You don’t always think of Charleston as a mecca for kid-friendly vacations, but we found a few great spots that will entertain adults as well as their offspring. Located on the Charleston Harbor, Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum gives kids a hands-on history lesson. Three retired naval vessels: USS Yorktown, USS Laffey, and USS Clamagore allow visitors to climb aboard the past. Real life exhibits gave us a look at what life was like for the service men that called these ships home during wartime. Our family stayed aboard the USS Yorktown overnight with a large group — a real history-come-to-life-experience for the kids. Check out the many retired aircraft that are on display as well as the Medal of Honor Museum.
The South Carolina Aquarium, also at Charleston Harbor, features a variety of sea life habitats: deep ocean, coastal, saltmarsh, mountain forest, and a new Madagascar exhibit with lemurs. Some of the other fun creatures you’ll encounter are sharks, octopus, and eels. Visitors can have lots of hands-on experiences including a touch tank with sea urchins, starfish, and horseshoe crabs. Another exhibit allows hand feeding of manta rays.
There are some great beaches down the coast from Charleston. Isle of Palms has fantastic amenities for families. Its boardwalk boasts lots of restaurants and shops, nice restrooms, showers, and strict rules against drinking on the beach which keeps the rowdy college crowds at bay. There’s also a park with play structures just off the beach and for older athletic kids, the windy conditions make for great kiteboarding. Edisto Island is also very family friendly with fishing and adventure tours, and Edisto Beach State Park has lots of camping sites tailor-made for families.