Free Things to Do in Charleston, South Carolina


Step Back In Time Without Breaking the Bank

Visiting Charleston is like stepping back in time, but with today's modern conveniences. Your kids will love exploring this historic city's parks and architecture. There are plenty of ways to enjoy Charleston, without breaking the bank—or spending any money at all, for that matter. With a trip to Charleston, you're destined for a family adventure full of action and learning.

Feel the Cultural Heartbeat: Charleston City Market

Window-shopping is a must at the Charleston City Market (188 Meeting St., Charleston, SC). This four-block landmark boasts more than 300 vendors that will give your kids lots to look at and taste—many of whom serve up samples. Housed in a historic market built in 1841 to sell produce and meats, the space was renovated and reopened in 2011. Today's market features small shops, restaurants and vendors hawking everything from produce to antiques. There are plenty of exits within the market that lead to the Charleston City Market neighborhood that's brimming with other shops and restaurants to peruse.

Visit the Past: Charleston City Hall and Courthouse

Of Charleston's many picturesque historic buildings, the City Hall and Courthouse are perhaps among the most accessible in terms of location—they're both at the intersections of Broad and Meeting streets—and they're open to the public during business hours. When you and your family visit Charleston City Hall (80 Broad St., Charleston, SC), be sure to stop by the second floor's gallery that houses a renowned portrait of George Washington by John Trumball, among others. Guides are present to answer any questions you or your kids might have. At the Charleston Courthouse (84 Broad St_.,_ Charleston, SC), be sure to take in the law library. Tours at the courthouse are self-guided, but offer up history and a chance to beat the heat in air conditioning.

Embrace the Spirit of Tradition: Citadel Dress Parade

Your kids will love the pomp and circumstance of the dress parade at the Citadel (171 Moultrie St., Charleston, SC). This Charleston-based military school holds parades on its Summerall Field most Fridays during the school year (Sept. through May). From the bleachers, your family will see a parade of rifles and swords accompanied by period music. Unlike historic military parades, Citadel uses its modern-day parades to honor students, faculty and community members.

Explore Charleston: Walk the Battery

Walking Charleston's historic Battery (E. Battery Blvd., Charleston, SC) is a great way to see the city and let the kids use up energy exploring. The landmark promenade stretches along the waterfront and features views of Fort Sumter, Castle Pinckney and Fort Moultrie. You might even spot dolphins in the river. Once you've taken it all in, walk across the street to White Point Garden (2 Murray Blvd., Charleston SC), a park with historic cannons, sculptures and monuments your kids will enjoy playing around.

Take it All In: Angel Oak

You and your kids will be in awe when you cast your eyes on the 500 year-old Angel Oak tree (3688 Angel Oak Road, Johns Island, SC). A 25-minute drive from Charleston to Johns Island, the Angel Oak is one of the oldest known living things in the country. To add to that, it's also huge, standing at 66.5 ft. tall and 28 ft. around. It's no wonder the tree has become the unofficial symbol of Charleston.