10 Things to do in Charleston with Kids

Charleston is a city full of charm, with plenty of attractions for the whole family. So if you're traveling with children, you'll find the options for a great time are endless.

Nicolas Reffray

Nicolas Reffray

10 min read

10 Things to do in Charleston with Kids

Charleston | ©Ann Millspaugh

Charleston is a beautiful coastal city in the United States, located in South Carolina. With its cobblestone streets and highly picturesque houses, it has become a favorite destination for tourists.

Among the many things to see and do in Charleston, there are numerous options to enjoy with the little ones. Boat rides, an aquarium, and various museums, such as the Firemen's Museum or the impressive Maritime Museum, are just some of the many options you have to have a good time with your children in Charleston.

1. Learn about the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston Harbor

At the South Carolina Aquarium| ©John Linton
At the South Carolina Aquarium| ©John Linton

The South Carolina Aquarium is located in one of the most important historical points of the city of Charleston: its port. The aquarium is an ideal place to visit with the little ones, since here you can find exhibits with some of South Carolina's own species.

Being the point where two important rivers converge in the Atlantic Ocean, you can find fish and other animals of both salt water and fresh water.

The site is perfect for all ages, the little ones will be fascinated with the possibility of interacting with the animals in the touch tanks, and the not so little ones will enjoy the many attractions and special exhibits that the South Carolina Aquarium offers.

Admission to the South Carolina Aquarium starts at 30 Euros for adults, and 23 Euros for children between 3 and 12 years old; children under 3 years old do not pay admission. The site is open Monday through Sunday, except on certain holidays, from 9am to 5pm, with admission until 3:30pm.

Information of interest:

  • Price: From 30 Euros for adults and 23 Euros for children between 3 and 12 years old.
  • Location: 100 Aquarium Wharf, Charleston
  • Hours: 9am to 5pm

2. See the Charleston Museum - Wraggborough

The Charleston Museum| ©CarolinaTravelCarl
The Charleston Museum| ©CarolinaTravelCarl

The iconic Charleston Museum, founded in 1773, will allow you to learn about the history and culture of much of South Carolina. Enjoy the Kidstory exhibit with your children, designed exclusively for the little ones.

Kidstory offers interactive activities for children to learn about history while interacting with different types of objects and playing fun games. The Museum itself features permanent exhibits that trace different stages of Charleston's history, as well as temporary exhibits.

For children, there are also other educational programs specially designed for them. Thus, in a guided tour they can learn about the main historical characters of the place, the events and animals that were present since the birth of the state, as well as what plantations existed, what the Native Americans were like, the history of the Civil War, and many other events that the guides will teach the children while they walk through the museum.

Information of interest:

  • Price: From 7 Euros for adults, 3 Euros for children between 3 and 12 years old and 6,50 Euros for young people between 12 and 18 years old.
  • Location: 360 Meeting Street, Charleston
  • Hours: Monday to Saturday from 9am to 5pm, Sundays from 12pm to 5pm

3. Take a boat tour of the Charleston waterfront

Boat in Charleston| ©allisonmseward12
Boat in Charleston| ©allisonmseward12

One of the most classic excursions in the city of Charleston is taking a guided boat tour. And this great adventure is one of the favorite activities for the little ones.

There are several guided options in the city, where, for example, the beaches of South Carolina are visited, thus getting to know its most beautiful ecosystems through a fun adventure aboard a boat.

The tours take you through areas such as the Isle of Palms, Blackwater, Bulls Island, Folly Beach and Mount Pleasant. Professional guides will tell you about each ecosystem present in the region, and even show you various bones from the skeletons of some marine animals, which often fascinates children. Historical tours of the harbor are also offered and are ideal to let your imagination run wild and recreate the scenes that took place at these sites.

Undoubtedly, boat tours in Charleston are one of the best things to do with children and to enjoy with the whole family.

Book your boat tour of Charleston

4. Visit the North Charleston Fire Museum.

Cars at the North Charleston Fire Museum| ©Ryan Johnson
Cars at the North Charleston Fire Museum| ©Ryan Johnson

There are many children who dream of becoming firefighters as adults, which is why I have decided to include this activity in the top 10 things to do in Charleston with kids.

Visiting The North Charleston and American La France Fire Museum will leave them fascinated. In this interesting site you can appreciate different interactive exhibits designed exclusively for children.

On display are a variety of fire trucks from all eras, tools and equipment used to put out fires, and even the different uniforms throughout its history in the city of Charleston.

By visiting this exhibit, children can let their imagination run wild and relive the various stories of Charleston's firefighters, and also learn through games and fun interactive activities all about the work of a firefighter as well as useful information about fire prevention and how to act in case of a fire.

Information of interest:

  • Price: From 4,50 Euros for adults, children under 12 years old do not pay admission.
  • Location: 4975 Centre Pointe Drive, North Charleston
  • Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 4pm, Sundays and Mondays closed.

5. Behold the ships at the Patriots Point Maritime and Naval Museum

Patriots Point Maritime and Naval Museum| ©Ron Cogswell
Patriots Point Maritime and Naval Museum| ©Ron Cogswell

Visit the Charleston Maritime Museum, the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum. This is a wonderful place that will amaze everyone in the family, especially the little ones.

Numerous truly impressive military vessels and aircraft are on display in this museum. The undisputed star of the museum is the USS Yorktown, a ship of enormous size and the USS Laffey. Children will also be able to see a fleet of ships of great historical importance, the National Historic Landmark.

In the museum there is also an exhibit about the Vietnam War, a gallery of military medals of honor, and a cold war tribute site.

Other activities at the museum that are ideal for children include a flight simulator. Suitable for children ages 4 and up, they can experience what it's like to fly an F-18 Hornet.

In addition, the museum hosts a scavenger hunt, where participants must explore the entire museum, deciphering hidden messages and codes, while learning about the planes, ships and more.

Information of interest:

  • Price: From 23 Euros for adults, and 12 Euros for children (Tickets vary according to the service chosen, i.e. with or without guide, and the type of exhibits included).
  • Location: 40 Patriots Point Road, Charleston
  • Hours: daily from 9am to 6:30pm

6. Take a stroll through the Lowcountry Children's Museum in Radcliffeborough.

Lowcountry Children's Museum| ©Ricardo C
Lowcountry Children's Museum| ©Ricardo C

The is a museum specifically for children, where play and education merge seamlessly. Through various interactive activities, children can spend hours learning in a fun way.

In the Lowcountry Children's Museum you will be able to take part in different art workshops, so that children can create their own works of art using all their creativity. There is also a science lab and a marketplace, where children can experience shopping in a very realistic way.

The objective of this museum is to foster the qualities and potential of children, inviting the whole family to share a fun and playful experience. Without a doubt this is one of the best things to do in Charleston with children, as it is an experience they will probably never forget in their lifetime.

  • Price: 11,50 Euros for visitors and 8,50 Euros for South Carolina residents. Children under one year old do not pay admission.
  • Location: 25 Ann Street, Charleston
  • Hours: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays 9:30am to 5pm, Sundays 12:30pm to 5pm

7. Catch a baseball game at Joseph P. Riley Jr. Stadium

At a Baseball Game at Riley Park| ©EzequielD
At a Baseball Game at Riley Park| ©EzequielD

Baseball is an iconic American sport, we've seen it in movies, cartoons and series countless times, so what better for kids than to see a real baseball game with their own eyes?

The city of Charleston is home to the Joseph P. Riley Jr. Baseball Stadium, home of its team, the Charleston Riverdogs. Since the team is in the minor leagues, you'll almost always be able to catch a game with your kids.

The atmosphere at the city's stadium is very family-oriented, so it's a nice occasion to share with the family and for the little ones to watch the baseball players show off on the field.

8. Enjoy the Best Friend Train Museum in Radcliffeborough

At the Charleston Train Museum| ©Jeb Burnett
At the Charleston Train Museum| ©Jeb Burnett

The Best Friend of Charleston was a very important steam train in the history of the United States, since it was the first railroad built entirely in the country, precisely in New York. This train was used for passenger transportation in the city of Charleston, until it was destroyed after its boilers exploded in 1831.

The Best Friend Train Museum exhibits an exact replica of the historic railroad that was donated to Charleston by the Norfolk Southern Company in 1971.

Trains, like many other means of transportation, tend to attract the attention of children, and in this interesting museum they will be able to tour the Best Friend and learn about each of its parts, including its engine room.

They will also be able to indulge in blowing a real train whistle and enjoy many activities, events and informative talks. The museum also has a lovely gift store, so you can take home a souvenir of this famous train.

  • Price: free
  • Location: 23 Ann Street, Charleston (next to the Children's Museum)
  • Hours: Monday to Friday from 10am to 2pm

9. Have fun at James Island's Splash Zone Waterpark

Splash Zone Water Park| ©Ansel Adams
Splash Zone Water Park| ©Ansel Adams

A fun activity that kids will love is the Splash Zone Water Park, located on James Island, south of Charleston. In this amusement park, you will find several water games to have a great time with the little ones.

Among these games are a 60-meter-high tubular slide and another open slide of the same height. Another of the games recreates a wet jungle, with slides and rain effects.

The park has an extension of 260 hectares and in addition to the games it has a recreational pool, camping area, buffet, cabins for lodging, as well as boat and bicycle rentals, among other things.

Undoubtedly this attraction is the best place to enjoy a sunny day in Charleston with the kids, so it is one of the best things to do in August in Charleston, nothing better on those days than to cool off and take a dip in a fun environment.

  • Price: about 8.50 Euros per person.
  • Location: 871 Riverland Drive, Charleston
  • Hours: Wednesday to Saturday from 10am to 6pm and Sunday from 1pm to 6pm. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays

10. Experience history at Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site in West Ashley

Charles Towne Landing| ©Ansel Adams
Charles Towne Landing| ©Ansel Adams

Going to Charles Towne Landing is like taking a trip back in time to learn about the history of the rise of the city of Charleston, and relive the era of South Carolina's colonies.

At the Charles Towne Landing, visitors can see live reenactments of historically significant moments in Charleston, listen to educational talks and take an audio tour.

Although it is an activity for the whole family, there is nothing better for children than to see history in action before their very eyes, performed by actors dressed in the clothing of the era, acting out realistic and interesting scenes.

This historic site is located in the West Ashley region and still maintains the original appearance of the first English settlement in this part of the United States.

In addition to the re-enactments, the Charles Towne features an exhibit hall of historical items, a native species zoo, a replica of an old 17th century cargo ship, ongoing archaeological excavations, replica cannons, picnic areas and much more.

  • Price: about 8,50 Euros for adults, 5 Euros for children between 5 and 12 years old, children under 5 years old do not pay admission.
  • Location: 1500 Old Towne Road, Charleston
  • Hours: daily from 9am to 5pm

Practical tips for your trip to Charleston with kids

Preparing Luggage| ©Marissa Grootes
Preparing Luggage| ©Marissa Grootes

Before I say goodbye, here are some tips that may be useful when enjoying a place like Charleston with children.

  • What to pack if I go to Charleston with kids? Thinking about what to pack in your suitcase is an important point when planning a trip, especially if you are going with children. Something basic, but essential, is to bring the appropriate clothing for the time of year we visit Charleston, but always adding something extra in case temperatures vary. Keep in mind that summers in Charleston are quite hot, with temperatures that can reach 40 degrees Celsius. Winter, on the other hand, is characterized by winds and temperatures that can drop to 0 degrees Celsius.

Then I recommend you to bring comfortable clothes and shoes for the children to enjoy the various excursions and walks, which can take even the whole day. If you go in summer, do not forget to bring swimsuits and sunscreen to take advantage of the best beaches in Charleston. It is also important that you include in your luggage a backpack or small bag to carry snacks and water for the excursions, so that the children have it available during the day.

  • When is the best time to visit Charleston with children? If you go with children, the ideal is to prioritize warm and pleasant temperatures, so as not to expose them to too cold or too hot weather, and so that they can enjoy the walks and excursions more. From this point of view, the warmest months in Charleston are June, July and August, and in general the period with the best weather goes from April to October. January and February are the least recommended months to visit the city of Charleston, as they have the highest percentage of rainfall compared to the other months of the year.