It's natural for kids to engage in creative play, becoming architects, veterinarians, swashbuckling pirates, or tenured professors inside their own imaginations. The Children's Museum of South Carolina just helps them learn while they do it. Perhaps that's why the museum?like the scores of children who visit it?has continued to grow since first opening in 1994. In two decades, the museum as expanded from a small shopping-mall space to a 7,500-square-foot facility packed with interactive exhibits.
In the Sea Turtles Dig the Dark exhibit, kids crawl through a sandy tunnel to see a nest of loggerhead turtle eggs and learn about endangered-species conservation. Meanwhile, the Hurricane Simulator recreates a massive storm's 78-mile-per-hour winds, and the USS Kids-A-Float exhibit explores the parts of a boat and how South Carolina's pirates might have weighed their treasure. The museum also hosts events that range from storytelling to weekly hands-on workshops. Though most of this learning happens on-site, CMSC representatives travel to local schools to lead five-week science camps.
At The Children's Museum of Wilmington, kids have so much fun they won't even know they're learning. In each and every hands on educational exhibit, children take a central role, scanning purchases in the grocery store, giving teddy bears their yearly checkups, and experimenting with art-making media in the studio. Children are allowed to roam freely, as they direct their own learning experiences. Here's what you need to know before you go.
Size: 17,000 square feet
Eye Catcher: Ahoy Wilmington! features a pirate ship, where kids can fire the cannon, swab the deck, and dig for treasure
Permanent Mainstay: the Toothasaurus Dental Exhibit keeps kids up-to-date on dental health as they care for a dinosaur's enormous teeth
Don't Miss: the Grocery Store, where tots can role-play as customers or staff, even filling orders for the play diner upstairs
Hidden Gem: at the Forest Friends Toddler Treehouse, kids four and under don animal costumes, carom down slides, and put together puzzles
Pro Tip: the museum hosts birthday parties that include an educational activity and free admission for all guests
Special Programs: in addition to the hands-on exhibits, the museum hosts activities such as preschool science experiments and cooking classes for kids
Celebrating its 25th year, the Sumter County Museum immerses visitors of all ages in everyday life from decades past with extensive historical collections and hands-on exhibits. In the handsome Edwardian Williams-Brice house, guests examine artifacts, artwork, and personal effects of Sumter County residents from the early 20th century, while a Carolina Backcountry homestead gives kids and adults alike a taste of life in the early 1800s with a log cabin, blacksmith's shop, and settler's house.
The Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum preserves history from both air and sea. The museum is home to the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier, a battleship docked at the shore, which served in World War II and Vietnam, and retrieved the Apollo 8 astronauts. Not far away, the USS Clamagore —the only Guppy III submarine preserved in the United States—is tied up in the water. Commissioned in 1944, the USS Laffey supported the D-Day landings at Normandy, and then served in Okinawa where it survived five kamikaze attacks and three bombs.
More than 28 historical aircraft occupy the museum’s flight deck, hangar bay, and shore ranging from an F6F Hellcat to a full-scale replica of the Wright Brothers’ 1903 flyer. Onboard the USS Yorktown, the Medal of Honor Museum educates visitors about the United States’ highest award for military valor. Outside, the Cold War Memorial pays tribute to the men who served on submarines during the Cold War.
Captain Howard, the man at the helm of Adventure Harbor Tours, has an inherent attraction to the water. The second he steps out onto his boat he finds less dread, more excitement, and a desire to share this joy with others. As the voices of Jimmy Buffett and Bob Marley sing from his boat's onboard stereo, Captain Howard ferries groups of up to 12 out into Charleston Harbor, where Atlantic bottlenose dolphins swim beneath the surface and one lonely scuba diver guards the harbor's flush valve. The captain's expeditions can take the form of private charters, fishing charters, or his most popular trip: a tour of Morris Island.
Untouched by cars or roads, Morris Island welcomes visitors onto secluded beaches filled with shells, sand dollars, and conchs. The 4-mile barrier island allows ample room for visitors to pick these shells, play in the sand, or run alongside their dogs—which Captain Howard welcomes onto his tours.