Charleston Kids Activities: 8 Top Attractions for Family Vacations

Charleston draws millions of visitors each year for its dining and shopping, but this World’s Best City also has plenty of things for families to do. This Southern hot spot features spacious beaches, an award-winning aquarium, historical experiences, amusement parks and more. To give you a preview of what the city offers, here’s the top Charleston kids activities. Check them out.

Top 8 Charleston Kids Activities: Ideas for All Age Groups

charleston kids activities beaches itrip

Beach Day: Kiawah Island, Isle of Palms, Folly Beach

Many know Charleston for its trendy city scene, however the area has several beaches and beachfront parks for outdoor fun. Families vacationing in Charleston have access to seven beaches, including Isle of Palms, Folly Beach and Kiawah Island.

One of the top public beaches is Kiawah Island, featuring 10 miles of beaches for fun in the sun. Folly Beach is located about 15 minutes from Charleston and offers a laid-back environment full wildlife and marine life. Isle of Palms is a more popular beach spot and houses upscale resorts and plenty of water activities.

Tip: Bring lots of snacks, sunscreen, umbrellas and drinking water for a day at the beach.

charleston kids activities aquarium

Explore South Carolina Aquarium

Home to more than 5,000 animals, South Carolina Aquarium welcomes families to play, learn and explore. While touring, kids see and learn about birds, marine life and different ecosystems in South Carolina. Popular exhibits include a saltmarsh aviary where guests feed stingrays and a touch tank where they pet sea urchins and Atlantic stingrays. Another top site is the two-story great ocean tank full of sea turtles and sharks. In addition, kids see dozens of colorful fish, native plants and habitats, and learn about environmental conservation.

South Carolina Aquarium is also active in preserving the area and reducing waste. One way is through South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Care Center. At the facility, sick and injured sea turtles are rescued, rehabilitated and released back into their natural environment.

Tips: The museum welcomes guests of all ages. Less-crowded hours are weekdays before 11 a.m. and after 2 p.m.

Play at Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry

Take kids to Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry, and let them burn off some energy. Suited for children ages infant to 10 years old, the museum has nine interactive sections where they play and explore the world around them.

Interactive exhibits include a full art room, medieval castle, kids garden, fire truck, water play and pirates adventure. Then let them grocery shop at the Publix market where they test math skills and travel down mini aisles. Families with children from birth to 3 have a designated play space with safe climb areas, slides, motor-skill toys and books. In addition, the museum hosts several programs that focus on skill building and encourage creative expression.

Tip: Start in the art room. Create a masterpiece that can dry while exploring the rest of the museum.

charleston kids activities fort sumter

Photo: Rob Bixby

Fort Sumter Fun and History

Suitable for all ages, Fort Sumter welcomes families to learn about Charleston’s historical significance, the Civil War and other educational information about South Carolina. The attraction is only accessible by boat, and rides are available throughout the day. While riding, visitors learn about canons and battles, see firearm demonstrations, and watch about dolphins and manatees. In addition, kids can become a junior ranger and receive their own badge at the end of the program.

Tip: Due to popularity and demand, plan a Fort Sumter trip in advance. Certain areas are only accessible by stairs.

charleston kids activities museum

Head to Patriot’s Point

Located near Charleston in Mount Pleasant – about a 30-minute drive – visit Patriots Point. This military museum houses an aircraft carrier, destroyer, submarine, aircraft and special exhibits. One of the top attractions at Patriot’s Point is USS Yorktown, the 10th aircraft carrier to serve the U.S. Navy. The carrier saw action from WWII to Vietnam, and now serves as the center-point of Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum.

Families are welcome to take self-guided tours as well as other tours that enhance the experience. Two top options include overnight stays where kids get a hands-on look into maritime and military life. Older children and teens should try the ghost tours, which occur nightly and venture into areas normally restricted to the public.

Tip: Buy tickets online to skip admission lines. Children under 6 and active military in uniform get in free.

Try to Escape These Rooms

Escape rooms have become a fun way to play and bond with the family. Charleston has two escape rooms for families looking to play their way to survival. Break Out Charleston houses four different rooms with four different experiences. Although suited for school-age kids, those under 12 should be accompanied by an adult.

Escape in 60, located in downtown Charleston, has three rooms with the most popular named Davy Jones’ Locker. All ages are welcome, however kids under 14 must be accompanied by an adult at Escape in 60. Both escape room companies place a group in a room full of clues and give them 60 minutes to escape. Most clues are suited for ages 10 and up, and groups may include other people.

Tips: Some themes may not be age appropriate, so check each game before booking an escape room.

charleston kids activites amusement arcade

Amusement Parks: Find Entertainment for the Family

Locally owned and operated Charleston Fun Park offers an exciting place for the family to hang out together. This amusement park features a go-kart track, two mini-golf courses, outdoor climbing wall and 40-game arcade. In addition to these activities, kids have a blast gemstone mining and mini-bowling, which suits children ages 1 year and older.

Tip: Charleston Fun Park offers visitors all-inclusive pricing packages, custom packages or the ability to pay per attraction.

Another top spot among the Charleston kids activities is Frankie’s Fun Park, home to fun attractions. Here, families play mini golf, ride go-karts and bumper boats, climb the rock wall, or experience thrills on the drop zone. Sports lovers enjoy practicing their swing at the batting cage and golf driving range. Those who want to make a day of it may grab lunch or dinner at Frankie’s Grill. Kids can order nachos, hot dogs, hamburgers and pizza without leaving the park.

Tip: Pricing is per attraction, but groups 10 or more have party package options.

After reading about the top Charleston kids activities, planning a family vacation and book your rental.