Daniel Island with Kids: 35 Best Things to Do on Daniel Island, SC

The birds are very friendly at Bee City Zoo!  Photo courtesy of the zoo
The birds are very friendly at Bee City Zoo! Photo courtesy of the zoo
6/22/24 - By Amy Steinberg

Vacationing on Daniel Island, SC, grants families access to the best of all worlds: the stunning beaches of the nearby barrier islands, more parks and playgrounds than you can count, the fabled Charleston dining scene, bite-size American history lessons set in gorgeous waterside locations, and outdoor excursions, to name a few.

This planned community—a Charleston suburb surrounded by rivers, creeks, and beautiful marsh views—is peaceful and safe, but it’s also just a few minutes by car, boat, or ferry from Charleston proper and a short journey to activity-packed destinations including lively Mount Pleasant, beachy Sullivan's Island, idyllic Isle of Palms, and surfers’ haven Folly Beach.

Read on for our picks for the 35 best things to do with kids on Daniel Island, SC, including great Daniel Island restaurants and the best hotels on Daniel Island, SC for families. Our Southern States Vacation Guide includes even more great places to visit in South Carolina, like Charleston and Kiawah Island.


Daniel Island with Kids: parks and playgrounds
Daniel Island has loads of fantastic parks and playgrounds.

Best Parks and Playgrounds for Kids on Daniel Island, SC

A major draw for families is the impressive quantity and quality of Daniel Island’s parks, playgrounds, and green spaces, as well as its 20-mile-plus trail system that winds through forests and along marshes, connecting residential areas to the island’s charming downtown. Runners, walkers, cyclists, and strollers are all welcome.

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Daniel Island with Kids: Sit in a bench swing overlooking the Wando River
Sit on a bench swing overlooking the Wando River at Waterfront Park.

1. Waterfront Park

Let’s start with Waterfront Park because it’s so central, right in the heart of downtown Daniel Island. Sit in a bench swing overlooking the Wando River and watch the boats, walk or bike the trails along the river, and let your kids frolic on the playground, then cool off in the water-fountain play area. Musicians perform in the square during the summer.

2. Smythe Park

Also known as Pirate Park, Smythe Park is popular for its large pirate-themed playground. It also features picnic areas and a small lake with a kayak dock.

3. Bellinger Island Park

At this nature preserve surrounded by marshland and creeks, you can walk the nature trails and watch kayakers or go fishing.

4. Governors Park

Governors Park features large open fields for soccer, a dog park, and a playground with a zip line.

5. Treehouse Park

Treehouse Park is a two-story treehouse at the end of Wando Landing Street, where you can climb up and get great views of the Wando River. Bring a blanket if you’d like to picnic, and keep your eyes peeled: Dolphins have been spotted from here!

More Fun Things to Do on Daniel Island, SC with Kids 

6. Rent Bikes

Take full advantage of Daniel Island’s miles of trails by renting bikes at Cooper River Cycles, including cute mini beach cruisers sized perfectly for kids. There's no extra charge for helmets, locks, and friendly recommendations on good routes for your family to try.

7. Learn to Sail

The Daniel Island Yacht Club may sound swanky, but if you or your kids want to learn to sail, one-week kids’ summer sailing camps and private lessons (for kids or adults) are available, membership not required.

8. Search for Alligators

Though many alligators live in Daniel Island’s swamps and creeks, they can be hard to spot. But you might get lucky wandering around the creek or walking on a trail. Just be sure to stay on the boardwalks and don’t get too close.

Daniel Island Restaurants Kids Love

9. The DIME

Facing Waterfront Park and featuring a sunny courtyard perfect for energetic kids, the DIME is a great breakfast or lunch stop. Try the sausage or Margherita pizza. Chocolate chip cookies are made daily, plus doughnuts on Wednesdays. If you’re planning an easy beach day or picnic, preorder a DIME summer cooler bag filled with everything from sandwiches and pasta salad to drinks and cookies.

10. Kingstide

Next door to the DIME is Daniel Island’s only waterfront restaurant, the seafood palace Kingstide. Sit on the patio or rooftop and gaze out at the Wando River with a cocktail and a trout Reuben in hand. The kids will love the fish sliders on Hawaiian rolls and the hush puppies—and the view, with lots of boats and swooping birds to keep an eye on.

11. Blondies Bagels and Cafe

Blondies is beloved for its bagels, baked goods, and other breakfast and lunch items. Order the chicken salad sandwich on a sesame bagel for lunch: It’s loaded with veggies (pickles, bell peppers, red onions, tomatoes) and topped with melted cheese. Kids go for the PBJ and quesadillas. Top sellers include the crumb cake, chocolate chip zucchini bread, and blueberry muffins.

12. Vespa Pizzeria

Vespa emphasizes local and seasonal ingredients and has plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. Favorites include the Greek salad, the buffalo chicken pizza, and the sausage and pepper pizza. You can also customize a calzone, which cuts down on sibling squabbling over which toppings to order. Top the meal off with tiramisu or house-made gelato.

13. Wasabi

The Japanese fusion fare at Wasabi includes the Zuke Sake Nigiri (soy-marinated salmon sushi), spicy tuna rolls, and the unique Tuna Pizza. Bento boxes are always a good choice; another great kid option is the twice-cooked chicken (chicken tempura with grilled vegetables). During the summer, Wasabi's outdoor area features live musicians.

14. Beech

The fruit-based menu at Beech includes the Sperry Berry smoothie (three kinds of berries, banana, acai, and coconut water) and the Delecta Bowl (an acai bowl with pineapple, mango, strawberries, granola, chia seeds, and honey). Poke and avocado toast are also available.

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Daniel Island with Kids: Catch a ferry
Catch the Daniel Island ferry and go exploring!

Fun Things to Do With Kids Near Daniel Island, SC

Crossing the beautiful Ravenel Bridge leads you to Mount Pleasant, one of South Carolina’s largest towns. Don’t miss the Old Village of Mount Pleasant, and be sure to catch the unparalleled views from Pitt Street Bridge.

15. Kayak with Dolphins — Mount Pleasant

Coastal Expeditions’ Charleston Kayak Safari, departing from Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant, lets you paddle through wildlife-rich salt marshes and—if the weather’s right and the tides agree—out into Charleston Harbor. You can see bottlenose dolphins and Eastern brown pelicans, plus egrets and herons hunting for lunch. Manatees and sea turtles might surface if you’re lucky. Coastal Expeditions' experienced naturalist guides work with kids year-round.

16. Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park — Mount Pleasant

Located at the base of the Ravenel Bridge, this park has lots of lawn space for enjoying family picnics and a nautical-themed playground, plus soft-serve from the River Watch Cafe. Sit on a bench swing and savor your ice cream with harbor views from a 1,250-foot-long pier.

17. Pitt Street Bridge Park — Mount Pleasant

Pitt Street Bridge Park once connected Mount Pleasant to adjacent Sullivan's Island and is now a park offering great views and welcoming bikers, scooters, walkers, kayakers, bird-watchers, and strollers. Plenty of benches make this a great spot to watch the sunset.

18. Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum — Mount Pleasant

At this museum, visitors can tour three ships, including the USS Yorktown. Kids ages 7 and up can also live like a Navy sailor for a night with Operation Overnight, where they'll sleep in traditional Navy berthing compartments and dine on Navy-style grub in one of the ship’s galleys. If nothing else, they’ll better appreciate their comfy beds at home!

19. Sullivan’s Island Beach

Sullivan’s Island has a beautiful wide beach with gentle waves. Local parents like to stop at the Co-op en route to the beach to grab breakfast burritos and frosé slushies, with sandwiches for the young folk. Then stake out a spot on the beach near the surprisingly modern black-and-white Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse.

20. Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie

Fort Sumter Tours carries visitors by boat (the only way to get there) from Patriots Point to Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. En route you’ll get a scenic tour of the harbor.

Located on Sullivan’s Island, Fort Moultrie saved Charleston from British occupation in 1776, and many of the cannons used to defend the coast are on display in their original positions. Later, during World War I, the fort became a submarine lookout. The grounds are lovely too, so be sure to walk around after visiting the museum.

21. Folly Beach

Drive out to stunning Folly Beach and relax on the sand, or rent a stand-up paddleboard or kayak from Folly Beach Adventures. Then refuel on the sunny patio at Lost Dog Cafe, where the giant cinnamon rolls, croissant sandwiches, and huevos rancheros keep customers coming back. Dogs are welcome.

22. Private Eco and Dolphin Tour

Folly Beach Charters' private two-hour boat tour for up to six people is a real multi-tasking experience: You’ll get great views of the Morris Island Lighthouse, hunt for sharks’ teeth and conch shells, learn some Civil War history, and see bottlenose dolphins frolicking in the marsh waters and maybe even feeding in the shallows (a humbling experience, I’ve been told).

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

Feed the rescued bunnies at Bee City Zoo.: Bee City Zoo
Feed the rescued bunnies at Bee City Zoo. Photo courtesy of the zoo

23. Bee City Zoo — Cottageville

Once a honeybee sanctuary, Bee City Zoo is now home to all sorts. It's about an hour’s drive from Daniel Island, but worth it because you can hand-feed a monkey or a ringtail lemur, and for a special (though pricey) treat, you can hang out with a sloth in a private area. Then pick up some local honey and beeswax soaps made with the kind participation of the bees. 

24. Center for Birds of Prey — Awendaw

At this sanctuary about a 30-minute drive from Daniel Island, watch hawks, falcons, and eagles soaring, gliding, and even diving above you in a special flying field. Be sure to check out the many varieties of owls in the Countess Paolozzi Owl Wood.

25. North Charleston Park Circle Playground

About a 15-minute drive from Daniel Island, this is the world’s largest inclusive playground, accessible to children of all abilities. The playground's Hedra Towers is billed as “the ultimate climbing and sliding experience," and the Extreme Spiderwalk involves traversing the space between two walls without touching the ground. Older kids gravitate to the Ninja Warriors Course, and the shaded benches make waiting parents happy.

Restaurants Kids Love Near Daniel Island, SC

Charleston’s restaurants are world-famous, and if you’d like to sample some truly fine dining, you can turn getting there and back into an enjoyable adventure for everyone by catching the Daniel Island Ferry from Daniel Island’s Waterfront Park to downtown Charleston.

26. Fleet Landing — Charleston

Fleet Landing is known for its fresh seafood (including a raw bar), but there’s also steak, chicken, and salads. The kids' menu features fried shrimp, grilled cheese, and other kid favorites. Plus, the waterside location presents high potential for marine life sightings and diving pelicans.

27. Mercantile and Mash — Charleston

This food emporium, located in a sun-drenched former cigar factory on the way to downtown Charleston, serves everything from soups and sandwiches to cookies and house-smoked salmon on a bagel. Kids go mad for the Wednesday doughnuts, the bagels with schmear, and the cheeseburgers from the kids’ menu (perfection: a thin patty with a cheddar slice on a brioche bun).

28. Obstinate Daughter — Sullivan's Island

A bit farther afield, but well worth the scenic 30-minute drive from Daniel Island, Obstinate Daughter feels both casual and fancy, with a pretty patio out front and more formal seating upstairs. It's a foodie’s delight, featuring way-better-than-basic pizzas and pastas and gorgeous cocktails incorporating local produce. The whole experience leaves you feeling pampered.

29. Beardcat’s Sweet Shop — Sullivan's Island

After a meal at Obstinate Daughter, head downstairs to Beardcat’s for gelato. Sample the hazelnut gelato or the olive oil and sea salt, or more standard flavors like strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla, plus dairy-free options. Or, try a brown butter Rice Krispies treat.

30. Pitt Street Pharmacy — Mount Pleasant

This neighborhood drugstore in the charming Old Village of Mount Pleasant features an old-fashioned soda fountain. Order a root beer float or a milkshake, or maybe even a pimento cheese sandwich or Sassard dog (a beef frank topped with locally made Jerusalem artichoke relish).

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

Hampton Inn Charleston - Daniel Island: Daniel Island with Kids
Hampton Inn Charleston - Daniel Island has a gorgeous pool for families. Photo courtesy of the hotel

Hotels on Daniel Island, SC for Families

31. Hampton Inn Charleston - Daniel Island

Adjacent to the Hilton, the Hampton Inn features similar amenities. The huge parking lots at both hotels are welcome amenities if you’re traveling by car.

32. Home2 Suites by Hilton Charleston Daniel Island

One of only two hotels on Daniel Island, the Hilton Home2 Suites just off the Mark Clark Expressway is surprisingly quiet and a super-convenient base for exploring nearby Mount Pleasant, Sullivan’s Island, Isle of Palms, and Folly Beach, as well as the many charms of Charleston. Well-outfitted kitchens plus the Publix supermarket a short walk away make it easy to stock your fridge with yogurts, cold drinks, and sandwich fixings.

33. Sullivan's Nest — Mount Pleasant

Strict regulation by the Daniel Island Property Owners Association means short-term rentals are rare on the island, so search Shem Creek, Mount Pleasant, Isle of Palms, and Folly Island to find plenty of them. Sullivan’s Nest is a light-filled, three-level, three-bedroom house a short bike ride or drive to the beaches and restaurants of Sullivan’s Island, making it a great choice for families.

34. Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina

About 10 miles from Daniel Island, the two hotels at Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina (the Beach Club and Harborside) have the feel of a true beach resort, with smashing views of the harbor from the giant pool. Although there’s no swimming allowed on this private beach (kayaks and SUPs are permitted), there’s volleyball, cornhole, bocce, and a life-size outdoor chess board. There’s also a walking path to the USS Yorktown.

35. Hotel Bennett

If you’d prefer to bunk in the heart of Charleston, the elegant Hotel Bennett on Marion Square provides big soaking tubs and plenty of kid-friendly activities, including a life-size gingerbread house display at Christmas and special themed kids’ teas. There's also a rooftop pool and an incredible pastry shop on the lobby level.

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Unless noted, photos by the author

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