Free (or Cheap) Things to Do With Kids around Charleston

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Scenario: It’s Saturday morning and the kids are itching to get out of the house. It’s raining, it’s hot, or maybe it’s perfect outside, but you’ve exhausted your list of activity ideas and you don’t want to break the bank. Eeeek! Don’t worry, your fellow Lowcountry mamas have all been there, and we’ve got you covered. Check out our list of free or cheap things to do around town!

Ride the Water Taxi

This is a really fun and inexpensive way to get out on the water with great views of the Ravenel Bridge. Maybe you’ll even spot a dolphin or two! The water taxi departs hourly from four locations; Charleston Waterfront Park, Maritime Center at Aquarium Wharf, Patriots Point, and Charleston Harbor Resort.

When: Daily, check the website for departure times and to purchase tickets

Cost: $12 per person gets you an all-day pass. Children 3 and under are free

North Charleston Fire Museum

Visit the fire museum for a glimpse into the life of a firefighter! There are lots of interactive displays and hands-on equipment that the kids will love.

When: Monday – Saturday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday: 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Cost: $6 per adult, children 12 and under are free. 

Spend some time at the Historic Charleston City Market

It is always fun to be around the buzz of the city market. Peruse locally made goods, grab a snack, and meet some local vendors!

Cost: Free

When: Daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a seasonal night market

Terrace Theatre

Beat the rainy weekend with a visit to the movies!

Cost: $8 per person before 3 p.m.

When: Open daily

Charleston County Parks

There are plenty of county parks & facilities to choose from! Take the kiddos to the playground at James Island County Park, the Caw Caw Interpretive Center, or for a walk on Folly Beach Pier. Check out the county parks website for a full list of parks with locations, hours, and admission fees.

When: Open daily

Cost: Inexpensive, and varies by park. Annual membership is only $70 for Charleston County residents ($85 for non-residents, which allows admission for up to 15 people per car.

Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry 

This is the perfect place to go when the weather conditions aren’t great for being outside. The kids will love playing, exploring, and making new friends (all while learning a thing or two)! 

When: Tuesday-Saturday hours vary. Closed Mondays.

Cost: $10 per person for SC residents ($12 per person for out of state residents). Children under 12 months old are free. Annual membership is $95 per family.

Walk the Ravenel Bridge

Perfect for a sightseeing walk with the kids or getting some exercise in while pushing the stroller! Free parking is available next to Mount Pleasant Waterfront Park, 99 Harry M. Hallman Jr. Blvd in Mount Pleasant.

When: Daily

Cost: Free

Storytime at your local branch of Charleston County Public Library

When: Dates & times vary

Cost: Free

Waterfront Park

Plenty of space for the kids to run around in the grassy areas, swing on the benches, and splash in the fountains.

1 Vendue Range, Charleston

When: Daily

Cost: Free

Tot N Trot Toddler Time at Bees Landing Recreation Center (West Ashley)

When: Every Tuesday & Thursday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Cost: $2 per child

All children must be supervised.

Take a stroll around Shem Creek Park

Shem Creek offers 2,200 feet of boardwalk to roam with gorgeous marsh views. You can fish off the side of the boardwalk, make friends with pelicans, and catch some amazing sunsets here.

Shrimp Boat Ln, Mount Pleasant

When: Daily, 5 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Cost: Free 

Check out a new playground

There are so many playgrounds around the Lowcountry. Not sure where to find them? Check out our Guide to the Best Local Playgrounds.

Mellow & Play Café

The mission behind Mellow & Play Café is “to provide an environment for parents to relax, build relationships, or work. We make this possible by providing an atmosphere for children 0-8 years old to enjoy enrichment activities for creative and physical growth.” Sounds like a win-win to us!

When: Open daily, hours of operation vary

Cost: $7.77 per child

Tip: Go to their website and download the app for 50% off of a coffee or single play session

Visit the beach

We are so lucky to be surrounded by so many beautiful beaches! Take your pick from Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island, Folly Beach, and Kiawah Island. We need not say more!

Once you’ve checked all of these off of your list, you could try some of the more unconventional options like my family does. Let the kids ride scooters through the boardwalks of Shem Creek, visit every furniture store in town (believe me, the kids think it is so much fun to go couch ‘hopping’), or let them play in the backyard at Bohemian Bull. And don’t forget to check out our Community Events Calendar where you can find family-friendly activities going on daily! Want to share your businesses event? Submit the information here to be included in our calendar!

What’s your favorite free or cheap activity to do with the kiddos around town? Drop them in the comments below!