Posted on 8/19/2020 by Angie Schnell

The Charleston Bucket List for Families

The city of Charleston is the perfect place to bring the family! Once you've booked one of our rentals on Isle of Palms or Sullivan's Island, you can start planning all of the things that you want to do and see while you're here, and we can help you wil that too! Before you load up the car with suitcases and the kids, be sure to go through our checklist for awesome restaurants, attractions, and activities that the whole group can take part in and enjoy. We also have a downloadable checklist at the end, so you can share this with your friends and family!

1. Grab a Quick Breakfast To Go

When you're on vacation with the whole family, there's a good chance that you have a lot planned and are on-the-go constantly. Here are some of our favorites that are nearby, whether you're spending the day on the Islands or heading into Downtown Charleston!

  • Cafe Paname (Isle of Palms) — Classic French pastries and sandwiches, and every kind of coffee drink you could want! Our favorite is a classic croissant and a cold brew.
  • The Co-Op (Sullivan's Island) — Breakfast is served all day, but be sure to circle back to this spot for frosé later! We recommend the $1 coffee and avocado toast.
  • The Fractured Prune (Mt. Pleasant) — Customizable donuts hot & fresh, perfect for the kids with a sweet tooth and the kids at heart. Our favorite is the Carnival, with honey glaze and rainbow sprinkles!
  • Mozzo Deli (Mt. Pleasant) — An endless amount of options so this is great for families with different tastes! We love the classic BE&C on an everything bagel.

2. Learn the History of the Holy City

Our city is full of history, and you can learn all about it at the Charleston Museum in Downtown Charleston. There's different exhibits like the Historic Textiles Gallery and Natural History, as well as an area just for kids that includes hands-on experiences and interactive displays!

3. Explore Charles Towne Landing by Bike

Charles Towne Landing is the first settled area in what is present-day Charleston, so there's a lot to see and discover here! The whole family can rent bikes and explore the nature trail, which takes you through miles of marshes and gardens. This site is also great for kids with a natural habitat zoo with animals like bison, bears and elk, and a replica trading ship docked at the park!

4. Visit the Petting Zoo and the Famous Gardens at Magnolia Plantation

Something unique about Magnolia Plantation is that there's always flowers blooming in the gardens! This historic plantation is America's last large-scale, romantic-style garden, and also features a Zoo and Nature Center which is great for the kids. While you're learning about the history of the plantation and taking in the beautiful views, your children will enjoy the close encounters with white-tailed deer, birds of prey, and different reptiles in the reptile house!

5. Discover the Charleston Islands with an Eco Tour

Right here on Isle of Palms over at the Marina sits Barrier Island Eco Tours. This company offers several different public and private tours to Capers Island and the surrounding waters. This is an awesome way to spend time together as a family, while enjoying the beautiful views and learning something new, too! Here are some of our favorite tours that we think are great for the whole group:

  • Blue Crabbing Excursion
  • Capers Wildlife Exploration
  • Dolphin Sunset Cruise
  • Family Fun Day (Private Charter)

6. Walk the Beach and Collect Shells

Both Isle of Palms and Sullivan's Island are awesome beaches for collecting shells, and this is a great way to get a keepsake of your trip without spending money. You can also make this into a fun activity when you get back to the beach house, by painting them and making them your own! 

P.S. Help us take care of our beaches! Make sure you're not taking shells that still have living animals inside, it's best to stick to the shells that have already washed up onshore. Don't forget to take any trash you may have with you, too!

7. See Wildlife from Around the State

The South Carolina Aquarium in Downtown Charleston is unique in that it explores wildlife not only found on the coast of South Carolina, but every region of the state! Travel through the Mountain Forest all the way down to the Coast and Ocean. The Aquarium also has a sea turtle rehabilitation center that you can visit, where they rescue sick and injured sea turtles and take care of them until they release them back to their home. (Sometimes you can even watch their turtle releases here on the Isle of Palms!)

8. Get a Taste of the Lowcountry

The Lowcountry has distinctive and delicious cuisine. These restaurants are sure to be crowd-pleasers:

  • Acme Lowcountry Kitchen — Classic southern eats on IOP, best known for their brunch and their different variations of the iconic shrimp & grits. Of course, our favorite is the IOP-style shrimp & grits.

  • Fleet Landing — A seafood-centered menu, located right on the water near the cruise ship terminal in Downtown Charleston. We recommend the Carolina Lump Crab Cakes!

  • Papi's Taqueria — This taco spot has a beachy vibe in the Front Beach area on IOP and also has a rooftop bar! The restaurant is great for families. We love the "Fishin' in the Dark" taco and a frozen marg!

  • ​Poe's Tavern — Burgers of all sorts on Sullivan's Island, named after poet Edgar Allen Poe, who spent time stationed here. (All of the burgers are named after his poetry — see if you can spot your fav!) Our favorite is the Annabel Lee burger!

​​​9. Go Out for Ice Cream

There's not much more that's better than enjoying an ice cream cone at the beach. There are several options on both IOP and Sullivan's, so you can enjoy this treat no matter where your adventures of the day take you! These are some of our favorite spots:

​​10. Have a Family Photoshoot on the Beach

Your family beach vacation may only come once a year, but a way you can make the memories last forever is with a family portrait session on the beach! Charleston Family Portraits is a locally based company that our guests love — and we're sure that you will too. The photographer, Rhett Marley, finds a way to make those candid moments look spectacular and definitely breaks the mold from your typical family beach photo.


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