It’s not often families have a weekend free of soccer games, swim meets, homework or birthday parties. Those rare occasions when the calendar is clear are the perfect times to load up the family and go exploring in your own backyard.
Whether your family loves to learn about history, discover the creatures that live in the ocean or spend time in nature, Charleston has something to satisfy even the most discerning family members.
1. Take a ferry to Fort Sumter
If you haven’t been out in the Charleston harbor in a while, book a tour to Fort Sumter. On the boat ride, see places of interest from an entirely new vantage point (so this is what James Island looks like from the water!) For the younger family members studying Civil War history, touring the spot where the war started is so much more interesting than reading about it in a textbook.
2. Get up close and personal with sea creatures
At the South Carolina Aquarium, learn how everyone can protect the thousands of animals that live in our nearby ocean. Come face-to-face with sick and injured sea turtles in rehabilitation at the aquarium’s newest addition, Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery. Follow the journey of rescued turtles from rehab to release. Little ones will love the touch tanks for a truly hands-on experience with stingrays, sharks, horseshoe crabs, sea stars and urchins.
3. Explore real Southern plantations
Don’t presume the plantations are just for visitors. Locals can learn about life on the plantation at Middleton Place where craftspeople, including a blacksmith, potter, carpenter and weaver, recreate the activities of a self-sustaining Lowcountry plantation.
At Boone Hall Plantation, take in the beautiful entrance of the Avenue of Oaks – a spectacular reminder of why we love living in the Lowcountry. Then, visit the Black History In America exhibit with its nine original slave cabins – a meaningful way to launch a family discussion about slavery and the contributions of African Americans and Gullah culture to Charleston and American history.
With 60 acres of gardens, Magnolia Plantation & Gardens is a must-visit spot any time of the year. Tour the pre-Revolutionary War plantation house for a look at life before iPads and Netflix – your kids will be amazed.
4. Learn about the history of firefighting
Affordable and interactive, the North Charleston and American LaFrance Fire Museum and Educational Center is a great spot for families. Glimpse into the life of a firefighter and see how firefighting has changed through time. This museum has a collection of antique fire apparatus, a fireman’s pole for kids to try and theater presentations.
5. See amazing birds take flight
Go wild and plan a Saturday visit to the Center for Birds of Prey in Awendaw. Located right off Highway 17 North not far from Mount Pleasant, this center provides medical treatment and a home for injured birds. Tour the facility and be sure to catch a flight demonstration to learn about the winged creatures that live in the treetops above us.
The next time you have a free and clear weekend, there’s no need to pack suitcases and endure a long car ride to theme parks and attractions. You’ll find plenty of family friendly activities right here at home in Charleston.
To discover more of the amazing sights and experiences Charleston has to offer locals, visit the Home, Historic Home website at chslocals.com.