A few weeks ago, my family and I escaped to Charleston for a much-needed vacation.
Okay, I use “vacation” loosely here … because can you really call it a vacation with two kids (under four) in tow?
Whatever you want to call it, I will say this: We had FUN. Charleston is an incredibly family-friendly city, and it serves up the best of both worlds — nearby beaches to kick back and relax by, plus plenty of history, beautiful architecture, and scrumptious southern eats for a city escape. Here’s my trip recap and guide to Charleston with kids, including suggestions on where to stay, what to do, and, of course, where to eat:
Where to Stay:
This place was just named Condé Nast Traveler’s #1 resort in Charleston, and one of the top 10 resorts in the South.
Did it live up to the hype?
You bet. I’d say it’s a haven for families in Charleston, with incredible amenities, gorgeous rooms (more on that in a sec), and that famous friendly Southern service.
What first impressed us was the size of the rooms. My family of four had plenty of space, and that’s not always the case when traveling together. There was also a bathtub in our room, which is a must when traveling with little kids. Whenever we could break ourselves away from our lounge-worthy room, there was plenty to explore at the resort. The Beach Club has a zero-entry pool and a quieter pool lined with cabanas. Since the resort wasn’t busy when we went (just a few corporate conferences going on), we got to lounge with the kids by the quiet pool — and the resort graciously gifted us cabana use with lunch and drinks. I can report back that I now understand why frosé (frozen rosé) is so popular. Yum.
Beyond the pools, there’s also a golf course, interesting military history, and walking trails that snake through the complex. The resort restaurant, The Fish House, has a great breakfast; we ate there two days and had excellent service both times. Plus, you’re 15 minutes from downtown Charleston, and a water taxi will take right into town.
And can I say just how dang kid-friendly this place was? They gifted the girls stuffed turtles as soon as we walked in. It definitely got my kids’ seal of approval. When I asked my oldest, Caroline (who just turned 4), her thoughts, she said: “The hotel was so, so pretty and they brought us cookies, and drinks for mommy and daddy” (that’s wine for those of you who don’t speak “little kid”).
The family-friendly amenities here were truly awesome. And — when you book with me, you’ll get extra exclusive amenities, including:
- Continental Breakfast for each guest daily at The Fish House
- $100 Resort credit, per room, per stay
- Welcome Cookie amenity
- Early check-in/late check-out, based on availability
Honorable mention goes to the gorgeous Dewberry Hotel, a luxurious mid-century gem in the heart of Charleston, which we spent one fabulous night in.
While not marketed to nor designed for families, this hotel still went out of its way to make us feel welcome. They ensured our girls had seriously delicious cookies waiting for them, and the valet was so helpful in his suggestions and directions on where to eat with kids. A final plus? It’s within walking distance to both the aquarium and Children’s Museum.
What to Do:
South Carolina Aquarium:
This place was fantastic. In fact, the girls loved it so much, we went here twice! It was the perfect, easy-to-navigate size with plenty of interactive things to do for visitors of all ages.
This historic plantation and landscaped garden sits right on the river. While there, we enjoyed the carriage ride and seeing all the farm animals — there were goats everywhere. There were also costumed reenacters who showed visitors how life in the Low Country used to be, which I think would be a really rewarding experience for older kids.
Located on Sullivan’s Island, this centuries-old fort is where the Civil War began. My kids thought the fort was SO cool — and my Marine husband really enjoyed it as well. We went about 40 minutes before closing and had the place mostly to ourselves, with pretty views of the city across the water.
Where to Eat (and Drink!):
This is one of the few restaurants in downtown Charleston on the water — and it’s perfect for kids! In addition to the good food, they have cornhole games out front for the family to play with while you wait to be seated.
This restaurant is a great place to stop in if you have kids in tow; it’s counter service (so things move quickly) and there’s plenty of seating both inside and outside. Plus — everyone is SO friendly. If you’re gluten-free, go here; not only does Kitchen 208 serve gluten-free items, they have a dedicated gluten-free workspace to prevent cross contamination.
Holy City Brewing:
Okay, this place is not fancy … but that’s exactly why I felt comfortable coming here with the kids. Their taproom has a pool table and free tours upon request.
Come for the gardens, stay for the grub. The property’s restaurant has the best fried chicken, and a solid beer list for Mom and Dad 😉
Want to escape to Charleston yourself for a family bonding experience in a Southern gem of a city? Get in touch so I can plan it all for you — and get you extra amenities at top hotels and resorts, like The Beach Club.
(We were given two complimentary nights with breakfast and a cabana for the day thanks to my partners at The Beach Club at Charleston. They had no clue I was writing a blog post and I wasn’t asked to review or post on social media in exchange. All opinions are my own.)