Friday, April 4, 2014

Charleston offers vacation beach living for families

This was originally posted on The Chicago Moms

When we planned our recent Spring Break trip to Charleston, we wanted to really experience the ocean from sunrise to sunset. After a few days exploring the city, we moved from the city to Kiawah Island for a few days of ocean living.

It was a leap of faith when we made our hotel reservation. The Andell Inn, a Marriott property, was under construction when we made our reservation. The hotel opened just a few days before we arrived. One of the best parts of staying at the Andell Inn was that it anchored the Freshfields Village development. We had plenty of casual, family-friendly restaurants and cute shops to explore. We could walk outside the hotel and find everything we needed.

One of our favorite things was to rent bicycles and ride to Beachwalker Park, which is at the top of everyone’s “best beaches in the United States” lists. We spent many hours riding on the beach, playing in the surf and collecting sea shells. It wasn’t really warm enough to swim, but that didn’t stop us from having fun. We spent part of every day on Beachwalker Park.

We spent several hours at the Charles Towne Landing State Historical Site. We rented bikes and took in all the sites from the animal forest to the replica ship to the archeological digs. Our girls learned to swab the deck, spotted alligators near our bike path and absorbed details about how families lived back in the early settlements.

I dragged the family to the Charleston Tea Plantation. The plantation wasn’t a museum, but an active tea farm. There were tour opportunities giving visitors an opportunity to learn all about tea. We opted to take the 20 minute factory tour. It was interesting to learn that black, oolong and green teas came from same tea leaves.

One day we ventured to Folley Beach to walk to pier and watch the surfers. Folley Beach was a very traditional beach town with charming shops, casual restaurants and tourist shopping. It was like we walked into a postcard. There were a lot of families on the beach. People were playing volleyball, racing remote control cars and fishing off the pier.

A highlight of our island hopping came at the James Island County Park.  We stopped at the park because our girls wanted to play at a park. We stayed because they discovered the rock climbing wall. When our daughters said they wanted to climbing wall we decided to give it a chance. One of our girls started climbing immediately. It took a while before the other girl went for her harness. Once they were both climbing I tried not to show my fear. They quickly learned the basics and started scaling the 20 foot practice wall. It didn’t take too long before they were climbing the 50 foot competition wall.

We adored both parts of our Charleston vacation. The balance between history and modern restaurants and beaches created opportunities for everyone in our family to find something to enjoy. Charleston is a special place, which should be on everyone’s vacation list.

Disclosure:  We paid for everything, with some discount coupons for some attractions. Be sure to visit the visitor’s center to find discount coupons when you visit.

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