A city steeped in American history, Charleston, South Carolina, offers visitors a vibrant welcome and plenty of Southern charm!
If you’re planning a family vacation, you might find yourself overwhelmed by the amount of child-friendly activities waiting for you in Charleston.
Are you vacationing in the southeast United States with kids? You may also be interested in our reviews of the Best Family Activities in Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head, Gatlinburg, Asheville, Florida, and Orlando.
If you’re traveling with children during cooler weather, check out these Winter Family Activities, Indoor Activities for Families, and these Staycation Ideas.
It’s almost impossible to run out of things to do in Charleston, SC! Plan the perfect family trip with our guide to the best family activities in Charleston!
Keep reading to discover the best things to do in Charleston with children.
1. South Carolina Aquarium
If you’re planning a family vacation to Charleston, SC, you must make a trip to the South Carolina Aquarium. Featuring habitats from across the world, kids can discover the American alligators, spot the diamondback terrapins, and even get hands-on in the touch tank!
And don’t miss the 385,000-gallon ocean tank! It’s the deepest tank in North America (stretching over two stories) and is populated with many sharks.
2. Children’s Museum Of The Lowcountry
The Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry does museums slightly differently. Instead of boring displays locked behind glass, this museum is about having fun!
Exhibits encourage children to get stuck in and play and are designed to spark the imagination. Older children can discover the wonders of science at the Boeing Brightlab or search for buried treasure at the Pirate Ship.
Younger children can enjoy the Infant and Toddler Playspace, designed to encourage gross motor skill development for kids from birth to 3 years old.
3. Pirates Of Charleston
Charleston is a city that sits by the sea, and the rich maritime history is a major draw for families. Boat tours are an excellent way to learn more about Charleston and discover some of the city’s greatest sights.
If you’re looking for a boat trip that will appeal to adults and children alike, check out the Pirates of Charleston!
The 90-minute journey cruises along the Historic Ashley River, searching for Sneaky Pete and the sunken treasure. Kids will love feeling part of a real pirate crew (and they might learn a little history along the way).
4. See The Charleston RiverDogs
Indulge in some good old fashioned American family fun with a visit to the James P. Riley, Jr Park to see the Charleston RiverDogs.
This minor league baseball team is known for creating a good time, with Friday night games often followed by a fireworks show. Check out the game schedule online to see what’s coming up.
5. The Charleston Museum
Charleston is a town with an intriguing history, and the Charleston Museum has been documenting most of it! This is one of the oldest museums in America, and it’s been preserving and sharing history since 1773.
The permanent collection introduces children and adults to the history of South Carolina, with exhibitions designed to inspire. Make sure to head to the Kidstory exhibition, where kids can discover history hands-on!
Then take a trip to the Armory, which will delight any young boy. Finish with a tour of the Bunting Natural History Gallery, and feel grateful that the 40-foot Megalodon is no longer a threat to the South Carolina coast.
The biggest attraction at the Patriot’s Point Naval and Maritime Museum, located in Charleston Harbor, is the jaw-dropping USS Yorktown.
First commissioned for the U.S. Navy during World War II, it later earned five battle stars for services in Vietnam. And now, visitors can step on board and explore the historic craft, as well as the rest of the Patriot’s Point fleet.
7. Magnolia Plantation And Gardens
Breathe in the fresh air and soak up the lush local wildlife with a tour of the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, the oldest public gardens in America!
First founded in 1676 by the Drayton family, the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens use a romantic planting style. That means instead of rigid formality, the plants here grow lush and free.
And there’s more than just plants to look at! Children will love the on-site zoo, which features some of the state’s rarest indigenous species. Worried you don’t have time to see it all? The Nature Tram Tour offers a 45-minute exploration of all the highlights.
8. Charles Towne Landing Historic Site
Charles Towne Landing Historic Site is where South Carolina first came into being. It was on a marshy strip of the Historic Ashley River that English settlers first landed way back in 1670.
Several centuries later, it’s now home to one of the most diverse and interesting historical sites in the state.
There are 80 acres of gardens and grounds to explore at the Charles Towne Landing Site. But we think kids will be most interested in the cannon demonstrations. You can literally feel the earth shake!
9. Folly Beach County Park
If you’re taking the family to Charleston, you must make time for a day at the beach!
Sitting between the Atlantic Ocean and the Folly River, Folly Beach County Park is a place to relax, soak up the sea breeze, and enjoy a calming break from all the culture and history that Charleston has to offer.
With white sand tumbling into clear waters, and a boardwalk and pier packed with excitement, this is a fun day out for the entire family.
10. Horse And Carriage Ride
When you’re darting around Charleston, SC, trying to visit all the top attractions the city has to offer, you might find you never stop to appreciate the city itself.
A horse and carriage ride is an excellent way to see the sites and culture of Charleston and immerse yourself in a historical pastime.
There are plenty of companies in Charleston offering horse and carriage tours! We recommend checking out Palmetto Carriage Works, Charleston Carriage Works, and Old South Carriage Co.
11. Charleston Farmers Market
Charleston is renowned for its incredible shopping. If you’re looking for a shopping trip that will keep the kids entertained, then we recommend swinging by Charleston Farmers Market.
It runs every Saturday from early April to late November, with a special Holiday Market operating on weekends in December.
When you’re all shopped out at the farmers market, make your way down to King’s St., where you’ll find lots more shopping waiting for you! Our favorites include Savannah Bee (where you can experience the daily honey tasting), Blue Bicycle Books, and The Finicky Filly.
12. The Angel Oak
You really have to stand back to take it all in when you visit the Angel Oak. Located in Angel Oak Park on Johns Island, this incredible tree is thought to be between 400 and 500 years old.
At over 66 feet tall, the Angel Oak casts a shadow measuring more than 17,200 square feet. The longest limb is a massive 187 feet!
13. Old Exchange And Provost Dungeon
A trip to the dungeon might not sound like the best family activity, but trust us; this is worth a visit! Guided tours of the dungeons take just 25 minutes.
Kids can learn about the ghosts and ghoulies that allegedly haunt this 250-year-old building. It was once used as a jail for captured pirates!
If you’re struggling to get your children to engage with Charleston’s history, then try the (slightly) gruesome tales of the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon.
14. Dock Street Theater
Located in the historic French Quarter of Charleston, the Dock Street Theater is the oldest running theater in the US.
Family-friendly shows are regularly performed at the theater, but it’s worth visiting just to see the gorgeous historic facade and the classical theater inside.
15. Kiawah Island
Kiawah Island boasts over 10 miles of beaches and acres of perfectly preserved maritime forests. As well as the famous resorts and local shopping village, Kiawah is home to breathtaking natural wonders.
Visitors can stay on the island, but it’s also open for day trips! Visit Kiawah Island when you need a break from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Is Charleston, SC, Good For Family Vacations?
Charleston, SC, offers plenty of family activities, from hands-on historical tours to rare and unusual wildlife to miles and miles of sandy beaches.
Families will love discovering the exciting and diverse history of Charleston, from settlers to pirates to plantations, while soaking up the modern culture of this vibrant town.
What Are The Best Family Activities In Charleston, SC?
Families will love exploring the hands-on museums of Charleston, including the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry and the Patriot’s Point Naval and Maritime Museum.
Make sure to visit the South Carolina Aquarium to discover the local wildlife and save some time for a beach trip.
Is Folly Beach Good For Kids?
Just 20 minutes from Charleston, Folly Beach is a fantastic destination for families with young and older children.
The beach is relaxing and vibrant, while the nearby boardwalk and pier offer activities to keep restless teens happy.
Charleston, SC, is a city where history comes to life. Through a series of hands-on tours and museums, families can discover how this early settler town was transformed throughout the years.
And the natural wonders of Charleston are spectacular as well, so there’s plenty for all families to enjoy.
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