Charleston South Carolina Bucket List For Families: Where To Stay + Play + Eat

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view of Hotel Indigo Mount Pleasant pool - Charleston South Carolina
Hotel Indigo Mount Pleasant’s Pool Oasis

It may sound crazy, but I fell in love with a lesser-known area of Charleston, South Carolina before we ever arrived on our recent family vacation. You see, we’d taken a quick spin through this upscale area while on a Charleston day trip many years ago and I’ve been dreaming of returning to explore it with my family since then. Now that I’ve found out NEW insider secrets to the holy city, here’s a bucket list of six experiences that you and your family MUST find on your upcoming Charleston vacation (I’m confident that you’ll start planning a family trip after reading this, so all helpful contact info is at the very end).


If you don’t explore the following six important Charleston South Carolina bucket list items for families, you may not really experience Charleston South Carolina and the lowcounty! Thanks to Hotel Indigo Mount Pleasant for hosting our stay and breakfast and my southern opinion is all my own!

view of Hotel Indigo Charleston South Carolina pool area

Mount Pleasant, South Carolina is a suburban-style town that once held summer homes for wealthy Charlestonians and is now a year-round destination for retirees, young professionals with their families, and wise tourists, and is only a short drive across a gorgeous bridge from Downtown Charleston.


You don’t have to wait until you reach Downtown Charleston to feel southern hospitality nipping at your heels, as it begins the moment you hit the marsh-lined stretch of U.S. 17 between Beaufort and Charleston and start seeing signs for the historic country store called Carolina Cider Company.

The epitome of southern charm, this unofficial welcome center to the holy city looks like a quirky roadside stand with an old general store style that’s complete with retro pumps appearing frozen in time, sporting 42 cents for a gallon of gas.

view of Carolina Cider Company's outdoor retro gas pumps in Charleston South Carolina
Carolina Cider Company
Carolina Cider Company

Inside, the store is brimming with samples of jellies, jams, and cider, and a multitude of southern foods like fresh pie to eat yourself or buy for others. There’s even a tiny retro coffee shop next door that served me up the best tasting caramel latte I’ve had in a long time!


The phrase “boutique hotel” has been thrown around a bit and for Hotel Indigo Mount Pleasant, it simply means a modern, one-of-a-kind hotel that displays all the charm of the lowcountry with luxe amenities.

What a wonderful combination!

Hotel Indigo Mount Pleasant

Every Hotel Indigo reflects the culture and atmosphere of its location, and Hotel Indigo Mount Pleasant did a lovely job with sweetgrass chandeliers and the deep color of indigo highlighted throughout the lobby, hallways, cozy corners, and guest rooms, reflecting the local history of the indigo-farming Pinckney family.

Can you get over the gorgeous king guest room and adjoining “kid’s” room pictured below, which were standard rooms with a gorgeous view of the pool area?! Both had refrigerators, big screen TVS, and large luxury bathrooms.

Having these spacious adjoining rooms where everyone could spread out was the best thing we did on this vacation!

King bedroom for “parents”
“Kid’s” adjoining room
Hotel Indigo Mount Pleasant’s rendering of Eliza Pinckney &
scrumptious breakfast at her namesake restaurant within the hotel

By far, our favorite area of the hotel was this outdoor oasis. The resort-style pool area has amazing in-pool loungers within the kiddie pool, plenty of sunning chairs, shaded grassy picnic spots with cabana loungers, lawn games, fire feature, indoor/outdoor food, and drink bar.

Our happy place
watch Hotel Indigo Mount Pleasant video

“Always, as you travel, assimilate the sounds and sights of the world.” – Walt Disney


Folks typically see popular images of Charleston’s Battery Wall, Waterfront Park near downtown, and the pineapple fountain that’s an Instagram hotspot.

The beautiful Ravenel Bridge to Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

However, just across the beautiful Ravenel Bridge to Mount Pleasant is another MUST-SEE area… Waterfront Memorial Park and the Charleston Marina.

Mount Pleasant residents are proud of their crown jewel, Memorial Waterfront Park, because of its proximity to the beautiful Ravenel Bridge that sports fantastic picnic lawns, a nautical playground, and views of the harbor from the 1250-foot-long pier. Hotel Indigo Mount Pleasant is within walking distance to this beautiful area.

Sunset at Charleston Marina & Patriots Point

The Charleston Marina is where you’ll find the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum, which is the home of the USS YORKTOWN, to get a hands-on peek into maritime and military life aboard a legitimate piece of American history.

My suggestion is to visit the area after dinner and near sunset one evening. The area is stunning at this time of day and very Instagram-worthy. There may be a small parking fee throughout the year.


There’s certainly no shortage of great coastal cuisine in the lowcountry, but we never miss a quick stop right next to the Historic City Market (after our praline samples at Savannah Sweets) at Pizzeria de la Giovanni. Grab a huge slice of authentic Italian pizza and tell them we sent you!

We weren’t especially impressed with a BBQ joint near our hotel called Sticky Fingers. The service was great but the food was bland. What we DID enjoy was breakfast within Hotel Indigo Mount Pleasant’s restaurant.

A hearty plate of traditional eggs, grits, and bacon at Hotel Indigo’s Eliza Restaurant got us off on a great start!


Sadly, we knew before this vacation that it wasn’t a beach vacation, per se, but one evening after dinner, we drove a little over five miles from our hotel to Sullivan’s Island beach and pulled into the petite Thomson Park, an American Revolution Battle Site, that is now a peaceful view of the water.

view of Charleston South Carolina Beach - Thomson Park
Sullivan’s Island

We suggest stopping into Beardcat’s Sweet Shop on your way to the sand. Isle of Palms is a nearby beach as well. Folly Beach, Kiawah, and Seabrook are Charleston beaches also but are further away.


You don’t have to look far to find and fall in love with the history of Charleston, South Carolina. Surprisingly, there is more history surrounding the American Revolutionary War than the Civil War.

As always, I suggest beginning the entire downtown trek with a fascinating tour. A historic tour of a new city always gives a big picture view and allows you to quickly decide the areas where your family wants to spend their time, AND will enlighten you on the amazing history around every corner here.

view of Charleston South Carolina Carriage ride

Charleston carriage rides are a favorite for families of all ages but walking tours (whether by daylight or spooky ones) depending on the age of the youngest in the group are a fun choice as well.

I’ve fallen in love not only with Historic Downtown Charleston’s cobblestone streets, confederate jasmine dripping from black, wrought-iron gates, and hospitable people, but also with Mount Pleasant, South Carolina area for her beauty and unexpected nature havens. I’m also taken with the thriving, yet small-town feel that includes plenty of upscale shopping, restaurants, beaches, and other family activities.


Follow Hotel Indigo Mount Pleasant : Instagram


What’s Charleston SC known for?

Charleston is probably best known as having a sea port called Fort Sumter where the Civil War began. However, there is an unending list of history from the American Revolutionary War, pirates, and other exciting things. Rainbow Row, the Historic City Market, and King Street shopping are well known areas as well.

Which Charleston South Carolina beach is best?

What most people don’t realize is that there are five islands/beaches surrounding Downtown Charleston. There are two beaches I haven’t visited yet so I’ll let you know my fave when I do!

Why is Charleston South Carolina called the Holy City?

The most popular argument is that it’s because in the eighteeth century, “Charles Town” had a tolerance for all religions and because of that began to contain numerous historic churches.

How many days do you need in Charleston SC?

Charleston South Carolina is a fun city to enjoy as a day trip but it’s impossible to see all the facets this historic city has to offer unless you stay for several days. To experience downtown, waterfronts, Mount Pleasant, the beaches, and all the attractions, four full days would be ideal. If you can’t stay that long, pick and choose and plan to return very soon!



Hotel Indigo Mount Pleasant: 250 Johnnie Dodds Blvd, Mt Pleasant, SC

Carolina Cider Company: 81 Charleston Hwy, Yemassee, SC

Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park: 99 Harry M. Hallman Jr Blvd, Mt Pleasant, SC

Charleston Harbor & Marina/Patriots Point: 20 Patriots Point Rd, Mt Pleasant, SC

Pizzeria Di Giovanni: 40 N Market St, Charleston, SC

Thomson Park: 3217 Middle St, Sullivan’s Island, SC

Palmetto Carriage Works: 8 Guignard St, Charleston, SC

Self Guided Walking Tour


aerial view of Charleston South Carolina Downtown



Published on HuffPost, Okefenokee Living Magazine, and more, Shan is a Family Travel Journalist with a passion for helping women lose the overwhelm of planning family-friendly trips in the south. She shares travel reviews & insider secrets that Women REALLY want to know about Georgia, Florida, & the Carolinas vacations.

☕️ It’s THE REAL DEAL around here ☕️



  1. Shayla
    May 14, 2019 / 11:10 am

    Someday I would really love to visit the whole east coast, this makes me really excited to go!!! Beautiful pictures.

  2. Shayla
    May 14, 2019 / 11:11 am

    Someday I would really love to visit the whole east coast, this makes me really excited to go!!! Beautiful pictures, that restaurant looks amazing too!

  3. Ayanna
    May 14, 2019 / 4:55 pm

    We love Charleston and will definitely have to check out Hotel Indigo the next time we visit.

    • Shan
      May 14, 2019 / 6:32 pm

      We honestly are spoiled now and not sure if another Charleston Hotel can measure up! LOL


  4. Stephanie
    May 14, 2019 / 9:12 pm

    I can’t wait to go back to Charleston. I also fell in love with its history and beauty. I’ll definitely have to look into that hotel. It’s stunning. Thanks!

    • Shan
      May 15, 2019 / 8:33 am

      Charleston is a unique gem that never gets old. My pleasure – I love sharing the best family vacation hacks. Enjoy!


  5. Jen
    May 15, 2019 / 9:04 am

    Charleston is one of my favorite cities to visit. I usually soak up all the charm and history, but I’m really drawn to this amazing oasis of a pool. Wow!

    • Shan
      May 15, 2019 / 9:17 am

      I hear ya, Jen! We love the charm and history too and was completely surprised at this pool oasis at Hotel Indigo!


  6. Allison
    May 15, 2019 / 10:52 am

    I’ve wanted to visit Charleston for awhile. Someday I will get there- there are just so many places I want to go and not enough vacation time… I’m pinning this for when I can finally plan that trip.

    • Shan
      May 15, 2019 / 11:12 am

      I know exactly what you’re saying, Allison. Every time I finally get to visit an amazing destination like Charleston, I’m so sad that I waited so long. My suggestion is to pick a date a long way off but one you can start slowing planning time and saving money for!


  7. Suncana
    May 15, 2019 / 5:58 pm

    Anywhere there is 5 beaches I’m down to visit 😍 – i’ll Have to add it to my ever growing list

    • Shan
      May 15, 2019 / 6:39 pm

      HaHa, that’s a good point about all the beaches !


  8. page
    May 16, 2019 / 12:49 am

    ok officially want to book a trip to charleston now!! definitely saving this post for reference 🙂 thank you for sharing x

    • Shan
      May 16, 2019 / 6:59 am

      Yay! SO glad it was helpful!


  9. Tabitha Blue
    May 16, 2019 / 1:52 pm

    I always hear such good things about this city, and haven’t spent much time there. Would love to visit. Thanks for all of the tips.

    • Shan
      May 17, 2019 / 6:44 am

      You are welcome! It’s my pleasure. Maybe you can work it out to visit soon!


  10. Maxine
    May 16, 2019 / 4:40 pm

    I’m finally going to get to experience my first trip to Charleston this weekend. Can’t wait to checkout some of the places you’ve written about.

  11. Melanie
    May 17, 2019 / 1:21 pm

    I can’t wait to visit Charleston! And that hotel looks like my kind of place. The only problem would be pulling myself out of that pool lounger to go explore lol

    • Shan
      May 17, 2019 / 1:44 pm

      Ha! Yes, that was definitely an issue for us too. If Downtown Charleston & Mount Pleasant itself were not so amazing….. we would have stayed there for the entire vacation! 🙂


  12. Gena
    May 17, 2019 / 2:21 pm

    I have never been to Charlestown, but it seems like it has its charm and so worth visiting using your travel guide!

  13. Patricia - Grab a Plate
    May 17, 2019 / 9:47 pm

    Charleston is one of my favorite places in the U.S.! So much to see, learn about, and EAT! Love it!

    • Shan
      May 18, 2019 / 10:45 am

      You are so right! Never gets old!


  14. Angela
    May 18, 2019 / 9:23 am

    Charleston is such a great city! I need to book a long weekend there soon, that hotel looks amazing!!

    • Shan
      May 18, 2019 / 10:44 am

      Isn’t it?! Love Charlie Town so much. Yes, you need a weekend – we loved our hotel!


  15. Rachel
    May 18, 2019 / 10:21 pm

    That hotel looks incredible! We didn’t get to visit Charleston on my last trip to Hilton Head, but I will keep this in mind for our next trip!

    • Shan
      May 19, 2019 / 8:38 am

      It’s a super unique place – you’ve GOT to go!! 🙂


  16. Melissa Balgobin
    May 19, 2019 / 10:39 pm

    We are heading to Charleston in July! I will keep these in mind while we are visiting 🙂

    • Shan
      May 20, 2019 / 4:30 pm

      How exciting, Melissa! I suggest moving about early and late in the days so the humidity doesn’t get ya! Have fun!!


  17. Shan
    May 20, 2019 / 4:28 pm

    This makes my day, Dana! Charleston is lovely – have a great time in SC!


  18. Shan
    May 20, 2019 / 4:29 pm

    And this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you put “charleston” in the search box, you’ll see even more ideas I’ve suggested through the years!


  19. Cristina - Memories of the Pacific
    May 21, 2019 / 4:32 pm

    Charleston has been on my bucket list for a while now. I hope I can go soon!

    • Shan
      May 21, 2019 / 8:17 pm

      Yay, Cristina. I hope you are able to make it happen soon! It’s gorgeous and so much fun.


  20. Becki Svare
    May 21, 2019 / 7:57 pm

    I have never been to Charleston area, but have wanted to for a long time. Now I’ve got a good game plan! Thanks

    • Shan
      May 21, 2019 / 8:17 pm

      These words make me so happy, Becki! I’m so glad it was helpful!!


  21. Christine Pickett
    June 11, 2019 / 10:58 am

    We are going to Charleston at the end of June! This gave me some good ideas! i’ve started planning. I really want to do the carriage ride and visit beaches and patriots point! We are renting a house in same city as you stayed at. Did you take a harbor boat ride or visit a plantation?

    • Shan
      June 14, 2019 / 4:38 pm

      I wanted to do both of those things very badly. We simply ran out of time. We needed one. more. day! 🙂


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