Not Beating the Charleston Heat

Maybe taking a family vacation in Charleston in mid-June wasn’t the best idea. The temperature hit the high 90s, with the heat index reaching into the 110s. One of the locals suggested we come back in the late fall or early winter.

Suggestion noted.

But as the song goes, it was “too late to turn back now.” The last stop on our Epic Road Trip through the Great American Southeast would be a hot one.

Charleston Fountain

So even though the oppressive heat sapped our energy and made us long for the cool confines of an air-conditioned hotel room, we made the most of it: We moseyed slowly through the pristine historic streets, drank bucketfuls of water, and had a blast watching our two splash around with other kids in the splash fountain in Charleston’s Waterfront Park – before heading home to “cool” Beaver, Pennsylvania.

Waterfront Fountain Charleston


The Good Stuff


Free City Tour Buses

After cruising around the city for a while and stopping off briefly at The Battery for a photo opp and to give the kiddos a quick history lesson (you can see Ft. Sumter from there), we realized that, much like with Savannah, there was just too much to see.

The Battery Charleston

We needed guidance. Therefore we headed for the city’s impressive Visitor Center, where we learned that our best—and cheapest—option would be the free trolley/busses, which run continuous loops around the city all day long. Unfortunately, the loud, closed-in busses lacked the charm of the open-air trolley in Savannah the day before. That said, the busses were free, and free is always good on a family road-trip.

Charleston street scene

City Market

Our first stop was Charleston’s City Market, a historic, four-block market complex in the heart of the city, featuring dozens of vendors selling everything from handmade jewelry and clothing to impressive photography and other forms of artwork. One would think that the brick, open-air sheds would provide a shady, cool place from which to escape the oppressive Charleston heat. One would be wrong. It wasn’t long before we gave up on shopping and made a b-line for Kilwins to cool off with more — you guessed it! — ice cream. Of course, we only had about 30 seconds to eat our cones before the ice cream took liquid form.

City Market Charleston

Horse & Buggy Tour

In order to see a little more of the city and escape the sun, we decided to hop on a horse-and-buggy tour with Palmetto Carriage Works.

Palmetto Carriage Charleston

I’d never taken an equine-powered tour before, and it turned out to be a relaxing, charming way in which to get a closer look at this historic city (plus it was shaded, and the motion provided somewhat of a breeze).

Palmetto Carriage Tour Charleston

Outdoor Dining?!

After that we grabbed a late lunch at the Noisy Oyster, where my ice-cold Holy City Pilsner draft only stayed ice-cold for about a minute. But was delicious, nonetheless. (In hindsight, maybe choosing an open-air restaurant wasn’t the best choice on a 100-plus-degree day?)

The Noisy Oyster Charleston

Staying Across the River

Our first night in Charleston was actually in Mount Pleasant, across the Arthur Ravenel Bridge—an amazing, 1,500-foot, eight-lane, cable-stayed bridge, that takes you a breathtaking 573 feet above the water to provide ocean-going freighters passage along the Cooper River and into Charleston Harbor. I was amazed by all the people running and biking along the bridge’s pedestrian walkway – most certainly a challenging workout. Sadly, after checking in at the Mainstay Suites, I met a woman in the elevator whose late husband, Garrett Wonders, had been killed cycling on the previous bridge. The current pedestrian walkway was actually named Wonders’ Way in his honor.


The South’s Beverly Hills?

Although beautiful, Charleston reminded me a lot of Beverly Hills. So if you’re looking for a great place to spend the day shopping, Charleston’s King Street is the place to be. After visiting both famous southern cities, I felt like Savannah was a more family-friendly destination.

Palmetto Carriage family


Read more tales from our 2016 Epic Road Trip of the Great American Southeast:

by Valentine J. Brkich, July 2016

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Keywords: family vacation, family travel, travel with kids, family road trip, road trip with kids, charleston with kids, charleston family vacation


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