Growing up in Savannah, Charleston was always only around a 2 hour drive, and thus we visited frequently. It was usually moreso to attend events though, and we would just drive up for the day. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to actually visit Charleston for a full weekend with my husband and 18 month old daughter, Maddie Grace, and play tourist the entire time. In fact, I really wish we had had more time to spend in Charleston – we got in Friday night and really only had a full day Saturday before we had to drive back on Sunday, and the city has a ton to do that we didn’t get around to.
Here were our highlights:
Charleston Pirate Tours: Argh matey! There are a ton of ghost tours in Charleston, so we opted for something a little different and did Charleston Pirate Tour‘s ghost and pirate walking tour. It was a 90 minute pirate tour led by the amazing guide Serena. Seriously I’ve done ghost tours all over the country, and she was the best storyteller I’ve encountered. She knew the stories and Charleston’s history inside and out. In fact, she might have presumed we had too much pirate knowledge already. There were two probably middle school-aged boys on our tour who were really eating up all the stories. We had a great time and learned a lot, and thought this was the perfect introductory activity to our trip.
Marion Square Farmer’s Market: We stumbled upon this by accident but were so glad that we did. This little farmer’s market that also has artists and food trucks takes place every Saturday morning and is definitely worth the stop if you’re in the area or hitting up King Street for some shopping. We enjoyed a delicious brunch and enjoyed sampling some of the different products local vendors had for sale.
South Carolina Aquarium: Of course it had to rain while we were there. But since we still wanted to be out and about we hit up the aquarium which turned out to be the perfect rainy day activity, and probably Maddie Grace’s favorite thing that we did the whole trip. It’s almost like this aquarium was built for toddlers. Most of the exhibits were at her level so she could run around and point at all the fishes, and there was even a fun indoor playground that she thought was really cool.
Sandlapper Water Tours: We had to do some type of water activity while on the coast so we did a sunset cruise with Sandlapper Water Tours. We were originally supposed to do a history tour earlier in the day but it was cancelled because of the rain and the Sandlapper staff happily moved us to the 90 minute sunset cruise which ended up being perfect. There was a naturalist on the boat who told us all kinds of information about the wildlife of the area, and we got gorgeous views of the sunset over Charleston, and even saw several dolphins. The boat played really good music and they had beverages (for purchase) and complimentary light snacks. We got to see all of the major Charlestonian waterfront sights and were given a brief history lesson as well. This was my favorite activity of the trip. This company also offers a nighttime pirates and ghosts cruise that I think would be really cool for couples and families of older children.
Charles Towne Landing State Historic Park: I’d visited Charles Towne Landing as a child but really wanted to go back now and was glad that we did. It’s kind of out of the way, about a 15 minute drive from downtown, but definitely worth it. There is a lot of walking involved in visiting this park though so make sure you wear comfortable shoes! Maddie Grace’s favorite thing here was the animal exhibits, especially the otters. She would have watched them all day if we let her. But we made her move on so we could see some of the historical exhibits as well – we really enjoyed the model homestead and ship replicas from the era that you can walk into and explore. We also enjoyed learning more about this first settlement and how the people lived. There are also gorgeous marsh views along the walking trails.
These were the attractions we were able to fit in on our tight time frame. Next time I would love to check out Boone-Hall Plantation, Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry, Charleston Tea Plantation, Middleton Place, Palmetto Islands County Park, and try some of the other tours!
Lodging: The one plus to my husband traveling for work is that he gets Marriott points, which we used to stay at the Marriott Courtyard Charleston Historic District which was right on Marion Square. I have no complaints about the hotel and the location was perfect for exploring King Street, which is one of our favorite places to find restaurants.
Since I know we will go back I would love some advice – what should we make sure to do next time we are in Charleston, South Carolina?