Category: Vacation Planning Tools
Great choice! The Holy City is packed with beautiful beaches, historical sites and fun activities for the entire family. From outdoor adventures to interactive museums, a Charleston family vacation has something for everyone to enjoy!
But with so many fun things to do, planning your Charleston family vacation can seem overwhelming. To take some stress out of the process, we’ve consulted with some local experts, and this is their helpful guide for planning the ultimate family trip to Charleston this summer.
Activities and Attractions
Whether you’re traveling with teenagers, grade schoolers or toddlers, there are plenty of enjoyable things for your kids to see and do in the Lowcountry. From plantation tours to wildlife encounters, these activities will make your trip to the Holy City as memorable as possible.
Charles Towne Landing
First-time visitors shouldn’t miss Charles Towne Landing. The 664-acre park isn’t just the site of the first permanent English settlement in the Carolina colony; it’s also home to a nature preserve, an indoor interactive museum, beautiful gardens, self-guided history trails and more.
If your kids are old enough, consider renting bicycles from the park to take a peaceful ride under majestic oak trees draped in Spanish Moss. Kids of all ages will enjoy the Adventure, a replica 17th century trading vessel they can board and explore.
Visiting with little ones? They will love the Animal Forest, a wildlife sanctuary filled with animals that once inhabited the region. As an added bonus, admission is free for kids under the age of 5.
Water Fountains and Public Parks
Charleston summers can be brutal, with temperatures averaging mid to upper 80s and humidity that makes it feel even hotter. A great way to beat the heat is by splashing around in Charleston’s many water fountains or relaxing in shaded parks.
The Charleston Waterfront Park boasts numerous water fountains for the kids to play in, including the iconic Pineapple Fountain. While the kids are getting soaked, you might want to grab some gelato and sit on a bench to take in the gorgeous view of the harbor.
Searching for a less touristy option? Try Park West Recreation Complex in nearby Mount Pleasant for a fun playground with fountains or James Island County Park, which has its own splash pad and waterpark.
Nature and Wildlife Adventures
It may be hard to believe, but you don’t need to venture far outside of Charleston’s city center to experience its natural beauty and wildlife. The coastal city boasts many diverse natural landscapes, from magnificent beaches and tidal creeks to salt marshes and forests.
If your family loves outdoor adventures, consider touring a marsh in a kayak or taking an eco-tour out to Bull’s Island. These tours are great for families with older kids and offer a more unique way to experience Charleston’s local ecosystems.
Visiting with younger children? The South Carolina Aquarium is sure to be a hit for the entire family. The aquarium is home to more than 5,000 animals and features indoor and outdoor touch tanks.
Fort Sumter National Park
You don’t need to be a history buff to enjoy Fort Sumter National Park. This famous sea fort is one of Charleston’s most popular attractions, and it provides an exceptional learning experience for the entire family.
Insider’s tip: book your tickets in advance! Because these tours are so popular, tickets sell out fast, and many visitors are forced to wait for the next boat. Also, the southern sun can be brutal in the summertime, but sunscreen and hats will help keep everyone comfortable.
Who says learning can’t be fun? Take the kids to one of Charleston’s many museums for a hands-on educational experience they won’t soon forget.
Parents with small children should not miss the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry (CML). With its many interactive exhibits and programs, youngsters will have a blast exploring all the themed areas.
If interactive museums are a hit with your kids, the North Charleston Fire Museum and Patriot’s Point Naval Museum are also worth a visit. Although neither are as toddler-friendly as CML, they both offer interactive exhibits that are fun for the entire family.
A trip to Charleston wouldn’t be complete without a visit to one of its historic plantations. With their well-kept grounds, lush gardens and rich history, these storied locales can make you feel as though you have been transported back in time.
Each plantation offers a unique experience to visitors. At Boone Hall Plantation, visitors can go U-picking for seasonal crops and see firsthand why these enchanting grounds are the most photographed of any plantation. Or stop by Magnolia Plantation and Gardens and take a relaxing boat tour as you learn about the important role plantations played in our nation’s history.
Charleston’s beautiful barrier islands offer miles of pristine beaches for locals and visitors to enjoy. From the romantic and secluded strands on Sullivan’s Island to the family-friendly shores of Isle of Palms, each of Charleston’s local beaches has its own unique charm.
If you’re traveling with kids, Isle of Palms is a great choice. IOP has many rules to keep beach-goers safe, as well as many recreational opportunities both on and off the water.
Folly Beach is great place to try your hand at watersports. Watch surfers catch waves near the north end of the island or walk along Folly Beach Pier, the second longest pier on the East Coast.
Looking for more information on Charleston’s most popular beaches? Check out this blog post that details the city’s most captivating beaches and their unique charms.
When it comes to choosing a place to stay for your Charleston family vacation, there are a few options to consider. Start by creating a budget and factor in whether you plan to rent a car while you’re in town.
For example, renting a car gives you the option of staying in more affordable hotels and vacation homes located just outside of downtown Charleston. If you’re not renting a car, you’ll want to explore all the fantastic lodging that are conveniently located on the peninsula.
No matter what you’re searching for, the Holy City has great options for every family and any budget. Here are a few suggestions to help you find the right fit for your vacation.
Beach Vacation Rentals
When rest and relaxation are a top priority, a beach vacation rental is the way to go. Families often feel cramped in hotels, but a charming beach cottage can provide a more spacious accommodation where you can unwind and enjoy the peace and quiet of coastal life.
From Isle of Palms to Folly Beach to Dewees Island, Charleston has a beach vacation rental for everyone. Browse the best beach rentals around Charleston and search for your ideal home-away-from-home based on your exact criteria.
Let’s be honest, we’re in the vacation rental business, so we always recommend staying on the beaches in one of our rental houses. Be we understand there are times, especially with smaller groups, where a hotel is in order and we have some favorites.
The Beach Club at Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina
Beautiful views of the harbor, spacious rooms and easy shuttle access to downtown Charleston makes The Beach Club an excellent place for families to stay. Located across the harbor from Charleston in Mount Pleasant, this gorgeous hotel is just a quick shuttle or seasonal water taxi ride away from all the action. The resort is also home to Harborside, a waterfront hotel that offers different rooms and amenities.
Insider tip: Check out Groupon before you book. The resort often has deals for both their Estuary Spa and their hotel lodging.
Holiday Inn on Meeting Street
Don’t want to pay exorbitant prices for a downtown Charleston hotel? The Holiday Inn on Meeting Street offers all the comfort, cleanliness and convenience — but without the fancy amenities that you might find at a luxury hotel like The Belmond Charleston Place.
This relatively new hotel is within walking distance of local restaurants and shopping opportunities on King Street. However, you can also take a quick Uber ride to additional restaurants further along the peninsula.
Restoration on King Street
Visiting with a big family but want to spend a few days living in luxury? The Restoration on King has everything you need to make your stay relaxing and enjoyable.
Located in Historic Charleston, this luxury spa hotel offers spacious suites equipped with a well-stocked kitchen, flat-screen TVs and large bathrooms. Roll-away beds and cribs are available upon request, and guests can rent a room with a terrace for additional space.
Kid-Friendly Places to Eat
It’s no secret that Charleston serves up some of the best Southern food in the country. But can the city’s impressive food scene be enjoyed by young children as well as adults?
Luckily, the answer is a resounding yes! Although some kids can be picky eaters, there are still plenty of restaurants that will please everyone in your party. For a family-friendly dining experience, check out these local eateries:
Bowen’s Island Restaurant
Known for its oysters, hushpuppies and amazing fried shrimp, this funky seafood shack is a hotspot for locals and tourists alike. With its fresh seafood and spectacular view of the water, Bowen’s Island Restaurant may be the perfect place to grab a cold beer and eat a delicious meal with the family after a long day on Folly Beach. Bonus: this is the BEST place in town for oysters when they are in season.
Early Bird Diner
If you’re a fan of the Food Network, you may be familiar with Early Bird Diner and its famous chicken and waffles. However, it’s not just that one dish that makes locals flock to this popular American diner.
From shrimp and grits to homemade ice cream, the Early Bird Diner can do no wrong. Order anything off the ever-changing menu and expect your taste buds to be delighted.
With affordable prices and large portions, this classic Southern diner is ideal for families on a budget. Just be prepared to circle the parking lot a few times if you come during the lunch rush.
Triangle Char + Bar
Triangle Char + Bar is a convenient place for locals to enjoy savory burgers or stop by for a beer during happy hour. Whether you’re in the mood for a craft cocktail or a brisket taco that melts in your mouth, good food at Triangle is always a sure thing.
If you’re staying on Folly Beach with the family, visiting Lost Dog Café is a must. This charming café serves breakfast all day and welcomes dogs to sit outside on the patio with their owners.
From the blackened salmon wrap to flavorful biscuits and gravy, Lost Dog never disappoints. Breakfast is served all day, so you don’t need to worry about missing out on those delicious cinnamon buns or poached eggs.
Fleet Landing Restaurant and Bar
Kids and adults should have no trouble finding something to enjoy at Fleet Landing. Located near the City Market in Historic Charleston, this casual restaurant boasts four menus: dinner, bar, brunch and dessert.
Dinnertime at Fleet Landing is usually noisy, but families with little ones may find this to their advantage. Take in the ocean view as you enjoy some specialty crab cakes or she-crab soup.
Smoky Oak Taproom
Craving some good BBQ? Smokey Oak Taproom on James Island is the place to roll up your sleeves and don a bib.
In addition to pulled pork, chicken, beef brisket, pork ribs and many tasty sides, Smokey Oak offers more than 45 craft beers. Combined with its laid-back attitude, Smokey Oak is the perfect dinner place for casual family gatherings.
There is never a bad time for a Charleston family vacation. You can save money — and a few headaches — by planning your trip to the Holy City in advance. This way, you can take advantage of deals and avoid tourist traps that can suck your vacation budget dry.
Ready to put your vacation plans into action? Book your Charleston family vacation today and get ready to start making lasting family memories!
With its world-class dining, resort spas, tranquil gardens and gorgeous beaches and sunsets, it’s easy to see why Charleston is a popular couple’s vacation spot. But who says that you need to be a tourist to plan a romantic getaway in Charleston? (more…)
It’s beach season and there is no doubt that each one of Charleston’s beaches has it’s own charm. I would say that all are worth a visit, and you can pick one that suites your mood! If you’re looking for surf and are feeling adventurous, Folly is for you. If you’re looking for a great beach to take the kids to, Isle of Palms is where you should be. Want to go kiteboarding? Head on over to Sullivan’s. Each week we will be featuring a different local beach, and this week it’s all about Isle of Palms! Read on to see some rules, guidelines, and what to expect at Charleston’s most family-friendly beach.
Out of all the beaches in Charleston, Isle of Palms offers the most family-friendly shores (and is my personal favorite!). Because this beach has a bucket of rules and a ton of tourists, there are a few things you should know before packing up the family and heading out for a day of fun in the sun. Isle of Palms beach doesn’t allow alcohol, glass bottles, bonfires, camping, fireworks, or, of course, littering. So if you’re a college kid looking for a party, this beach probably isn’t for you. Dogs are allowed on the Isle of Palms beach as long as they are kept on a leash at all times (even when they are in the water) except from 5 am to 8 am, making it able to get your morning walk with your pooch in.
Holes that your children may dig while making mystical castles must be filled in when they are done. This keeps baby sea turtles from getting stuck on their way to the water and grandma from falling in and breaking a hip. Isle of Palms safety officers and lifeguards also need to be able to get around on their beach carts without breaking an axel.
The beaches on Isle of Palms are open and windy, making this the perfect place for kitesurfing. There aren’t many surfers here, since the waves are pretty small. You will occasionally see surfers here, although usually beginners. If you do want to take a crack at surfing, make sure you stay 100 feet from swimmers and 200 feet from the pier if you don’t want a hefty fine.
If you’re looking for a beach with a lifeguard, head to the Isle of Palms County Park on 14th Street. You can park here for $5 and you will find restrooms, showers, picnic tables, ice cream, and chair and umbrella rentals (although I recommend you bring your own – it’s rather pricey). Make sure you pop into our dunes properties office right there on the corner and say hi!
There are plenty of things to do on Isle of Palms if laying in the sun and playing in the sand isn’t for you. Aside from kitesurfing, you could make your way to the back side of the Island where you will find the IOP Marina and you can rent wave runners, go parasailing, or go on a fishing charter. If you’re in need of any beach gear, pop in to Isle Surf Co.
For lunch, check out Windjammer, where you can eat, drink, listen to live music, and even sing a little. Banana Cabana has great seasonal food and a beachfront bar, and Coconut Joe’s offers Island-inspired dishes and a rooftop bar. If you’re looking for pizza, ice cream, or some cute shops to browse in, stroll around The Front Beach Area.
Overall, the Isle of Palms beach is a family-friendly, clean, pleasant beach where you don’t need to worry about alcohol, rowdiness, or parties. Get ready for a day full of relaxation or adventure, whatever you choose! If you decide that Isle of Palms beach isn’t for you, check out the blog post we did last week on Folly Beach and make sure you stay tuned, next week we are featuring Sullivan’s Island.
We welcomed so many fabulous additions to our vacation rental program last year. In case you missed them, all of these new properties offer a variety of options from 1 bedroom condos to a 6 bedroom house. Many of these are oceanfront or have ocean views, and are on Isle of Palms, Folly Beach, and in the Wild Dunes Resort.
Some of us cherish our vacation time and use our paid time off up to the last second. Others may be too busy at work to use all of their paid time off, or simply don’t have the desire to go on vacation. For those of you that leave a few hours on the table each year, you’re not alone. It turns out that over 40% of Americans who receive PTO don’t take advantage of it, according to a new study conducted by Oxford Economics for the U.S. Travel Association.
Did you know that among some of the benefits of taking your vacation time include higher productivity, stronger workplace moral, greater employee retention, and significant health benefits? Taking your vacation time is good for you! Get away for a little while and unwind with your families, relax on the beach, read a book, and stimulate the economy while you’re at it. In fact, take a look at the amount you would be contributing to the economy if you took time off work, or how significantly you could be harming the economy by squandering a portion of the paid time off:
- Americans left a total of $429 million in unused days last year, at an average of 3.2 PTO days
- The economy would benefit from more than $160 billion in total business sales if workers used all of their available PTO
- Spending the $160 billion available from this PTO would support 1.2 million jobs in industries ranging from retail to transportation
- Taking one additional day of PTO off each year would have a $73 billion impact on the economy
If you’re not already booking your flight and renting your vacation home, then you should consider it. Not only is it good for the economy, but it is of great value to you personally. Besides, what better way to gather your thoughts for your next big sales meeting or conference than by spending a few days sipping a delicious beverage on the beach? Call us 888.843.2322 to book a vacation rental today.
Atlantic hurricane season officially began on June 1 and runs through November 30. On June 5, the first storm of the year, Andrea, formed and eventually made her way from Florida right up the east coast. As far as the Charleston Coast, she left little more than some rainy days in her wake and actually was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone by June 7. Still, a storm forming so early in the season, combined with the over-zealous media coverage has people naturally discussing the “what ifs” of storms on the Charleston Coast.
It’s no secret that any Atlantic coastal community is at risk… even if it’s minimal risk. So, what do we think about buying, selling and living on the coast as it relates to these seasonal storms? Donnie Whitaker, an agent in our Isle of Palms Office, recently wrote a post on his blog about hurricanes and the Charleston Coast. Our President, Randy Walker, also took to our blog in 2008 to expound upon the subject, after one of those pesky (but uneventful) tropical storms passed over.
Summer is almost here, the weather has finally started cooperating again and we’re gearing up for lots of outdoor activities!
If you’ll be around the Johns Island/Kiawah/Seabrook areas come join us and stop by our Bohicket Marina office because we’ll be staying open later for you. Stop by and say hello!
by Traci Magnus
I can’t tell you how many locals have mentioned having fond memories of the Red and White Grocery Store just next to the IOP connector on Palm Boulevard. Of course, by now anyone who lives on or near the island knows that the Red and White is no more, and the days of “Newton Farms” are soon to begin.
Donnie Whitaker, a Realtor® in our Isle of Palms Office, has written a post dedicated to these upcoming changes on the Isle of Palms. Read “Farewell Red and White Grocery- See You Soon Newton Farms” from Donnie’s blog.
Finding the right property from a large selection of Folly Beach vacation rentals can be a time consuming task. If you’ve reached this post for help, you’ve likely invested hours into your research. Here are a few tips for making the search for your perfect vacation rental enjoyable and time efficient.
1. Pick 2 sets of preferred dates before starting. This will provide some flexibility on your options. It is important to note, June, July, and August are Charleston’s busiest beach months, so plan ahead. Also, they are the most expensive due to demand. If you are a flexible traveler, late March and early October are the best temperature months vs price to visit our coastal city.
2. Don’t get bogged down on exact size. This is the most common mistake as many believe larger properties are always more expensive. Although true in many cases, your price range is the real deciding factor.
3. Purpose. Why are you taking a vacation and choosing a vacation rental on the Folly Beach? Surprisingly, most exhausted “searchers” have forgotten what they really want. It is sun? Book time? Golf? Sightseeing? Watersports? Beach side beverages? Often it’s more than one but it’s important to stay focused. What do you really want to do and will the property you’ve selected help you achieve this long awaited ___________.
4. Assistance. The common belief is the internet is a “super deal making” machine. Although the web has changed the landscape of commerce, it’s become the norm, so try to stay focused on your purpose of renting rather than how much you are “saving”. Years ago, renting direct from a property owners could provide some steep discounts, but you may be surprised what price is being discounted. It’s hard to tell as each home is unique. Enlisting the help of a property management company saves many soon-to-be vacationers the hassle of endless web searching and emailing dozens of owners for “special deals” provided by an individual. Good property management companies will provide a few options which fit your needs, price, and group and can do so within a few minutes.
5. Relax and wait for your trip!
Ready to get started? Visit our vacation rentals search page for options to fit your needs.
By Wes Walker
There are many great cities in South Carolina and they all have their charms. However, it’s no surprise that when Redbook magazine did their feature on the “50 Best Dates in 50 States” they chose Charleston.
“Fans of low-country classics like shrimp and grits won’t be surprised to hear how good the food is in Charleston, but thanks to an influx of some big name chefs, it’s become a major foodie stomping grounds. Recently dubbed its Hottest Chef of 2013 by Eater, Chef Frank McMahon, of famous Hank’s Seafood, reveals where you can find him after hours: grabbing a slice of pie at Monza, beer in hand at Closed for Business, late night at Butcher & Bee, at the bar of McIntosh (“The Mac”) or the newly opened Rare Bit.”
Sure, there is a lot more to do than just eat out in Charleston, but if it’s a great date eventually it’ll run into lunch or dinner or after dinner drinks (and if we may be risquee, perhaps breakfast) and you’ll have to eat sometime, right?