How to have an [ALMOST] Free Summer

How to have an {almost} free summer in Charleston! If you have kids that will be home all summer, there’s no doubt you will be looking for awesome ways to keep them busy! This guide will walk you through the freebies, low cost activities and even how to save when it comes to some of our most popular attractions!

Our calendar will be full all summer with fun evjents, including many that are free! If you aren’t signed up to get our emails, make sure to do that now so you can keep up with everything! Check out our post about 99 places to take your kids in Charleston 

We have plenty of fun summertime posts – Check out Last Year’s Bucket List [Some links will be for last year], Summer Curriculum, and Spray Pools and Water Parks


  1. Local libraries – All over Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester Counties
    • Free events daily,  check out free books and movies all summer long! Don’t forget about their summer reading How to have an almost free summer | BelliesBeyond.comprogram to earn free prizes for more fun activities around Charleston!
  2. Natural History Museum – 202 Calhoun Street. Open daily from 11am-4pm
    • Exhibits that are great for all ages!
  3. Free Bowling – Swamp Fox Lanes in Moncks Corner
    • Sign up here and your children can get 2 free games of bowling every day! {{Shoe rental is not included, varies by bowling center}}
  4. Parks and Beaches – Our beautiful city is home to awesome parks and beaches! Most of the area has free parking!
    • Water Front Park, Charleston
    • Memorial Water Front Park, Mount Pleasant
    • Hampton Park
  5. Gateway Walk – This awesome tour is free and a great way to learn a little history while having fun!
  6. Visit the Angel Oak Tree!
  7. Hike the Palmetto Trail
  8. Play in the spray pool at Water Front Park – 1 Vendue Lane
  9.  Walk the Cooper River Bridge – You will have amazing views on Charleston and sometimes can even spot some wild life in the water!
  10. Walk through the Market, this may cost you because of the shops but to visit is free!
  11. Visit Botany Bay! This is on the way to Edisto but it is an experience you don’t want to miss!
  12. The Great Swamp Sanctuary – 1273 Sniders Hwy, Walterboro SC.  Hiking trails and boardwalk through the swamp, beaver pond, duck pond and butterfly garden
  13. Forde Doll House – 500 Hampton St, Walterboro.  See a selection of antique dolls, doll houses and miniatures [there are tea parties every Friday and Saturday for a cost]
  14. Ace Basin National Wildlife Refuge – 8675 Willtown Rd, Hollywood. Open daily during daylight hours, you can see wildlife, hike, canoe, fish and more!
  15. Santee Coastal Reserve – 220 Santee Gun Club Rd, McClellanvile.  Hike multiple trails through the marsh and swamp, see local wildlife and more!
  16. Sewee Visitor and Environmental Education Center – 5821 Hwy 17, Awendaw
  17. Awendaw Passage – 17N, Awendaw Buck Hall Recreation Area
  18. Charleston Pinckney National Historic Site -1254 Long Point Rd, Mt Pleasant
  19. Walterboro Wildlife Santuary – 399 Detreville, Walterboro. Hiking, education, scenic
  20. West Ashley Greenway – South Windemere Shopping Center – Johns Island
  21. Karpeles Manuscript Museum – 68 Spring Street, Charleston.  Visit the museum to see original manuscripts on loan.  Open 11am-4pm Tuesday through Friday
  22. Avery Research Center for African American History – 125 Bull St, Charleston.  Learn about African American culture during a tour by appointment, daily.
  23. Citadel Dress Parades – most Fridays at Sumerall Field

Don’t forget to check out where kids eat free all week long!

Cheap Options

  • Local Movie Theaters offer previously released titles at discounted rates, starting at $1
  • GloZone has GloGolf for $3/game! (Lazer Tag is $7/game)
  • American LaFrance Fire Museum – $6/adults but 12 and under are free!
  • Micheal’s Passport to Imagination
    • All summer long Michael’s has crafts on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for $2/class.  The summer has a passport theme and there plenty of options for fun crafts.  You can sign up for one or all of the crafts!
  • Powder Magazine – $5/adults, $2/children
    • They have Saturday events, but open daily for visits
  • Fort Moultrie – $3/adults, kids are free
    • Daily programs, and tours
  • Edisto Museum – $5/ adults, $2/students, kids under 10 FREE
  • Colonial Dorchester State Park – $2/adults, kids under 15 FREE
    • Geocashing, walking tours, history and more!
  • County Parks
    • James Island County Park – $2/person and 2 and under are FREE
      • Spray Pool, Play Ground, Picnic Area, Hiking Trails included in admission. 
    • Palmetto Islands County Park – $2/person and 2 and under are FREE
      • Playground, Picnic Area, Hiking Trails including in admission
    • Wanamaker County Park – $2/person and 2 and under are FREE
      • Playground, Picnic Area, Hiking Trails, Spray Pool included in admission
    • **A yearly park pass is $70-$85 depending on your residency and includes admission for everyone in your car daily and admission into many of the festivals the parks host throughout the year! Bonus you can park for free at IOP with your pass! 

How to save on popular attractions –

  • The Charleston Museum – Adults $10/Kids $5
    • They have many kids programs that are free for members.  A membership for 2 adults and all children in the same household is $60/per year.  This would equal 3 visits for 1 adult and two children!
  • South Carolina Aquarium – Adults $24.95-$29.95/Kids $17.95-$22.95
    • Membership benefits include many members only events (including several mermaid shows) before hours! The cost varies from two adults and all children in the household for $169 (Around two visits for a family of 4)  to a family plus that includes 2 adults, kids and 2 guests for $209(About 2.5 visits for a family of 4)!
  • Charles Towne Landing – Adults $10/Kids 6-15 $6/5 and under FREE
    • Membership passes include all state parks in South Carolina (there are 47 of them). The pass includes everyone in your car.  $76 per year
  • The Children’s Museum – 2 and up $10/Under 1- FREE
    • Membership benefits include extra hours, discounts on parties and camps, first options on camps and more! Family membership includes 2 parents and all children in the household for $95 (Around 2-3 visits) or a Family Plus Membership includes 2 parents, all children in the household and one guest for $125
  • Magnolia Plantation – Adults $15/Kids 6-12 $10/5 and under FREE
    • The membership includes basic admission for parents and all the kids in the household.  Tours are not included, there is a discount in the gift shop and additional guest.  The membership is $100/year which equals about 2 visits for a family of four!
  • Charleston Riverdogs – Each Sunday is Kids Club and there is free parking and kids eat free! You can also sign up for Charlie’s Kids Club for FREE and get free tickets during the Sunday games plus plenty of other great perks!
    • Home Sunday games are May 8, May 22, June 12, July 3 [Fireworks], July 17, July 31, August 7 [Mascot Mania], August 21.
  • Water Parks – Our local water parks are a great way to stay cool this summer but the prices can add up quickly! Save if you are active or retired military on Mondays and BOGO Tickets on Tuesdays. You can also save by purchasing a Splash Pass or Super Splash Pass.  The Splash Pass includes admission into Splash Zone and Splash Island with a discounted rate of $9.99 at Whirlin Waters and free admission into the parks during the water park season – $59.99/person, you can add a guest for $119.98,  and 2 guests $179.97(Equals about 6 visits at Splash Zone).  The Super Splash Pass includes admission into all 3 water parks and parks during the water park season – $89.99/person, add one guests $179.98 , add two guests $269.97(Nine visits for a family of 3 to Splash Zone, or 5 visits to Whirlin Waters).
    • Splash Zone at James Island County Park – Adults $11.99, children under 48″ $8.99, under 2 free (Plus the cost to enter the park – $2/per person)
      • After 3pm during the week everyone pays $6.99 (They are open until 6)
    • Splash Island at Palmetto Islands County Park – Adults $7.99, children under 48″ $5.99, under 2 free (Plus the cost to enter the park – $2/per person)
      • After 3pm during the week everyone pays $4.99 (They are open until 6)
    • Whirlin Waters at Wannamaker County Park – Adults $19.99, children under 48″ $14.99, under 2 free (Plus the cost to enter the park – $2/per person)
      • After 3pm during the week everyone pays $9.99 (They are open until 6)
  • Wild Blue Ropes – Become a member and climb 4 times a month for $29! There are other perks like being able to bring a friend for free, discounted drinks and gear, a free tshirt and more! The normal climbs run $19-$35 so this is a steal!

Where kids 5 and under are FREE

  • Magnolia Plantation – Adults $15/Kids 6-12 $10 [5 and under FREE]
  • Charles Towne Landing – Adults $10/Kids 6-15 $6 [5 and under FREE]
  • American LaFrance Fire Museum – Adults(13 and up) $6 [12 and under FREE]
  • Old Exchange Building/Provost Dungeon –  Adults $10/Kids 7-12 $5 [6 and under FREE]
  • Fort Moultrie – Adults $3 [Kids are FREE]
  • Yorktown – Adults $20/Kids 6-11 $12 [5 and under FREE]
  • Middleton Play – Adults $28, 6-13 $10 [5 and under FREE]
  • Drayton Hall – Adults $22, 12-18 $10, 6-11 $6 [5 and under FREE] *AAA memeber save $1, Military save $2
  • Hunley Submarine Tours – Adults $16/Kids 6-17 $8 [5 and under Free] *Tours are only on Saturday and Sunday.
  • Boone Hall Plantation – Adults $24/Kids 6-12 $12 [5 and under FREE]
  • Edisto Museum – Adults $5/Students $2 [10 and under FREE]
  • Edisto Beach State Park – Adults $5/Kids 6-15 $3 [5 and under FREE]
  • Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site – Adults $2 [15 and under FREE]

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