Palmetto Outdoor Center promotes the preservation of natural rivers and forests. Because awareness is the best way to maintain the environment and cultural heritage, Palmetto spreads knowledge of local gems with river trips and walking tours. These organized tours and vessels for rent allow amateur explorers to discover South Carolina's uncluttered riverbanks while learning about how they can be protected. Civil War walking tours illuminate the history of the region, and canoe and kayak rentals plunge into the tree-lined waterways of the Congaree, which flows through protected national parkland with the continent's largest old-growth floodplain forest.
Anne Middleton Herron can trace her family's time in Charleston back 13 generations. In some ways, the city is like a family member itself, but fortunately for everyone else, she's more than willing to share its secrets through Colonial Walking Tours' history-filled excursions. On each two-hour tour, she leads groups through the walled city's historic streets, ambling past picturesque 300-year-old buildings that were really designed to impress time travelers. As they walk, she traces local history from colonial times to the present day with stories of political intrigue, bloody conflicts, triumphs, and the real people who made them possible. For a personal touch, she also discusses memories from her own childhood, and ends each tour in the private garden of her family home.
Colonial Walking Tours also explores the city's darker side with Ghost Hunt tours. By the flickering light of a candle-filled lantern, other experienced guides lead visitors through nighttime streets to locations such as the Provost Dungeon and St. Philip's Graveyard. There, they relate tales of untimely deaths tied to murders, suicides, duels, and executions, as well as voodoo curses that doomed many to spend eternity searching for their house keys.
With their fleet of Robinson R22 utility helicopters, the aviators at Charleston Helicopters take joy in breaking the laws of gravity. They whisk passengers high above Charleston for flight lessons and photo tours, and while passing over the harbor, guests can snap shots of the Battery, Shem Creek, and various forts. Viewers may also zoom over the Charleston skyline to admire buildings soaked in red-and-orange sunsets and the flickering lights of surrounding towns. Many of Charleston Helicopters's tours invite guests to toast airborne triumphs upon landing with champagne, instilling an extra sense of victory without having to drag race passing geese.
Repeating a tradition that went back to their high-school days, three college friends sat on a Capers Island beach, roasting oysters over a cedar fire. They looked out at all the undeveloped land of the barrier islands and the low country, feeling like the sole witnesses to the beauty of pristine nature—and recognized that was a problem. Understanding that both tourists and locals were overlooking these untouched salt marshes and tidal pools, they decided to launch Barrier Island Eco Tours to help instill a greater respect and appreciation in the greater population. After receiving permission from the Department of Natural Resources, and with just a six-passenger boat, they began taking guests out on eco tours, fishing trips, and beach cookouts.
Today, Barrier Island’s naturalists have a fleet of boats for their six eco-friendly adventures such as sunset cruises to see bottlenose dolphins, a wildlife tours of Capers Island, and guided fishing trips for trophies such as redfish, shark, and stealth submarines. They also organize group and special events, from weddings to school fieldtrips.
Four generations of the Wilson family have maintained Cotton Hills' sprawling homestead, which continues to yield cotton, wheat, timber, pumpkins, and other produce. Guided tours relax visitors with a 40-minute wagon ride through the twists and turns of a working farm and grant agricultural knowledge without the tedium of a scarecrow's memoirs. Patrons navigate the rustling halls of a corn maze and exchange greetings with barnyard animals in the crisp air. Visitors admire the farm’s 19th-century barns, which are steeped in pastoral history. Though not included in this Groupon, locally made ice cream and fresh produce from the adjoining market energize farm visitors more pleasantly than an early-morning phone call from a rooster.
The wine pours freely and the beer bubbles over frosty pint glasses at Grape and Grains, a family-operated homebrew and wine retailer that couples an appreciation for fine craftsmanship with a DIY approach. Owners Kenny and Janel Anderson—enthusiastic experts in hops and wine, respectively—have combined their passions into an enterprise that is one part supply shop and one part educational hub. As Janel presides over the wine bar and teaches classes in wine making, Kenny leads excursions into the complex world of home brewing, showing off the various hop varieties of IPAs and the tears of ousted MPs that give English ales their signature bitterness. The couple share their zeal for spirits with all comers at least 21 years of age, granting members of Grape and Grains' beer and wine club a 10% discount and military vets a 20% discount on products and classes.