Family Things to Do in Charleston

window-sillCharleston is renowned for its cuisine, hospitality and fine antebellum architecture. Consider these top family friendly destinations when visiting this historic port city.

An Old South Charleston Carriage Tour is a wonderful way to experience the downtown area. Aboard a horse-drawn carriage, your family can view Rainbow Row, the Battery, mansions and other landmarks lining the cobblestone streets. Knowledgeable guides provide entertaining and informative stories about the sites along the way. Three hundred years of history will come alive during the one-hour tour.

Charleston Waterfront Park is a great place to cool off and enjoy a picnic. The eight-acre park has marvelous views of the harbor, Patriot’s Point and the Ravenel Bridge. Children can splash in the fountain or enjoy the sheltered swings. Amenities include grassy areas, shade trees and picnic tables.

Charles Town Landing Historic Site is the location where European settlers first came ashore in 1670. It is regarded as the birthplace of South Carolina. The interpretive displays and replica buildings reveal what life was like back in the 17th century. The Animal Forest exhibit features wildlife that the colonists would have encountered.

The South Carolina Aquarium has more than 60 interactive displays depicting the watershed that surrounds the Carolinas. The facility is home to rare and endangered aquatic animals as well as dolphins, sea turtles, starfish and sharks. Large exhibits display stunning fresh and saltwater aquatic life. The centerpiece is the three-story Great Ocean Tank.

The Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry has nine galleries of interactive displays and exhibits. Children can experience life as a shrimper and create mosaics with the award-winning resident artist. The museum has a play area for infants and toddlers. Families will appreciate modern conveniences after learning how food was prepared in medieval times.

Folly Beach is conveniently located near Charleston. This quintessential Lowcountry beach has outdoor showers, dressing rooms, lifeguards and picnic tables. Children can play in the sand, swim in the ocean or surf the local break. The beach is home to the sea turtles displayed at the South Carolina Aquarium.

Fort Sumter National Monument is the site where the War Between the States began. Confederate forces shelled it on April 12, 1861. The fort displays a wide variety of historic armaments and memorabilia. Park rangers provide guided tours of the fort.

Patriot’s Point is a maritime museum displaying three historic warships. They are the aircraft carrier Yorktown, the submarine Clamagore and the destroyer Laffey. Climb aboard and experience life as a sailor manning these vessels. The museum displays aircraft and an exhibit commemorating Medal of Honor recipients. It is the embarkation point for Fort Sumter tour boats.

The Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon is a historic government building. It served as the customs house, a military barracks and the place where the State Legislature ratified a new constitution in 1790. The facility also served as a prison. Animatronic figures regale visitors with tales of pirates and colonial era prisoners held in the dungeon.

The Charleston Museum chronicles the history and culture of the South Carolina Lowcountry. Founded in 1773, it was the first museum built in the United States. Families can view fossils, a whale skeleton and local Charleston artifacts. The museum also operates to historic homes decorated with period furnishings.