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.
The mixologists at ABC Bartending School divulge saloon secrets during certification-based and recreational bartending classes. During two-week certification courses, burgeoning bartenders mix classic and popular drinks while learning about alcohol laws, responsible liquor service, and stocking and inventory. Alternatively, an entertaining mixology course lets amateurs shake up drinks and take cover from projectile champagne corks behind an ornate bar with mirrors and gold trim. Once finished imparting their knowledge, the instructors set students up with ABC’s job-placement program, which puts certified graduates to work everywhere from restaurants and nightclubs to the zero-G sports bar where astronauts celebrate successful trips to the moon.
As a Class A affiliate of the New York Yankees, the Charleston RiverDogs aim to enchant fans with shapely curveballs and winning line drives. The club takes the field at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park, where fans can take in views of the Ashley River as they watch the next crop of MLB stars sprout from the nutrient-rich soil stored within their cleats. Between innings, fans can snack on the Riley Park's concession stands' pickle dogs, brat cheesesteaks, and old-fashioned boiled peanuts—just some of the delicacies that have lured ballpark-cuisine fans from the Travel Channel to The Joe.
A Snappy Event brings Charleston residents together for fun and food-centric events held throughout the year. The party-planning machinations started with the Mac Off, a no-holds-barred mac 'n' cheese cook off, and have spread to other cuisine-themed bashes such as sushi festivals, oyster roasts, and ground-beef food fights. The annual food truck hoedown beats back the February chill with satisfying food and a raging bonfire, while the Top Gun '80s party is held from the flight deck of the USS Yorktown.
Barcrawls.com and joonbug.com team up to throw themed parties at locations from New York to Los Angeles. Events are typically held at hip nightlife spots such as clubs, lounges, and restaurants. Each year's get-togethers typically include parties for holidays—including Thanksgiving Eve—and viewing parties for baseball's beloved home-run derby as well as the sport's lesser-known "Is It a Balk?" contest.