5th September 2018
The harbor city of Charleston is one of South Carolina’s best destinations. American history, culinary indulgences and unique activities abound, making it a perfect weekend trip for the family. Surrounded by water with a regulation that the tallest building must not surpass the tallest church steeple, Charleston boasts a quaint and small-town heritage feel. Adding to its charm is its walkability — its flat and condensed with a variety of neighborhoods and plenty of greenspace. It’s also rich with history, so if you’re not from the South, there’s a long list of activities to keep your family entertained for days.
The horse-drawn carriage tours traverse multiple neighborhoods of downtown Charleston. There’s room for the whole family (plus the new friends you’ll meet) on a carriage that’s open, but shaded. The best part is that you don’t know the route you’ll be on until you leave the stables. Carriage tours operate on a lottery system to inform each guide of a direction and spread the multiple companies’ vessels out across town. For this reason, you can take more than one tour and see more of the city. Charleston’s carriage tour guides are incredibly knowledgeable in local history and wonderfully charismatic. Even if you’re a Civil War history buff, you’ll still learn some new facts.
Charleston is a world-class food town, attracting dining enthusiasts from all over the world who come to experience the best in low country cuisine. Make a long list of places you want to eat because most of the renowned restaurants cater to families. Plan your days and walking itineraries around the restaurants you want to end up at. Leon’s Oyster Shop is a rustic southern seafood spot with a lively atmosphere and kid-friendly menu. Husk is probably the most well-known restaurant in Charleston and worth the visit, but if it feels too elevated or upscale for your children, try founding chef Sean Brock’s other restaurant, Minero — high-end Mexican food in a casual setting. Home Team BBQ is another great spot for a fun eating experience with outdoor seating. Don’t forget to finish off your food tour at Kraminsky’s for dessert.
Take to the sea on a nautical excursion that gives you a first-hand look into the city’s history, dating back to the peak pirating era. Complete with a captain that narrates the journey with a detailed overview of Charleston’s design, culture, climate, ecosystem and community, you’ll also hear some bad pirate jokes. The Charleston Harbor Tour boat is spacious and comfortable, with the option of outer deck or inside seating. You’ll be on the water for a couple hours, but food and drinks are available if anyone in the family is feeling stranded at sea and hungry.
Go beyond the city and spend some of your visit at the shore away from the streets. There are two main beach areas that flank Charleston. To the north is Sullivan’s Island, which has a calm inlet lined with affluent beach homes and draws the majority of family beachgoers. Folly Beach, to the south, attracts more college students and young adults in search of sun and waves. Great for teens and older kids, Folly is more exposed to the Atlantic and perfect for taking surf lessons. Both beaches feature scenic white sand and bath-temperature water during the summer months with food options nearby.
Charleston walking tours are great for anyone in the family who’s keen on architecture and urban design. The slower-paced version of a carriage tour is also dependant on the tour guide, who is guaranteed to wow you in fun facts and local history. Walking tours are meant for people of all age — offering a leisurely walk that’s not overly long and covers an area of flat, tree-lined streets. You may even hear some ghost stories on the stroll.
The Fulton Lane Inn is a small and charming hotel on a main shopping street in downtown Charleston. Centrally located, it’s walkable to the best food and entertainment, so you don’t need to worry about parking or transportation during your stay.
By Eric Greene