One of our family’s favorite destinations in recent years was our trip to Charleston, S.C., in March 2014. Charleston has so many fun experiences to offer families, whether you have preschoolers, teenagers, or anything in between!
Planning your visit to Charleston:
Before we even arrived in Charleston we were impressed with the city because of the fantastic planning website the tourism office has created:
When you check out the Charleston Family Fun webpage, you can customize the type of vacation you are looking for by clicking on the “experiences” box. You will be prompted with four experience types: imagine, unplug, encounter, or adventure. Under each of these links are fun ideas you and your family could add to your trip itinerary. Additionally, for each tourist spot the website provides interaction ideas by age group.
James Island County Park
During our visit to Charleston, we stayed at the campground at James Island County Park. Whether you camp or not, you should make time to spend a day at this amazing county park. The park charges an entrance fee (campers: it’s included in your reservation fee), but within the park there is a seasonal pool and water park, a climbing wall, and a HUGE playground complex that features three play areas geared for three different age groups. If you happen to be there during the holidays, there is also a seasonal light show.
Most people who visit Charleston want to make a least one stop at the beach–whether to swim or just to stroll. The area features five different beaches, although Seabrook Island is limited to guests of the private community. We opted to go to Folly Beach, where we had a blast collecting shells with the kiddos. One evening we also hiked to a look-out point to watch a sunset with a scenic view of Folly Beach Lighthouse in the background.
We stayed busy during our trip to Charleston, and we still only visited a fraction of the neat attractions in this historic Carolina city. Some of the places that are great to take the kiddos include:
- Charleston Fire Museum: A great collection of historic fire trucks and interactive fire-safety displays.
- Patriots Point: Kids will have a blast exploring all the decks of the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier–and getting to tour a submarine!
- Charles Towne Landing: A hands-on exhibit of an early settlers’ colony.
- Fort Moultrie and Fort Sumter
- Charleston Aquarium
Since many places have admission fees, it’s nice to balance out those attractions with free or almost free places to visit. Some frugal touring ideas include:
- Charleston Tea Plantation: You can take a complimentary tour of the only active tea plantation in North America–and then go sample the product;
- Angel Oak Tree: An incredible, huge tree, considered to be over 1,500 years old;
- City Market: One of the nation’s oldest public markets;
- Caw, Caw Nature Center: An interpretive nature exhibit ($1 admission, 2 and under free);
- Rainbow Row: 13 colorful historic houses that make up the longest cluster of Georgian row houses in the U.S.
Unfortunately it doesn’t appear the Charleston tourism office is still doing one program that our family loved during our visit: the Charleston Explorers program. Kiddos could register at the tourism bureau and receive a “passport” that the kiddos could then use to collect “stamps” as they visited area attractions. As the kiddos earned stamps, they also earned prizes that were then mailed to the kiddos’ homes. I hope the tourism bureau considers bringing back this program because our kiddos still talk about how much fun they had participating in it!
Charleston is such a great destination for families of all ages–be sure to add it to your touring bucket list!