For six years, the passionate outdoorsfolk and oarmongers at PaddleFish have connected nature-starved families to the lush beauty of the southeastern United States. PaddleFish's sunset kayak tour takes water-cutters of all levels on a roughly two-hour tour through the scenic tidal creeks and antebellum beauty of downtown Charleston. Friendly marsh explorers will tutor eager aquanauts on the basic techniques of kayaking and safety procedures before guiding them toward Bull River's wildlife-rich tributaries, which can yield a potential highlight reel of bottlenose dolphins, ospreys, bald eagles, fiddler crabs, and sousaphone shrimp. En route, learned guides regale boaters with local lore, tales of Civil War battles, and the ups and downs of the region's traditional shrimp fleets, giving imaginations free reign to conjure the fertile frontiers of old and discover why hope floats. The eco-minded staff also proudly donates services and a portion of sales to environmental groups that preserve the scenic beauty of the landscape they adore.
Built in 1842, The Harper Fowlkes House incorporates many of the popular styles of the era, such as an exterior of Savannah gray brick stuccoed and scored to resemble stone blocks. Visitors can still see the craftsmen’s handiwork during educational tours of the three-story Greek Revival mansion, held four days a week. A curving stone staircase leads to the mansion’s front doorway, surrounded by a two-story porch whose roof rests on elegant columns. Inside, antique artwork abounds, such as a portrait of Colonel Habersham, who played a key role in the Revolutionary War by originating the backward tri-cornered hat. Other period antiques decorate the house, and an enclosed garden adds an outdoor element. Further antique details permeate the house, from ceilings bordered by original plaster crown moldings to six chandeliers that were originally gas-burning but have been retrofitted to host light bulbs.
The artists at Wine and Canvas awaken their students’ inner Rembrandts and Van Goghs with classes that pair a featured painting with specialty cocktails and wines. The mobile studio’s monthly calendar includes themed classes in which instructors expound on the nuances of painting Parisian street lamps, Japanese flowers, or Venetian cityscapes. The master painters—many of them local artists—provide step-by-step instructions while students mimic each stroke and periodically dip their brushes into glasses filled with crimson cabernet. Each of the studio’s various drink-friendly venues boasts a specialty libation selected to incite creativity or conversations with fellow painters. When the artistic frenzy concludes, students return home with a finished masterpiece large enough to conceal any wall safe or mirror portal.
When viewed from a distance, a person riding a standup paddleboard might bear a passing resemblance to the gondoliers who ferry travelers through the waterways of Venice. But these paddlers have the entire ocean to call their canal, and are spared the indignity of wearing striped shirts. East Coast Paddleboarding’s crew outfits adventurers with the equipment and experience necessary to tackle the waters surrounding Tybee Island, whether embarking on calm floats or catching shore-bound waves. The outfitters can also serve as guides, leading tour groups to a nature preserve accessible only by water and pointing out the cresting fins of curious dolphins.
Historian, curator, and classic-car buff Tanya Bailey-Smith opened the Great Savannah Races Museum as an homage to the cultural significance of the Great Savannah Races of 1908, 1910, and 1911. Her facility doubles as a micromuseum and gift shop with media and fine-art items on display and a collection from the Automobile Club of America, whose members chose Savannah to host the first American Grand Prix.
Wing chun, a Chinese martial art, follows the belief that the person with the better body structure—including balance and fitness level—wins in a battle. Using that model, instructors teach self-defense skills that draw on fitness exercises so participants can double their workout. Wing chun classes are tailored to adults and children as young as 6, with private lessons available for more one-on-one attention to details.