Charleston is one of the most underrated family vacation destinations in the United States. From the aquarium to the beautiful beaches, there are plenty of things to do in Charleston with kids.
Charleston, South Carolina, has consistently ranked one of the best romantic destinations in the United States. Spanish moss-draped trees, cobblestone streets, and horse-drawn carriage rides make Charleston an ideal romantic getaway. However, Charleston isn't just for couples: the city's southern charm also appeals to families.
15 Kid-Friendly Things To Do in Charleston South Carolina
From museums to parks to beaches, these 15 kid-friendly things to do in Charleston South Carolina are a great start to exploring this fun city.
1. Children's Museum of The Lowcountry
When your kids need a place to play freely and be kids, take them to the Children's Museum of the Lowcountry. The museum has eight hands-on attractions, including the Art Room, Pirate Ship, Garden, and Medieval Castle. The Children's Museum of the Lowcountry will entertain your kids for hours.
2. Visit a Fort
An excellent way for kids to learn about Charleston's history is to tour Fort Moultrie and Fort Sumter. Located on an island in the Charleston harbor, Fort Sumter is where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. Kids will love the boat ride to the island and exploring the historic site, complete with canons. Fort Moultrie, located on Sullivans Island, was built during the Revolutionary War and was active until World War II.
3. South Carolina Aquarium
Over ten thousand plants and animals live in the South Carolina Aquarium. The South Carolina Aquarium is home to the deepest aquarium in North America, The Great Ocean Tank, which holds 385,000 US gallons of water. A Touch Tank allows visitors to touch horseshoe crabs, stingrays, and other marine animals. Guests can also visit the Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery Hospital, which rehabilitates sick and injured sea turtles.
4. Carriage Ride
One of the most quintessentially Charleston things to do is take a carriage ride around the city. You may think a horse-drawn carriage ride is only for romantic couples on their honeymoon. However, Charleston has many family-friendly carriage tours. A carriage tour is a fun way for families to explore the city's historic sites and attractions.
5. Patriots Point
The Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum is home to the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier. Guests can tour the US Navy ship that earned 16 battle stars for its service in World War II and Vietnam. The museum also features the USS Laffey, the most decorated WII-era U.S. destroyer. Guests will also enjoy exploring the collection of historic military aircraft and the Vietnam Experience.
6. Charleston Museum
Founded in 1773, The Charleston Museum is one of the oldest museums in the country. The Kidstory exhibit is designed for kids with hands-on, interactive elements. Explore kid-friendly exhibits that teach kids about the coastal ecosystem, the lighthouse keeper's life, and the port city's history. Children can see what being a child during colonial times at the Heyward-Washington House would have been like.
Summers in Charleston can be pretty hot, so spending the day at the beach is a very refreshing experience. Sullivan's Island, Isle of Palms, and Folly Beach are all within a short drive of downtown Charleston. Pack your swimsuit and sandals to enjoy a relaxing day along the coast.
8. Charles Towne Landing Park
Located where the English settled in 1670, Charles Towne Landing gives visitors a peek into the city's colonial past. Tour The Adventure, Charleston's only replica 17th-century sailing ship. Visit the Animal Forest, a natural habitat zoo with otters, bears, bison, and more.
9. North Charleston Fire Museum
A short drive to North Charleston will take you to the North Charleston Fire Museum. Your kids will enjoy this hands-on museum that gives them a glimpse into the life of a firefighter. They also have a vintage fire vehicles and equipment collection and offer live safety demonstrations.
10. Hang Out With Pirates
Take your kids on a pirate adventure with a Pirate Adventure Cruise. Pirates of Charleston offers one of the most unique activities in Charleston, a 1.5-hour pirate cruise. Your kids will become the crew of the Black Ghost, where they will dress up like pirates, sing sea shanties, and search for treasure.
11. Visit a Plantation
It can be uncomfortable to take a plantation tour. The McLeod Plantation Historic Site has done a meticulous job preserving the cultural and historical significance of the South Carolina plantation. Visitors can learn about the lives of people who helped define Charleston's complex past and the country's destiny. McLeod Plantation offers interpretive tours, focusing on telling the story from the perspective of the enslaved and their path to freedom.
12. Angel Oak Park
One of the oldest trees in the United States is the Angel Oak. Estimated to be 300-400 years old, the Angel Oak is part of a large park on St. John's island and is an excellent place for families to visit. Pack a picnic for your family and spend the day exploring the park's trails, pond, and wildlife.
13. Charleston City Market
The Charleston City Market is one of the nation's oldest public markets. When the market opened in 1790, it was a place to buy meat, vegetables, and seafood. Today it's a popular tourist destination to purchase jewelry, artwork, souvenirs, and more. The Charleston City Market is home to one of the nation's oldest handicrafts, sweetgrass baskets made by Gullah artisans.
14. Riley Waterfront Park
Charleston's Riley Waterfront Park is a beautiful place to relax and enjoy the harborfront. Visitors can explore the 8-acre park that features the infamous pineapple fountain. You will find bench swings along the pier perfect for enjoying water views. Children will enjoy cooling off in the splash fountain open during the hot summer.
15. Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon
The Old Exchange is a “must-see” family attraction in Charleston. The museum is a local landmark that has impacted the entire country's history. Kids will love visiting the Old Exchange because pirates were formerly imprisoned in the dungeon.