Mankind was never meant to breathe underwater, but the instructors at Columbia Scuba defy such limitations, helping students of all sorts—from small children to disabled adults—explore the forbidden depths. As young as 8, kids can start training with PADI Bubblemaker classes, using equipment suited to their smaller size, and swimmers of all ages can join Discover Scuba sessions to learn the basics of diving in the safety of a pool. For students looking to become certified divers, open-water diving and specialty diving courses test practical skills in unique environments, such as submerged shipwrecks filled with sunken coupons, whereas trips to the Florida springs or Cozumel convey the majestic experience of communing up close with marine wildlife.
The instructors at Defense Dynamics take firearms seriously—they had to during their previous careers in law enforcement and the Armed Forces. Proud veterans with more than 50 years of combined military service, these gunslingers draw upon their professional training to lead beginning and advanced firearms courses that combine classroom learning and hands-on range time. Students can also sign up for NRA-sponsored classes that cycle through the association's established safety practices and shooting fundamentals with passion and practicality.
At its two Columbia locations, Plex Indoor Sports aims to provide complete indoor recreation with artificial-turf fields, ice arenas, inflatables, basketball courts, family entertainment center, and full-service cafe. Both facilities offer after-school programs providing access to soccer, football, and lacrosse programs, ensuring that children learn the proper techniques required to work toward goals and play safely. Total-fitness classes are also available throughout the week, highlighting invigorating methods such as yoga, Zumba, and hip-hop aerobics. The Sandhills location hosts a roller-skating rink, and the Irmo location houses an NHL regulation-sized ice rink with public skate times in between hockey games and practice sessions of the local ice-fishing team.
A 30-foot rock-climbing wall towers over the Family Entertainment Center, granting visitors an elevated view of a facility packed with wall-to-wall inflatables and family activities. Visitors can roller skate, set new high scores at the arcade, or attempt to stay atop a mechanical bull. Other attractions include bungee jumping, a rock-n-roll ride, and more.
Measuring 6,074 yards from the tips, the course at The Club at Rawls Creek doesn't demand extreme distance off of the tee to score well—but it will challenge golfers' short game and putting skills. Installed in 2006, the course's mini-verde Bermuda grass greens create an ultra-fast surface, requiring a touch more delicate than a headcover made from a pink feather boa. The layout also features numerous par-threes with elevated tees, where tee shots drop as much as 60 feet to reach the flagstick.
After their round draws to a close, golfers can refuel at the Creekside Grille. There, four flat-screen TVs broadcast the day's sporting events, and porch seating lets guests look out onto the grounds and discover constellations from the divots in the grass.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 71 course * Length of 6,074 yards from the tips * Four tee options
Harbison Community Association's full-service recreation center unleashes a wealth of fitness activities on exercisers of all ages and ability levels. Jump into Zumba classes for a fun, high-energy workout that moves to the vivacious pulse of Latin and international dance music. Fusing boisterous beats with heart-pounding exercises and dance moves, Zumba classes ensure that bodies get a dynamic, aerobic workout as they bounce and shimmy along with upbeat rhythms and face-melting maraca solos.
Riverbanks Zoo and Garden garnered a "Best Day Trip" award from Charlotte magazine in 2009 for its copious collection of exotic and endangered animals that captures the majesty and variety of the wild. Explorers of all ages journey through nine locales that artfully recreate natural habitats, encountering ring-tailed lemurs, slender-tailed meerkats, and tale-spinning birds who sing of their raucous college days. When it's time to smell the roses, adventurers may cool their heels in one of five botanic gardens, each representative of a different plant group. Budding zoologists and their families may engage in animal demonstrations and discover the keys to keeping rattlesnakes or learn that giraffes, unlike their animal cookie cousins, love being fed.
The water hazards at Lakewood Links may seem innocuous at first glance—until golfers realize that they are seemingly everywhere. Waterways come into play on 11 holes throughout the round, often in positions that leave golfers little room for error. On the ninth hole—a 421-yard par-four rated the most difficult on the course—a pond intersects the fairway right down the middle, making golfers think twice about hitting their driver off the tee. The par three 13th hole is the course's signature track, and for good reason: from the tee box, golfers take aim at a scenic island green stationed 173 yards in the distance. Before rounds, golfers can warm up with practice strokes at the driving range or by using their tees as chopsticks over lunch at the Bamboo Bar.
Course at a Glance: