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: * 18-hole, par-72 course * Length of 6,701 yards from the farthest tees * Course rating of 72.3 from the farthest tees * Slope rating of 131 from the farthest tees * Five tee options * Scorecard
Divers clad in tanks and fins plunge beneath the water's surface. As their eyes adjust to the submerged world, they start to recognize the telltale outline of a sunken subway car, but its once-metallic exterior is almost unrecognizable as it's now covered with colorful coral. A school of spadefish scatters as scuba divers move in closer and begin to uncover the mystery of the Atlantic's depths. The team at Charleston Scuba's PADI five-star instructor development center helps moments like these unfold. Experienced divers lead classes for ages 8 and up, introducing essential scuba skills and the safety techniques needed to shoe a seahorse. During advanced courses, instructors hone in on specialties such as deep-river diving. The staff also facilitates underwater breathing with an in-house repair department and retail store. For chartered voyages, a Coast Guard-certified captain ushers divers into the Trinity?an Island Hopper custom-built for diving and equipped with showers and first aid amenities. The ship's crew navigates the vessel toward reefs and submerged wreckage. They also help passengers snag above-water sights such as flocks of wild rubber duckies during custom harbor cruises.
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.
Eric Lavender is one of very few men in the world who can show up for work each day in a pirate costume and expect to keep his job. The licensed guide and professional storyteller, who has been featured on networks such as the Travel Channel and SCETV, also has an unconventional coworker—Captain Bob, a chatty blue and gold macaw who perches on his arm. Sometimes aided by other guides in pirate and colonial garb, he introduces visitors to lesser-known aspects of Charleston's more than 300-year history on walking tours to National Historic Landmark buildings.
During his signature pirate tour, Eric divulges stories of buccaneer revelry and crimes, such as Blackbeard's harbor blockade, or unveils local spooky legends and pieces of Gullah lore on his ghost and pirate tour. Eric also leads custom walking tours and teaches children about pirate lore and city history through his educational programs. And, on pub tours, guides show visitors to some of the city's historic taverns, where they reveal which colonial musicians got their start at open-mic nights.
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.