As we’ve mentioned before, Charleston is a great day trip from Columbia. Besides the beach, aquariums, museums and market, Charleston is also home to many festivals. One such festival is Tall Ships Charleston.
Tall Ships Charleston is a yearly festival that provides families with a “walk through maritime history with a majestic fleet of International Tall Ships.” This year, the festival is from May 19-21.
Family-Friendly Activities Offered
Historic Ship Tours
These ships are from countries all over the world, and each ship has their own crew from its native country. This year, they have ships from Canada, Germany, Argentina, Spain, and the Netherlands. A $15 boarding pass (children 4 and under are free) gives you access to all of the ships offering tours.
The cruise will take you down the Cooper River to the Ravenel Bridge and back to the Shipyard. Tickets are $60+ per person, and children must be 5 or older to participate.
Family Boat Building
Over the course of two days, The Lowcountry Maritime Society will provide families with the instructions and support they need to make their own 12’ wooden skiff. The cost is $625, which covers the materials for the boat.
Younger kids will most likely enjoy the Pirate Camp that is set up close to the dock. At the camp, children can meet pirates and learn the differences between pirates, privateers, and buccaneers. The camp is free to all visitors.
Food and Restrooms
There are a variety food trucks and vendors at the festival, but you can also bring your own food and drinks. (Just don’t try to bring food on the ship tours.) There are “Nature Calls” porta potties located throughout the festival, which may either be super exciting or terrifying for young children.
I went to the festival on a budget, so I only participated in the ship tours ($15 per person with children 4 and under free) and the pirate camp (free). I really liked the ship tour. The boats are made to be toured, so there are interactive displays and signs throughout your walk through. Each ship’s crew is also available to answer questions. Because there is a passenger limit on the boats, the lines can be rather lengthy. I ended up skipping several tours because I didn’t want to wait in line.
The pirate camp was educational but small, so I didn’t end up spending too much time there. Based on the others who arrived the same time as I did, you can expect to spend 1-2 hours at the festival if you only go for the ship tours and free events. They also have cannon and arms demonstrations every two hours, so if you budget that amount of time to be at the event, you’ll be able to catch at least one demonstration.
- The $5 parking is worth it.
- I would recommend getting to the event through the GPS coordinates provided online.
- Wear sunscreen, and try to come early. The festival is almost exclusively outdoors, so you will get hot and the last thing you want to do is leave with a sunburn.
Kids will probably only last 1-2 hours at this event. Unless you are doing the cruise or family boat building events, I would say this festival is worth going to only if you have other things planned to do in Charleston.