Kiawah Island with Kids: 40 Best Things To Do on Kiawah Island, SC

Bask in the seaside charm of Kiawah Island.
Bask in the seaside charm of Kiawah Island.
8/5/23 - By Kelly Patino

Kiawah Island, SC is a southern oasis known for world-class golfing, 10 miles of pristine beaches, unbeatable hospitality, and tons of fun things to do with kids. The island centers around the Kiawah Island Golf Resort and its endless family activities, from swimming and water sports to biking and arts and crafts. Just 25 miles from Charleston, Kiawah Island is the perfect place for a relaxing, fun, and memorable family vacation.

From the luxurious Sanctuary Hotel to spacious villas, home rentals, and cottages, Kiawah Island offers a variety of accommodations to suit any family’s size and budget. Many of these are managed by Kiawah Island Golf Resort, which gives guests access to all of the resort's amenities.

Here are 40 of our favorite things to do on Kiawah Island, South Carolina with kids, including the best family-friendly restaurants. For more Southern family vacation ideas, take a look at our Southern States Vacation Guide, which includes more South Carolina locales like Columbia and Hilton Head.

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Biking: Kiawah Island with Kids: 40 Best Things To Do on Kiawah Island, SC
Biking is the best way to get around Kiawah Island.

Best Things To Do on Kiawah Island, SC with Kids Other Than the Beach

1. Biking

The best way to get around Kiawah Island is by renting a bike. There are all kinds of children's and adult bike options available, including tag-a-long bikes and bikes with child seats or tow carts. Helmets for kids are included. We love riding in the morning with both of our kids still in pjs, especially on the flat beach. Biking and bike parking are very easy throughout Kiawah Island.

2. Night Heron Park

This park has an amazing, fully wooden playground with swings, slides, bridges, a climbing wall, and more fun features. There are two designated areas for younger and older kids. The park also has soccer fields and basketball courts—just bring a ball and you're all set!

3. Freshfields Village

The 30-plus stores at this outdoor shopping and dining center have Kiawah Island-specific merchandise available from brands like Vineyard Vines and Faherty. Kids will especially love browsing at Indigo Books and shopping for souvenirs at Islands Mercantile.

RELATED: 25 Fun Things to in Greenville, SC with Kids

Night Heron Family Pool: Kiawah Island with Kids: 40 Best Things To Do on Kiawah Island, SC
What kind of float will you ride on at Night Heron Family Pool?

4. Night Heron Family Pool

This pool is great for swimming, but you also just have to buy a unique float from the pool’s retail booth. We got a dragon float that my son sat on for over an hour while pretending to battle other floats, which included llamas wearing sunglasses, colorful zebras, donuts, video-game controllers, and more. It felt like a parade in the pool. From Memorial Day through August, Night Heron Family Pool also hosts movie nights that are lots of fun.

Night Heron Children's Pool: Kiawah Island with Kids: 40 Best Things To Do on Kiawah Island, SC
Night Heron Children's Pool offers loads of water fun for kids. 

5. Night Heron Children's Pool

This children's pool is fun for kids of all ages, from tots to teens. There's a big splash pad with a toddler-sized gator slide, bucket swings, splashers, and dumping buckets. My 5-year-old and 2-year-old spend hours here. There are also two open-flume slides for bigger kids to enjoy. Night Heron Poolside Grill & Bar is available when hunger strikes—the wraps are my favorite.

6. West Beach Pool

Located near Kiawah Island Golf Resort's entrance, West Beach Pool is smaller than Night Heron, but it has a water playground for young kids with kiddie slides and spray features. There's also a pool that's five feet deep, but you won’t see pool floats there. The on-site West Beach Cantina offers poolside bites. Both West Beach Pool and Night Heron Pool host a classic summer pool party with music, games, and entertainment on select days, so check the daily events page for dates.

7. The Turtles’ Nest Art Studio

This art studio provides scheduled classes as well as open studio time with a variety of projects like pottery, painting, glass fusing, and even candle making. Certain activities have age requirements, so check the website ahead of time. If your finished project isn't ready before you leave the island, the studio will ship it to your home.

RELATED: 25 Fun Things To Do in Myrtle Beach, SC with Kids

Golfing: Kiawah Island with Kids: 40 Best Things To Do on Kiawah Island, SC
Even kids can enjoy Kiawah Island's top-rated golf courses.

8. Golfing

Kiawah Island Golf Resort is known for its top-rated and pristine 18-hole golf courses. There are five total: Ocean Course, Osprey Point, Cougar Point, Turtle Point, and Oak Point. Bring or rent clubs and head out for a round of golf as a family. Hit up the pro shop for a souvenir after a round.

9. Kamp Kiawah and Camp Xtreme

These camps at Kiawah Island Golf Resort offer half- and full-day options for ages 3-13. Kamp Kiawah is packed with fun for ages 3-7, with entertaining themed days like The Greatest Show, Disney Day, and Shark Week. Camp Xtreme offers sports, scavenger hunts, swimming, and more for ages 8-13. Call ahead to reserve a camp spot. Trust me—your child will be asking to go back the next day, as my son did.

10. Heron Park Nature Center

See snakes, turtles, gators, and other animals up close at this small, but fun (and free) nature center. It's great for a rainy day, and young kids really like it.

Family Crafts at Night Heron Park: Kiawah Island with Kids: 40 Best Things To Do on Kiawah Island, SC
Make necklaces and other fun crafts at Night Heron Park.

11. Family Crafts at Night Heron Park

Make a shark’s tooth or seashell necklace, stuff a teddy bear, create a tie-dye t-shirt, or do another unique craft ;at Night Heron Park for a fee. Check out Kiawah Island Golf Resort's daily events page to find out when these craft hours are happening.

12. Ice Ice Idol

Ice Ice Idol is a summer favorite happening on select evenings at Night Heron Park Stage (check the daily events page for dates). Break out your singing talent and perform in front of judges or enjoy the show from the crowd. Don’t forget to buy a snow cone for a cool treat.

13. Gator Spotting

There are tons of alligators throughout Kiawah Island, and as long as you keep a safe distance, they are fun to look for around lakes, ponds, and other water areas. I found the most near Night Heron Pool bridge.

RELATED: 12 Best Places to Visit in the South, USA with Kids

The beach: Kiawah Island with Kids: 40 Best Things To Do on Kiawah Island, SC
Perfect beach days abound on Kiawah Island.

Things to Do on the Beach with Kids on Kiawah Island, SC

Kiawah Island's 10-mile private beach is gorgeous, wide, and well-maintained. You won't be on top of others or fighting to find a spot for your chairs, and the sand is perfect for building sandcastles. All of the houses on the waterfront have a southern charm that gives the beach a quaint feel.

14. Swimming

The waves are calm on Kiawah Island's beach, making it perfect for younger kids to swim. Just keep an eye out for jellyfish—there can be lots of them, and they're often huge.

Kiawah Island with Kids: 40 Best Things To Do on Kiawah Island, SC
The calm waters make boogie boarding a breeze for kids.

15. Boarding

A favorite beach activity for my son is to rent a boogie board for the day. It's affordable, and the calm tide is kid-friendly. You can also rent skimboards, surfboards, and stand-up paddleboards.

16. Beach Sports

The beach is flat, so it's easy to play sports on it. We bought a putter and golf ball and played beach mini golf. My husband also made a baseball field and had a home run derby. We've seen families playing football Frisbee, catch, and bocce as well.

17. Searching for Sea Turtles

Sea turtles come out at night, but it needs to be really dark to see them. We went out too early the first time on our turtle hunt. Bring a flashlight to ensure you don’t step on any sea turtles.

18. Professional Family Photos

With its gorgeous backdrops, the Kiawah Island beach is the perfect place for a professional family photo shoot. Kiawah Island Photo and Beach Photography Kiawah Island are two companies you can hire for photos you'll cherish for years to come.

RELATED: Top 10 North Carolina Beaches for Families

Kiawah Island with Kids: 40 Best Things To Do on Kiawah Island, SC
Find lots of seashell treasures on the Kiawah Island beaches. 

19. Shelling

Kiawah Island is a sheller's paradise, with loads of beautiful seashells (including conch shells) to be found. My kids had fun digging in the sand to find shells, then building a village out of them. This kept them busy for over an hour.

More Fun Attractions on Kiawah Island, SC with Kids

20. Dolphin Encounters

Take a 90-minute ride aboard a custom-built eco-tour boat to search for Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins in Kiawah Island's marshes, inlets, and creeks. Reserve a spot through Heron Park Nature Center.

21. Pickleball

Pickleball has become an increasingly popular sport, and Kiawah Island has plenty of courts to enjoy the game as a family. Check out the Pickleball Weekly Schedule for open play times offered almost daily, or pay to reserve a court. Pickleball lessons are also offered for adults and for kids ages 6-11 and 12-17 years old.

22. Tennis Lessons

With 22 courts, the Roy Barth Tennis Center is open year round and offers private lessons for individuals or families.

23. Kayaking

Take a two-hour kayak tour around Kiawah Island’s marshes. Wear a bathing suit and water shoes, as you will get wet. Children must be 8 or older with an adult, and no experience is necessary.

24. Shelling Expeditions

If collecting seashells on the beach isn't enough for your kids, take a boat ride to a remote barrier island to find even more gorgeous shells. A shell limit is enforced to conserve the beach. Boat ride includes other parties, up to 49 people total. Check the daily events page to find out when these expeditions are offered.

25. Fishing

Take a boat ride to enjoy some catch-and-release fishing as a family (no more than six people are allowed). A captain will guide you along the water and help you fish. To reserve a fishing trip, call 843-768-6001.

The Ryder Cup Bar at the Ocean Course: Kiawah Island with Kids: 40 Best Things To Do on Kiawah Island, SC
Watch golfers in action while dining at the Ryder Cup Bar at the Ocean Course.

Best Kiawah Island Restaurants for Families

26. The Ryder Cup Bar at the Ocean Course

This is my family’s favorite place ever. Open for lunch and dinner, it is walk-in only, so plan ahead because it gets crowded. Enjoy gorgeous views of the Ocean Course while the kids play on the putting green (bring golf balls and a child-sized putter) or the infinite grass space while waiting for their food. Post-meal, grab a rocking chair on the wraparound patio. This is the place to get family photos with beautiful scenery, so dress in your best.

27. Jasmine Porch at the Sanctuary

Located in the Sanctuary Hotel, Jasmine Porch offers a true southern meal. Reservations are required for dinner, but you can walk in for breakfast and lunch. The seafood and produce are all local, making the meal feel extra special and fresh. Fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, and the po’boy sandwich are a few of my favorites. For breakfast, choose between the buffet or a traditional sit-down meal.

28. Cherrywood BBQ & Ale House at Osprey Point Clubhouse

Another favorite of mine is Cherrywood BBQ for a mouthwatering dining experience and award-winning pulled pork. I recommend ordering the family-style platter, which has five meats and two very large sides (cornbread, mac and cheese, and BBQ pit beans are my favorites). The platter says it's for four people, but it truly can feed two families. Lunch and dinner are offered with reservations. Like Ryder Cup Bar, Cherrywood is on a golf course, so kids can play on the putting green pre- or post-meal.

RELATED: OBX with Kids: 25 Things To Do in the Outer Banks, North Carolina

Mingo Point Oyster Roast and BBQ: Kiawah Island with Kids: 40 Best Things To Do on Kiawah Island, SC
Have some fun along with a delicious meal at Mingo Point Oyster Roast and BBQ.

29. Mingo Point Oyster Roast and BBQ

Open from April through Labor Day, this restaurant is a favorite on Kiawah Island. Reserve a spot online and get there a little early—tables are first come, first served. Enjoy a buffet-style meal with BBQ favorites, a Lowcountry boil, hot dogs, and more, followed by a huge dessert buffet. Watch oysters being roasted, shucked, and served right in front of you. And listen to family-friendly live music while the kids play with hula hoops. Kids get a scavenger hunt at the entrance and receive a prize at the end once completed.

30. La Tela Pizzeria

This pizza joint in Freshfields Village is open for walk-in lunch and dinner on Tuesday through Saturday. It serves up yummy Neapolitan-style pizza and plenty of pasta dishes made in-house, so get ready to indulge. Bonus: Kids can watch the chefs at work in the open-concept kitchen.

31. The Players' Pub at Cougar Point Clubhouse

This family-centric restaurant has kid-menu classics like chicken tenders, grilled cheese, and burgers with tons of fries, plus delicious appetizers and sandwiches. It serves both lunch and dinner daily, but I love it for lunch. Watch sports on several TVs while you eat, then hang out on the porch in Adirondack chairs and enjoy golf views of Cougar Point while the kids run and play.

32. Vincent's Drugstore and Soda Fountain

Bask in the old-school vibes of this drugstore and soda fountain in Freshfields Village. Sit at a silver counter while enjoying a cold treat like a sundae or a root beer float. The hours are extremely limited (11am-3pm Monday through Friday and 11am-1pm Saturday), but it's worth a visit if you can make it there.

Equestrian Center — Seabrook Island: Kiawah Island with Kids: 40 Best Things To Do on Kiawah Island, SC
Ride horses and ponies at the Equestrian Center on Seabrook Island.

Family-Friendly Day Trips From Kiawah Island, SC

33. Horseback Riding at the Equestrian Center — Seabrook Island

Less than 10 minutes from Kiawah Island, the Equestrian Center is a fun place for all ages to experience horses. Pony rides for ages 7 and under are available in 30-minute time slots. Scenic trail rides (ages 8 and up) and beach rides (ages 12 and up) are also offered. The Equestrian Center is one of the few places on the East Coast that offers horseback riding on the beach. Call in advance to reserve.

Kiawah Island with Kids: 40 Best Things To Do on Kiawah Island, SC
The Angel Oak Tree is quite a sight to behold.

34. Angel Oak Tree — St. John’s Island

About 25 minutes from Kiawah Island, this is a great stop on the way to or from Charleston Airport. One of the oldest live oak trees (estimated to be 400-500 years old), the 65-foot Angel Oak Tree is historic to the area and very interesting to see. Just make sure to watch your children—climbing is not allowed.

35. Charleston

This city about 45 minutes from Kiawah Island has it all—beautiful beaches, kid-friendly museums and historic sites, pretty parks and gardens, and loads of southern charm. Visit the South Carolina Aquarium, explore the Old Exchange building downtown (including the dungeon where pirates and Revolutionary War prisoners were held), and play at the Children's Museum of the Lowcountry.

36. Patriots Point — Mount Pleasant

Learn about sea life during World War II and the Vietnam War at this naval museum near Charleston. It includes historic ships like the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier and the USS Laffey destroyer, 28 historic aircraft, a Medal of Honor Museum, and more. Bonus: It's free for kids under 6.

RELATED: Asheville with Kids: 40 Best Things To Do in Asheville, NC

 The Sanctuary Hotel: Kiawah Island with Kids: 40 Best Things To Do on Kiawah Island, SC
The Sanctuary Hotel is a luxurious place to stay on Kiawah Island.

Best Family-Friendly Kiawah Island Hotels and Accommodations

37. The Sanctuary Hotel

Part of the Kiawah Island Golf Resort, this luxurious oceanfront hotel defines old-school glam with over 200 five-star-rated rooms. High ceilings, antique decor, and grand furniture fill the 100-year-old property with elegance and southern charm. It’s top-notch, with on-site amenities including a Forbes-recognized spa (kids' manicures and pedicures are available for ages 5-10), indoor and outdoor pools, a fitness center, and more. Grab ice cream at the on-site Beaches & Cream and enjoy it on the hotel's expansive lawn area, which has Adirondack chairs, fire pits, and more.

38. Kiawah Villas

Stay in a spacious villa with a kitchen, laundry facilities, and many other comforts of home while still enjoying all of the amenities and activities of the Kiawah Island Golf Resort. The Windswept Villas are my family's favorite since we can walk to the beach from them in under three minutes.

39. Kiawah Island Vacation Homes

Vacation homes of various sizes are located all around the island, many of which come with resort access and private pools. These are ideal for extended or multiple families that want to stay all together in one place.

40. Charleston Kiawah Island/Andell Inn

This boutique hotel within Freshfields Villaqe features a saltwater pool, a variety of rooms and suites (some with kitchens), a free breakfast buffet, and complimentary shuttle service to and from the beach. Plus, you'll have the shops and restaurants of Freshfields right at your fingertips.

Photos by the author

This article contains some affiliate links, which means we might earn a small commission if you book a hotel or activity. There is no extra cost to the reader. We only recommend hotels and services that we have personally used or have thoroughly researched.

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