Charleston with Teens: A Perfect Family Day


Thinking of a trip to Charleston, S.C with your teens? The Holy City offers so much to travelers that it can be hard to narrow down the activities you want to do and restaurants and hotels you want to visit. Are you interested in learning all you can about the Civil War? Or are you more interested in going to the beach? What if you could shop, too? As the city's nickname suggests, you could also admire a seemingly endless number of impressive churches. Let's start with the epicenter of it all and plan an action-packed day in downtown Charleston that will satisfy both you and your teenagers. Tomorrow you can tour plantations or go to the beach. For now, let's focus on our in-town adventure.


First, you will need a place to stay in Charleston with your teens. There are a number of different ways you could go when choosing a hotel – national/international chains, boutique hotels or B&Bs. Since we are talking about a family trip, let's assume that you aren't looking for a romantic bed and breakfast. I recommend the historic Mills House, where you can enjoy a dip in the pool, good food, and if you can slip away from the kids for a bit, a couple of nice bars staffed with friendly bartenders. The Mills House also offers two-bedroom suites, which is a nice bonus when trying to keep an eye on the kids (

When you wake up, try to get going and enjoy a Charleston morning in town. If it is going to be a hot summer day, you will appreciate the cooler temperatures. The rest of the year the mornings are just plain beautiful. Grab some coffee and a pastry at a coffee shop or a small restaurant. Check out the Hominy Grill ( at 207 Rutledge Ave. for a delicious, reasonably priced start to your day. You can fill up for well under $10 a person – and you will be glad you did!

As you take a walk through town, be sure to check out some of the side streets to really experience the homes and neighborhoods of downtown Charleston. Try creating a self-guided tour. You can get great information on historic downtown homes from SCIWAY ( If you prefer to leave it up to the professionals, there are more tours to choose from than you can imagine. Your hotel will have information available for tours of all sorts, including Civil War and Ghost tours, but to find a tour in advance, check out

To get a good feel for why the city got its nickname, take a tour of the 6 historic churches (most built in the 1600s) with Charleston Church Tours. They offer a fascinating walking tour at 10:30AM ET Monday through Friday; you'll see all those churches on this 2.5-hour tour, all within a mile of the starting point at the Meeting Street Inn at 173 Meeting Street. Call 843-367-9690 for current pricing and reservations.


You will quickly realize that Charlestonians love food. You will love the food here, too, after taking in some of the delicious fare available in town. I won't pretend though that there isn't a challenge in deciding where to eat. For lunch, I like to keep it simple. If you are interested in a little barbecue, try Jim 'N Nicks (; their "original" BBQ Sandwich with sides will suffice until dinner (and beyond). I personally recommend the creamed spinach and "Mac the Cheese" for sides. Find JNN'S at 288 King Street. Interested in an even more casual experience? Grab a taco or two at Juanita Greenberg's ( down the street at 439 King Street. You order at the counter and find a table out back.

You may want to fill your day walking around town and doing some shopping on Market Street. Whether you are interested in the famous open-air Charleston City Market or specialty shops downtown, you will find what you are looking for here. If you are shopping in the market, make sure that you have both cash and plastic, as not all vendors accept credit/debit cards.

There are plenty of other activities that your teens can indulge in at Charleston. The South Carolina Aquarium on Aquarium Wharf is a favorite of tourists and locals alike. You can plan your visit and purchase your tickets in advance at Tickets start at about $18 for adults (12 and older). For Civil War history, you can visit Fort Sumter ( and enjoy a boat ride at the same time. If you are looking for a no-cost, unique activity – or you have a teen searching for a college – stop by The Citadel to watch the cadets' Dress Parade. Parades are held on Fridays during the academic year ( Speaking of college, you can also take a look at the College of Charleston while you are here (


Make dinner an event after your big day – splurge just a little to sample some of Charleston's finest food. Check out Fleet Landing, housed in a retired naval building at 186 Concord Street, for a great view of the water and some delicious Shrimp and Grits. Fleet Landing boasts a "come as you are" environment, which is definitely teen friendly ( For a "white tablecloth" dinner and classic Charleston cuisine, make reservations at 82 Queen, the historic home-turned-restaurant named for its address. Ask for a table in the courtyard ( Make sure to dress appropriately, for Charlestonians like to dress up when they go out, and expect visitors to follow suit.

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