A Weekend of History and Southern Fun in Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston teems with options for a quick family getaway, and it has something for everyone: movie-caliber scenery, quaint shops, tempting Southern delicacies, and enticing adventures for any budding history buff. We pared our excursions down to a few each day to keep the trip enjoyable and relaxed. Highlights for families include:


Carriage ride through historic Charleston

Things To Do in Charleston with Kids

Fort Sumter

The 30-minute boat ride to/from Fort Sumter was enjoyable in and of itself, and the kids had a ball completing the scavenger hunt about the history of the fort and the first shots of the Civil War. The pinnacle for them was being sworn in as Junior Park Rangers and receiving their badges before the boat ride back to Liberty Square.

Aiken-Rhett Museum House

Our kids enjoyed seeing how people lived during the Civil War. The self-guided audio tour of the Aiken-Rhett Museum House allowed them to explore at their own pace. We chose this house over the others in the historic quarter because it’s the only home with a tour of the residence and its slave quarters.


Junior Park Ranger swearing-in ceremony at Fort Sumter

Powder Magazine

Powder Magazine is a teacup-sized hidden treasure where they kept gunpowder during the revolution. The kids thought it was really cool to learn how to load the cannons and muskets. The docents were extremely knowledgeable and eager to bring history to life for young visitors.

Carriage Ride

There are three official horse-drawn carriage routes through the historic district. At the start, a ball pops up (much like a lottery ball) that determines where you’ll go; we got the Battery. The kids enjoyed learning about how the waterfront has changed over the years, seeing Rainbow Row and the amazing antebellum homes, and learning about their sometimes colorful occupants.

We interspersed these stops with:

>  Browsing along the shops on King Street

 > Exploring the wares in the Old Slave Market

>  Lots of eating, including sampling Low Country seafood, hush puppies, and the ubiquitous fudge and candied nuts at the sweet shops around the Historic District

>  A stop at the Kapla Block showroom/store on Market Street for a bit of rest and a chance to let imagination take over with open-ended wooden plank blocks


A weekend wasn’t enough. We’ll be back!

We barely scratched the surface of Charleston in a weekend. Next trip, our list would include visiting the Exchange and Provost (for a chance to stand in the dungeon where British soldiers were imprisoned during the Revolutionary War) and the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier.

There is also an aquarium at Liberty Square, next to the embarkation point for Fort Sumter, that is supposed to be a hit with families. Farther afield is Magnolia Plantation for a taste of antebellum life, as well as a petting zoo and boat and train rides.

For a rainy-day option, children 10 and under will enjoy the Children’s Museum of the Low Country, where they can can race boats down rapids, climb aboard a pirate ship, and drive an antique fire truck.

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Ciao Bambino’s Top Destinations for Families

Editor’s Note: Photos by Amy Andrews.

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