Planning a trip will be a breeze with these exciting things to do in Charleston, SC with kids! Charleston isn’t usually the first destination people recommend for traveling with kids. However, it is a stunning, historic city that is perfect for family travelers who want an educational experience with delicious food and pristine beaches!
Whether you are a foodie in search of yummy southern cuisine, an outdoor enthusiast looking for stunning natural beauty, or a momma who wants to find some of the best kid-centered activities, you can find it all in Charleston! Which of these exciting things to do in Charleston, SC with kids will you do first?
25 Exciting Things To Do In Charleston SC With Kids
Walk The Battery
If you plan on walking around the historic district in Charleston, parking at The Battery is the best option! There is free parking along the streets in a perfect location for starting your day walking the district. Walking here is beautiful. You will walk along the water, the White Point Garden, old Oak trees, and rows of beautiful, historic homes, before continuing on East Battery Street.
Walled City of Charleston
If you continue walking along East Battery you will come to the Walled City of Charles Town. The historic landmark is free and a great opportunity to learn a bit of history. The old wall was made out of handmade bricks and was used to protect the newly established town from sea attacks. By the 1730’s most of the wall had been torn down to make room for the growing city. Today, there are signs around the perimeter of the walled city that you can walk around read about the history.
Pineapple Fountain at Ravenel Waterfront Park
Yes, the famous Pineapple fountain! One of the most popular things to do in Charleston, SC with kids, the pineapple fountain is located in the Ravenel Waterfront Park. The fountain makes for a great place to take pictures together as a family as it has a variety of pretty backdrops surrounding it. Water and palm trees on one side and historic buildings on the other, family pictures will look gorgeous at this fountain! For those hot summer days in Charleston, the pineapple fountain is a great place to stop and cool off. You can step down into the fountain and wade around and there is enough room for young kids to swim beneath the fountain!
Horse Drawn Carriage Tour
If you are looking for exciting things to do in Charleston, SC with kids, consider taking a tour of the Charleston historic district in a horse drawn carriage! Kids will love riding around in the carriage and be around the horses as well! This is a great way to get your bearings in Charleston. You can see and learn about different locations and then decide which ones you would like to walk to and experience on foot.
This is also a good options for those traveling with very young kids. Due to the old narrow streets and tree roots in the sidewalks, Charleston isn’t a great city for strollers. If you want to see the historic district without having to carry your little ones or struggle with a stroller, a horse drawn carriage tour may be just perfect for you! There are multiple companies to choose from and they are all located in the same general area, just north of the City Market.
The ever so popular Rainbow Row is another great pace for family pictures in Charleston. The problem here is hat everyone thinks so. If you want to be able to walk along Rainbow Row and get pictures, consider visiting in the early morning hours. During all of our visits to Charleston, the most clear I’ve ever seen Rainbow Row was in January. It was eighty degrees and we were able to get photos together in front of the beautiful pastel homes at two in the afternoon without anyone else in sight. January is a great time to visit!
The Charleston Museum
A great educational and kid-friendly attraction in Charleston, The Charleston Museum is also a great indoor activity for those rainy or hot days. The museum shares the store of people coming to America. founding Charleston, and displays many artifacts from the time period to help you visualize what life was like when the city was being founded.
Folly Island is home to the Folly Beach County Park. This a very family friendly area. The beaches are wide and there are a few driftwood trees in the sand that kids will love to play around and climb on. On the other end of Folly Island is Folly Beach. Complete with a fishing pier, Folly Beach is very wide and clean. Making it one of the best things to do in Charleston, SC with kids. You just can’t beat the space and cleanliness offers.
South Carolina Aquarium
The South Carolina Aquarium has been around in Charleston for more than twenty years now and is one of the best things to do in Charleston, SC with kids. Children love sea life and the aquarium offers a learning environment that parents love to give to their kids. This is a must visit if you are in Charleston on a hot or rainy day, it offers a break from the weather and give your kids a place to learn and play!
This market in Charleston has a long and interesting history. It was established in the 1790’s and spreads more than four city blocks. Full of foods, locally made products, art, clothings, and more, the market is the perfect place to support local vendors and find souvenirs to bring home with you from Charleston. Despite how crowded The City Market can get, it is actually one of the best things to do in Charleston with kids as it is vendors selling toys, candy, and sweet treats that kids will love!
The Nathaniel Russel House Museum
This house museum will give you an insight to what life was like for the elite at in Charleston. A tour of the home will also educate visitors about the life of the enslaved men and women that made the elite and lavish lifestyle possible for the rich in Charleston.
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
By far one of the most exciting things to do in Charleston, SC with kids is the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens! This is due to all of the animals on site. The trails are full of alligators that you can see at every turn. Yes, they roam freely on the same paths that people walk on. Don’t worry, they are quite small and timid. When there were alligators on the path in front of us, it would jump into the water as soon as it saw us coming.
Beside the beautiful gardens and walking trails that are full of Spanish Moss covered Oak trees, palms, and stunning bridges over the waters, there is also a petting zoo, restaurant, and Audubon Swamp Garden. We really enjoyed exploring the gardens, seeing the alligators, and taking pictures in the stunning gardens. If you are interest in visiting, you can learn about the whole experience and what you can expect to spend while you are there in my article about the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.
H.L. Hunley Submarine
Located in North Charleston along the edge of the Cooper river is the Friends of Hunley. Here at the Friends of Hunley museum, your kids can explore the H.L. Hunley Submarine! Your little ones can walk through the museum and have fun with the interactive exhibits, learn a bit of history, and sit inside the submarine. You can schedule tours on their website to see the world’s first combat submarine for yourself!
While on Kiawah Island you can visit the Kiawah Beachwalker Park for pristine beaches and fun in the sun. Another must visit on Kiawah Island is the Night Heron Waterpark. This waterpark has everything. From volleyball courts, basketball, disc golf, playgrounds, paddling, fishing, and so much more to offer to its visitors!
Haunted Walking Tour
Given Charleston’s history, it’s not surprising that the city is full of haunted locations and ghost sitings. This is so much fun for older kids and teens in Charleston. You can get a haunted tour of the city through Charleston Ghost Tours. What’s so great about this tour company is that they offer ghost tours for families and adults, so when traveling with kids, you know you have a safe option for a ghost tour of the city.
Fort Sumter is one of the best things to do in Charleston, SC with kids. To get to the fort, you have to take a boat to the island the fort is on. Your kids will love learning about the fort as they run and play in the grassy areas on the island. The fort itself is free, but the ferry ride does cost and tickets must be booked in advance. To assure you get to see the fort, make sure to book your ticket on the ferry at least a day in advance. (Further in advance if you are visiting during the busy season!)
Children’s Museum of The Lowcountry
Full of interactive exhibits, the Children’s Museum of The Lowcountry is one of the most kid-friendly things to do in Charleston, SC with kids. IF you have kids under the age of eight, you can never go wrong with a children’s museum. This museum in the lowcountry is free little ones under twelve months old and they are offering playdates on the weekends where you can rent the museum for a short period of time to play alone or with friends!
Isle of Palms
Like most beaches around Charleston, the beaches on Isle of Palms are wide, pristine, and super clean. The sand is so soft and there is so much space for everyone to spread out. A favorite activity of ours in Charleston is to picnic on the beach on the Isle of Palms. If you are looking for your little ones to get more energy out, there is a great children’s play ground in the Isle of Palms County Park.
Patriot’s Point Naval and Maritime Museum
About a twenty minutes drive from The Battery in Charleston is the Patriot’s Point Naval and Maritime Museum, located on the Cooper River and Charleston Harbor. At this museum you can step onto a battleship and learn about the history of the ship, war, and Charleston in an exciting hands on history lesson that your kids will love. Children under the age of six are free and you can even book a stay on the ship overnight!
Boone Hall Plantation and Gardens
Ranked as the #1 Plantation in the Charleston area by USA Today, the Boone Hall Plantation and Gardens are stunning. They make for a great place for family travel photos and a history lesson. Another good option for those who are traveling with kids under the age of six, as they get into the gardens for free with a paying adult. You can explore the home, learn about Black history at the America Exhibit, walk through the slave quarters, and see beautiful flowers and butterflies in the gardens and butterfly pavilion.
Middleton Place Plantation
Arguably the most stunning of all plantations and gardens around Charleston, South Carolina, the Middleton Place Plantation is something that you have to see in person! You will step back into as you enter the House Museum, find tranquility in the gardens, and see history come alive in the Eliza House and Stableyards. The land around the house are absolutely breath taking. Right next to the water, they feature unique landscaping and tiered areas. There is also a restaurant and an inn on the grounds.
I know you’ll become a big fan of Sullivan’s Island in the same way that we have! The beaches are massive and have shallow areas between sandbars at low tide that are perfect for wading or swimming for young kids. Little ones can spend hours play in these shallow areas!
You can also visit the Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse. Unlike most lighthouses, this one is square and covered in two shades of gray! A must visit while in Sullivan’s Island is the Shem Creek Park. It is a very popular place to visit for photographers and bird watcher. It’s common place to see pro bird watchers here with their cameras and binoculars.
Located on the Ashley River, Drayton Hall is a plantation home that was built in the 18th century and was ranked as the number one place to visit in South Carolina by Conde Nast. The home has a collection of rare items from the 18th century, including paintings, ornate chairs, and a telescope. detailed wood work and checkerboard floors add to the beauty of the home. The main house and grounds are open to the public Monday through Wednesday and children under seven get in for free!
Bike Ravenel Bridge
The J.R. Ravenel Bridge is the bridge that connects Mount Pleasant to Charleston. Perfect for families who love to bike, there are biking/walking paths along the sides of the bridge where you can bike over the Cooper River. If you want to spend a bit more time around the bridge, there is a pier and waterfront park beneath the bridge that has a playground and military memorial.
Old Slave Mart Museum
Despite the name, slaves where not sold here. This is the first African-American Slave Museum and is often staffed by individuals who can trace their ancestry back to the slaves of Charleston. An interesting piece of the history of Charleston, at one point in time, approximately forty percent of all slaves entering into America came in through Charleston. The city has a long and devastating history with slavery and one way that you can become more educated about the subject is by visiting the Old Slave Mart Museum.
A Tea Garden in Charleston? Yes, please! One of the most unique things to do in Charleston, SC with kids is to visit the Charleston Tea Garden. You can learn about the tea making process and take part in a tea tasting all for free! While on Seabrook Island, a trip to Seabrook Island Beach is a must. The beach is pet-friendly, so if you are traveling with your pets, this is the beach to be at! It’s also very common to see dolphins off of this beach which your little ones will b sure to love.
Charleston is a city that people can’t help but to go back to again and again. The beauty, beaches, and history draw people in from all over the world. Are you ready for your trip to Charleston? Which of these exciting things to do in Charleston, SC with kids will you do first?