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.
Spread across Lu Mil Vineyard's 58 acres are an antique museum, a handful of cabins for overnight stays, a tasting room, and of course grapevines. Rows upon rows of sweet muscadine grapes are cultivated at the farm, named for its late owners, Lucille and Miller Taylor. In addition to producing a suite of wines, Lu Mil sells a selection of house-made jellies, jams, and NASA-engineered spittoons.
The classes at Herbal Thyme & Tea teach students how to utilize herbs in a variety of ways, whether through cooking, crafting, or body care. Plus the offerings frequently rotate in order to keep things fresh. Sipping on complimentary tea, pupils learn practical skills such as making natural body butter, creating pretty tea stains, and convincing people that the stains on their shirt are actually beautiful art. Couples can stop in on lovebirds night for a hands-on experience with their partner alongside other pairs.
Fun Fun Fun's mini metropolis of arcade games and family-friendly activities engages guests across its 12,000-square-foot grounds. Whirring lights and buzzing sounds emanate from 100 games at the arcade, where players can slap and tilt their way through a classic game of pinball or try their hand at more modern alternatives, such as Guitar Hero or Deal or No Deal. Success at the arcade reaps material returns in the form of the center's various prizes, and Fun Fun Fun's indoor laser-tag arena rewards winners with the competitive pleasure of besting frenemies in futuristic combat. Outdoor revelry awaits at two 18-hole miniature golf courses, which meander around rocky outcroppings and a central pond, as well as at the batting cages, where a system of nets keeps sharply struck balls from sneaking away for a slice of pizza or a snow cone at the snack bar.
From sporting events to arcade games to electronic trivia, the 30 HD screens at Hellas Restaurant & Sports Bar engage diners with a variety of diversions. When not watching TV, diners can cluster around tables to order from a menu that includes Greek cuisine made with olives and feta cheese, as well as grilled steaks and seafood.
The bar's specialty drinks bear the names of Greek gods, such as the Aphrodite, which includes a sweet blend of Malibu, Midori, and vanilla vodka. During late nights on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, the music turns up and the lights go low as the eatery transforms into a nightclub, complete with a live DJ, flashing lights, and actual basilisks that take over the dance floor with their best renditions of the worm.
White-sand beaches flank a 6-acre manmade, sand-bottom lake at Fantasy Lake Water Park, a family-friendly destination offering attractions both in and out of the water. There are numerous water slides, including enclosed-tube slides, open slides with foam mats, and drop slides that unleash adrenaline by sending bodies freefalling to a splash landing. Visitors can also glide into the lake on swings or play games of volleyball or basketball waist deep in water. Pedal-boat rentals are included with admission, giving legs a chance to do some of the work after walking around on your hands all day. Kid-friendly ziplines and other attractions populate a children’s zone, and the savory scents of barbecue drift from charcoal grills in a picnic area.