Charleston, South Carolina
Sanctuary at Kiawah Island
Market Pavilion Hotel
What makes a small city on South Carolina’s coast one of America’s top destinations for a luxury family holiday? Most think it is the thick air of history (think American Revolution and the birthplace of America’s Civil War,) or the natural Southern charm that permeates every cobblestone street, palmetto tree and magnolia blossom. While one will certainly be enraptured by its famed history and gentility, Charleston is most notable for its world class cuisine and accommodations, its innumerable attractions, beaches, arts scene, shopping and ongoing special events – all nestled in a dreamy little southern town that will surprise you with its sophistication.
Sanctuary at Kiawah Island
The area’s premier luxury beach resort, Sanctuary at Kiawah Island, is a short and charming drive from the city.
Sanctuary at Kiawah Island is a famed resort, a short distance from downtown Charleston. Whether you decide to spend every night here, or just bookend your stay, don’t pass up the opportunity to see the beaches, nature and charm that rests just outside of the city. Caution – you’ll want to buy a second home here...Baby-friendly / Family-friendly Spa / Pre-Teen friendly / See this Hotel & Book »
Market Pavilion Hotel
Large and gorgeous, the Market Pavilion Hotel has a boutique feel and exceptionally attentive staff.
You will be greeted with uniformed door men and smiles that will never cease from the service staff at Market Pavilion Hotel. Traditional Lowcountry artwork adorns walls, set against Italian marble throughout the lobby of this welcoming hotel. The rooms are appointed like modern, yet very highbrow Charleston homes,...Baby-friendly / Pre-Teen friendly / Summer Sun / See this Hotel & Book »
Charleston Place Hotel
Old world meets modern style at this larger than life landmark, Charleston Place Hotel.
Meet one of Charleston’s most famed hotels. Though it is the largest hotel in Charleston, you will suffer no lack of attention at Charleston Place Hotel. It is like stepping back into the old glamour of the south, with staff at your fingertips to accommodate your every wish. Stay on the eighth floor concierge level...Baby-friendly / Family-friendly Spa / Pre-Teen friendly / See this Hotel & Book »
Wentworth Mansion is breathtaking and transports you back in time, yet spares no modern luxury.
You might not make it past the grand entry hall of this 1886 mansion without your jaw dropping. Dripping with luxury from the old south, this Five Diamond hotel also has such a warm welcome that you and the kids will want to plant yourself in the parlor just to enjoy the cozy furniture and chat with the charming...Baby-friendly / Family-friendly Spa / Pre-Teen friendly / See this Hotel & Book »
186 Concord Street, Charleston
It’s the location of Fleet Landing that will attract your family. Charleston’s restaurants are so numerous that you must be extremely discerning. But more than just the food, the local restaurants each offer a unique atmosphere. Fleet Landing is one of the most unique. Located in a retired 1940’s era United States Naval building, it is perched on the edge of the harbour like an old sailor waiting for the next vessel to approach. The interior has a fun maritime feel, without losing its designer flare. Both you and the children will enjoy Charleston’s fresh, local seafood, with beautiful waterfront views from every table. Especially fun for the kids is the outdoor seating, where quite a few dolphins are known to make appearances.
207 Rutledge Avenue, Charleston
If you want to feel like a local, Hominy Grill is your place. The award winning chef uses historic Charleston culture to design his dishes. The kids will have a large selection from which to choose, and will enjoy coloring before the meal with complimentary crayons. Charleston’s most famous dish, Lowcountry Shrimp and Grits, comes in its most perfect form at this unassuming eatery. In nice weather, the outside patio offers a wonderful setting. Breakfast and Sunday brunch are especially popular.
10 Hayne Street, Charleston
When you visit a coastal city, it is a necessary rite of passage to enjoy fresh, local seafood. Hank’s is Charleston’s premier seafood restaurant, located in a remodeled turn-of-the-century warehouse. The atmosphere is anything but warehouse, though. It is a cozy, upscale place that soothes right when you walk in (think warming mahogany and leather). For your family, ask for one of the circular banquette tables.
76 Queen Street, Charleston
From the outside, it is a traditional Charleston home, with double piazzas and a quaint courtyard. On the inside, it is a cutting edge institution that has perfected the art of marrying heirloom ingredients with southern cuisine. Many of the ingredients are grown in the restaurant’s garden, while everything else is sourced from either local or close by regional farms. The menu is tantalizing, chic and ever evolving according to season. Families will love the outdoor seating on the upper porch, overlooking the courtyard.
Charleston's historic district
Exploring the charming historic district is a must and can certainly be done with children. There are numerous walking tours (even pirate and ghost tours) and horse drawn carriage tours that offer a good historic background.
The Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry
Downtown Charleston also offers The Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry, which is less of a museum and more of an interactive play venue. It even has a baby room where the youngest can play safely.
There are many plantations around Charleston that are very family-friendly, including Magnolia Plantation and Middleton Plantation that have activities for kids.
Shopping in Charleston
Shopping is plentiful, but the most popular location is the Historic Market, which is an outdoor market with unique Charleston wares. Though the kids will love it, watch them well because it is extremely crowded and not very pram friendly. You may prefer shopping on King Street.
Fort Sumter, Charleston Harbour
A boat ride out to Fort Sumter in the Charleston Harbour is a must with the kids. It will educate the older children on the history of America’s Civil War (the first shots of which were fired at Fort Sumter,) and it includes a safe and fun one-hour round-trip boat ride through the Harbour.
While in Charleston, your family must visit the beach. Sullivan’s Island is the most family-friendly, with easy access and parking, as well as wonderful child-friendly restaurants off the sand and a lovely park and playground just two blocks from the shorefront.
Taxis are extremely hard to come by without calling in advance, and are somewhat pricey. The best bet with a family is to rent a car at the airport so you can make your way around on your own schedule and enjoy day trips off the peninsula with ease. If you do find yourself in need of a taxi, have a concierge call in advance.
You will find friendly people on every street corner in Charleston, but it is rare to find a native. Do your planning in advance with your concierge
As with any historic city, some streets and buildings can be tricky with prams. Ask in advance if a historic attraction is pram-friendly. Most places have wheelchair access that work well for prams, however.
There are two hospitals: the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Hospital (171 Ashley Avenue, 001 843 792 1414) and Roper St. Francis Hospital (316 Calhoun Street, 001 843 724-2000) right on the peninsula. These are your best bets in case of an emergency, though there are numerous emergency care facilities like Nason Medical Centers (nasonmedical.com) and Healthfirst (healthfirstcares.com), which have multiple locations, take walk-ins and are better for a non-emergency sickness. They are privately owned, clean, and have excellent medical staff.
When to go
Charleston’s weather is extremely temperate, except for the stifling humidity and heat in July and August. The best seasons are the spring (March-May) and the fall (September-October,) with glorious weather and special events almost every day. The beauty of Charleston’s gardens and plantations are unmatched in the spring. Note that the prices peak in these months as well, though. If summer is best for you, June is the month to beat the heat. If you can’t make take your holiday until later in the summer, the numerous beaches offer a wonderful respite from the heat.