Free Summer Activities for Kids!

All week News 2’s Mayci McLeod is bringing ideas of FREE family friendly things to do over the summer.

City of Charleston Parks

There are dozens of city-owned parks and all of them are free. While they have your typical parks with the playground and swings, there is a lot more to offer.

Director of Recreation for the City of Charleston, Laurie Yarbrough, says, “That is your fault if you’re bored. There’s so many things to do, so many places to visit.”

Let’s start with sports.

Yarbrough says, “You can go play an 18 hole disc golf course at West Ashley park, you can play a 9 hole disc golf course at Johns Island park, we have 42 tennis courts that are completely free and open to the public.”

Or enjoy the Charleston scenery from a hidden gem like Demetre Park.

Yarbrough says, “It’s on James Island by the James Island Yacht Club, you can go out and look for sharks teeth, they are all over that and it’s a great view of the downtown area as well.”

Or cool off with a view at Waterfront Park.

Yarbrough says,”You can come and splash in the fountain, you can swing, enjoy the beautiful waterfront”.

And on Fridays starting June 9, a fun and free weekly event called “Friday Night Lights”.

Yarbrough says, “Enjoy a free movie, jump castles, snow cones, arts and crafts. It’s a chance for families to play with the area police and fire and recreation staff, and we do it at a different park every Friday night.”

There are many other free City of Charleston activities, like Colonial Lake, the Angel Oak tree, and the Downtown and West Ashley Farmers Markets.


Movie on the Beach

The Tides Folly Beach’s Movie on the Beach starts Wednesday, May 31st at sundown. The movies continue all summer on Monday nights and they are completely free!

Tides General Manager Matt Zengerle says, “It’s very cool, it’s an inflatable air screen that we actually put right on the sand. Because it’s outside, it’s wind and weather permitting, but its an inflatable screen that’s HD and we use speakers you might see at like a DJ would use to play the audio. We do do subtitles in case there are hearing impaired to enjoy the movie.”

The crowd usually reaches 1,000 people. So, it is recommended you arrive at least an hour before the movie starts to find parking, and a good seat. There are plenty of movie options for kids.

Zengerle says, “About half of them are family friendly. We try to get a few for adults, but starting this first movie for example is Finding Dory. We’ve done Finding Nemo in the past but we are excited for this new Finding Dory and about 7-8 of the movies are kid friendly.”

Here is the calendar of movies for the 2017 season:

  • May 31st: Finding Dory
  • June 7th: Star Wars-Rouge One
  • June 14th: Zootopia
  • June 19th: (Monday Night Special) McKevlin’s
  • June 21st: Sully
  • June 28th: The Jungle Book (2016)
  • July 5th: Miracle
  • July 12th: Frozen
  • July 19th: Doctor Strange
  • July 26th: Moana
  • August 2nd: La La Land
  • August 9th: Lego Batman
  • August 16th: Jaws
  • August 23rd: (Surfers Healing Special) Surf’s Up


Sea Turtle Release

Just last week the South Carolina Aquarium unveiled its new Sea Turtle recovery center. Sea turtles who are sick or injured are brought there to receive care before they are released back into the wild. The good news is, if you want to see these healthy sea turtles return home, its completely free.

Sea Turtle Care Center Manager, Willow Melamet, says, “You get to go out to the beach which is beautiful and it really connects people to those turtles. You get to see that home stretch for them, that journey home and really, that’s great. You see turtles that have been very emaciated, debilitated, sick or injured, and now they’re healthy and some of them have been with us for a year to two years, so to see them go back out and be released is an emotional and just a great event for everyone.”

The releases usually happen in the afternoons on county parks in Folly Beach, Isle of Palms, and Kiawah. Aquarium staff recommend getting there at least an hour early to find parking and to get a good view.

Melamet says, “These releases usually draw about 1,000 people each time which is phenomenal. We get that community support to see our sea turtles go back to the ocean, which is great.”

The Aquarium usually doesn’t know when released will be scheduled until a couple days before, so be sure to follow their Facebook page for the latest information.

The next release will be on Wednesday, May 31st at 11 AM. Seven turtles will be released on Folly Beach.


Charleston County Library

The Charleston County Public Library has a multitude of free events over the summer, but one reading contest could allow kids to win some pretty cool prizes. All you have to do is track your reading through the Charleston County Library’s website.

Children’s Librarian Abbey Adams says, “It’s different for different age groups. With babies there’s different activities that you do and keep track of that help build early literacy skills, kids keep track of their minutes, pages, or hours, young adults keep track of their pages and adults keep track of their titles.”

You set goals for yourself and every time you reach one, you get a prize. These include tickets to the Riverdogs, The Children’s Museum, and the South Carolina Aquarium.

Adams says, “Reading as a family helps kids keep their reading muscles strong during the summer, and studies show that kids who read over the summer come back to school better prepared for success.”

And the reading can be fun all by itself.

Adams says, “We want kids and families to enjoy reading together as a family. We’ve got a lot of great books in the library, a lot of great resources and a lot of great librarians that can help find the perfect book for you.”

The library has many other free events throughout the summer: from story-time, to live music, to performers. Just checkout one of there 16 local branches to find out what is going to be happening near you. For a complete schedule, click here.

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