Imagine a day of hands-on learning, exploration and fun for your kids. If you’re looking for things to do in Charleston SC with kids, the South Carolina Aquarium is a must-do! What makes the aquarium unique is how they pair marine life with aviaries, reptiles and even LEGO art. There’s plenty for kids of all ages to enjoy and they’re sure to leave with some fantastic memories (and maybe even a few new animal facts). These are the South Carolina Aquarium exhibits that kids will love on your visit!
South Carolina Aquarium Exhibits That Kids Will Love
Did you know that the South Carolina Aquarium is home to more than 5,000 animals? The aquarium offers daily programs for an up-close experience unlike any other. Tours, animal encounters and feedings are just a few of the daily offerings that you can be a part of.
While these exhibits are always a part of the aquarium, each guest has the opportunity to enhance their visit and personalize their own unique experience. My kids, ages two and five, love getting a “behind the scenes” tour. The tour gives you a look at the work and effort that happens behind the scenes to make everything possible – from feeding animals to special care and tank maintenance.
“Experience South Carolina” Exhibit
South Carolina has amazing waterways that run throughout the state – from the mountains to the ocean. This allows for so many different species of marine life to live in the area. Discover the state’s native plants and animals as you learn about the state’s different eco-systems. Kids can learn how the different wildlife lives in harmony with the surrounding areas of the state.
“Mountain Forest” Exhibit
Kids love how the South Carolina Aquarium exhibits blend marine life with other animal species. This particular exhibit showcases the majestic Bald Eagle and playful River Otters. There’s nothing cuter in the aquarium than the river otters playing. My two-year-old says “they’re like puppies.”
Keep your eyes open for special learning opportunities for the kids. These hands-on areas allow the kids to understand concepts on a lever that’s easier for them.
“Coastal Plain” Exhibit
For my five-year-old, this exhibit was by far his favorite. Learn about snakes, the effects of Hurricane Hugo and even watch American Alligators in their natural swamp habitat. There’s something fascinating about watching the alligators and they’re definitely a huge hit with the kids.
“Kids Coast” Exhibit
Playtime and learning collide in this fun hands-on exhibit where learning comes to life. The kid-focused guided discovery area teaches how water filtration for aquarium animals work. This exhibit is great for STEM learning. There’s also a great tot play area where the kids can run around and let off a little steam.
Want to get even more hands-on? There’s a two-finger touch tank where kids can feel some of the aquarium’s smaller creatures.
“BricksALIVE” LEGO Exhibit
One of my favorite things about the South Carolina Aquarium is how everything is blended under one roof: art, animals and learning. The BricksALIVE exhibit showcases over 250,000 colorful LEGO pieces that come together as unique animal sculptures. The kids can even take photos with these cool works of art. Each sculpture represents animals that live in South Carolina. It’s a really cool scavenger hunt to find each work of LEGO art.
“The Shallows” Exhibit
This is another great kid-friendly South Carolina Aquarium exhibit because it’s hands-on. They can hand-feed the Cownose Stingrays and Southern Stingrays that live in the open-top tank. Between 9:30 and noon everyday, guests can feed them a treat after purchasing a $5 feeding voucher (at the admission gate).
No aquarium visit is complete without a look at the largest tank they have! This exhibit is where kids can observe the wonders of the ocean – sharks, many species of fish and the 220-pound Loggerheard Sea Turtle. The two-story tank is a can’t miss beauty that the kids love. The volunteer divers will interact with guests during the daily dive shows too. Take a minute to sit back and relax, while watching the beauty of the ocean.
“Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery™” Exhibit
Guests can get an up-close view of the South Carolina Aquarium’s sea turtle rescue efforts. Both a hospital and exhibit, open viewing areas allow guests to see how real-life rehabilitation of sick/injured sea turtles work. Read about their journeys, learn about how the aquarium takes the sea turtle in and the ongoing efforts to protect our turtles.
Planning Your Family South Carolina Aquarium Visit
Tickets can be purchased ahead of time, online, and valid for a year from the purchase date. If you’re looking for a South Carolina Aquarium discount, they offer a military discount at the admissions gate with valid ID.
If you’re bringing young children, the aquarium is stroller-friendly. It’s definitely a little walk from the parking garage to the building. Umbrella strollers are available for rental at the information desk for a $1 with a photo ID deposit.
Pay for parking is required in the South Carolina Aquarium parking garage.
Souvenirs are available at the gift shop – South Carolina Aquarium members receive select discounts.
South Carolina Aquarium Hours
- Open daily 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
- Holiday Hours: Closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day (open 9 a.m. – noon Christmas Eve)
Don’t miss this Charleston Harbor photo opportunity after the admission booth!
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