An Afternoon of Fun in Charleston, SC with Kids!
Situated at the confluence of the Ashley and Cooper Rivers on the Charleston Harbor, the coastal city of Charleston is the oldest in South Carolina, and the second largest city in the state. A blend of southern U.S., French and West African cultures, historic downtown Charleston is a unique blend of tradition and culture alive with arts, music and energy. Street parking is abundant and metered for the most part or look for municipal garages. If you’re camping nearby at James Island County Park, consider taking the round-trip shuttle downtown to the Charleston Convention and Visitor’s Center or for a day of fun at the Folly Beach Fishing Pier or Folly Beach County Park for $10 per person.
Charleston is hot and humid in the summer, mild in the winter, and rainy all year round – though half the rainfall occurs in the form of thunderstorms in the summer months between June and September. Prepare to sweat and don’t forget an umbrella. If you’re lucky like us, you’ll have a beautiful clear blue sky with a nice breeze off the river instead of the stink of the local paper factory. Yes, that’s what that smell is.
Tour the Battery
We started our day on the Battery, taking in the view of Fort Sumpter National Monument in the distance across the Ashley River. On the eastern edge, White Point Park is a beautiful wooded retreat on the water. Photographers find this a perfect location for wedding and engagement portraits as well as family photos – the gazebo in the center of the park is truly lovely, but don’t actually plan on sitting in it because the photographers REALLY find it lovely. A walk from one end of the park to the other reveals the deep military history of the area – canons and other artillery preserved from past wartimes sit in memorial to the past.
We took a wander over to admire the architecture and beauty of the Two Meeting Street Inn, a gingerbread Victorian mansion built for $75,000 for a newly married couple by her family in 1890. Not to be outdone, the groom’s family paid for the couple to tour the world for a year on their honeymoon while the home was being built. Must be nice! We spent part of our honeymoon here and enjoyed not only the architecture, including real Tiffany windows, but the expansive porch with lazy cats installed and a wonderful breakfast by the hosts. One day, we’ll be back to stay again!
The Charleston City Market
We walked from the battery up Meeting Street and peeked into the beautiful side gardens along the way. Ironworks and custom gateworks are big in Charleston, so take care to notice the fences and garden gates. One local craft that is hustled on the street corners is the sweetgrass basket – woven from a local bulrush, these baskets are works of art, and practical too; they make a wonderful souvenir from this area.
Our goal was to walk up to the Charleston City Market – the original marketplace for the city of Charleston. The market spans four city blocks and is bound on either side by N. Market Street and South Market Street with an entrance on Meeting Street. The modern market is full of local vendors of basketry, art and other crafts as well as souvenirs, clothing and gourmet food items, and we enjoyed ourselves so much, we forgot to take any pictures!
Across the street from the market is Charleston Place hotel – another place we stayed during our honeymoon, so we felt compelled to torture the children. It’s part of the Oriental Express Hotels and also houses shops and boutiques on the ground floor. It’s worth it just to walk through the lobby and see the enormous flower arrangement that is fresh each week and drink in the beauty of the chandelier.
Hyman’s Seafood RestaurantHyman’s Seafood Restaurant – a local family-owned and operated favorite fish house. Make sure you arrive early if you want dinner as there is often a line, and check your local maps for a coupon for a free appetizer – fried green tomato with a divine sauce on top. Tables are marked with plaques identifying celebrities, politicians, and other famous people who have graced the tables of the restaurant, and the walls are full of interesting posters, photos and large windows to look out over the city. During our meal, we were greeted by the current manager and given a coupon for the kids to get free ice cream or souvenir from the shop downstairs – for no particular reason. This is a definite win with kids in Charleston!
All in all, Charleston is a very friendly city, with much to do and see. If you’re interested in guided enrichment, there are carriage tours, walking garden tours, nighttime ghost tours, house tours and other ways to immerse yourself in the culture of Charleston.