It's hot. Your kids are bored. They need a distraction ASAP. What's a fam to do? Get those tots in the car and head on over to these 7 amazing-yet often overlooked-attractions.
Put down the screens and get in touch with some real nature on Bulls Island. After packing a backpack with plenty of snacks, sunscreen, bug spray, and water, jump on the ferry to this natural wonder. Once on shore you can walk Boneyard Beach, hike a 17-mile trail, and picnic at the storm shelter. There's an eco tour as well where you're likely to see dolphins, Black Skimmers, and possibly an alligator or two. The ferry leaves at 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. daily and is $40 for adults, $20 for children 12 and under, and free for kids two and under.
Old Sheldon Church Ruins
Spark some curiosity in your kids with a visit to the Old Sheldon Church Ruins on Savannah Highway. As the story goes, the English Georgian style chapel was burned twice — first by the British in 1779 and then during the Civil War in 1865 when General William Tecumseh Sherman marched to the sea. Incredibly, much of the brick frame remains and the mysterious looking space has even been used for weddings in recent years. It's a surprising find off the highway that's sure to make for some road trip conversation on the way home.
Oyotunji African Village
A little further down the highway from Sheldon Church, you'll find one of South Carolina's most unique communities — Oyotunji African Village. The community was started in the 1970s as a reaction to a "cultural amnesia affecting African Americans." Or at least that's according to village elder His Royal Highness Oba Efuntola Oseijeman Adelabu Adefunmi who founded the place. Today Oyotunji is home to a handful of people who give tours, practice the Yoruba religion, and sell handmade goods.
Take a boat trip back in time on the tall ship Schooner Pride. Passengers are welcome to raise and trim the sails with the crew or just sit back and chill. You can bring your own picnic on board but all drinks must be purchased. And that's actually a bonus for weary parents. Grab a beer, find a bow seat, and watch your children be blown away by the beauty of Charleston Harbor.
James Island Splash Pad
Now I know we have our fair share of water playgrounds in the greater Lowcountry. Charleston County Parks and Rec has made sure of that. But an overlooked little spot sits on James Island County Park and if you have tiny tots, you need to know about it. Directly across from the Park's sprawling playground is the James Island County Park splash pad and it's a toddler wonderland. Pop your pup into a swim diaper and let them play in this baby oasis. They'll have so much fun they'll snooze all the way home.
Ferry to Fort Sumter
OK, we know, this suggestion sounds like the most touristy of tourist activities to do. But if your last visit was a class field trip in 1984, perhaps it's time you revisited one of Charleston's most famous historical sites. A quick ferry ride to Fort Sumter will keep the kids occupied as they attempt to spot porpoises and seagulls. And once on shore, you can either take a guided tour or walk the fort at your own pace. Don't forget to climb to the top of the building for a view of the entire Charleston Harbor and a quick game of "Can you spot the Lighthouse at Folly?"
Barn Jam at Awendaw Green
It's not easy being a parent when all you want to do is be around other adults and have a drink like a grownup while simultaneously keeping your eyes on the kids. Look no further than Awendaw Green's Barn Jams. There are toys everywhere, live music playing, and often hot eats to be had. Take a look at their evolving summer schedule for the upcoming acts on the docket.