I’ve sat down countless times over the years to write impromptu Charleston blog posts, but always feel like I need to wait and do some sort of “Guide to Charleston” that feels more official than
I’ve sat down countless times over the years to write impromptu Charleston blog posts, but always feel like I need to wait and do some sort of “Guide to Charleston” that feels more official than a string of blog posts. I’ve lived here for 12 years now, so I honestly cannot believe I haven’t ever really done that! But with the idea of needing the perfect imagery, the most beautiful graphic design format and not knowing the best way to present the information, and then the ever-changing “scene” in Charleston, I always seemed to push off the idea to later. But then later never happened!
The other day in stories, I chatted about how with our (temporary) move to the beach, I’ve felt like my life is more relaxed, with less care to have everything perfect. So on that note, I’m going to start sharing little bits about Charleston in a very unofficial, informal way. I guess I’m giving up the idea of an official “Charleston Guide!” Instead, though, you’re going to get little snippets of Charleston information here and there through various blog posts—and without beautiful photos of everything mentioned. It’s nothing fancy, but I’m hoping the tips and recs I share along the way help you out when you visit this beautiful city!
Let’s start with some fun things to do in Charleston with kids. Soon I’ll share more about my favorite restaurants for a night out, my tips for a bachelorette party in Charleston, and so forth.
Walk around South of Broad. This could easily turn into an all day adventure, so I’d either split it up across different days or come prepared to stay awhile. And by that, I mean, pack snacks, wear comfortable shoes, and bring a stroller for little feet! There is a lot to see in this area, South of Broad Street. It’s where you’ll find all of the “quintessential Charleston” homes and so much more. And they are beautiful. While this might technically be the least “kid friendly” activity on this list (as in, you’ll enjoy it more than they do), it’s definitely something you can’t not do while in Charleston. Walking around these streets with no plans but to look around and admire the beautiful architecture is such a treat—and maybe you can stop along the way at Miller’s All Day to get your children a sweet treat or grab a delicious breakfast while you’re at it! It’s on King Street, but not far at all from the area where you’ll already be. After that, I’d walk around a little more, touring all of these beautiful and equally unique streets you missed earlier. Speaking of food, though… don’t miss the tiny cheese shop, Goat. Sheep. Cow. on Church Street. If you get there early enough before lunch, you can grab one of their delicious ready-made sandwiches to eat during your walk. (Note: my children wouldn’t eat these sandwiches. They have a delicious gourmet style, with things like delicious prosciutto and artisan mustard on them. But if you have a baby who isn’t eating or an older child who has a more expanded palette, it’s not to miss!)
My best suggestion? I’d start at Miller’s All Day for breakfast. (There’s a parking garage nearby, if you’re driving.) The menu is incredible for all ages! Then, with a full belly and an iced chai latte to go, I’d suggest walking along Broad Street until you get to Legare Street. It’s one of my favorites!! Walk all the way down until you get to South Battery Street. Take a left onto that and keep walking until you get to Church Street, then take a left. Continue up Church Street until you find yourself at Broad Street. This is exactly where Goat. Sheep. Cow. is. You can grab a bite to eat there, or for something more sit-down style, go to 82 Queen or Poogan’s Porch for lunch! With this walking loop, you’ll have seen the most beautiful Charleston homes and have experienced some delicious food. Of course there’s a lot more to see, but you can always go back at another time or veer off the path to check out something that caught your eye.
Visit the Aquarium. It’s not the most incredible aquarium in terms of what you’ll see, but for Charleston, it’s pretty impressive! The building is very state-of-the-art and it’s along the Charleston Harbour, so the views are great. We especially love checking out the Sea Turtle Hospital.
Day trip to the beach. A trip to the beach is a must. You could go to Isle of Palms or Folly Beach, but my recommendation is Sullivan’s Island. Home Team BBQ is a one of our top stops for a casual, beachy lunch—and for the adults, I definitely recommend getting a Game Changer frozen cocktail! They have great meals for the little ones, too. On the way back to downtown, your kids would probably love stopping by Hollihop’s Toy Store. It’s a good one!
Visit the gardens. When the weather is right, that is. If it’s the heat of summer, you’ll melt. I think spring is the best time to visit, especially if the azaleas are in bloom. Middleton Place is my favorite of the plantations and gardens. Our children love to see the animals, but adults will love the spectacular views! Fun fact – Watson took his first steps at Middleton Place!
Visit Fort Sumter. This is a great excursion that will get you out on the water in the Charleston Harbour since you take a ferry across to get there! Fort Sumter was the location of the first battle of the Civil War, so it’s rich in history and a cool site to see. Grab a ticket for the Fort Sumter Ferry here!
Picnic in White Point Gardens (& see the Pineapple Fountain and Rainbow Row on the way!). While doing the walk I mentioned in #1, you’ll notice White Point Gardens, a beautiful park space shaded with grand oaks along the waterfront at The Battery. My recommendation is to make this a bigger experience than just a picnic. I’d park somewhere near Broad Street and East Bay Street. From there, it’s just a skip over to the Waterfront Park to see the Pineapple Fountain and the Charleston Harbour. Next, you can walk the cobblestone streets over to Rainbow Row. From there, you’re so close to White Point Gardens. You can pick up food at a nearby restaurant or sandwiches from Goat. Sheep. Cow. to eat in the park. It’s a must! We did White Point Gardens picnics a LOT during the lockdowns in spring 2020.
Go to a Charleston Riverdogs game. If the season is right, a Riverdogs baseball game is so fun!
Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry. The Children’s Museum is a great offering if you find yourself with the extra time to do something your small child will really enjoy. It’s not huge, but it’s right downtown and so stimulating for little ones!
Grab a relaxed meal. The dining options in Charleston are endless. With children, something relaxed is always nice. Here are a few favorite spots for lunch or dinner, with children: Leon’s Oyster Shop, Virginia’s on King (great southern food lunch spot!), 167 Raw (lobster roll & space potato are top favorites! kids love the fried shrimp), Poogan’s Porch, 82 Queen (classic, upscale lowcountry southern fare), Hall’s Chophouse (the best steakhouse – while fancier, they cater to children very well!), Miller’s All Day, Taco Boy, Butcher & Bee, Post House (in Mount Pleasant, but one of our top faves!), Indaco (also a little nicer, but still feels relaxed), and Fleet Landing is always a recommendation I share for those wanting to be on the water for a great lunch. I’m sure I’m forgetting tons, but these are my standouts for families!
Stay somewhere family friendly. Depending on the type of trip, you may want to pencil in plenty of time for some fun and relaxation at the hotel. On the other hand, you may just want to stay somewhere within walking distance to absolutely everything. But if I could make a recommendation for where I think my children would have the most fun, it would be at the Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina. It’s just across the Ravenel Bridge in Mount Pleasant, so the downside would be that you cannot walk out of the hotel and immediately be in the mix of everything. But, look at the pool and the view of downtown Charleston! They also have a ferry that will take you to downtown and back. It runs all throughout the day!