A bird's eye view of Charleston affords spectacular vistas of the colonial charm of the city, the vast blue ocean that surrounds it, and the green marshes that separate the two. Holy City Helicopters organizes flight tours that provide anyone with access to these unparalleled views from above.
The helicopter tours hover over locations as far flung as Kiawah Island or Edisto Beach to let tour goers soak in the colorful sights of the Low Country. From inside the cabin of a chopper during some tours, guests can see local buildings and landmarks such as Rainbow Row from above or get a better look at the U.S.S. Yorktown at Patriot's Point. Though helicopters are not usually equipped with gyro stabilized imaging, this can be requested prior to the tour.
Captain Howard, the man at the helm of Adventure Harbor Tours, has an inherent attraction to the water. The second he steps out onto his boat he finds less dread, more excitement, and a desire to share this joy with others. As the voices of Jimmy Buffett and Bob Marley sing from his boat's onboard stereo, Captain Howard ferries groups of up to 12 out into Charleston Harbor, where Atlantic bottlenose dolphins swim beneath the surface and one lonely scuba diver guards the harbor's flush valve. The captain's expeditions can take the form of private charters, fishing charters, or his most popular trip: a tour of Morris Island.
Untouched by cars or roads, Morris Island welcomes visitors onto secluded beaches filled with shells, sand dollars, and conchs. The 4-mile barrier island allows ample room for visitors to pick these shells, play in the sand, or run alongside their dogs—which Captain Howard welcomes onto his tours.
At Walks in History, 1-mile tours are based on stories from the books Haunted Charleston and Haunted Harbor by authors Geordie Buxton and Ed Macy. The 90-minute Pirate and Haunted History tour tracks the fading footsteps of Blackbeard, Stede Bonnet, Anne Bonney, and Mary Read through the cobblestone streets and bastion walls of the Old Walled City. Making pit stops at six to eight haunts, the guides unravel tales regarding pirate hangings, Fort Sumter and the Pink House, where Blackbeard once shot rum and drunk dialed former first mates.
The 90-minute Supernatural Charleston Ghost Tour ventures into the murky twilight like a darkness-starved vampire bat after the summer solstice. As the expert guides snake through six to eight stops, they shed light on ghostly activity at sites such as the Old Citadel, a Revolutionary War burial ground, and the remains of the Charleston Orphan Asylum.
"I love that I get to take a walk, literally, into the past every day." That's how Charleston Sole's owner, Brian Simms, described his job for the company website's Q & A section. A self-described history buff and Charleston native, Simms leads tours that explore the Holy City's past, lore, and legends. He spins tales of days past at landmarks such as Revolutionary War sites, Antebellum Mansions, and St. Michael's Church—Charleston's oldest church edifice. Simms' walking adventures last approximately two hours and cover 1.5 miles—the average distance humans can walk before needing to recharge their batteries.
Purchased by philanthropist Archer Huntington and his wife, Anna Hyatt Huntington, in 1929, the 9,127 acres of forest, swamp, rice fields and beachfront that became Brookgreen Gardens were originally intended to become the couple’s winter home. Instead, they created a nonprofit institution in 1931 that transformed the property into the first sculpture garden in the United States. Brookgreen Gardens now adorns more than 300 acres of gardens and facilities with more than 1,400 works. A National Historic Landmark, Brookgreen Gardens fields a staff that edifies guests on the property’s plantation history and its gardens’ evolution during seasonally shifting programs, exhibitions, and tours. A medieval, seven-circuit Chartres labyrinth lures visitors with its serene quietude, an exhibit chronicles the narrative of the land from Native American occupation through the present, archeological sites unearth information about life on rice plantations, and the museum’s zoo beckons the intellectually curious with its critters.
Sportations connects amateur adrenaline jockeys to certified professional adventurers, drawing from a nationwide network of aeronauts and speed demons to introduce habitual pedestrians to the wonders of skydiving, ballooning, hang gliding, and stock-car racing. Thrill seekers can zipline across a forest canopy, hollering like Tarzan or taunting nearby birds until they agree to race. Helicopter tours ferry patrons skyward over landmarks and cityscapes, whereas paragliding adventures get up close and personal with blue skies and clouds. For most sports, Sportations accommodates groups of any size, from physics classes empirically proving gravity's existence to solo ballooning supervillains declaring dominion over all they see.