Family Vacation: Charleston, South Carolina

When I first started this post, we had just returned from Charleston, SC. Now it's been a little while but I still wanted to share some highlights of our trip and places for family fun in the Charleston area, especially if you're traveling with toddlers!
A Charleston Family Vacation: Tips for visiting Charleston, SC with toddlers.

We have done quite a bit of traveling with the babies but this was only the second trip that was start to finish only our little family. We have also traveled with both our families and my very best friend. I like traveling with our families but it's also nice to have time with our own little family, especially removed from the endless at home to-do lists.

Hotel: Homewood Suites in Mount Pleasant
We opted to stay at the Homewood Suites in Mount Pleasant which was about a 15 minute drive to downtown Charleston and a 5 minute drive to the beach in Isle of Palms. It was right in the middle of Mount Pleasant and walking distance to a lot of shops and restaurants. We wanted to be an easy drive to downtown Charleston, close to the beach, and to have a suite. A one bedroom suite gives us a separate sleeping space for naps and early bedtime and in this case, also a full kitchen to prep meals for the babies.

The Homewood Suites was clean and the staff was very nice and helpful. The head of housekeeping would stop us in the halls to ask if we needed anything whenever she saw us and made sure our room was cleaned when we headed out in the morning becaue she knew the babies would nap in the afternoon. Overall, we were happy with the location and the hotel. 

Beach: Isle of Palms
The Isle of Palms was our favorite beach spot. We also visited Folly Beach and Sullivan's Island but IOP was just a 5 minute drive from our hotel and we loved it enough to go every day. I wasn’t sure how well the babies would do with the sand but they absolutely loved the whole experience.
A family vacation in Charleston, SC with toddlers.
They picked up shells, played in the sand, splashed in the tidal pools when the tide was out.
A family vacation in Charleston, SC with toddlers.The beach at the Isle of Palms County Park is really family friendly and has bathrooms, changing rooms, and showers for rinsing off. There is also a playground but it was a little big for toddlers so we didn't try it. A random beachy #toddlermomhack for you: buy some of the $1 buckets in the Target Dollar Spot for toddler shell collecting. They were the perfect size for our little guys to carry around, barely took up space in our beach bag, and are really durable. The babies spent a really long time putting rocks and shells in their buckets and then dumping them out. 

A family vacation in Charleston, SC with toddlers.

Playgrounds
We mixed up our days by visiting a few playgrounds in the mornings and hitting the beach after naps. We headed to the playground at Alhambra Park in Old Mount Pleasant on our first full day. This playground has nice smaller structures, swings for littles, and a pirate ship-themed bigger structure that my kids were still able to use. The slide was a little big but there weren’t any areas to fall off. 
A family vacation in Charleston, SC with toddlers.

The Big Toy Park at Palmetto Islands County Park was AMAZING and I would highly recommend it if you’re in the area. We just spent time at the playground but I would have loved to explore the whole park where there are a lot of waterways, paths, and spaces to explore. The playground has a lot of different sized structures, rubber ground, and a lot of different types of playground equipment like seesaws, spinning seats, a rope climber, and much more! The park costs $2 per person to get in (kids under 3 were free) but it was well worth it.
A family vacation in Charleston, SC with toddlers.

We also visited East Bay Playground in Downtown Charleston. Across the street from Rainbow Row and just a short walk from Waterfront Park, it was a great place to take a break while exploring the city. The structures weren’t super toddler-friendly but we managed. There was also a baseball field was a great spot to run around and burn off some energy.

Museums
The Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry was one of my favorite spots we visited. We have a big, beautiful, very busy children’s museum in Boston and this was nothing like that. It was wonderful in a small, charming, and creative way and provided a lot of opportunities for imaginative play. I heard the staff talking about different families in a manner that showed they actually knew their patrons and the kids who visited, which I really liked.
A family vacation in Charleston, SC with toddlers.There were 7 different themed rooms. We played in the baby and toddler room which was full of fun stuff for my kids to climb on and play with.
A family vacation in Charleston, SC with toddlers.
We also explored the water room with all different types of water play. There was also an arts and crafts room, pirate ship, castle themed room, and more. We found a buy one get one free adult coupon in one of the local guide books which was a great deal!
A family vacation in Charleston, SC with toddlers.

Food
We ended up eating a lot of dinners at our hotel because it was just easier with our bedtime routine. The hotel suite had a full kitchen so I often made the babies dinner and we got take out for ourselves after they went to bed. We still ate out quite a few times and got to try a lot of delicous food.

The Refuge in Isle of Palms was hands down my favorite meal. It is a little pricey and I was worried it was a smidge too nice to bring two toddlers but they made us feel so welcome. Breakfast was delicious and I can't wait to go back on a future visit.

Other restaurants we tried and loved were Poogan's Smokehouse in downtown Charleston for barbeque and Page's Okra Grill in Mount Pleasant for traditional southern food, and The Tattooed Moose downtown for delicious sandwiches, and Crave, also in Mount Pleasant, which is famous for their mac and cheese.

Another memorable meal was lunch at the Charleston Farmers Market in Marion Square in downtown Charleston. There were tons of food options and we had delicious barbeque on top of cheesy grits. It was so good! The farmers market was super family-friendly and we had a great time hanging out, looking at all the booths, and eating! Charleston has so many delicous looking restaurants and I'm sad we didn't get to try more.
A family vacation in Charleston, SC with toddlers.

Family Photos
I randomly decided I wanted to get family pictures taken while we were on vacation to remember our trip. I found Melissa Miley Photography on Yelp and after talking with her, we booked an hour long family session for one evening of our trip. Melissa is amazing! She helped us choose a location that has a classic Charleston feel, Washington Square Park, she checked in with me multiple times before our session to answer questions, and she made us all feel at ease. I absolutely love all the pictures she took. We will definitely book another session with her when we are down there again.
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We had an amazing time visiting Charleston! There are a lot of fun, family-friendly things to do, gorgeous beaches, yummy food, and we can't wait to go back.

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