Over the weekend, I flew to Charleston, SC for the Charleston Half Marathon. I’d wanted to visit Charleston for many years, but this was my first visit to this beautiful city. I was impressed by how much there is to see and do for both adults and children. We saw a lot over three days, but there was so much more that we wanted to explore.
Charleston With Kids
For families, the Charleston Explorers Club is a must. It’s a free program for kids where they are given a passport for collecting stamps at more than 30 participating attractions. I love programs like this because it gets kids excited to visit various sites and museums. Kids can even win prizes when they log codes from each passport stamp. Pick up a free passport at any Charleston Area Visitor Center.
Before you make your trip to Charleston with your kids, also check out CharlestonFamilyFun.com. On this website, you’ll find various attractions perfect for kids, as well as an events calendar and coupons. In the meantime, take a look at eight of my favorite must-do’s with your kids on a trip to Charleston.
1. Visit a Historic Home: No doubt that little ones will get wiped out quickly if you try to tour too many historic homes, so settle for one or two. We went on short, guided tours (less than 30 minutes) of the Joseph Manigault House and the Nathaniel Russell House. Both have been renovated and are equally nice. We also visited the Aiken-Rhett House, though that house has been preserved, but not renovated.
2. Tour a Plantation: While we were excited to tour the Boone Hall Plantation, we were disappointed to learn it was closed through mid-February (always a good idea to check the website before driving to the attraction). Magnolia Plantation is another worth exploring. Both have beautiful gardens, so spring is likely a better time to pay a visit.
3. Take a Guided Tour: We always love to take a narrated bus tour on our first day in a new city to get the lay of the land. So, we hopped aboard the minibus for a two-hour sightseeing tour with Talk of the Towne. This was a great way to see some of the attractions just off the beaten path, like the Edmonston-Alston House, while also learning the history of Charleston.
4. Enjoy Local Cuisine: Charleston has some amazing food, and you’ll find menus with delicious southern specialties. I loved the Shrimp and Grits at Husk and the Jambalaya at 82 Queen was fantastic. Both restaurants are located in historic Charleston, actually only a couple of doors away from each other.
5. See the Fish Swim at the Aquarium: While I love to take in museums and historic attractions when in a new city, I also know that sometimes my kids need a break, so make a stop at the South Carolina Aquarium. Kids will love the Touch Tank where they can touch stingrays and horseshoe crabs. Tours of the on-site Sea Turtle Hospital are given mid-day and tickets sell out quickly for this popular tour.
6. Explore the U.S.S. Yorktown: Across the bridge in Mount Pleasant, you’ll find the U.S.S. Yorktown, an aircraft carrier built for the U.S. Navy during World War II. We loved exploring the flight deck where planes landed (there are numerous planes there now to see) and the quarters where the sailors lived and worked. Also, the Medal of Honor Museum inside the ship is amazing.
7. Take a Boat Ride to Fort Sumter: It was unseasonably cold the weekend we were in Charleston, so we did not take the 30-minute boat ride out to Fort Sumter although the trip on the ferry and the tour of the grounds at Fort Sumter are on my to-do list for next time. If you go, make sure to also take part in the Junior Ranger program for kids ages 12 and under.
8. Wander Around Charles Towne Landing: Head to Charles Towne Landing to see how English settlers lived in the 17th century. Make a stop at the Visitors Center to see the interactive museum before walking along the history trail. Attend a cannon firing, see a 17th-century ship and explore the gardens. Then, head to the Animal Forest Trail to see animals native to the area at the time of the settlement.
Have you ever been to Charleston with kids? What are some of your favorite things to do when you visit? Let me know in the comments section below.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary VIP Pass, which granted me free admission to a number of attractions around Charleston. However, all views and opinions expressed here are my own.