Charleston with Kids – Fun Things to Do in the City and Beyond

Charleston is a charming and historic Southern city to explore! We visited Charleston on our Southeast road trip to Savannah, Atlanta, Helen, Greenville, and Pigeon Forge. For us, two days exploring Charleston was plenty of time. Here are the top things to do for when visiting Charleston with kids.

Charleston Rainbow Row
Charleston Rainbow Row

Kid – Friendly Activities in Charleston SC

1. Charleston Market

This city was the heart of the South for many years. There is a great deal of history everywhere you turn, so we decided to start our tour by parking near the Old City Market. The Charleston Market is a covered “open-air” market with local shops and restaurants. As touristy as this sounds, it was a great place to visit. You can see the architecture of the colonial houses as you walk by, and see people taking carriage rides down King Street as well. This is definitely a top thing to do when visiting Charleston with kids.

charleston city market

2. Take a City Tour, Carriage Tour or Ghost Tour

3. Walk the Charleston Waterfront

After the city market, we walked towards the Charleston Waterfront area (try to take side streets as they are loaded with charm). Along the way, we saw old mansions, a former slave market, and gorgeous fountains. Once you arrive at the waterfront, there is a covered pier and some swings that the kids enjoyed relaxing on. We spend about 20 minutes hanging around and taking in the views of the harbor.

Charleston waterfront

We continued our walk down to the Battery (which is a nice waterfront area with a park). On a clear day you can see Fort Sumter in the distance.

Charleston family

4. Take a Ferry to Fort Sumter

This was a highlight for me (since I have taught American History for many years). To be standing in the place where the first shots of the Civil War were fired was a great history nerd moment!

In order to get to Fort Sumter, you need to take a ferry (it is located on an island). Once you are there, the views of Charleston are pretty nice. The fort itself is in good shape and there are many artifacts from the time (including cannons and artillery). The rangers here are very helpful and explained how the war started in a very kid friendly manner. It was a great learning experience for the kids and an educational thing to do in Charleston with kids.

5. Patriots Point

Another great kid friendly activity is Patriots Point. This is a great place to visit with kids in Charleston. It is located in Mount Pleasant (across Charleston harbor). For about $20 you can tour an old World War II Aircraft Carrier, a fighter ship and a submarine. The kids absolutely loved this! There were many World War II-era planes and historical artifacts on the ship. There was also a Cold War era and Vietnam outdoor exhibit, which the kids were able to explore and learn about.

Patriots Point

6. Visit a Plantation nearby

The city of Charleston gained its wealth due to its location as a port city and the acres of cotton plantations nearby. There are still many plantations in operation today (Boone Hall, Magnolia, Middleton, and McLeod are all 10 minute drives from Charleston). Your family can tour the grounds, the mansion and slave quarters. If you have time, this is one of the many historical children’s activities in Charleston SC that is quite an experience for the whole family.

Click here to see other cultural and fun activities to do in Charleston.

7. Visit the South Carolina Aquarium

The South Carolina Aquarium is one of the many kid friendly activities in Charleston SC. This aquarium is a great place for kids of any age, but especially for toddlers. Almost every young child loves to see marine life and visiting the South Carolina Aquarium is the perfect location for fun. The whole family can see alligators, sharks, stingrays, turtles and more. The aquarium has a touch tank, daily animal shows and interactive programs for kids.

Visiting during the holiday season? Check out this guide – Charleston at Christmas. Did you know that Charleston is considered one of the top 10 dog friendly cities in the US? Check out – Most Dog Friendly Cities US.

Best Restaurants in Charleston

Charleston has become a food mecca in the South. There were no shortages of “foodie” restaurants here. Below is a list of places we went:

  • FIG and HUSK (delicious, but pricey and not very kid friendly)

Best Places to Stay in Charleston

Staying near the Historic District is a great idea if you can. Charleston is a walkable city and staying nearby can be quite convenient, especially if you are visiting Charleston with kids. Staying at a local Airbnb might be worth a shot as neighborhood stays are always unique as is having a full kitchen.

Get $40 off your first booking with AirBnB by clicking here

Check out the rates to popular Charleston hotels by clicking the picture below.

Heather from Trimm Travels recommends:

The Embassy Suites Charleston Historic District is the perfect place for families. For starters, every room is a suite giving that extra space a family needs. It’s conveniently located right in the heart of Charleston and is within walking distance to so many area attractions. Throw in a complimentary made-to-order breakfast and nightly cocktail/hors d’oeuvres receptions and it’s perfect! Oh, and kids will love its castle-like exterior. It was once the location of the original Citadel Military College! 


We stayed at a Hampton Inn across the river in Point Pleasant because we had rewards points I wanted to redeem. I am always trying to save money when we travel and even though it would have been nicer to have stayed in the downtown area, I chose free! Click to see how to use credit cards to save on family travel and how we get free hotel stays.

Check out this post for more about Charleston from a local’s perspective. If you would like more ideas on what to do in Charleston, check out some tours you can book.

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Charleston with kids

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11 thoughts on “Charleston with Kids – Fun Things to Do in the City and Beyond”

  1. We took our first trip to Charleston this this past summer. Great city. We did most of these but missed a couple. Agreed, two days is a good amount of time.

  2. This sounds like an amazing place to travel with kids! So many options and neat places to stay!

  3. Have been looking into a similar road trip for a while! Now that we are on the East Coast again I have to plan it soon 😉

  4. Charleston is such a cute city. We haven’t visited in years, but this post made me want to return with our son.

  5. Sierra Schmidt

    Timely post! I’ve just been thinking that we would enjoy a family trip to Charleston! Thanks for the great tips!

    1. Going to Charleston with kids is great! So much great food, history, and architecture. Let me know if you have any questions if you do decide to go.

  6. I’ll definitely keep this article in mind for when I visit Charleston. Fort Sumter looks like it’d be a lot of fun. I also loved the inclusion of places to eat and stay. I love to find good new places to eat when I travel.

  7. A ferry trip to Fort Sumter looks interesting, as well as strolling the Charleston Waterfront. I’ve been wanted to go to Charleston for long.

  8. My wife and I went to Charleston a few years ago and loved it. But, we did not get to go with our kids. The marketplace is absolutely amazing. We spent a ton of time there. We also enjoyed a carriage ride through downtown. I really wanted to get to Fort Sumter, but we did not have time. Oh, well, that gives us a reason to go back for me and the kids.

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