One of the most amazing cities in the American South, Charleston is a treasure trove of beauty and history. The city’s cobblestone streets, oil lamps, and horse drawn carriages transports you back to the late 1600’s when the city was founded. It’s no surprise at all that Charleston is on so many peoples travel radar. I had the pleasure of visiting Charleston again this week with my daughters who are two and three. I’m excited to show you around and give you some advice on visiting Charleston with toddlers!
Where to Stay
The area in Charleston that I recommend staying in is just over the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge in Mt. Pleasant. Only a 10-15 minute drive from the Battery District in Charleston. Staying in Mt. Pleasant will considerably drop your accommodation expenses and also give you easy access to a number of beautiful locations that are too often missed when people visit Charleston. It also puts you closer to two great beach communities; Sullivans Island and Isle of Palms.
Things to do in Mt. Pleasant
-a number of water front restaurants
-Shem Creek Park
-Mt. Pleasant Pier
-Mt. Pleasant Waterfront Park
Best Time To Visit The City
I have to recommend you absolutely avoid visiting Charleston April-October. So many people are crowded around restaurants, famous sites, and on the beaches. Spring breaks, summer breaks, and fall breaks draw in thousands of visitors. Everyone wants to take advantage of their time off and the weather, but having visited in May before, I can tell you that it is miserable. I wasn’t able to let my girls out of their stroller and hardly got any pictures of us as a family, because there were simply just too many people all around.
Visiting in January was a totally different experience. The weather was 70-80 degrees F while we were there and there weren’t any crowds at all. Even though it is January and most of the country is wearing coats and scarves, in Charleston, flowers were blooming along the pastel colored streets. As you’re able to see from the pictures in this post, we had most places to ourselves. In the morning we would see the occasional local out for a jog or to walk their dog and then in the afternoon there was a group of people loading back onto the cruise ship at the port. Otherwise, the town was quiet and peaceful. I cannot recommend visiting in mid-January enough!
Exploring The City
We started by parking at the Battery next to the White Point Garden. It’s a great place to learn abut the towns history before walking along East Bay Street. There’s a raised sidewalk that has the Cooper River on one side and breathtaking historic homes on the other side. Traveling with little ones, it’s always important to know where the pubic restrooms are. On the right side of East Bay Street, is the Hazel Parker Playground that has public restrooms right next door. Following this road will take you down to the world famous Rainbow Row which has the most interesting history.
There’s a lot of here say on what exactly is the reason behind the gorgeous rainbow colored homes of Rainbow Row. The truth is, a women named Dorthy painted the first house light pink in an attempt to make the area look nicer and soon after others followed suit. Wether or not the others painted their homes for pure aesthetic reasons is unknown. Some say the color of the building indicated what was sold there, others say the homes were painted unique and noticeable colors to help drunk sailors find their way back home after a night out. Either way, Rainbow Row is a must see during a visit to Charleston
The downside to the beautiful homes and other architecture in the Battery district is that there are cars parked all along the streets, disrupting the view of the building. Nonetheless, it’s still beautiful. One thing to be aware of if you are traveling with toddlers who still use a stroller, not all of streets in Charleston has sidewalks wide enough for a double stroller or even a single stroller. Some areas don’t have a side walk at all, so that’s something to be aware of before heading to the city.
Although this can be a bit of a hassle, I still love taking my girls to Charleston. They love playing on the beach, eating gelato, playing in the fountains and they’re fascinated by the colorful pink and purple houses. As a mom, Charleston is perfect for me–I don’t have to try to find children’s museums or other child centered attractions because they are able to enjoy the city as same as I am.
Since, I travel alone 95% of the time, I always like to travel with at least one option that will help me keep my girls close to. On this trip I packed our Baby Joy Double Stroller. What I love about this stroller is that it’s so compact. It’s near impossible to find a double stroller that TRULY folds up small. Another bonus is that it’s less than $100, which any mom of multiple young children will know that finding a double stroller that fits your needs AND is cheap is hard to come by.
Another option that I occasionally travel with is The Mommore Toddler Travel Backpacks. I have one for each of my girls. They’re super cute and come with a safety harness with leash. I rarely use these, but they have come in handy when a destination is super crowded and I know there won’t be much room for a stroller. Sometimes, just being able to grab a hold of the handle at the top of the backpack to keep them near me while we let people walk pass us or to keep them from running into the road, etc. is a huge help.
Moving on down the road we stopped in the water front park. The park has a beautiful brick path between trees that lead you down to two water fountains, both of which allow people to wade and play in them. They’re perfect for kids even in the winter months in Charleston. Also the perfect place for a photo-op. The pineapple fountain especially is super popular with tourists.
Across the street from the fountain, we stopped at Belgian Gelato. It’s a must visit while in the area. The flavors are so unbelievably strong and rich. You can get sorbet, gelato, sundaes, milkshakes and espressos. It’s a super cute little shop and I want so bad to go back so I can try other flavors. I had the Belgian Chocolate and the girls had vanilla cream. The Belgian Chocolate is rich and creamy and topped with melted chocolate that hardens over the gelato, then topped with whipped cream. The Vanilla Cream reminds me of those Grandma’s Mini Vanilla Sandwich Cremes. They both were seriously PERFECT.
Where To Eat
Shem Creek Bar and Grill is a great place to eat on the Mt. Pleasant side of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. A casual place with a water front view, and amazing hushpuppies! The three of us ate for $23, so it’s a great budget option and family friendly. We pretty much had the restaurant to ourselves, another perk of visiting in January. If you are a seafood fan, you’ll love the Shem Creek Grill, their menu revolves around their seafood options.
California Dreaming is a ten minute drive from the parking at The Battery. This is my TOP PICK for where to eat in Charleston. A little more upscale place with breathtaking views of the water next to a marina. Still not terribly expensive, the three of us ate for $35. They have a DREAMY spicy chicken sandwich that I can’t recommend enough. Pimento cheese, spicy battered chicken, sliced cheese, jicama cole slaw, and pickles come together to create a seriously delicious sammy!
** If you’re looking for a high quality high chair/shopping cart cover, this is the one we use! Lumiere Baby
On this trip to Charleston we visited the beach in Isle of Palms. We had previously visited Sullivans Island on our last visit to Charleston. Although Sullivans Island beach was beautiful and has “Charleston Light” (a light house) we prefer Isle of Palms. Like Sullivans Island, Isle of Palms is a large beach. There’s so much room for kids to run and play. And like most beaches in the low country there are tide pools that are the perfect place for toddlers to play.
When traveling, we regularly picnic wherever we go in order to save money. Lately, I’ve been using EcoMatters Dinnerware for the girls snacks. Their cups, bowls, and plates are made from Bamboo, are biodegradable, microwave & dishwasher friendly, and BPA free. Their dinnerware is the only microwavable bamboo ware because they are 100% melamine free.
My girls feel so grown up using the toddler cups and ask to use them EVERYDAY. I’ve linked them for you below!
Eco Matters Cups
Eco Matters Plates
Eco Matters Snack Cups
We had so much fun in Charleston. Doing anything with toddlers can be challenging, especially traveling. If you have any questions about traveling with toddlers or visiting Charleston, leave a comment below or send me a DM on Instagram. Happy traveling!