking tour. With knowledgeable companies such as Old South Carriage Tour, guides will show you around the historic city of Charleston while giving a detailed (sometimes amusing) narrative of historic locations. Families can see mansions, hidden alleys, water views, and even historic battlefields. Then, a haunted walking or carriage tour at night will give your kids a bit of a thrill. The horses are friendly and the carriages are comfortable. However, it’s not recommended for young kids that may get scared by the haunted tales. These intriguing stories of spirits that still call Charleston home may send shivers down your spine. Stories include haunted historic churches and graveyards, locations where gentlemen dueled to their death, and tales of the Gullah Peoples’ cultural and sometimes spooky beliefs.
Learn the COVID-19 updates and protocols for Old South Carriage Company by contacting them directly at (843) 723-9712.
Take A Buxton Book Tour
Looking for a unique tour of Charleston? Head over to Buxton Books Tour! Families will love The Lost Stories of Black Charleston tour. Visitors will gain insight into heroines and heroes who never made history books. You’ll also hear tales of folklore, and stories of resistance both before and after the reconstruction of Charleston. Tour leader Daimon Fordham is a fantastic storyteller and certified tour guide. He’ll pull you in immediately with his story about his own roots in Charleston. Kids younger than 10 may not appreciate the tour. It’s around 2 hours, with a short break. There are tours every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 3:30 pm, plus one at 10 am on Saturdays. Consider taking little ones on a shorter, more interactive tour. Buxton Books also offers an 80-minute ghost walking tour. Guides will recount hauntings and folktales from the best-selling book The Ghosts of Charleston.
Learn the COVID-19 updates and protocols for Buxton Book Tour by contacting them directly at (843) 723-1670.
Explore Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie
Fort Sumter was constructed in 1829 as a way to protect and defend the area’s seaports. It’s also where one of America’s deadliest wars, The Civil War, started. Today, families can take a quick ferry ride from downtown Charleston to visit this historic national landmark. Park Rangers are stationed around the fort to give visitors more detailed information. Kids can get involved by taking part in a Jr. Ranger program and earning a badge. Fort Moultrie is another nearby series of fortifications on Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, built to protect the city of Charleston during the Revolutionary War. Walking through the gates gives kids and adults alike a real-life experience of our country’s history. The entire visit is an hour with plenty to see and learn about.
Browse the Charleston Farmers Market
The Charleston Farmers Market has been held in Marion Square since 1989. This weekly outdoor market hosts local vendors with produce from Lowcountry farmers, prepared foods, artisan wares, and crafters. The Charleston Farmers Market attracts many families curious to see local specialties produced in the Lowcountry area. It’s one of the best things to do in Charleston with kids on Saturday. Did we mention it’s also pet-friendly? Bring Fido along for the family outing! Kids will enjoy seeing and sampling all of the food being offered. Families will love being entertained by live music and wowed by street vendors. If you want to pick up some local souvenirs or try a new coffee, this is the place to do it. Bonus, you will be supporting local farmers and vendors. The Charleston Farmers Market runs every Saturday from April through November.
Learn the COVID-19 updates and protocols for The Charleston Farmers Market by contacting them directly at (843) 724-7309.
Go on a Magnolia Plantation Tour
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens is a historic house with one of the best romantic gardens in the country. Located on the Ashley River, it’s outside of the downtown district of Charleston. The plantation offers more than just a chance to visit the house. Since it’s one of the oldest plantations in the South, visitors should plan to set aside at least 2 hours to explore. When purchasing a ticket, consider adding the From Slavery to Freedom tour and the Audubon Swamp Garden. The From Slavery to Freedom tour gives honest and detailed insight into the often-overlooked history of the men and women who were kept as slaves on the plantation – and what happened after their emancipation. Then, let your kids run around and explore the well-curated romantic gardens.
Make sure not to miss a timed tour of the house, it’s a great peek into 19th century living in the South! Afterward, kids will also love spotting peacocks roaming throughout the plantation. Stop by the little zoo on the plantation grounds to see even more animals! Kids can feed the animals that reside there too. A swamp tour is a 30–45-minute walk right through the Lowcountry swamp and grassy marshes. Expect to see plenty of egrets, snowy egrets, great blue herons, turtles, alligators, and massive live oaks dripping with Spanish moss.
Learn the COVID-19 updates and protocols for Magnolia Plantation Tour by contacting them directly at (843) 571-1266.
Embark on a Coastal Expeditions Boat Tour in Mt. Pleasant
If your family loves nature, birding, or perhaps seeing dolphins close-up, the Coastal Expeditions Boat Tour is the perfect thing to do in Charleston with kids. Located fifteen minutes outside of Charleston in Mt. Pleasant, Coastal Expeditions offers an array of self-guided and guided tours. This includes kayak tours, SUP tours, kayak & paddleboard rentals, and boat charters. The naturalist guides are friendly and very knowledgeable of the area. Kids will enjoy seeing wildlife up close and learning about the region. Families will have the opportunity to go sea combing on deserted beaches and even find shark teeth. Most tours are suitable for kids of all ages. Others are a bit more strenuous and not recommended for younger children. Don’t forget to bring your hat and sunscreen!
Learn the COVID-19 updates and protocols for Coastal Expeditions Boat Tour by contacting them directly at (843) 884-7684.
Cool Off at Splash Zone Waterpark at James Island County Park
Splash Zone Waterpark is the place to go if you want to let your kids loose and get wet in a manageable-sized water park. Located in James Island County Park, it’s great for kids of all ages. There’s a splash zone with sprays, 5 water slides, and large buckets dumping gallons of water at random intervals. The park also features a 500-foot lazy river, 2 large snaking water slides, and a leisure pool with lounge chairs. Lifeguards are stationed all around, as well as running the water slides from the entrance to the exit. Beyond the water park is a playground, walking trails, a climbing wall, and a dog park. You cannot bring outside food with you. However, there is a quick-service restaurant where you can buy food and drinks once inside. Your family definitely won’t run out of things to do on your day at Splash Zone Waterpark!
Learn the COVID-19 updates and protocols for Splash Zone Waterpark by contacting them directly at (609) 729-5600
Feel The Breeze At Joe Riley Waterfront Park
Visiting the Joe Riley Waterfront Park is one of the best things to do in Charleston with kids during the summer. Famous for its funky pineapple fountain, this eight-acre park runs along the Cooper River in downtown Charleston. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy the weather, since there’s a lot of open green space to explore. Of course, kids will love getting their hands wet in the Pineapple Fountain, which is a must-stop during your time here. Afterward, feel free to explore the rest of the park, especially the pier area. Here, families will find a splash pad for kids to cool down in, plus some nearby swings for more fun. Stop to enjoy the view of the harbor and take it all in. Who knows, you may even spot a dolphin in the water! End your day with a cold gelato to commemorate your Charleston adventure.
Glide through the Air at Wild Blue Ropes Adventure Park
If you have active, thrill-seeking kids, take them to Wild Blue Ropes Adventure Parks. Here, kids and adults alike can spend hours challenging themselves on the ropes! In fact, the park has 72 rope courses some suspended 35 feet off the ground. Younger kids can even go on the lower level where they will be strapped in the entire course. If you are a beginner, no problem! There’s a ropes course for entry-level guests. The staff is also there to assist you during your adventure. If you get stuck, a staff member will help you manage through the course. Wild Blue Rope Adventure Park is a great way to connect as a family through a shared, adventurous experience. No wonder it’s one of the best things to do in Charleston with kids!
Relax on the Beach on the Barrier Islands
If you are looking to spend some quality family time on the beach, then check out the Lowcountry barrier islands of South Carolina. There are 35 barrier islands in total, and many are perfect for a family beach vacation with kids. You’ll find some are more commercialized, like Hilton Head or Folley Island. Meanwhile, others seem to be stuck in time, like Edisto Island, which has no hotels nor high rises. Whichever way you chose to go, you will definitely enjoy the sun, fun, and time spent with the kids. Make sure to try your luck at fishing or shrimping! Plus, don’t miss a chance to indulge in a traditional dish of corn, shrimp, sausage, potatoes, and crab with the family. It’s known as a Lowcountry boil.
Spend the Afternoon at Folly Beach County Park
One of the best things to do in Charleston with kids is to spend an afternoon at Folly Beach County Park. Located 25 minutes south of Charleston, it has ample parking and plenty of amenities. Kids will love playing in the surf and adults can take the day to relax. There are also chances to shell, observe the many sea birds, and watch out for dolphins. The beach is large enough that it won’t seem overly crowded. As a result, you can set up chairs, umbrellas, and spread out a blanket for a picnic. Two large piers jut out into the water allow people to fish too. Kids will enjoy watching people fish for the catch of the day. Lifeguards monitor the public beach so you can feel secure letting the kids swim all day. Make sure to bring plenty of sunscreen, hats, and water. Leashed dogs are welcome.
Watch a Ballgame at Charleston Riverdogs — Westside
If your children are into sports, take them out to a ballgame! It’s definitely one of the best and most popular things to do in Charleston with kids, especially when the weather is nice. Definitely check out the Charleston minor league team The Riverdogs. Located in Charleston’s West Side, the scale of the ballpark is smaller than other major league ballparks. As a result, kids will have a great view from any seat. Baseball games are a great way to bring the family together, grab some hot dogs, and enjoy sports events. Parents can buy tickets online ahead of time to plan their visit to Charleston. Check out the schedule here.
Indoor Kid-Friendly Things to Do in Charleston
There are plenty of indoor things to do in Charleston with kids too. Depending on the weather, you may want to stay inside for a day. Check out our picks for the best family-favorite indoor attractions in Charleston!
Enjoy A Historic Home Tour
Part of what makes Charleston so beautiful are the many large historic homes gracing the cobblestone streets. Many of the homes are open to the public for a fee with guided and/or self-guided tours. Some popular historic homes include The Williams Mansion, the Edmondston-Alston House, and the Joseph Manigault House. There’s even an app, GPSMyCity, that will turn your device into a tour guide. If you want a more intimate experience for your family, consider hiring a private guide. If you have older kids, they may have already learned about this history in school. It’s a great way for them to connect what they have learned from textbooks to real life.
See Marine Life at the South Carolina Aquarium
A visit with the family to the South Carolina Aquarium is fun any time of the year. Over ten thousand marine animals, fish, birds, and plants call it home. Located in the city’s east end, this massive aquarium is certainly one of the best things to do in Charleston with kids. In fact, it spans three floors and is teeming with hundreds of fish! Kids will especially love the touch tanks since they can reach their hands inside. Touch stingrays, horseshoe crabs, sharks, and starfish! It might even be hard to peel them away from the critters in the touch tanks. The aquarium is also a rehabilitation center for turtles and marine birds. Kids and adults alike will love their family visit to the South Carolina Aquarium.
Visit A Museum
Charleston is packed with kid-friendly museums the whole family can do together. If it’s a rainy day or you want to stay indoors for a while, consider heading to one (or all!) of our suggestions below.
The Charleston Museum
One of the oldest museums in the country, The Charleston Museum collections include historic artifacts, Charleston past and present exhibits, a Lowcountry exhibit hall, natural history, and decorative arts. Families will appreciate the scale of the museum. It’s not too large, making it manageable for those with younger kids. Kids will be entertained in the Kidstory exhibit. Here, they can discover a child’s life from the 18th century through toys, replica costumes, and hosting a tea party next to a fireplace. The museum also provides a scavenger hunt for kids throughout their visit to help keep them involved. There’s also an armory exhibit and an exhibit of the museum itself.
Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry
If you need a place to let the kids run wild while building, creating, and touching everything, then take them to the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry. Kids will learn through play, engage in botany, take a shopping cart for a whirl in a pretend market, and pretend to be a pirate on the high seas. Imagination runs free in the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry and the interactive exhibits help enhance the experience. Parents will love watching their young ones play, get a little wet at the water station, and even fighting off dragons in the medieval exhibits. Good luck trying to get them to leave! This is definitely one of the best things to do in Charleston with kids.
Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum
Have you ever wanted to know what it would be like to live in a submarine, sail an aircraft carrier, or fly a fighter plane? The Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum is the perfect place to find out firsthand. Be prepared to climb up and down narrow staircases, duck through small doors, and squeeze through in tight spaces. Kids will love all of the small nooks and crannies in the boats and the tiny narrow hallways in a submarine. They will feel like they are in a jungle gym of constant climbing and ducking while learning interesting US history. Kids will also get a thrill out of pushing all of the buttons in the fighter jets and helicopters while they pretend the fly. Plan to spend more than 2 hours and make sure to wear comfy shoes that can get you up and down steep stairs.
North Charleston and American LaFrance Fire Museum and Education Center
Unique is the one word that comes to mind when visiting the North Charleston Fire Museum. Located in North Charleston, it’s home to America’s largest collection of professionally restored LaFrance fire trucks and apparatus dating all the way back to the 1780s. Kids’ inner-fireman selves will come out while visiting the Fire Museum. Exhibits are interactive, letting kids try out a fire hose and testing their escape artist skills from live smoke. A theater brings to life what it is like to be close to the fire without getting burned. Families can even test their fire safety knowledge with true/false quizzes throughout the museum. One awesome feature is kids can make their own firefighter badges and take their design home on a sticker. Families will leave the museum with a better understanding of fire safety.
Note: Children 12 and under are free with an accompanying adult.
Learn the COVID-19 updates and protocols for Fire Museum by contacting them directly at (843) 740-5550.
Where to Stay in Charleston With Kids
Searching for family-friendly accommodations in Charleston? You won’t have to look far! The city has plenty of hotels to stay at with kids. We recommend Charleston Place, a Belmond Hotel, located in historic Charleston. It has a saltwater pool for kids, a rooftop deck, and a spa for parents. Adjacent to the Charleston marina, The Residence Inn By Marriott Charleston Downtown is another convenient option if you want to stay centrally located. For a more historic, cozy feel, try the French Quarter Inn. Our FLT contributors also suggest the Wild Dunes Resort, The Restoration, and The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel.
We hope you liked this article on the Best Things To Do In Charleston With Kids by our contributor Alison Netzer! From visiting a museum to relaxing on the beach, the city has no shortage of fun activities for all ages. Enjoy Charleston with your kids!
*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the locations in this article may be temporarily closed or may have reduced services. Please ensure availability before making your decision and embarking on your family vacation to Charleston.
*This post may contain affiliate links that may earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links in no way inform the hotels, sights, products, or other recommendations included in our articles. All opinions and recommendations expressed here are compiled from submissions submitted by the generous members of our Families Who Love To Travel community.
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