The Best Kid-Friendly Activities
Your vacation can be much more than a trip to the beach. Pull out your cameras as the whole family soars 500 feet over the Atlantic, explores winding creeks in an air boat, zooms down lightning-fast water slides, competes for family mini-golf champion, explores a local museum or wanders through the beauty of a giant garden filled with art. And there is nothing like the smile on a child who just spotted a dolphin in the water for the first time. The hardest part will be choosing which photo to frame first!
NATURE – LOWCOUNTRY STYLE
No resort beach can match the raw beauty of the Carolina Coast. The Sea Shell and Lighthouse Cruise will show your family the area as it looked before development. Enjoy this three-hour tour along the marshes and river to uninhabited North Island. On the way, you might glimpse sea turtles in the water or even an alligator resting on the nearby shore! Once on the island, disembark to explore the quiet, pristine beach. Starfish, horseshoe crabs and whelks abound, and the tours are scheduled at the best time to find these treasures.
How about a 9,127-acre playground? Brookgreen Gardens is a unique combination of breathtaking gardens, open spaces and beautiful outdoor sculptures. The kids can run around and be exposed to culture at the same time without even realizing it! The whole family will be fascinated by art and history exhibits, educational programs for all ages, concerts, festivals and the native animal collection at the Lowcountry Zoo. Wander down trails on your own or take a tour via an overland vehicle or a 46-foot pontoon boat that travels along historic rice fields, now home to alligators, ospreys and waterfowl.
Get up close and personal with some of the ocean’s smartest, friendliest natives at Express Watersports’ Ocean Sightseeing and Dolphin Watch Cruise. Head out to open water on a comfortable 46-foot vessel complete with a top deck and full bathroom. Kids of all ages will gasp in delight as expert guides help them spot dolphins and, perhaps, a sea turtle!
Hop aboard Plantation River Tour’s Waccamaw Cooter, the area’s only airboat, for a ride your family will never forget! Airboats are able to access back waters that most boats can’t travel through, allowing you and the kids (age 5 and up) to get an up-close look at the Lowcountry’s amazing wildlife. Cruise right next to alligators, egrets and ospreys!
STEP BACK IN TIME
In addition to the relaxing fun of the beach, the Pawleys Island area offers a rich history that the whole family will enjoy exploring.
The majestic Kaminski House Museum, built around 1769, provides fascinating insights into antebellum history and life in early Georgetown. Enjoy the entire historic Front Street area of Georgetown while you are there, which has many shops and great restaurants.
At Georgetown County’s Museum of History and Rice Culture, take a guided tour through the Old Market and Kaminski Hardware buildings, both dating from 1842, and learn about the story of rice culture in Georgetown County. Maps, colorful dioramas, artifacts and other exhibits all help to engage the minds of little historians. The tour continues to the Maritime History Museum, home of the “Browns Ferry Vessel,” the oldest vessel of colonial manufacture in the United States and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Native Americans, George Washington, patriots, plantation workers, Churchill and Wall Street millionaires have all walked in the places seen on a tour of Hobcaw Barony. Kids will love the Discovery Center at the entrance to the property that has exhibits about Hobcaw and the people who have lived there. And tours that access the 16,000-acre property bring history alive by putting little minds and feet right where it happened. See Hobcaw House and seven miles of the original Kings Highway.
Opened in 1932 as America’s first public sculpture gardens, Brookgreen Gardens is one of the top attractions in the Southeast. The family can walk, ride or cruise on tours that focus on the nature and history of the property. On the walking tour, guides discuss the story of the prominent Alston family that lived here in colonial and antebellum eras, and stops are made at the Alston family cemetery and the grounds of a slave village. The riding tour highlights an avenue of live oaks, a Civil War earthen fort site and a historic rice mill chimney. Pile the little ones on a pontoon boat to cruise the creeks and see the distinctive landscape of the many rice plantations that once made up Brookgreen.
Every child loves a tram ride! Join Swamp Fox Tours for an adventure that makes 300 years of local history come alive. Enjoy Southern hospitality at its best as you ride by homes, public buildings and many other points of interest. Visit inside one of the historic churches – where they may even tell a ghost story or two! Or take a walking tour, where you’ll stroll at your leisure with a guide.
Climb aboard the comfortable, spacious Waccamaw Lady for a different view of rice plantation life. Plantation River Tours takes your family along winding waterways that pass by historic rice plantations, plantation houses, slave cabins and trunk gates. The shaded pontoon boat has restrooms and comfortable seating. Tour guides are local historians adept at getting children excited about the area’s legendary past. Even if your kids claim not to be interested in history, they can’t help being enthralled with the wildlife! Alligators, eagles and ospreys are common sights.
I ONCE CAUGHT A FISH
What can be better than boating, fresh air and the possibility of catching dinner? A family fishing trip always becomes a happy memory. It also builds confidence in children and helps them develop a respect for the environment.
If any place knows about fishing in the Pawleys area, it’s Pawleys Island Outdoors. They offer all the gear you will need, as well as a variety of individual or group fishing instruction classes. When the family is ready to head out on its own, Pawley’s Island Outdoors offers johnboat rentals from one day to a full week.
Georgetown Charters offers inshore, near shore, offshore, jetty and flats fishing charters for families of all sizes. Captain Matt Wilkinson has the knowledge and equipment to find the best spots possible and 38 years of experience guiding sportsmen young and old. Imagine the proud smile on your child’s face when she catches a fish! All you have to do is bring a cooler and write your own family fish story.
EMBRACE YOUR INNER CHILD
Just because you are a grown-up most of the year doesn’t mean your inner child can’t enjoy your vacation!
Let loose at Wild Water and Wheels, which features acres of adventure and a full day of family fun. If you feel like making a splash, check out an amazing variety of water slides, including two tube slides, four adrenaline-pumping speed slides and three mat slides. There are also activities without height requirements, including a kiddie pool and two mini water-parks. For kids who want to stay dry, there is a comprehensive go-kart facility and several kiddie rides for ages 3-9. Last but not least, the whole family will love an afternoon spent on the mini golf course, cheering each other on through rounds of obstacles and excitement.
Broadway Grand Prix is the ultimate family attraction! Race to victory on seven go-kart tracks, touch the sky with 100 feet of fly away thrills on the Sky Coaster, climb to the top of the rock wall, become a legend on the two mini golf courses or get the highest score in the Grand Prix arcade. There’s plenty of fun for all ages!
Wherever you are on the Grand Strand, you are never far away from Myrtle Waves. South Carolina’s largest water park will cool you down with 24 slides and attractions, including Turbo Twisters featured by the Travel Channel as one of 11 wild water park attractions you need to visit. Relax by the wave pool, rent a private cabana and splash on exciting rides, including the Rockin Ray, Arooba Tooba and Riptide Rockets. Kids will love Saturation Station and Bubble Bay.
Family bike rides make great vacation memories. Rent some bikes from Cyclopedia in Litchfield and have a family race on the beach or pack a picnic and explore one of the local bike trails. Delivery and pick-up are available. Bikes are also a great way to get around the islands!
FUN ON THE WATER
Pawley’s Island Beach Service will equip the entire family with kayak, canoe and paddleboard rentals – an adventure waiting for every day of the week! They also rent safe, easy-to-ride beach cruiser bicycles in sizes for every member of the family, so you can all explore the island with the wind in your hair. And stop by the retail store for beach games and toys that will keep kids active and spark young imaginations!
When your kids have to write next fall’s “summer vacation” essay, they can honestly claim they swam with the fishes and learned to fly. Express Watersports has an extensive menu of the best ways to catch some waves (or some air!). Join skilled captains on a parasailing excursion and see the stunning Atlantic Ocean up to 500 feet in the air. Or show your children a different view of the sea! Scuba lessons are offered by expert teachers to adults and children age 8 and older. The Express Banana Boat lives up to its name – a giant, inflatable banana pulled by a super-fast jet ski; it’s the perfect family activity for a hot summer day! Jet skis, paddleboards and kayaks are also available for rent.