Several weeks ago we traveled as a family to Charleston, South Carolina, and spoiler alert, we had a great time!
Originally we planned on going to Europe in September, but then, of course, COVID happened. We still wanted to do something fun as a family, but we had the hardest time deciding where. We thought Canada sounded really cool but there were still travel restrictions in place. Then we thought Colorado sounded cool, but there were unfortunately some wildfires that were close to where we wanted to go and we didn't want to risk it. Same with California. Wildfires were threatening where we wanted to go and I would have hated to make the drive all the way out there just to be disappointed.
It wasn't until the day before we were meant to leave that we decided on Charleston and oh boy, I'm so glad we did! It was the perfect place for us. It had/has charm and beautiful photography opportunities for me, history for Titus, and lots of food options and things to do outdoors for Will!
It was about a 19+ hour drive with stops and an overnight in Tenessee where we stopped at the Great Smoky Mountains on the way there and Nashville on the way back. Even though that's a lot of driving, it honestly didn't seem that bad.
I would recommend Charleston as a family trip. Here's why and here's how to have a great time in Charleston with kids!
How to Have a Great Time in Charleston With Kids
Bring your stroller
One of the biggest reasons I think Charleston is so great with kids is because the weather is generally nice and there's so much to see outside. What kid doesn't love being outdoors?
You can't miss the historic downtown area/French Quarter, but make sure you bring a stroller to explore! If your kid is happy in a stroller then it opens up so much time and opportunities to walk and explore a beautiful area of Charleston that everyone can enjoy.
Related: Check out more of my travel content here!
Another plus about Charleston is that there are a lot of outdoor and to-go places to eat. Even though Will sits pretty well, he's still 2, and going to any indoor and/or nice place instantly puts me on high-stress mode haha. I'd much rather eat outside in more casual places.
Here were some of our favorites:
Outdoor eating- Lewi's Barbecue, Crust Pizza (not a super kiddie place but we ate outside and the food was a can't miss), Butcher & The Bee
To-go- Callie's Hot Biscuits, Brown's Bakery
We also got food to-go a lot and took it to a park. It was enjoyable for everyone!
Have a beach day + bring beach toys
What kid doesn't love sand and water? Oh, well mine doesn't. Haha actually he doesn't like the water but that's okay because he loves the sand and mama loves the sun! A beach day is fun for everyone. We went to both Folly's Beach & Sullivan's Island, but we liked Sullivan's Island better. Both are good options though!
Make sure you bring some beach toys to ramp up the fun even more.
Have some family-friendly backup activities
I'll be honest, my idea of a great family vacation is not doing kid activities the whole time haha. Obviously traveling with a kid means your expectations and itinerary will change, but it doesn't mean you can only eat at McDonald's and only go to kid's museums. My idea of a great family vacation is everyone getting something out of it and everyone having a good time!
That being said, make sure you have a backup plan for rainy days. Such as a children's museum, aquarium, driving around, or even going to see a kid's movie in theaters. My kiddo did not like sitting at the hotel while it rained and while we had to plan our next move. Have some ideas of what you can do in mind beforehand!
Rent a car
If we were relying on public transportation and walking the whole time it would have been a completely different trip. Of course, we drove there so we were going to have a car anyway, but if you fly, a car is a must for holding all your junk and driving around to get your kid to nap. 😉
Visit the plantations
If your kiddo is young enough, they can get into most plantations for free and you just have to pay for the adults. We really liked Magnolia Plantation. There was so much to see outside and so much nature to enjoy. It was a family hit!
Don't forget the basics
Of course, it doesn't matter if you're traveling to the grocery store or across the country, but make sure you don't forget the basics for your kiddos. These are things such as snacks, water bottles, new activities (books, no mess painting, etc), and your patience. 😉 If you're out and about and your kid is grumpy for no good reason, you don't want to call it a day, right? No siree. Break out the snacks, the new activities they haven't seen yet, or better yet, make an impromptu stop to get some ice cream. Another good thing to remember is to keep expectations low but hope for the best!
Whether big or small, we love traveling as a family and though the trip may look different with kids, it's still so worth it. Consider heading to Charleston on your next family vacation. I bet you'll have a fantastic time!