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A Child's Guide to Charleston

Fourteen-year-old Lucy recently moved from a carriage house hidden down a brick alley in the heart of historic Charleston to a house on stilts over the sand dunes of Sullivan's Island, a laid-back strip of beach a short bus ride from downtown. She collects Pringles cans, plays on a volleyball team, and goes boating with her 27-year-old brother, Conley. Not everything in Charleston moves as slowly as the city's horse-drawn buggies, says Lucy. Allow her to demonstrate.

First stop is the beach —it's mandatory. Sullivan's Island, Isle of Palms , and Folly Beach are the best, and they're all less than 20 minutes from downtown by car or bus. I swim from May to early November. One time I was in the ocean on Sullivan's with my mom when dolphins came up into the shallow water. I'm not kidding; I could have reached out and touched them. But I didn't—I was too scared to move!

The South Carolina Aquarium [100 Aquarium Wharf; 843/720-1990] is the most fun place in Charleston, especially for kids. It's built over the harbor, so you can watch gigantic container ships move in and out. The neatest part is that you can press your face against a two-story tank, with a loggerhead turtle the size of a car, and sharks bigger than me. There's also a "touch tank" where you can reach in and hold slimy little creatures. My favorite is this shell with a jelly-like foot coming out that moves when you touch it. Yuck.

A few blocks down from the aquarium is Waterfront Park [corner of Queen and Concord Sts.]. It's got two fountains—one's a giant pineapple—that kids play in, and four swinging benches on a dock that stretches into the harbor. You can dry off just by swinging!

On Saturdays, my friends and I go shopping on King Street . We like Worthwhile [268 King St.; 843/723-4418] for clothes and shoes. Magar Hat Works [5571/2 King St.; 843/577-7740] makes the funkiest hats.

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