You may be familiar with Charleston’s historical trolley tours, great shopping, and delicious restaurants, but if you have kids, it can be hard to keep them entertained with all the wining and dining. Never fear, there’s plenty to do for younger travelers in the Holy City! Here are 10 activities for kids in Charleston.
Whether you’re a Lowcountry local or taking a family vacation to Charleston, these activities are perfect for kids of all ages, and fun for parents, too!
Things to Do with Kids in Charleston
As someone who grew up visiting Charleston and now lives here with my husband and 10-year-old son, Harper, I’ve compiled this list of the best things to do in Charleston with kids, as tried-and-tested by both parents and children! From outdoor adventures to indoor fun, I’m sure you’ll be able to find some activities to round out your Charleston vacation itinerary here.
1. South Carolina Aquarium
There’s nothing better on a hot day than stepping into the cool air conditioning of an aquarium. The South Carolina Aquarium is home to over 5,000 animals and offers tons of fun, interactive, and educational exhibits that promise a good time for all visitors. The aquarium also has several conservation measures, most notably the Sea Turtle Care Center, which rehabilitates sick and injured sea turtles to return them to their natural habitats. Located on the historic Charleston Harbor, you can also get some Instagram-worthy views of the Charleston waterfront, the Ravenel Bridge, and USS Yorktown. The South Carolina Aquarium is one of my and Harper’s favorite activities on this list!
2. Charleston RiverDogs Game
Did you know that Charleston has its own Minor League Baseball team? The Charleston RiverDogs were originally founded in 1980 as the Charleston Royals; the final name change to the RiverDogs came in 1994. Catch a game in the Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park, the RiverDogs’ home stadium, and enjoy a night full of classic American fun – baseball, hot dogs, and fireworks!
3. Schooner Pride Cruise
The Schooner Pride is Charleston’s only 3-mast tall ship. It sails daily for 2-hour tours around the Charleston Harbor. Keep an eye out for dolphins on the Afternoon Dolphin Tour, or enjoy a gorgeous sunset over the water on the Sunset Sail! Viewing Charleston from the water is a great way to see all the iconic sites and honor the Holy City’s history as a port city.
4. Waterfront Park
Need to kill a few hours in between activities or just seeking some shade from the hot Southern sun? Waterfront Park is perfect to let your kids run their energy out while you recline in the shade of live oak trees. Grab a picnic from a local restaurant and camp out for a bit while soaking up the Charleston atmosphere. Waterfront Park is also home to the iconic Pineapple Fountain, which kids love to splash around in during the summer. Harper does this at least twice a month, and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t as well!
5. Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry
While this is definitely a children-focused activity, visiting the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry will be fun for adults, too! With amazing interactive spaces for kids from birth to 10 years, parents will delight in watching their kids explore, create, and learn in a dedicated space. Just a few of the activities available to kids at the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry include an art space, a pirate ship, STEM-play areas, a pretend Publix grocery store, and so much more!
6. The Angel Oak
Some of the best activities for kids in Charleston involve finding an open space and letting them have fun! Luckily for you, Charleston has amazing green spaces and outdoor activities perfect for families. The Angel Oak is just one of these. The over 400-year-old tree is one of the oldest and largest trees in the Lowcountry. Its gorgeous branches stretch over 65 feet tall and offer plenty of shade and magical places to explore. Take a picnic and enjoy!
7. Charleston City Market
Who doesn’t love shopping? Take the family to browse all the different vendors in the historic Charleston City Market. Stretching four blocks in downtown Charleston, you’ll be sure to find plenty of wares to spark delight and inspiration. From the iconic Gullah sweetgrass baskets to local artists, foods, and more, be sure to take your time walking through the market! The Charleston City Market is also a great place to hunt for souvenirs from your visit to Charleston.
8. Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
Take a drive to get away from all the action of the center of Charleston and head to Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. The oldest public tourist site in the Lowcountry, Magnolia Plantation is a total build-your-own tour experience. With lots of different tours and attractions, from the Nature Tram and Boat Tour to the Gardens, the House, and of course the Children’s Garden, pick and choose your favorite attractions to get the most from your visit. The Children’s Garden and the Zoo & Nature Center are the most kid-friendly parts of Magnolia Plantation, but kids and adults of all ages will enjoy seeing the beautiful gardens and taking a rice-field boat tour
9. Charleston Public Library
If you’re a Charleston local or are visiting for a longer period of time, definitely take a trip to the Charleston County Public Library! The library has an extensive collection of books for kids and teens and offers children-specific programming like Summer Reading Challenges and storytimes for different age groups. You can even pick up a beach read or two for yourself!
10. James Island County Park
Ready to have tons of fun with the whole family and explore the beautiful landscapes of Charleston? James Island County Park is the perfect place for you! There are tons of different amenities and activities at the park, from a huge playground to a water park, climbing wall, and pedal boat, bike, kayak, and paddleboard rentals. Really, I could keep going. Check out the full list of amenities here, or just drive on out to the park and take a look for yourself!