Planning the perfect Charleston family vacation is no small task. Nothing compares to quality time with your loved ones, so naturally, you want to plan an incredible trip filled with new experiences, laughter, and bonding opportunities!
After you’ve settled on a place to stay, the next thing item on your to-do list is creating an itinerary filled with family-friendly things to do in Charleston, SC. Fortunately, the Lowcountry offers fun activities for everyone in the family, from grandmothers to grandbabies. Read on for insider tips on all the must-see attractions and activities for an unforgettable vacation.
Best Family-friendly Things to Do in Charleston, SC
Visit the Angel Oak
Described as a “Lowcountry treasure,” the Angel Oak is an awe-inspiring natural wonder and a must-see during your Charleston family vacation. The 65-foot tall ancient Spanish Live Oaktree’s canopy shades a 17,000 square foot area, with enormous limbs extending even to the ground. The Angel Oak is thought to be 300 to 400 years old, and experts consider this magnificent tree to be the largest Live Oak east of the Mississippi River. The park, located on Johns Island, is free and open to the public seven days a week, excluding holidays.
Spend a Day on the Water with the Harbor Bar Pedal Tour
Are you looking to entertain adults, teens, and kids? How about an engaging day on the water with views, beverages, and your favorite tunes?
Harbor Bar Pedal Tours is one of the best family-friendly things to do in Charleston, SC! Enjoy sweeping views of Charleston from a fresh new angle while pedaling your way through pristine Lowcountry waterways, or alternately, kick back and relax while the boat’s motor does the work! Each boat offers comfortable seating for 26, including 12 seats at the pedal bar and bow seats, as well as restrooms on board.
You’ll also have plenty of room to move around or dance to your favorite tunes on the brand new Bluetooth-accessible sound system. Kids will love the party lights and the challenge of the pedal bar, but don’t worry; our friendly and knowledgeable staff can set the resistance level! Bring your beverages of choice for the provided coolers, kick back, and let the sea breezes carry your troubles away: your Charleston family vacation starts now.
Waterfront Park and the Pineapple Fountain
Immerse yourself in Charleston’s charm by taking the family to stroll through Waterfront Park. Waterfront Park offers delightful ways to spend an afternoon, making it an excellent spot for those in search of family fun in Charleston.
The city park runs down the east side of the peninsula with beautiful waterfront views of the Charleston Harbor and Ravenel Bridge. Unwind with your family on one of the swinging benches along the pier at the northern end of the park before strolling along the waterfront or under the rows of trees. Relax on the green or a park bench with a good book or picnic. And pack some towels: you can also let the kids play in the iconic Pineapple Fountain!
If you’ve opted to stay dry, duck into City Gallery at Waterfront Park (opposite the Pineapple Fountain) to check out the latest exhibit before you continue your walk. Last but not least, Waterfront Park’s southernmost point is home to the Hazel Parker Playground and a dog park.
Check out a Museum
One of Charleston’s most fascinating aspects is its rich, layered, and complex history. Round out your Charleston vacation by spending a day at one of the Holy City’s museums for a fun and educational family-friendly activity.
Regarded as America’s First Museum, the Charleston Museum focuses on the South Carolina Lowcountry, and modern collection emphases include natural history, historical material culture, and documentary and photographic resources.
Art lovers should make a point to stop in the Gibbes Museum of Art or the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, and little ones will enjoy an afternoon of hands-on activities at the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry.
Hit a Charleston County Park
There’s so much to do at Charleston’s County Parks that you’ll definitely want to add them to your itinerary when visiting the Lowcountry. Palmetto Islands County Park, located in Mount Pleasant, has an extensive nature trail system and boardwalks, crabbing and fishing docks, picnic sites complete with tables and grills, and kayak launches. Teens and young adults will love the grass volleyball court, bicycle and pedal boat rentals, snack bar, and open lawn. The Splash Island Waterpark and 50-foot observation tower and play area are perfect for younger children, putting Palmetto Islands County Park at the top of our list of family-friendly things to do in Charleston, SC.
James Island County Park is another must-visit during your Charleston family vacation. Book one of the 124 campsites or a vacation cottage on the Stono River, hit the climbing wall, play disc golf with the kids, run through the seasonal spray play fountain, or play a game of horseshoes.
Other noteworthy Charleston County Parks include SK8 Charleston, a 32,000 square foot concrete skate park, the Folly Beach Pier, and the Mount Pleasant Pier at the base of the Ravenel Bridge.
South Carolina Aquarium
What do feeding stingrays, watching sharks, and touching sea urchins have in common? You can enjoy all three of these activities and more at the South Carolina Aquarium! The South Carolina Aquarium houses North America’s deepest tank, the Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery, and such exciting species as otters, turtles, alligators, sharks, and jellyfish, making this a fun outing for parents and kids alike during your Charleston family vacation.
The USS Yorktown is the centerpiece of the Patriots Point Museum and is sure to provide a solid day of family fun in Charleston, SC. The tenth aircraft carrier to serve in the United States Navy, the USS Yorktown boasts a decorated history that includes receiving eleven battle stars for service in World War II and five battle stars for service off Vietnam. The ship also recovered the Apollo 8 astronauts and capsule. Today, the USS Yorktown contains multiple fascinating exhibits and an impressive aircraft collection.
Visit a Historic Site
Take a step back in time by visiting one of the Lowcountry’s many historical sites during your Charleston vacation.
Immerse yourself in the rich architectural traditions and learn about day-to-day life during the 1800s in a historic home tour. The Aiken-Rhett House, Nathaniel Russell House, Joseph Manigault House, Heyward-Washington House, and Edmondston-Alson House each offer tours to the public and are located in the heart of downtown.
The 37-acre McLeod Plantation Historic Site is an important Gullah/Geechee heritage site that recognizes the generations of enslaved people, and thought-provoking guided interpretive tours take place Tuesday through Sunday.
If you’re interested in learning about the colonial period in Charleston, the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon was completed in 1771, and the British housed American prisoners of war on the bottom floor. You may also enjoy touring the Powder Magazine, constructed in 1713, or Fort Moultrie, which was attacked by the Royal Navy in June of 1776.
There is no shortage of family-friendly things to do in Charleston, SC, but a visit to Botany Bay is well worth the drive out to Edisto Island. The 3,363-acre property falls within the boundaries of the ACE Basin, one of the largest remaining undeveloped wetland ecosystems along the Atlantic Coast. Sun-bleached trees line the beach, which prompted the informal nickname “Boneyard Beach” among locals, and Botany Bay is home to loggerhead sea turtles, terns, neotropical songbirds, and other wildlife species. Plan to visit the Fig Island Shell Rings while enjoying a day on Edisto Island during your Charleston vacation!
Catch a Game
Grab the family and head to a Charleston RiverDogs baseball game! The home games kick off at the Joseph P. Riley Jr. Stadium, known affectionately as The Joe, and kids will love the fireworks display. Also, watch for opportunities to catch the South Carolina Stingrays for a hockey game and the Charleston Battery soccer team.
We can’t wait to see you aboard a Harbor Bar Pedal Tour during your Charleston vacation! Book your seats today, or contact one of our knowledgable and friendly team members to answer any questions you may have. We’d also love to work with you to reserve a private tour for your family reunion or next celebration!