Hotspots in Charleston, SC
You’ll never have as much fun at another government-run park once you’ve paid a visit to Whirling Waters Adventure Waterpark -- located inNorth Charleston Wannamaker County Park! The 15-acre, island-themed water wonderland has wet and wild fun perfect for entertaining kids of any age. Toddlers can splash the day away in the Lily Pad Lagoon, while those just a little older can take on the 10 interactive water features in Otter Bay. Teens and tweens can challenge each other to races on the 6-lane Riptide Run, brave the three slides of Tubular Twister, or take on the tides in the Big Kahuna wave pool. Don’t forget about the 66 water features and the 1,000-gallon dump bucket in the Big Splash Tree House, and for parents, the can relax while floating on the Rollin’ Lazy River.
Get creative with your kids during your visit to the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry. Art and imagination reign throughout the museum’s many interactive exhibits. Channel your inner Shakespeare and put on a play at the Medieval Creativity Castle, then pretend you’re Peter Pan and go shadow chasing in the Shadow Cave. When the weather’s nice, head outdoors to the Children’s Garden, or have rainy day fun inside playing King of the Mountain and rolling balls on the Raceways. Don’t plan on staying completely dry inside, though -- the WaterWise exhibit encourages kids to get a little wet as they race boats and paint a color-changing wall with water. There’s more seaworthy fun to be had in Pirates exhibit where your kids can put on eye patches and walk the plank of a play pirate ship.
Named a “must see” locale by NBC’s Daytime, there’s a reason Boone Hall Plantation and Gardens is “America’s Most Photographed Plantation.” From the towering, moss-draped oaks to the pristine, two-story columns on the front veranda, Boone Hall is a beautiful example of bygone days. One of the country’s oldest working plantations, Boone Hall still produces crops of strawberries, tomatoes, pumpkins and more in You-pick fields open to guests in-season. Boone Hall has been open to the public since 1956, allowing visitors to experience what plantation life was like. Take in the grounds on the guided Plantation Coach Tour and the House Tour, or explore on your own by following the self-guided tours and presentations.
Have your kids become complete tech heads -- glued to their iPods, gaming systems, cell phones and televisions for hours on end? Well get them to abandon their virtual worlds for a few hours and engage them in some real-life action with an afternoon at Frankie’s Fun Park. Frankie’s got go-karts for everyone – kids as young as 4 years old can get behind the wheel on the Rookie Track, while older kids and adults can take on the Road Course, or brave the ultra-fast, friction-free Oval Slick Track. For more traditional sports action, head over to play a round of mini golf, or hit a few golf balls on the driving range or baseballs in the batting cages. There’s even more fun to be had climbing on Frankie’s rock wall, slipping down their fun slide, running into each other on the bumper boats and playing games in the arcade.
Forget about history being “boring,” at The Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon kids will be thrilled to learn about the past as they’re led through the eerie confines of the dungeon where storytellers spin yarns and tell tales of pirates and patriots. Guided tours are led by costumed docents who bring history to life by delivering their information “in character.” The tours focus primarily on Charleston’s history in the Revolutionary War and is accented by child-delighting stories of roving pirates and the tricks our troops played on the British. After the guided tour, explore the upper floors on your own and help your kids complete the museum’s scavenger hunt.
Home to America’s oldest landscaped gardens, Middleton Place is a wonderland of sculpted terraces, towering moss-draped trees and beautiful plantlife -- including some centuries-old camellias that bloom in winter! And the gardens are just the beginning. After a short garden tour, check out the interior of the plantation’s mansion on the house museum tour, or check out the grounds vintage-style with a horse-drawn carriage tour. Other tours include the African American Focus tour and a complimentary guide-led nature walk that takes you on a 90-minute walk through the vast gardens, covering the flora more extensively than on the brief garden tour.
Dedicated to preserving the rich history of the city and the natural history of the South Carolina countryside and coastline, the Charleston Museum has plenty to see for the whole family. The museum’s permanent collection has examples of early tools and pottery, alongside uniforms, weapons and other military paraphernalia from both the Revolutionary and Civil wars. In the natural history section, children will be thrilled by the examples of South Carolina’s extinct wildlife and prehistoric creatures, such as the mounted primitive-toothed whale and the skeleton of an 18-foot alligator. Check the museum’s calendar for programs that cater to families, from hands-on history workshops, toddler days and monthly, themed family events.
Brush up on your salute and head on over to the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum to take in a whole lot of U.S. military history. Self-guided tours let you explore almost any nook or cranny you wish within some of the military’s most impressive vehicles. Kids will love checking out the Yorktown -- a vast WWII aircraft carrier first constructed in the 1940s. For aviation enthusiasts, Patriots Point has almost 30 aircraft on display that spans the entire history of flying -- from a Wright Brothers biplane to the F/A-18A Hornet jet. Patriots Point also has several other ocean vessels to explore, plus memorials, tours, exhibit and a museum for you to immerse yourself in military history.
The state’s many magical underwater worlds come alive at the South Carolina Aquarium. Rather than featuring only the incredible creatures living along South Carolina’s ocean coastline, the aquarium devotes special attention to the water-loving wildlife found all across the state. In the Mountain Forest regional exhibit your family will learn all about Brook Trout and River Otters. The Piedmont Gallery has several exotic specimens including the Fieryblack Shiner and the Greater Siren. Other exhibits include alligators, turtles, even lemurs. Don’t worry, the ocean’s well represented too, with sharks, octopus, jellyfish, plus a touch tank featuring stingrays, sea urchins and more.