Vacation can be much more than a trip to the beach. Pull out your cameras as the whole family zips through a forest tree canopy, spots dolphins in Charleston Harbor, reels in a big one, stands nose-to-nose with sea turtles or soars 600 feet over the Atlantic. There is so much to do – the hardest part will be choosing which photo to frame first!
The entire family will stare wide-eyed, standing in front of the 385,000-gallon, two-story tank at the South Carolina Aquarium. Open your children’s minds and learn new things yourself as you wonder at the 5,000 animals on display or hold horseshoe crabs, sea urchins and stingrays at the touch tank. The new Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery is a state-of-the-art turtle hospital and guest experience in one, with interactive displays about sea turtles and the effort required to help and rehabilitate them.
It’s not just a place to find the freshest fruits, vegetables, meats and herbs, the Mt. Pleasant Farmers Market is one of the most popular destinations for local families! Kid-friendly local musicians encourage dancing and sing-alongs, and there are crafts, balloons and other great activities. Pick up some artisan cheese, specialty coffee or delicious prepared food to bring back to the beach house, as the little ones enjoy popcorn, a funnel cake or a smoothie.
Fly through the trees at Charleston Zip Line Adventures. With seven zip lines, three swinging bridges and a grande finale, 750-foot zip, children age 10 and over will have serious bragging rights when they get home! Younger kids, ages 5-10, enjoy their own zip adventure, with two zip circuits they can stay on as long as they want for 90 minutes. Coming back down to earth is not going to be easy!
I ONCE CAUGHT A FISH
There is still something magical about taking children fishing. Great charter options near Isle of Palms make the happy memories from your own childhood available to your kids today.
Even if your family’s experience “fishing” has been limited to picking lobsters from the grocery store tank, Captain Fritz at Adventure Outdoors can have you up and running in no time. A lifelong Lowcountry resident with more than 34 years of experience fishing, Fritz knows how to find the fish! He personalizes each tour to create a lasting memory for your family. Reel in redfish, a variety of sharks, trout and more aboard the 24-foot Pathfinder bay boat that has cushioned seating and a top for welcome sun protection.
At the Isle of Palms Marina, families can charter an inshore boat to catch redfish, flounder, sharks and mackerel, or take up to six family members for a full-day excursion offshore to nab a tuna or a giant blue marlin! Fishing equipment, licenses and an experienced captain are included, so all you need to bring are the kids, some sunscreen and a camera. You never know when you might need photographic evidence to back up your “fish story”!
Beach days are fun, but for a memorable family outing that brings smiles for years to come, head out for an exciting day of fishing with Captain Ben Floyd of Charleston Fish Finder. Captain Ben has been running his Lowcountry charter for 14 years, so make sure someone’s holding the camera as little ones reel in their first fish or the whole family helps mom pull in the big one. Now that’s frame worthy!
The experienced, friendly guides at Barrier Island Eco Tours take special care that every child on their fishing charters has a great experience, and they love to see first-timers get hooked – on fishing, that is! Take the entire family on a private charter or hop on a regularly scheduled per-person head boat trip. All licensing and equipment are included, so just bring the kids and be prepared to have a blast.
NATURE THE LOWCOUNTRY WAY
To get up close and personal with some of Charleston Harbor’s coolest wild inhabitants, Sandlapper Water Tours offers a Nature Tour that is sure to make an unforgettable childhood memory. Board their 45-foot catamaran, the Palmetto, to see dolphins, great blue herons, cormorants and brown pelicans. Before heading into the mouth of the harbor, a guide pulls up a crab pot and discusses the live animals found inside before they are added to the on-board touch tank. The boat lands on Morris Island, so kids get a chance to explore and discover shells and live animals rarely found on inhabited beaches. Imaginations will run wild when your family shares a meal on an uninhabited island. Sandlapper can make it happen!
Coastal Expeditions offers unique tours that immerse your family in the splendor of Lowcountry nature. Imagine the look on your child’s face when they see a dolphin breach beside their kayak or find a fossilized shark tooth on the beach. Watch in excitement as pelicans impact-feed on a Shem Creek kayak tour. The naturalist-led Bulls Island Ferry tour promises a day of dolphin spotting, sunbathing alligators and hiking to the famous Boneyard Beach. If you feel comfortable on the water without a guide, rent kayaks and paddleboards for an afternoon of self-guided discovery.