From chain hotels to luxury boutiques - best lodging options for families
Charleston is one of the hottest tourist destinations in the U.S. right now, so staying here is going to come at a price; but from chain hotels to luxury boutiques, there’s something for everyone. Your best budget bets will be outside of the city in nearby Mt. Pleasant, West Ashley, and North Charleston. Be sure to ask about package deals with area attractions like the aquarium or carriage tours, when booking. Summer is peak tourist season, which means high prices and even higher temperatures and humidity.
1/The Cottages at Charleston Harbor
16 Patriots Point Rd., Mt. Pleasant
Hotels are fun and exciting for a night or two, but when your family is sharing one room for longer than that, you begin to crave a little space. Staying at the Cottages at Charleston Harbor is like renting a perfect, tiny house for your family. Each cottage has two bedrooms, three full bathrooms, full kitchen, living room, laundry area, and screened-in porch with rocking chairs and hammock. Best of all, the staff is amazing! They make you feel like you’re guests in their home. You'll be welcomed into your private cottage with a fruit and cheese platter. Later head out to the clubhouse to swim in the pool or soak in the hot tub. Borrow bikes and cruise around the Patriots Point area. When you come back, there'll be snacks and lemonade waiting in the clubhouse. Breakfast with lots of choices is included. Starts $344/night.
KidTripster Tip: Book early and request one of the cottages on the beach. If you can’t bear to leave your pet behind, don’t! Some of the cottages are pet-friendly.
2/Belmond Charleston Place
205 Meeting St.
If you’re looking for luxury, you’ve come to the right place. Belmond Charleston Place is consistently ranked among the best resorts in the world. The lobby’s 12-foot crystal chandelier and swirling staircases will take your breath away! The rooms are luxurious, and the staff is beyond attentive. The hotel has a full service spa, upscale shops, and the Charleston Grill, a super swanky restaurant with nightly live jazz. Kids will love the rooftop pool with retractable glass roof. Starts $344/night.
3/Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina
20 Patriots Point Rd., Mt. Pleasant
In the same complex as The Cottages, you’ll find the Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina. This hotel has a distinctive red tin roof that you’ll spot across the harbor. It has a fun resort vibe with sandy beaches, tiki bars, huge pool, and harbor views of Patriots Point and the U.S.S. Yorktown. Be sure to eat at The Fish House, my son’s pick for every birthday meal. Starts $154/night.
KidTripster Tip: The marina is one of the launching spots for the super affordable Charleston Water Taxi, which runs between Mt. Pleasant and Charleston every hour.
4/Embassy Suites Historic Charleston
337 Meeting St.
Just down the street from the South Carolina Aquarium and on the edge of Marion Square is Embassy Suites Historic Charleston. It looks a bit like a castle, because it’s the original location of The Citadel Military College of South Carolina. All of the rooms are suites with kitchenettes; breakfast is included. This hotel also has a small pool, which is a great way to make the kids happy. We love to stay at Embassy Suites hotels, because of the separate sleeping areas and the nightly free cocktails and snacks. Starts $214/night.
170 Lockwood Blvd.
This Charleston Marriott is right next to Ashley River, a few miles away from the heart of downtown. It has a pool, free parking, and shuttle service to the historic district. It’s right down the street from The Citadel and Joe Riley Park, home of the Charleston RiverDogs minor league baseball team. On game nights, you might catch a firework show from the rooftop bar. Starts $209/night.
6/DoubleTree by Hilton Historic District Charleston
KidTripster Tip: This hotel is right around the corner from the Peninsula Grill, one of my favorite special occasion restaurants. Even if you don’t take the whole family for dinner, it’s worth going for the world-famous, 12-layer Ultimate Coconut Cake. It’s amazing!
7/French Quarter Inn
166 Church St.
Anyone who travels with kids can look forward to being welcomed with a glass of champagne at the French Quarter Inn, a luxury boutique hotel in the heart of Charleston’s historic district. The hotel offers rooms and suites with mini refrigerators and free gourmet continental breakfast that can even be delivered to your room. There’s all-day coffee service, iced tea and snacks, nightly wine and cheese reception, Port wine nightcap service, and evening turndown service. Your kids’ favorite will be the warm cookies and milk. The hotel also offers free bike rentals; there’s no pool. Starts $354 /night.
8/Francis Marion Hotel
387 King St.
The historic Francis Marion Hotel is in the heart of it all. Just down the street from The College of Charleston, you’re within two blocks of lots of casual restaurants and fun shops. It’s also right across the street from Marion Square, home to the Charleston Farmers Market; the weekly market features local growers, foot carts, local arts, and kids’ fair. Marion Square also hosts holiday displays. The hotel is just a short walk from the South Carolina Aquarium and the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry. Sorry, no pool here. Starts $170/ night.
9/Water's Edge Inn Island Villas
79 2nd St. West, Folly Beach
The Water’s Edge Inn Island Villas are another great spot for families. Each villa has three bedrooms, three full baths, screened porches, kitchen, washer and dryer, and spacious living area. The inn provides complimentary breakfast and happy hour, including its popular Folly Punch, as well as a golf cart shuttle service to and from the beach and local restaurants. Starts $329/night.
10/Wild Dunes Resort
5757 Palm Blvd., Isle of Palms
The Wild Dunes Resort is on the very end of Isle of Palms, a barrier island about a half-hour drive from Charleston. The resort offers lots of family-friendly activities, including water sports, games, crafts, tennis, golf, biking, and nature adventures. In the summer, there are countless programs like kids’ camps and sports clinics. There's special programming when you visit on holidays, as well. You’ll have your pick of several types of accommodations, like a hotel, one- to four-bedroom villas, and three- to 11-bedroom homes. There are several restaurants and snack bars. Wild Dunes is a bit isolated, so stock up at the Harris Teeter supermarket as you arrive on the Isle of Palms. Starts $163/night.
KidTripster Tip: Visit the My Favorite Things gift shop on IOP to see Bubba the Parrot. Your kids will be amazed by his large vocabulary. Then drive to nearby Sullivan’s Island and eat at Poe’s Tavern, named for Edgar Allen Poe, who was once stationed at Fort Moultrie on the island. Ask for the kids’ menu (the waiters don’t always hand them out); for Mom and Dad, order the buffalo shrimp tacos.
Stephanie Hughes Pratt is a former television reporter and mom to two kids, ages 9 and 7, living outside Charleston, South Carolina. She is married to a fellow journalist, and the family has lived all over the U.S. She suffers from a severe case of wanderlust and is always looking for the next great adventure.