From Charleston to Savannah with love…Favorite places to visit with my kid in the Lowcountry

Here are the most surprising places I have found during my travel adventures in South Carolina (all approved by my preschool daughter). Today I’ll go over the Lowcountry: Charleston, Edisto, Beaufort, Hilton Head and Savannah.

The American LaFrance Fire Museum in North Charleston

This place is FUN with capital letters! Best of all its free for kids and only $6 for adults.

Kids get fired up in Charleston!

Drive a real fire truck at the North Charleston Fire Museum


Children can climb-on a real fire truck, go through a full-fledged emergency response, including a simulated street driving, honk horns, talk on the radio and push all sorts of buttons.

You get to see an amazing display of legendary fire engines from the 1700s to modern days.

I loved learning about the fire fighting history and its technological marvels, the fire trivia (i.e. Benjamin Franklin started the first successful fire insurance company in US) and the most devastating fires in the world (from AD 64 in Rome to 1906 in San Francisco).

The museum is open 10AM – 5PM (1PM on Sundays) and is located near the Tanger Outlets.

Charles Towne Landing Historic Park and Animal Fores Zoo

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Charles Towne Landing, the birthplace of America, is a wonderful place filled with educational, recreational and fun things to do for everyone.

Walk the plank at Charles Towne Landing

17th century justice is served

The park is open daily 9AM to 5 PM. Admission is $5 adults, $3 children 6-15 and free for 3 and under.

Start at the Visitors Center to see how life was like in the 1670s for the Lord Proprietors, settlers, native tribes, indentured servants, and slaves.

Visit the Animal Forest zoo home to pumas, bison, alligators, black bears, otters, bobcats, wolves and a variety of birds.

Be a captain aboard Adventure, a life-size 17th century trading ship replica.

Walk, stroll, jog or bike along the marsh or through the 80 acres of magnificent gardens, featuring thousands of azaleas, camellias and centuries old oak trees.

Edisto Island Serpentarium

Gigantic alligators, deadly snakes, funny looking lizards and snappy turtles “with a face only a mother could love”…

Incredible reptiles on Edisto Island near Charleston

Edisto's best buddies

The park features beautiful indoor and outdoor exhibits filled with native species as well as weird reptiles from around the world.

Make sure to attend the live snake education programs (at 11, 1, 3 and 5PM) and the alligator feedings (12 and 4PM).

Some may not have the stomach for it, yet we were thrilled!

Kids really enjoy digging through pre-historic bones from once native saber tooth cats, whales, mammoths and giant bears.

Edisto Island Serpentarium is open May through Labor Day Thursday to Saturdays from 10AM to 6PM (Monday to Saturday in the summer).

Admission is $12.95 adults, $9.95 children (6-12), $5.95 children 4 and 5, free for those 3 and under.

Old Sheldon Church Ruins

Beautiful 18th century church near CharlestonA deeply moving and inspirational historic site remnant of the 1745 Prince William Parish.

Twice burned, once during Revolutionary War and again during the Civil War March to the Sea and yet still standing…

Amid tragedy there hope and rebirth. The ruins have become a very popular site for outdoor wedding ceremonies and a photographers composition dream.

Mark your calendar! Once a year, on the second Sunday after Easter, the prestigious St. Helena Church holds a public service at the ruins.

The church ruins are located on Old Sheldon Road right off highway 21 between Beaufort and Yemassee.

Hunting Island Lighthouse and State Park – Breath-taking views, romantic beach and lush maritime forest. Hunting Island State Park is the most popular park in South Carolina, and for good reasons.
Best state park in South Carolina The park jewel is South Carolina’s only publicly accessible historic lighthouse. Dating from the 1870s, the Hunting Island Lighthouse shoots 170 feet into the air, rewarding visitors magnificent views of the Lowcountry marshland and the Atlantic Ocean.

Enjoy 5 miles of soft sand beach, a wonderful lagoon home to seahorses and barracuda, thousands of acres of marsh and tidal creek, a fishing pier and some of the state’s most desirable campsites.

Admire up-close loggerhead sea turtles, alligators, pelicans, dolphins and deer, Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes and the rare coral snakes.

The loggerhead turtles nest on the island in the summer months.

Park daily admission is $4 adults, $1.5 children age 6-15 and free for children 5 and younger. Lighthouse ticket is an additional $2.

Parris Island Museum near Beaufort

An extraordinary place honoring the US Marines history, life as a recruit, and military accomplishments.

WWII Japanese cannon prize of war

Here I am!

Admire hundreds of unusual weapons and enemy captures from legendary battles, laugh at the “good life as a recruit” posters and learn about the inspiring US Marines history.

Little ones can earn the “Junior Recruit” title by successfully completing the museum exploration challenge.

Admission is free and the museum is open daily from 10AM to 4:30PM. If time permits take the island driving tour.

Coastal Discovery Museum in Hilton Head

This place has it all! A rich display of the Lowcountry heritage, an incredible saltmarsh ecosystem, world-class history walks and nature tours

Delicate beauty at Coastal Discovery Museum in Hilton Head

and a brilliant Butterfly Pavilion.

Admission to the museum, outside grounds and the butterfly enclosure is free (guided tours range from $5 to $20 per person).

Coastal Discovery Museum is open year around Monday to Saturday from 9AM to 4:30 PM, Sunday 11AM to 3PM.

Here is an overview of the fun things you can do with kids outdoor.


Fort Pulaski National Park near Savannah

A memorable Civil War battle marked the end of masonry fortifications after the “indestructible” Fort Pulaski fell after 30 hours of cannon firings.

Magnificent Civil War reenactments

Fort Pulaski, an incredible Civil War battle and military marvel

Admission is free for kids under 16 and $3 for adults and is good for 6 days. The Fort Pulaski National Monument has a plethora of educational family activities.

Learn about the tragic story of the Immortal 600 Confederate officers, and mind-boggling military strategies and weapons deployed at the time.

Make sure to attend the live musket and cannon fire demonstrations that are held each weekend.

Walk the scenic 0.75 mile Overloook Trail to the Cockspur Island Lighthouse, originally built in 1837. The lighthouse escaped untouched during the 30 hours attack on the Fort despite the fact it was positioned straight in the line of fire!

Life is beautiful in the historic Lowcountry!

“I’m too foxy to eat” meet the Nile Crocodile diva at Cape Fear Serpentarium

Must see TV, entertainment it’s free for me! That’s the attitude of the Nile Crocodile, Cape Fear Serpentarium’s MVP.

We were told His Majesty is the zoo most intelligent resident. He loves to watch the weekend live feedings of his neighbor snakes.

It took some convincing but in the end the belly won and the crocodile accepted the “bribe”. Part of the show I bet 🙂

While in Wilmington visit the “The Showboat” North Carolina, the most beloved and decorated WWII battleship. It will lift your spirit!

If alligators, giant crocodiles, Galapagos turtles and green anacondas are your thing, then Alligator Adventure “The Reptile Capital of the World” is your answer. Best time to visit is April – October when the gators are “awake”.

Fun things to do with kids around Myrtle Beach for under $10

For the past 4 years I’ve traveled up and down the Carolina Coast looking for great adventures, mysteries and memorable wildlife encounters. Here is a list of wonderful things – blessed my now 7 years old daughter – that you can do with your kids while vacationing in Myrtle Beach. All for under $10! (prices subject to change; new attractions added in 2010 and 2011)
Cherry Grove North Myrtle Beach

To get you started I’ve put together a nice Google Map with all the attractions.

Free things to do at Cherry Grove, Broadway at the Beach and Barefoot Landing
Walk inside the pristine Heritage Shores Nature Preserve located next to the Cherry Grove Park and Boat Ramp. Feeling more adventurous? Kayak the Cherry Grove inlet all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. Beware you may be greeted by dolphins!

Nature Preserve at Cherry Grove Park

Where to kayak and fish in North Myrtle Beach

• Speaking of dolphins, you can see bottlenosed dolphins swim freely around the pier. I got a special treat, seeing them at sunset on 2010 New Year’s Eve!

• Splash around at the water fountain. Don’t be shy, join in the fun, just remember to bring extra clothes

Water splashing fun at Broadway at the Beach

Water splashing fun at Broadway at the Beach

• Jump, slide, crawl at the playground, most likely the most scenic in the Carolinas!
• Sprinkle more laughs at the fish and duck feeding stations
See up-close Bengal, Siberian, Royal White Bengal and the super stars Golden Tabby tigers playing in an outdoor environment at the remarkable T.I.G.E.R.S Preservation Station inside Barefoot Landing

TIGERS Preserve free live exhibit North Myrtle Beach

The tiger is playing with the kids! He was very interested in the like plush tiger toy...

Visit the Burroughs-Chapin museum, the only art museum in Myrtle Beach, located across the Springmaid Pier. They have an Art Studio just for kids.

Beach piers, museums and amusement parks
• Burn calories while you jump and flip on the trampoline at Barefoot Landing

Hop Hop Up in the Air

Wheee! I am so high up in the air

• Fishermen unite at the outstanding Cherry Grove Pier, home to many record catches such as a 1780 lbs Tiger Shark and a 98 lbs Tarpon. All day pass to the pier is $1.50. Bait, tackle, and rods rentals are available at the pier shop, or pay $6 pier fishing fee if you bring your own.

The fishing pier at Cherry Grove Beach

The fishing pier at Cherry Grove Beach

• Speaking of piers, in January 2011 we spent a wonderful weekend at Springmaid Beach Resort, which proudly boasts the historic Springmaid Pier (longest pier in Myrtle Beach). Admission is $1 (free for resort guests), a daily fishing pass is $8 and rods can be rented for $10.

• Let your kids imagination flourish at CMSC featuring a USS Coast Guard boat, an authentic X-ray machine, diamond mining, a magical school bus and a pizza delivery truck ($8 admission, $1 off coupon available)

Come on board!

Come on board!

• Climb on baby elephants and zebras at Jungle Safari mini-golf! Oh yeah when you really feel like it put that ball into the hole… “I like to move it, move it” ($8 admission)

• Test your wits and navigation skills at the mind-boggling Mirror Maze inside the Barefoot Landing shopping and entertainment center($7.99 for all day pass)

• Race into space, play astronaut, build your own constellation and learn all there is to know about planets at Ingram Planetarium in Sunset Beach. Grownups can rock on at the cool laser shows featuring songs from Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, The Beatles and more ($8 adults, $4 kids 3-5)

I am flying mom!

I am flying mom!

• Have a tea cup party ride at the Pavilion Nostalgia Amusement Park at Broadway at the Beach ($3+tax per ride, less for bulk purchases). Here is a 2011 list with the most exciting rides.

• Play with the largest, museum quality model train layout at the NC Railroad Museum downtown Wilmington. Kids love pushing buttons, watching Thomas and company go over bridges and even ordering food at a drive-thru McDonalds! ($7 adults, $6 seniors and military, and $3 children 2-12 years)

Parks, historical sites and zoos
• Visit the romantic Atalaya Castle inside the Huntington Beach State Park where the Wild Things Are! Beware of free roaming jaws snapping alligators! ($5 park admission, free entrance to Atalaya)

Mysterious Atalaya Tower

Mysterious Atalaya Tower

• Reward your nature loving spirit at Waccatee Zoo – The Beast Things to Do – featuring hundreds of exotic and weird animals ($7)

• See a Giant Sloth skeleton replica, learn about nature’s deadly forces, admire a T.N. Simmons Sea-Skiff and check out Michael’s Jordan childhood memorabilia at Cape Fear Museum in Wilmington ($7 adults, $3 children 3-17)

Prehistoric largest ground mammal in North Carolina

What a giant! I am glad he is not a carnivore

• Be amazed, awed and bewildered at Cape Fear Serpentarium in historic Wilmington NC home to the most venomous snakes in the world: bushmasters, Gaboon vipers, King cobras, Tropical rattlers and Fer-de-lance ($8, live feedings in the weekends at 3PM)

Admire the Brown’s Ferry Vessel, the oldest American-built wooden boat, located inside the Rice Museum in Georgetown (~40 minutes drive). Did you know that Georgetown was once the rice capital of the world? ($7 adults, $5 seniors, $3 students and free for kids under 6)

What is the oldest wooden boat in America

Browns Ferry Vessel traveled in early 1700s along the Carolina Coast to bring goods from plantations to Charleston.

• See how native people lived along the Carolina coast before the arrival of Europeans. The Horry Conway Museum in downtown Conway features a great collection of Native American artifacts from Archaic, Woodland and prehistoric time periods. Admission is free. Added bonus, take a relaxing stroll along the Waccamaw River to enjoy beautiful scenery, historic warehouses and the Conway Arboretum.

Enjoy your family vacation along our beautiful Carolina Coast!

The magnificent blackheaded bushmaster deadly strike

“If you are bitten by a Bushmaster, it is better to just lie down under a tree and rest, for you will soon be dead”

The snake is in position

The snake is in position


You can see this killing machine in action at the amazing Cape Fear Serpentarium in historic Wilmington (1 hour drive from North Myrtle Beach). Featured on Discovery Channel and Animal Planet the serpentarium has the world’s largest collection of venomous snakes.

Admission is only $8 and live snake feedings occur every weekend at 3PM.

There are over 100 species like the spitting cobra, black mamba, green Anaconda, 20 foot reticulated python, Gaboon vipers, Tropical rattlers, giant Fer-de-lance and even a Nile crocodile!

My favorite was the incredible blackheaded Bushmaster to which I’ve dedicated this post. Enjoy!

Blackheaded Bushmaster Facts and Trivia
• One of the rarest animals on earth it can only be found on a small peninsula in southeastern Costa Rica.

• Only snake known to exhibit courtship ritual before mating: the male performs an “upside down sawing” on top of the female.

• Although the bushmaster is the world’s longest venomous snake it has the smallest swallow threshold!

• Its environment consists of elevated forests with cool temperature and continuous drizzle. The Bushmaster adapted so it’s only basking the head in the sunlight keeping the rest of the body concealed.

• Method of catching prey: “strike and hold on” as illustrated in this video below:



What it feels like to be bitten by a bushmaster?

Cape Fear Serpentarium’s founder Dean Ripa is among the few survivors of a bushmaster bite. Initially he felt a strange euphoria. “The room seemed to have grown enormously large, and myself shrinking away. I saw beautiful purple colors.”

It didn’t last long.

Trust in me!

Trust in me!

• 15 minutes: nausea, uncontrollable drooling, intense throbbing and fast rising pulse

• 20 minutes: projectile vomiting and explosive diarrhea

• 25 minutes: chills, blood pressure drops, burning pain in the kidney area, rapid breathing

• 30 minutes: severe abdominal pain, continued vomiting and diarrhea, fluids oozing from swollen bite area

• 35 minutes: body numbness, inability to speak, undetectable blood pressure, feeble pulse

• 40 minutes: conscious but disinterest in fate, undetectable blood pressure and pulse.

You can guess what happens next…

Ready for the thrill of your lifetime?