The city of Charleston, South Carolina is such an eclectic city that offers so much for guests to do. From the water to the downtown area, your trip itinerary will have plenty of options to add. If you’re visiting Charleston SC with kids, these are the kid-friendly attractions you need to check out! There’s plenty of family fun and exploring in the city which has been nicknamed the “holy city” and one of the best places to visit in the South.
What To Do In Charleston SC With Kids
When you’re planning your Charleston trip, consider what part of the city you’d like to stay in. There’s the busy downtown area, the beaches, the harbor area and the North Charleston area. Our favorite Charleston SC resort is The Cottages on Charleston Harbor. It’s located in the Mount Pleasant area and only a few minutes driving time from downtown or a ferry ride away. It offers a quiet secluded family vacation spot that’s a great retreat from the busyness of the city, without being too far away from the action.
There are several options for commuting around the Charleston area. You can drive your own vehicle, take a horse-drawn carriage ride through the downtown area, boating around the harbor area or even bike rentals. If you do decide to drive, be careful of the city’s infamous one-way streets.
This aquarium is so unique and kids love visiting for hours on end. They offer some great educational programs, STEM activities and hands-on learning opportunities. Definitely plan at a half-day for this awesome attraction. What makes them so unique is how they blend marine life with other types of animals. So your family can see birds, mammals and marine life. Two of my favorite exhibits: the sea turtle rescue center (it’s very interesting to observe) and the hands-on StingRay tank. It’s also a great place for kids to pick up a souvenir from their trip.
I cannot even begin to describe the joy on my toddler’s face when we walked into the North Charleston Fire Museum. Of all the things to do in Charleston SC with kids – this is a MUST DO! They offer over 20 different restored firetrucks, in their collection, with the earliest dating back to the 1780’s. Their hands-on exhibits allow kids to feel like they’re a part of the action and live out their firefighter dreams. There’s also tons of educational opportunities to learn about fire safety. Guests can make their own personalized “badge” sticker and receive a free plastic firefighter souvenir hat. Plus, you can’t beat that kids under 12 are FREE (adults are $6 per ticket).
Charleston is known for it’s southern charm with years of history. The city had a substantial impact on American History and one of the best ways to learn about it is with a Classic Carriage Works tour. They offer several family-friendly historic tours that are great for learning about the city’s rich history. Kids under 3 are free, but they must sit on an adult’s lap. I find that even if my kids don’t understand the details of the historic stories, they appreciate a scenic horse-drawn carriage ride.
The USS Yorktown is an awe-inspiring aircraft carrier that sits in the Charleston Harbor. Patriots Point is in the Mount Pleasant area, just a quick drive over the bridge from downtown Charleston. There are plenty of hands-on history lessons for kids to enjoy at Patriots Point. The Flight Academy Training Program (for ages 6+) allow kids to step into the cockpit of a Lockheed Martin F-35 simulator to compete in challenges and missions to defend the ship. They offer self-guided and group tours, plus a totally unique overnight camping experience where you can sleep where true heroes once lived.
Let your child’s creativity soar when they visit the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry. They offer different unique spaces that spark creativity and educational playtime. The interactive play areas offer STEM, agricultural, art and social learning opportunities that revolve around old-fashioned playtime. There’s even an infant and toddler play space available for the tots.
Check out the waterside view underneath the famous Arthur Ravenel Bridge. This recreation area looks over the Cooper River and offers plenty of activities for outdoor enthusiasts. Birding, fishing, biking and walking paths are few things to do at the park. There are also great playgrounds for kids to explore. Parking is $.50 per hour and dogs are allowed (expect on the pier).
Downtown Charleston may not be the most kid-friendly area of town, but it certainly offers a few perks for kids. If you’re in the hotel and shopping area of King Street, there are some great ice cream shops that’ll hit the spot on a hot Charleston summer day. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is a gourmet ice cream shop that offers creative flavors that are made with only high-quality ingredients.