Summer On Sullivan’s Island: Kids Edition 

Sullivan's is for the kids. It’s a wonderful place to grow up and an even more perfect place to hang out with your kids. Whether you’re lucky enough to raise your children here, or just lucky enough to come and visit, take some tips from Katherine Cooney, who spends every summer on Sullivan’s, and have yourself a kid-tastic experience! Photos by Minette Hand


My husband, Kellen, and I spend our summers (and as much time as possible in the months between) on Sullivan’s Island with our two sons Gabriel, age 6, and James, age 2. I’m always amazed at how our shoulders relax and we unintentionally breathe a sigh of relief and relaxation every time we cross the bridge and enter Sullivan’s Island.

There is something magical about the island, a magic that is best shared with others. A typical day for us is spent on the porch and beach, but when the boys get antsy or we have visitors, we make it a point to get out and about. In this story, my family explored our favorite spots on the island — along with my niece, Eve — in the hopes that we can show you some of the best ways to enjoy being a kid on Sullivan’s Island.

Beach Mornings

Our kids wake up early. Sometimes before sunrise. We try and make the most of this, so we groggily throw on shorts and t-shirts, slide on our flip flops, and head to the beach at first light to see the sunrise. (I’m not sure why we bother dressing the boys because they always end up in the water!) Once it’s light out we might walk around looking for shells, build sand castles or just let the kids race around and enjoy the sunshine.


We also like to bring buckets and encourage the boys to help us find and collect pieces of garbage that were left behind the day before. We talk about the importance of keeping our beaches clean and why we should recycle and reuse at home.


If we stay at the beach longer or come back in the afternoon, we’ll have boogie boards and an oversized funboard that the boys love using to catch waves. The waves aren’t usually very big on Sullivan’s Island, but they’re perfect for children just learning how to stand up and balance on a board.

A Stroll to Stith Park

After a breakfast stop at The Co-Op for some hearty breakfast sandwiches and a cold nitro brew espresso, we cross the street to the playground, often running into friends along the way. The kids play on the swings and jungle gym for a short while and then beg to explore the “bamboo forest,” a jungle of bamboo that grows on The Mound directly behind the playground.

From Bamboo to Bikes

Bikes are our typical mode of transport around the island. If we’re going on an adventure, it’s often to Fort Moultrie. The pre-Revolutionary fort was most recently used during World War II, but it has darkened tunnels to explore, cannons to climb, and incredible views of the harbor.


On the other hand, if the tide is low we might ride north along the beach toward Isle of Palms. Around Station 25, you can cross the shallow gully to get to a giant sandbar. Half-way to Breach Inlet is the sun-bleached remains of a tree that resembles a pirate’s hideout (at least it does to a 2- and 6-year-old!). After playing under and around the tree for a while, it’s nice to continue to the end of the sandbar where there’s a steep drop off into the water — perfect for perfecting cannonballs. This is also a great spot to keep an eye out for families of dolphins.

Cooling Down & Stocking Up

 If everyone has been well-behaved, it might be time for gelato at Beardcat’s. It’s just a couple more blocks to the Edgar Allan Poe Library, too, which makes for an excellent air-conditioned break. Throughout the summer the library has many fun family events such as story and craft times, and the boys participate in the summer reading challenge, complete with prizes for reaching goals.


On Thursdays in the summer, we love to frequent the farmers market held in front of the library — the kids dance to the live music and get their faces painted while I shop for fresh fruits and vegetables, bread, eggs, jams, olive oil, and much more.

Gathering & Gratitude

 After a long day in the sun, we head home for a farmer’s market dinner on the porch, often with friends. The ocean breezes keep us cool as well as warding off mosquitos. Just before bed we head to the beach one last time to capture the beauty of the setting sun.