Charleston’s Lowcountry is the perfect family-friendly destination, with beautiful beaches, interesting history, and plenty to do for the young in age and young at heart. A stay in historic Mount Pleasant or on Isle of Palms puts you right at the center of it all, with easy access to local parks and fishing piers, watersports and naval battleships. Here, we’ve rounded up 10 of our favorite kid-friendly activities to make your Charleston-area vacation fun for the whole family.
Picnic at Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park
This beautiful park is one of our favorite places to spend an afternoon with family and friends. The 1250-foot long pier extends into the harbor just beneath the Ravenel Bridge, offering stunning views of the water and downtown Charleston. With fishing rentals, bike trails that connect to the greenway, a playground worthy of awards, public restrooms, and picnic tables, Waterfront Park has everything you and the kids could need for a fun day outdoors. We highly recommend grabbing some sandwiches (or ice cream!) at the River Watch Cafe and enjoying your food as you watch sailboats and shipping vessels float by.
Explore Shem Creek
Shem Creek offers a quintessential Lowcountry experience for the whole family. Start your adventure by exploring the Shem Creek Park’s winding boardwalks, which offer incredible views of the surrounding wetlands. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head over to one of the many creekside restaurants, where you can eat overlooking the water. You’ll likely see dolphin feeding on scraps from the many shrimp boats docked at the creek. Admission to Shem Creek Park is free and several of the local eateries offer kids deals during the week.
Cruise on the Charleston Water Taxi
Ready to explore the area, but can’t imagine spending one more second in your car after an arduous drive to town? The Charleston Water Taxi is one of our best-kept local secrets and our favorite way to explore the beautiful coastline. Hop on at a nearby marina (the ferry picks up at Charleston Harbor Resort and Patriot’s Point) and ride across the harbor to downtown, or stay on the boat and enjoy views of the U.S.S. Yorktown, the Cooper River Bridge, this historic downtown skyline, and the Castle Pinckney Civil War fort. You might even see dolphins while you cruise the harbor!
The Charleston Water Taxi service runs every Saturday from 10am-6pm and is $12 for an all-day pass or free for kids 3 and under.
Enjoy a bit of history at Patriot’s Point Naval & Maritime Museum
Enjoy an exciting day of history and fun at the Patriot’s Point Museum. This harborside attraction includes a fleet of National Historic Landmark ships, including the U.S.S. Yorktown aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Laffey destroyer, and an iconic Cold War submarine. Admission also includes access to a Cold War Memorial, an official Medal of Honor Museum, and the only Vietnam Experience Exhibit in the U.S. If you’re visiting the are with several kids ages 6-17 (and a few adventurous adults), you can even arrange for an overnight camping experience, bunking up on the Yorktown!
General Patriot’s Point admission for kids ages 6-11 is $16; overnight experiences begin at $45 per person. https://www.patriotspoint.org/
Soak up the sun at Isle of Palms County Park
Whether you’re staying in Mount Pleasant and want to spend a stress-free day at the beach, or you’re in an oceanfront rental but looking for additional amenities and activities, the Isle of Palms County Park is a perfect destination for your fun in the sun. Kids of all ages can enjoy the on-site playground and sand volleyball court, or go for a safe swim with lifeguards on duty during high seasons. The park also includes public restrooms and a picnic area with grills, and beach chairs and umbrellas are available for rent so you don’t have to lug your own supplies. Parking and access ranges from $5 - $15 per day depending on the season.
Take flight at the Center for Birds of Prey
Located just north of Isle of Palms in Awendaw, this incredible conservation center is an experience your family won’t soon forget. In addition to conducting research and medical care for our winged-friends, the Center for Birds of Prey offers guided walking tours and flight demonstrations, allowing you to get up-close-and-personal with nearly 50 species of birds including eagles, hawks, owls, falcons, and vultures. Tours occur at 10:30am and 2:00pm on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays and cost $12 for kids ages 6-17.
Helicopter over the harbor
Looking for a totally unique, once-in-a-lifetime activity while you’re in town? Book a helicopter tour of the Charleston Harbor! Each chopper can accommodate three passengers and larger groups can split up into multiple flights. Fly-In offers a few tour options, including a quick Harbor Tour, a Lighthouse Tour, and a Folly Beach Tour, all of which offer sweeping views of the Lowcountry landscape. Tours range from $35/person to $120/person depending on route and length.
Step back in time in the Old Village District
Need a low-key morning of meandering? Explore the Old Village Historic District, a quaint neighborhood listed on South Carolina’s National Register. It’s the perfect place to go for a quiet stroll or bike ride; stop in Pitt Street Pharmacy, a classic 1937 soda fountain, to grab a snack or early lunch, and the make your way to the Pitt Street Bridge, a lovely park with fishing pier, access to the greenway, and beautiful views of the coastal inlet. http://oldvillagedistrict.com/
Charleston Fun Park
We get it. Sometimes the kids don’t want to see another attraction - they just want fun and games. Located in Mount Pleasant, Charleston Fun Park is an indoor/outdoor destination with everything from paintball and a climbing wall, to go-karts, two miniature golf courses, and an arcade. The outdoor galley serves beer and wine for parents needing a bit of relaxation while the kids play. All attractions start at $9. https://charlestonfunpark.com/
Paddle on the waterways
One of the best ways to truly experience the Lowcountry is by winding through our many creeks and waterways. For families staying in Isle of Palms or Mount Pleasant, we highly recommend checking out the various kayak, paddleboard, and canoe rentals along Shem Creek, where you can paddle towards the protected inlets or adventure out into the harbor. Most rental operations also offer guided tours, leading you along safe routes and pointing out wildlife (like dolphins!) during your journey.
With quick proximity to these local activities (plus plenty of on-site amenities), our family-friendly rentals on Isle of Palms and in Mount Pleasant’s quaint Old Village are an ideal home away from home during your next trip to South Carolina.
Whether you’re planning a small weekend getaway or a big family reunion, Charleston Island Rentals properties can accommodate anywhere from 4 to 24 people. Bring the whole crew and get ready for the vacation of a lifetime!