Trees draped in spanish moss catch the wind along the edges of the fairways at Shadowmoss Plantation Golf Club, where designer Russell Breeden sculpted a 6,701-yard course into the verdant grounds of a former plantation. Throughout the par-72 layout, ponds and streams ripple on the borders of nearly every hole, often forcing golfers to choose from taking a conservative line, challenging the hazard with a big swing, or releasing their golf ball to a family of catfish. Breeden's artful use of waterways is most noticeable at the par-5 eighth hole, where a stream splits to cut across the center of the fairway and wraps two watery prongs around both sides of the hole to add pressure as golfers contemplate their approach to the green. Bermuda-grass fairways and greens await golf balls that steer clear of the course's water hazards and the various sand traps occasionally populated by disoriented sunbathers.
Before taking to the first tee, clubbers can warm up their swings and rehearse their putter-twirling routine at a practice complex that includes a driving range and a putting green. To keep golfers fresh during rounds, the club offers on-course beverage service and a full-service snack bar and lounge.
Course at a Glance:
Accredited by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors as a 5-Star Instructor Development Center, Charleston Scuba's experienced staff leads aqueous adventures at deep-sea destinations. A free shuttle bus service delivers the soon-to-be-immersed to the Ashley Marina, from where they are taxied to their chosen diving domain aboard the Trinity. There are seven reefs and ledges to explore including the Indigo Ledges, a natural reef lined with soft corals, sponges, and crustaceans, and the Anchor Ledges, a novice-friendly, 60-feet dive that serves as a venue for meeting friendly tropical fish and their distrustful lobster sidekicks (The Gardens, 105 Foot Ledges, and Turtle Ledges are not included in this Groupon.) Eric's Double Ledges is a palace of five-feet ledges with arches and overhangs, providing a majestic habitat for large grouper, nurse sharks, and the eponymous Eric, who waves regally at passing divers and rides atop a giant jewel-encrusted tortoise. All charters meet at Charleston Scuba at 7:00 am to prepare for their expeditions.
When John Drayton broke ground on Drayton Hall in 1738, he had no idea that his estate would survive the American Revolution, the Civil War, an earthquake, and numerous hurricanes. The stories contained in the building’s walls span seven generations of history tied to the Draytons and the Bowens family, an African American family that lived and worked at Drayton Hall before and after emancipation. Since 1974, when Charles and Frank Drayton sold their ancestral home to the National Trust, visitors have been able to transport themselves into the past with more ease than rubbing the beard at the Lincoln Memorial.
The main house, a sweeping example of Georgian Palladian architecture, is the oldest near-original, unrestored colonial home in the United States. Like a helpful ghost, the grand rooms and original fireplaces whisper history into the ears of all visitors, telling tales of British and colonial soldiers who occupied the house during the American Revolution. Views from the portico are filled with drooping trees, spanish moss, and a grand driveway. Surrounding the estate, an undisturbed historic landscape backs up to the Ashley River, and also encompasses A Sacred Place, the oldest African American cemetery in the country still in use.
Captain John Ward Jr. presides over Affinity Charters’ trio of seaworthy vessels, which slice through Charleston Harbor’s surging whitecaps during boat tours, charters, and fishing trips. Ward Jr. holds a 100-ton Masters License from the U.S. Coast Guard, and his overarching goal is to provide guests with experiences that are safe, exciting, and productive.
During fishing trips, Captain Ward Jr. taps his more than 25 years of experience navigating Charleston's aquatic arteries to usher fisherpeople through the nutrient-rich ecosystem. Attendees cast their lines for numerous seasonal species, including sea bass, Spanish mackerel, and the increasingly rare leather boot.
Dolphin-encounters tours put seafarers face-to-bottlenose with an undulating army of slick-skinned mammals splashing through their natural habitat. Alternatively, information-hungry patrons can climb on board for an eco tour, where Captain Ward Jr. imparts facts about the harbor’s ecological ebb and flow, as well as its vibrant panoply of blacktip sharks, barracudas, and mer-senators. The harbor and sunset cruise allows drifting duos to observe the sun’s incandescent descent into a kaleidoscopic loch of rippling reds, oranges, and yellows, which glint off of downtown Charleston.
Though built only in 2011, the nonprofit Redux Contemporary Art Center’s new 12,000-square-foot facility stays bustling all year, hosting six to eight free exhibitions in two galleries. After taking in the artwork, visitors can attend numerous free events, such as artist talks, film screenings, panels, and concerts. More than 100 classes foster artistic inclinations throughout the year as local qualified instructors help students master disciplines such as painting, drawing, and printmaking.
Redux's galleries stay full thanks in part to its 22 private artist studios, which accommodate emerging and mid-career artists with up to 240 square feet of creative space. Twenty-four-hour studio passes grant access to Redux’s darkroom, print studio, and woodshop. To encourage a sense of community, artists can participate in quarterly critiques, attend visiting-artist lectures, and debate their studio neighbors on artistic controversies such as whether Michelangelo’s David is as good as the earlier one he sculpted from Play-Doh.
When the Charleston Museum was founded in 1773, South Carolina was still a British colony. Today, the museum is itself a historical gem, surviving both the American Revolution and Civil War and acquiring an astounding collection of South Carolinian artifacts along the way. Nine permanent exhibits include the Armory, brimming with antique weaponry, and the Lowcountry History Hall, which chronicles the land's metamorphosis from a tribal society into an agricultural empire, telling the story with early trading goods, slave badges, and pottery. Temporary exhibits change regularly, keeping visitors on their toes in the same way changing cell phone numbers every 24 hours does.
The museum extends its history-preserving mission to two area homes: the 19th-century Joseph Manigault House, once home to a wealthy rice plantation owner, and the Heyward-Washington House, where George Washington once stayed during a weeklong visit to the city. Restored rooms, period pieces, and loudly snoring grandfather clocks await guests during scheduled tours.