10 Free Outings Around Charleston That Are Perfect for Families


*This article was originally published in September 2017. 

We have lived in the Charleston area for a little over ten years now and have loved exploring the city. There is so much to do. However, having three children, we love when we can find free outings for our family. While there are surely more to add to this list, these are our top ten favorite free outings.

Our Top 10 Favorite Free Outings Around Charleston

  1. Parks

There are countless parks around Charleston. Instead of heading to the same park, we like to mix it up. There are lots of great parks in Summerville that are perfect to meet up with friends for a playdate. If you are in the downtown Charleston area, The Battery and Waterfront Park with the Pineapple are perfect to explore. The fountains at Waterfront Park are perfect for a hot day. My kids love to head to Mt Pleasant Waterfront Park and play on the playground and walk the pier. Another favorite of ours is Hampton Park, near the Citadel. It has beautiful flowers and is a prime spot for family pictures and walking around.

2. Morris Island Lighthouse

If you want to explore a beautiful beach, head to Morris Island Lighthouse for a morning or evening walk. Keep in mind that there is limited parking near the lighthouse trail. The trail is not too long and then you will reach sand where you walk up a slight incline over to the beach. We love looking at the shells and walking along the water.

3. The Markets

No matter what part of Charleston you live in, there is probably a farmer’s market near you. Many neighborhoods now even have markets set up. We love the Summerville or downtown Charleston farmer’s markets on Saturday mornings. You can even walk the historic market on Market Street.

4. Beaches

The good thing about living in Charleston is that you have an extended beach season. Even when it may not be swimming weather, it is fun to go and play at the beach. Sullivan’s Island is our favorite beach because of the free parking and the little tide pools that form. However, keep in mind that there is not a restroom. If you want to have restroom access, Folly Beach and Isle of Palms County Park may be a better option, but you will have to pay for parking. Bring some sand toys and pack a lunch to make an afternoon event of it. Your kids will love running around the beach and exploring.

5. Mace Brown Museum of Natural History

We love exploring museums and this one is actually free! It is home to 3,000 fossil specimens, including dinosaurs, cave bears, Pleistocene mammals of the Carolinas, fossil plants, and more. It is open daily (except Wednesdays) from 11-4. Geology students work at the museum and can give guided tours. This is the perfect outing for a family who has dinosaur fans in it!

6. Angel Oak Tree

One of the most amazing sites that we have seen since moving here is the Angel Oak Tree. There is nothing quite like this tree! It is the perfect place to stop and admire the view. Your kids will be amazed. There is a little gift shop on-site, but other than that, nothing else. My one warning is that if you have adventurous children, remind them that this is not a climbing tree.

7. Charleston Tea Plantation

While you are over looking at the Angel Oak Tree, you should also head to the tea plantation as well. We love visiting the tea plantation as it is a great outing for the whole family. There is free tea to be sampled and a complimentary tour. Our kids loved running around the outside and sitting on the front porch in the rocking chairs. If you want to have more of a tour and don’t mind paying a little, you can take a Trolley Tour through the farm.

8. Pitt Street Bridge

If you want a family outing in the evening, this is the perfect location. It is a beautiful short walk with an incredible view of Charleston. If you love seeing birds and walking near the water, your family will enjoy this spot. There are plenty of benches along the way and nice grassy spots for a blanket.

9. Library

Our local library is one of our favorite spots to head to. We love stocking up on new books and movies to check out. If you do not have a library card, just head to your local library to set it up. When you are at the library, ask about any upcoming storytimes or activities for kids.

10. The Red Barn

While the carriage rides do cost money, you can visit the Red Barn at Palmetto Carriage Works for no cost. Kids love seeing the horses, mules, and other animals. We love stopping by the barn and then heading for a walk through the Market. The carriage rides are always a lot of fun!

Are you ready to plan an outing for your family? Make a bucket list of these outings and have fun exploring the city!

Do you have any places that you would add to the list? We would love to hear what they are!