Seven extreme athletes and one Royal Marine banded together to design Spartan Races' intense miles-long courses, each strewn with obstacles to test resilience, stamina, and strength. Clad in event T-shirts, runners collect smudges and stains as they clamber across mud pits, slide unscathed under barbed wire, and juke feral linebackers. Depending on where in the world they're participating, the course may be as short as three miles or, for extremely practiced athletes, as long as a full marathon.
Bear Creek Stables, three-time winner of the U.S. Commerce Association’s Best of Columbia Award for horseback riding, pairs equestrians with noble steeds for a scenic jaunt down the trails surrounding Florabrook Farms. To ensure compatibility between trail mates, riders approach their hoofed cohorts in the pasture, selecting their mounts based on essential criteria, such as temperament and eyelash length. Once saddled up, small groups of six or fewer follow the lead of a knowledgeable guide down 1 of the 20 available trails designated by experience level. Beginners might take the reins for a trot along the glittering pond-edged Homestead path, winding past old home sites before dovetailing with the Pine Ridge trail for a 0.7-mile trek, on which deer are often spotted relaxing after a long day of practicing startled looks. The intermediate Holly Haven trail meanders through holly trees, and the intensive Stepping Creek trail sends advanced riders bounding over four streams and galloping across an open field.
With certifications in golf instruction and club fitting and a degree from the Golf Academy of America, assistant pro Adam Sanford fosters smooth swings and improved skills in each club-toting trainee. Adam imparts hard-won golf wisdom at the Club's comprehensive practice facility, which features areas to hone full swings, putts, chips, and scissor-kick approaches. The 45–60 minute lesson helps iron out on-course kinks by giving special attention to short-game fundamentals, the most critical facet to holistic golf improvement and overcoming the taunts from rival fans sitting in the sand-bunker bleachers.
Harnessing the equine expertise of two renowned members of the Professional Horsemen's Association, Caughman Farms advances students of all skill levels in both English and Western riding styles. The content and length of each lesson will depend on the student's individual experience, rate of improvement, and collection of tasseled chaps, but all pupils will learn the basics of horse care, cleaning, and equipment. The mild-mannered canter of a retired juvenile competition horse permits fledgling steed steerers a large margin of error and level of comfort. Two instructors accompany small children to ensure each tyke's safety and feeling of security while instilling the important life lesson that all good things come in stereo. Leaving behind the small, covered beginner area, more advanced equestrians can gallivant around the spacious indoor arena atop a homebred stallion.
Though built in 1893 to manufacture textiles, the Columbia Mills’ storied stone halls now weave tapestries of knowledge with exhibits on everything from lasers and space travel to South Carolina's role in the Civil War. Boasting accolades by Columbia Metropolitan magazine and the Smithsonian, South Carolina State Museum devotes each of its four floors and part of its fourth dimension to art, cultural history, natural history, and science and technology represented by more than 70,000 artifacts.
Through a series of permanent exhibits, curators lead visitors on a cultural and geological voyage. Guests stroll through years of traditional and contemporary art by state artists, marvel at a 43-foot white shark display and full dinosaur skeletons, or cast imaginations back in exhibits on turn-of-the-century transportation, laser technology, and aviation. The museum also excavates the surrounding landscape to present 14,000 years of local culture in Native American tools and colonial-era lifestyle items.
Five galleries also house changing exhibits featuring assemblages of artifacts from Civil War–era Charleston or 300 years of American-made telescopes, each carefully monitored to ensure they contain just the right amount of science. While museum staffers frequently rotate their exhibits, they also host traveling displays and send others on the road through the Traveling Exhibits Program. Various education displays such as interactive children's labs, living-history reenactments, and lectures from visiting scholars further enrich all-ages visitors.
When visitors step into one of the South's largest children's museums, there's one thought that commonly crosses their minds: That's a big kid. Waiting to greet them is a 40-foot-tall statue of EDDIE, a reinforced, molded-plastic boy who weighs 17.6 tons and—like almost everything at EdVenture Children's Museum—is ready for kids to explore. After they've climbed inside his heart, up to his brain, and slid down his intestines—all while learning about their own bodies—kids race to explore the rest of the museum's more than 350 hands-on activities contained within nine exhibit galleries. As a testament to its attractions, EdVenture Children's Museum received the 2011 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, an honor given to only 10 libraries and museums in the nation.
Past Eddie, EdVenture’s permanent exhibits include the World of Work, where kids climb aboard a John Deere tractor, take the helm of a 24-foot fire truck, and learn the value of money by spending Eddie Bucks on groceries or flooding the market to undermine the local economy. At the Aha Factory, wee ones recycle everyday items into paper snowflakes, pipe-cleaner butterflies, and glitter-encrusted egg cartons. Children 3 and younger, meanwhile, can explore the My Backyard exhibit, an age-appropriate haven of soft surfaces.