It’s never too soon to start planning your next vacation right? As another hectic week comes to a close, I’m finding myself daydreaming about beaches, sea breezes and laid back island time.
Most Relaxing Family-Friendly Beach Destination
That brings me to the next destination for our favorite Family-Friendly Beach Vacations, our most relaxing beach vacation destination (and quite possibly my favorite) is Kiawah Island, South Carolina. South Carolina really is one of our favorite states to visit from the Blue Ridge mountains and pristine waterfalls on the West side of the state, to the beautiful beaches on the east side of the state with loads of Southern charm everywhere in between. We simply love South Carolina and Kiawah Island is one of the most beautiful and relaxing places in the entire state.
Kiawah is pristine with beautiful landscaping, well-kept nature preserves and 10 miles of wide open beachfront. The island is a well-known destination amongst golfers, but if there’s not a golfer in your family, rest assured there’s still plenty of relaxing activities to be enjoyed by all. Our family has loved each of our vacations here and we’ve never set foot on one of the beautiful golf courses!
We’re not the only ones that love Kiawah, it’s such a great location that HGTV selected Kiawah as the destination for their 2013 Dream Home. https://www.hgtv.com/design/hgtv-dream-home/2013
Why It’s great for families: There’s is plenty to do on Kiawah, but it’s not what I would call “touristy” and each time we’ve visited while the island was busy it was never overly crowded. If your family is looking to vacation where there’s a mini-golf, a cineplex, go-karting, bustling night life and an abundance of shopping within walking distance, Kiawah might not be the vacation destination for you. There’s not a shortage of things to do on Kiawah, but it’s designed to relax, refresh and get away from the hectic schedules of life. While it’s been a few years since we’ve been to Kiawah, our kids enjoy playing on the wide open beaches, exploring the nature preserves and riding bikes.
Where to Stay: We’ve stayed in a several different places on Kiawah. Our favorite was a cottage we rented in the Inlet Cover area of the island (https://www.vrbo.com/4423849ha). While the beach was a short walk away, the rental had plenty of space and the screened porch overlooked the inlet water and was so nice and relaxing. A screened porch is a must if you’re not beach front as the bugs can get bad in the evenings especially near wet marshy areas.
Of course if you’re budget’s a bit larger than ours The luxurious Sanctuary Hotel looked extremely inviting!
If staying at a luxury resort is something you’re up for, check out this review by Gina of Kids Unplugged.
Explore the Bike Trails – If you’ve been reading along on our favorite beach vacation posts, you’ll find that one of our favorite activities on vacation is biking. It’s a great activity that we can do together as a family and we all enjoy. There are miles of smoothly paved bike paths on the island. Most of the paths wind through shaded neighborhoods and nature preserves and are relatively flat so it’s a nice easy ride. Biking’s a great alternative activity when the midday sun is high and you’re looking for some shade.
On our last trip to Kiawah, which was a few years back, we biked daily to the shopping village for ice cream treats or out to one of the many nature preserve areas. Both of our kids loved riding in the bike trailer. Though last summer was the final bike trailer ride for our youngest; they get big so fast (sigh!).
Visit Fresh Fields Village – Visiting the quaint Fresh Fields Village with its cute boutiques, nice market and variety of dining options was a lot fun of too. Vincent’s Drug Store and Soda Fountain shop is a retro stop with an old-fashioned, small town vibe, it’s a fun place to get a milkshake and fries.
Fresh Fields is also connected to the bike paths which makes biking for an ice cream break fun and convenient. Also, be sure to check the events calendar before you visit. Every Wednesday night June through mid-August there’s a free family-friendly movie on the lawn. You can find the latest the events calendar for the Fresh Fields Village here: http://www.freshfieldsvillage.com/events
Explore the Nature Preserves – Kiawah has many nature preserve areas and the paved bike trails are a great way to see the island. Our kids really liked visiting Marsh Island Park and climbing to the top of the observatory tower. From the top of the three story tower, you can see a vast marshland and lots of wildlife. There are several nature preserve areas throughout the island and most of them have decked or paved walking paths for visitors to explore. Here’s couple of cuties checking out some tiny crabs:
Visit Charleston – While there are plenty of recreational activities on Kiawah Island, one of the great things about Kiawah is its proximity to Charleston. It’s about a 40 minute trip but certainly worth the drive. Charleston is a beautiful city with tons of southern charm. We enjoyed waterfront dining at Fleet Landing, visiting the Charleston City Market, shopping on King’s street and visiting Fort Sumter.
The Fleet Landing restaurant through modern and fresh decor, has a nautical theme which gives a nod to its history as a “landing” which the Navy utilized to offload sailors and supplies until 1970. The landing was aptly positioned just in front of the historic US Customs House. Inside the restaurant, the wrap around deck and large glass windows offer an unobstructed, beautiful view of the Charleston Harbor. Aside from the history and decor, Fleet Landing’s menu did not disappoint; the “Charleston Shrimp & Grits” were delicious!
Fleet Landing was a pretty popular dinner location, but don’t worry if there’s a long wait, you can pass the time by taking a nice stroll through the adjacent waterfront park where you can enjoy views of the harbor under the live oak trees and admire the beautiful, southern architecture of the historic homes that line the edge of the park.
Shopping in Charleston is also another fun activity. First there’s the Charleston City Market which is a craft bazaar and farmers market combined. There are hundreds of booths with local artisans and craftsmen selling their wares. Put on some comfortable shoes and plan to spend several hours to take in all that the market has to offer. King street is also near by with lots of shops, boutiques and restaurants. Both are great spots to grab some great souvenirs.
No visit to Charleston would be complete without visiting Fort Sumter, as well. Fort Sumter is situated on a sandbar, turned man-made island in the Charleston harbor. Once on the island you can explore the fort ruins at your own pace and learn more about the history in the small museum and gift shop.
Of course, even if some of the members of your group aren’t enthusiastic about history, the cruise out to the island and around the Charleston Harbor are worth the trip.
Just across the harbor in Mt. Pleasant, SC you can visit a decommissioned aircraft carrier, the USS Yorktown. The self-guided tour allows you to freely explore the belly of the naval vessel, from staterooms, to the sick bay, mess hall, and hangar it’s fun to explore the ship. In the hangar and on the main deck you can see an assortment of aircraft up close. Some are even set-up so you can sit in the cockpit! Our little guy loved exploring the ship and seeing all of the aircraft up close!
We have enjoyed every one of our visits to Kiawah and the Charleston area, it’s a great spot to recharge and savor some family time. If you get a chance to visit, I’d love to hear about your favorite spots.