Inside South Carolina’s 47 state-registered parks, visitors explore secluded forest trails, sweeping cerulean lakes, roiling saltwater surfs crashing on white beaches, and streams and rivers overgrown with thick canopies of trees. The protected areas, many of which were assembled nearly a century ago by the Civilian Conservation Corps, encompass more than 80,000 acres and span turf from the rambling Blue Ridge Mountains to the sandy Atlantic-coast beaches. Abundant activities for guests include canoeing, fishing, mountain biking, horseback riding, and accidentally startling long-forgotten lumberjacks wearing headphones.
Visitors experience colonial history up close at some parks, where registered historic homes, plantations, and landmark buildings stand preserved or in their natural state. These structures grant a glimpse into the lives of European settlers, Native Americans, and African Americans through building tours, archaeological collections, and live history demonstrations. Overnight camping is available at many parks, ranging from primitive campsites to cabins, villas, and tent sites that offer running water. Much like a scientist designing a soda-can-powered robot, park administrators follow a rigorous recycling program to ensure the preservation of the wilderness.
Designed by 1997 PGA Championship—winner Davis Love III, The Patriot Golf Course spans 7,045 yards of lush, rolling terrain flanked by the docile waters of Lake Greenwood. Rounds begin and end at the faux–brick ruins that surround the first tee and 18th green, which replicate a Revolutionary War fort—a tribute to the fact that the war's first land battle was waged nearby and a solemn reminder to modern golfers never to submit to the tyranny of chronic slices and snap-hooks.
Designed in 1918 by prolific course architect Thomas Bendelow—reputed as "The Johnny Appleseed of American Golf" after designing roughly 600 courses over 35 years—Anderson Country Club's 18-hole, par 71 course stretches across 6,402 yards of lush Carolina woodlands. The emerald landscape features mostly straight-ahead fairways and favors a straightforward design in which tight tree lines provide the bulk of the challenge and most obstacles are easily identified from a distance. Four chromatically designated tee options make the course surmountable for players of all abilities, allowing scratch golfers to play alongside 10-handicap frenemies or competitively deficient alter egos.
Coop's Health & Fitness Clubs guide clients to optimal health with 24-hour gym access and its exclusive Ultra Fit training program. With two months of unlimited facility access, exercisers roam free through one of the clubs' facilities, including an indoor running track, a cardio-training stage, and scores of weight-training benches alongside other exercise equipment tailored to the Ultra Fit training regimen. During personal-training sessions, Ultra Fit's certified trainers lead clients through rigorous workouts utilizing effective toning methods such as sports-training assistance, weight spotting, and distance-focused encyclopedia tosses. Trainers analyze each client's fitness goals and health history to construct regimens designed to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and achieve predetermined weight loss without the steak-punching repetitions of traditional training programs.
At Highland Walk Golf Course, Bermuda grass fairways and greens arch over 6,407 yards of steep hills studded by tall Georgia pines for a challenging 18-hole layout. Throughout the round, the course’s dramatically undulating terrain gives way to sweeping views of the countryside as well as numerous blind shots, giving an advantage to players whose golf bags double as periscopes. Georgian course architect Denis Griffith’s creative use of the terrain is on full display at the signature 17th hole, where golfers drive the ball from terraced tee boxes and over the shadowy, intimidating depths of a ravine. Though the elevation changes place precise shot making at a premium, the course features relatively open fairways and greens, providing ample landing areas for aggressive drives and caddies airlifted in for emergency putt-reading services.
Course at a Glance: