Family Travel Guide: Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina is a town that has so much history (as most east coast towns do); founded in 1670, Charleston was once one of the largest cities in the United States. The town may be most famous by modern travelers today for its old architecture, Spanish moss, and that instagram worthy pineapple fountain. The town has an in depth history involving the civil war, is home to the Charleston Naval Ship ward, several forts, and five different beach communities. Charleston never disappoints!
So, let’s dive in! We stayed on the Patriots Point side of the famous Arthur Ravenal Jr Bridge. (The hotels on this side of the beach are much cheaper) An added benefit to staying on this side of the bridge is that after you leave your hotel you can stop at the Mount Pleasant Pier before heading across the bridge to the rest of the city. It is an incredible pier, it’s clean, has wonderful views, and it’s FREE. If you want to fish while you are there, it costs $5 a person. The pier is also a great place to get Charleston souvenirs.
Charleston is home to one of the most popular places in the country to bird watch. The Ocean Walk at Pickett Park is always filled with serious bird watchers, no matter what day of the week. Whether you are a bird watcher or not, the park is a beautiful place with amazing views that tourists and locals alike enjoy everyday.
My favorite thing to do in Charleston is walk the town. To be honest, walking the city is my favorite thing to do in most places, it’s the best way to really see a town. I have put together a self-guided walking tour to help you get the most out of your time in Charleston.
I recommend that you start at the Battery which is at the southern most point of the Charleston peninsula. It is a great place to start because of it’s location and because there’s free parking! Now, I must warn you, if you are exploring the city with very young children, you are definitely going to want to bring a stroller. When I visited Charleston, I had a two year old and one year old in tow. I have always been big on letting my girls walk everywhere we went, but after researching the town I asked my friend if I could borrow her double stroller and I am so glad I did. You should also be aware that not all of the sidewalks will be wide enough to fit all strollers.
After you park, you can enjoy looking at the statues and views of the water in the Waterfront Park. The sidewalk that runs alongside the water is dangerous place to be on a windy day. If you go when it’s windy like we did the waves may be splashing up onto the walkway. My daughters thought it was so much fun! (not so much for momma, haha)
Continue on East Battery Street, enjoying the beautiful old southern architecture until it turns into East Bay Street. This area is also called “rainbow row” and is one of the most famous places in Charleston. The exact reason for the house colors is unknown, but an old rumor says that sailors would paint their house a unique color so they could find there way home when they were drunk! Also on East Bay street on your right in The Walled City of Charles Town.
After you past the beautiful pastel homes of rainbow row, turn right and you will enter Waterfront Park. The park is home to two fountains, both of which children are welcome to wade and play in. At both ends of the park there are piers. Both will give you views of the Charleston bridge. At the northern end of the park there are swings lining the pier where we sat and had an Italian ice while we enjoyed the view.
Next, we moved on to The Old Slave Mart which is on Chalmers Street. After viewing the Slave Mart, we saw two beautiful old churches. On Church Street there is Saint Philip’s Church and on the next block is the Circular Congregational Church. Finally, a block north of the Circular Congregational Church is the Historic Charleston Market. The market was established in the 1790’s and spans four blocks. You can buy clothes, trinkets, candy apples, fudge, and much more.
Charleston is home to five different beach communities; Folly Beach, Sullivans Island, Isle of Palms, Bull Island, and Kiawah Island. I would venture to say that Folly Beach is the most popular in all of Charleston. However, it wasn’t my beach of choice.
I chose to go to Sullivans Island. It it a very calm beach and is home to a functioning lighthouse. Although the Sullivans Island Lighthouse may not get much attention during the day, it can’t be missed at night as puts out several short, yet unmistakable beams and flashes of light. The lighthouse on Sullivans Island was built between 1960 and 1962, making it one of the newest lighthouses in the country. Only being beat by the Texas Tower Offshore Lighthouses. Another reason to go to Sullivans Island is that it is just minutes from Fort Moultrie. Unlike Fort Sumter, Fort Moultrie does have an entrance free. It is $7 for everyone over sixteen and everyone fifteen and younger are free. (pretty fair pricing if you ask me!)
You can learn more about what to do in Charleston, HERE.
We had such a relaxing time while we were in this beautiful old town & I can’t wait to go back, maybe on a couple getaway next time.
I’d love to hear from you about your trip to Charleston or if you have any questions, please let me know!
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