Fans who like to hear the crack of the bat and the cheers of the crowd can plan on attending a game at "the Joe" (Joseph P. Riley Jr. Stadium).
Charleston Riverdogs. The local minor-league baseball team plays at "the Joe," on the banks of the Ashley River near the Citadel. Kids love the mascot, Charlie T. Riverdog. After games, fireworks often illuminate the summer sky in honor of this all-American pastime. The season runs from April through September. Tickets cost a reasonable $7 to $12. Joseph P. Riley Jr. Stadium, 360 Fishburne St., Hampton Park Terrace, Charleston, SC, 29403. 843/577–3647. www.riverdogs.com.
There are glorious beaches just outside the Charleston city limits. You and your kids can build sand castles, gather seashells after high tide, or bring a kite and let it loose on a long lead. The Charleston area's mild climate means you can swim from March through October. Public beaches, operated by the Charleston County Parks & Recreation Commission, generally have lifeguards in season, snack bars, restrooms and dressing areas, outdoor showers, umbrella and chair rentals, and large parking lots.
The county park's commission operates three multidimensional family parks, three water parks, and three beach parks. Each offers programming that involves the natural characteristics of each site, but they are careful not to duplicate these leisure services from site to site. There are marinas, fishing piers, dog parks, water parks, campgrounds, cottage rentals, facility and equipment rentals, and boat and kayak landings.
The historic district is ideal for bicycling as long as you stay off the busier roads. Many of the city's green spaces, including Colonial Lake and Palmetto Islands County Park, have bike trails. If you want to rent a bike, expect to pay about $20 for a half day (three hours) and $25 for a full day. Most of the shops charge the same price, but exceptions are noted.
Cycling at your own pace is one of the best ways to see Charleston. Those staying at the island resorts, particularly families, almost always rent bikes, especially if they are there for a week.
Affordabike. The name says it all: bike rentals at this shop start at a mere $20 for 24 hours, and that includes a helmet, lock, and basket. Conveniently located in the Upper King area, it's open on Sunday—the best day for riding around downtown Charleston or across the Ravenel Bridge. 563 King St., Upper King, Charleston, SC, 29403. 843/789–3281. www.affordabike.com.
Bicycle Shoppe. Open seven days a week, this shop rents simple beach cruisers for $7 an hour or $28 a day, and that includes a helmet. For those wanting to tackle the Ravenel Bridge, the store offers hybrids for $10 an hour or $40 a day. There's a second branch at 1539 Johnnie Dodds Boulevard in Mount Pleasant. 281 Meeting St., Market area, Charleston, SC, 29401. 843/722–8168. www.thebicycleshoppecharleston.com.
Charleston Bicycle Tours. You'll see the quiet streets and hidden secrets of Charleston when you take a multiday tour with Charleston Bicycle Tours. You'll ride past plantations as well as over the Ravenel Bridge, exploring the nearby islands and quaint surrounding towns. Tours include bikes, accommodations, and dining in the area's best restaurants. There's a van shuttle, licensed guide, and even a mechanic. Prices range from $1,295 for a three-day trip visiting the area's plantations to $2,790 for a six-day tour to Savannah. 1321 Bellview Dr., Mount Pleasant, Charleston, SC, 29464. 843/881–9878. charlestonbicycletours.com.
Island Bike and Surf Shop. Rent beach bikes for a very moderate weekly rates, or check out hybrids, mountain bikes, bicycles built for two, and a wide range of equipment for everyone in the family. The shop will even deliver to Kiawah and Seabrook islands. 3665 Bohicket Rd., Johns Island, SC, 29455. 843/768–1158 or 800/323–0579. www.islandbikeandsurf.com.
Kayak through isolated marsh rivers and estuaries to outlying islands, or explore Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. Rates vary depending on location and whether you take a guided tour. Typically you can expect to pay $40 a person in a single or double kayak for a two-hour guided tour. Rentals can be $20 a person per hour. Weekly rentals are about $150. The resort islands, especially Kiawah and Wild Dunes, tend to be higher.
The boating options are so varied, from a small johnboat with an outboard motor to a chartered sailboat, that it is best to contact these companies for their litany of pricing. Similarly, small-sailboat lessons can be arranged.
AquaSafaris. If you want a sailboat or yacht charter, a cruise to a private beach barbecue, or just a day of offshore fishing, contact AquaSafaris. Captain John Borden takes seaworthy sailors out daily, leaving from Shem Creek and Isle of Palms. A sunset cruise on the Palmetto Breeze catamaran offers panoramic views of Charleston Harbor set to a soundtrack of Jimmy Buffett tunes. Enjoy beer and cocktails as you cruise in one of the smoothest sails in the Lowcountry. 24 Patriots Point Rd., Mount Pleasant, Charleston, SC, 29464. 843/886–8133. www.aqua-safaris.com.
Charleston Kayak Company. Guided kayak tours with Charleston Kayak Company depart from the grounds of the Inn at Middleton Place or Folly Beach. From Middleton, you'll glide down the Ashley River and through brackish creeks in the Lowcountry's only State Scenic River Corridor. Naturalists tell you about the wetlands and the river's cultural history. It's not uncommon to spot an alligator, but thankfully they take no interest in kayakers. Tours last two hours (reservations essential) and cost $45 per person. Both single and tandem kayaks are available starting at $30, including all safety gear. Middleton Place Plantation, 4290 Ashley River Rd., West Ashley, Charleston, 29414. 843/556–6020 or 843/628–2879. www.charlestonkayakcompany.com.
Coastal Expeditions. Outings for individuals, families, and large groups are arranged by Coastal Expeditions. A kayak tour with a naturalist guide costs $58 per person, and kayaks rentals start at $38 for a half day. The company provides exclusive access to Cape Romain National Wilderness Area on Bull Island via the Bull Island Ferry. The ferry departs from Garris Landing and runs Tuesday and Thursday to Saturday from April through November. It costs $30 round-trip. Bull Island has rare natural beauty, a "boneyard beach," shells galore, and 277 species of migrating birds. Coastal Expeditions has additional outlets at Crosby's Seafood on Folly Beach and at Isle of Palms Marina. Shem Creek Maritime Center, 514B Mill St., Mount Pleasant, SC, 29464. 843/884–7684. www.coastalexpeditions.com.
Ondeck Charleston. Learn how to command your own 26-foot sailboat on Charleston's beautiful harbor with the guidance of an instructor at Ondeck Charleston. This academy can teach you and your family how to sail comfortably on any size sailboat, and can take you from coastal navigation to ocean proficiency. Instructors are fun and experienced, and are U.S. Sailing–certified professionals. Skippered charters are also available and start at $285. 24 Patriots Point Rd., Mount Pleasant, SC, 29464. 843/971–0700. www.ondecksailing.us.
St. John's Kayaks. Just minutes from the entrance to Kiawah and Seabrook islands, St. John's Kayaks offers guided ecotours by kayak, fishing expeditions, and powerboat excursions. Safe and stable, easy-boarding kayaks are ideal for everyone from kids to seniors. Local owners share their love and passion for the barrier sea islands. They welcome groups and offer discounted rates. 4460 Betsy Kerrison Pkwy., Johns Island, SC, 29455. 843/330–9777. www.stjohnskayaks.com.
Fishing can be a real adventure here, and if you go offshore with an experienced fishing guide, you can have enough fish stories to tell until the next trip. This is a pricey adventure best shared with as many of your fishing buddies as possible; expect to pay about $120 an hour, including bait and tackle but not your lunch. For inshore (saltwater) fly-fishing, guides generally charge $350 (for two people) for a half day. Deep-sea fishing charters cost about $1,400 for 12 hours for a boatload of anglers.
Bohicket Marina. If you want to catch the big one, Bohicket Marina has half- and full-day charters on 24- to 48-foot boats. Small boat rentals are also available, as well as sunset dolphin-watching cruises. This marina is the closest to Kiawah and Seabrook islands, and this company has a long-standing reputation. For three hours of inshore fishing, expect to pay about $375 for one to three people and $400 to $550 for four or more people, including bait, tackle, and licenses. 1880 Andell Bluff Blvd., Johns Island, SC, 29455. 843/768–1280. www.bohicket.com.
Captain Richard Stuhr. Saltwater fly-fishers looking for an Orvis-endorsed guide do best by calling Captain Richard Stuhr, who has been fishing the waters of Charleston, Kiawah, and Isle of Palms since 1991. He'll haul his 19-foot Action Craft to you and take you on a half-day tour through Charleston's harbor and tributaties for $350. 843/881–3179. www.captstuhr.com.
With fewer golfers than in Hilton Head, the courses around Charleston have more prime starting times available. Nonguests can play at private island resorts, such as Kiawah Island, Seabrook Island, and Wild Dunes. There you will find breathtaking ocean views within a pristine setting. They offer enchantment and escape from the stresses of the workaday world. Don't be surprised if a white-tailed deer is grazing a green or a gator is drinking from the water holes. For top courses like Kiawah's Ocean Course, nonguests can expect to pay $222 to $338 (peak season spring and early fall). Municipal golf courses are a golfing bargain, from $27 to $39 for 18 holes. Somewhere in between are the Shadowmoss Plantation Golf Club, west of the Ashley River, for $30 to $52, and the Links at Stono Ferry in Hollywood for $39 to $80.
Charleston Area Golf Guide. For everything from green fees to course statistics and vacation packages in the area, contact the Charleston Area Golf Guide. SC. 800/774–4444. www.charlestongolfguide.com.
Charleston Municipal Golf Course. This walker-friendly public course isn't as gorgeous as the resort courses—a highway bisects it—but it does have a lot of shade trees, and the price is right. About 6 miles from downtown and 20 miles from the resort islands of Kiawah and Seabrook, the course has a simple snack bar serving breakfast and lunch, as well as beer and wine. 2110 Maybank Hwy., James Island, SC, 29412. 843/795–6517. www.charleston-sc.gov. $17–$24. 18 holes, 6450 yds, par 72.
Charleston National Golf Club. The best nonresort golf course in Charleston tends to be quiet on weekdays, which translates into lower prices. The setting is captivating, carved along the intracoastal waterway and traversing wetlands, lagoons, and pine and oak forests. Finishing holes are set along golden marshland. Diminutive wooden bridges and a handsome clubhouse that looks like an antebellum mirage add to the natural beauty of this well-maintained course. 1360 National Dr., Mount Pleasant, Charleston, SC, 29466. 843/884–7799 or 843/884–4653. www.charlestonnationalgolf.com. $56–$66. 18 holes, 6412 yds, par 72.
Dunes West Golf & River Club. Designed by Arthur Hill, this championship course has great marsh and river views and lots of modulation on the Bermuda-covered greens shaded by centuries-old oaks. The generous fairways have greens that may be considered small by today's standards, making approach shots very important. Located about 15 miles from downtown Charleston, it's in a gated residential community with an attractive antebellum-style clubhouse. 3535 Wando Plantation Way, Mount Pleasant, Charleston, SC, 29466. 843/856–9000. www.duneswestgolfclub.com. $52–$86. 18 holes, 6871 yds, par 72.
Links at Stono Ferry. Built atop a Revolutionary War battlefield, the reasonably priced Links at Stono Ferry is the closest course to Kiawah and Seabrook islands. It's 30 minutes from downtown Charleston, however. It's been ranked among the top 100 courses in the Carolinas. Set in a rural area, the course is an upscale residential community with a focus on golf and horses. Its clubhouse has Southern style. 4812 Stono Links Dr., Hollywood, SC, 29449. 843/763–1817. www.stonoferrygolf.com. $53–$89. 18 holes, 6814 yds, par 72.
Patriots Point Links. A partly covered driving range and spectacular harbor views make this golf course feel special. It's just across the spectacular Ravenel Bridge, and if you drive here you can take advantage of the free public parking. You could also take the water taxi from downtown and arrange for a staffer to pick you up. Four pros offer one-on-one instruction, as well as lessons and clinics. There's a junior camp during the summer. 1 Patriots Point Rd., Mount Pleasant, SC, 29464. 843/881–0042. www.patriotspointlinks.com. $52–$74. 18 holes, 6900 yds, par 72.
Seabrook Island Resort. On this island with acres of untamed martime forests you'll find two championship courses: Crooked Oaks, designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., and Ocean Winds, by Willard Byrd. Crooked Oaks, which follows an inland path, is the more player friendly of the two. Ocean Winds is aptly named for three holes that run along the Atlantic; when the wind is up, those ocean breezes make it challenging. Both courses are run out of the same pro shop and have the same green fee. This is a private island, but guest privileges at the resort are extended to anyone who has a golf club membership. Your hometown golf pro must call for a reservation. 3772 Seabrook Island Rd., Seabrook Island, SC, 29455. 843/768–2529. www.discoverseabrook.com. $115–$170. 36 holes, 6800 yds, par 72.
Shadowmoss Plantation Golf Club. This forgiving course has one of the best finishing holes in the area. It's just off Highway 61, about 17 miles from downtown and 20 miles from the resort islands of Kiawah and Seabrook. A seasoned, well-conditioned course, it meanders through the residential enclave that grew up around it. It's a good value for the money. 20 Dunvegan Dr., Charleston, SC, 29414. 843/556–8251. www.shadowmossgolf.com. $36–$55. 18 holes, 6701 yds, par 72.
Kiawah Island Golf Resort is home to five championship courses: the world-famous Ocean Course, designed by Pete Dye; the Jack Nicklaus-designed Turtle Point; Osprey Point, designed by Tom Fazio; Cougar Point, designed by Gary Player; and Oak Point, redesigned by Clyde Johnston, just outside the Kiawah gate.
Cougar Point Golf Course. Gary Player designed this popular course, which follows the outline of tidal marshes and offers panoramic views of golden spans of spartina grass and the shimmering Kiawah River. Reservations are essential. Kiawah Island Golf Resort, 12 Kiawah Beach Dr., Kiawah Island, SC, 29455. 843/266–4020. www.kiawahresort.com. $183–$215. 18 holes, 6503 yds, par 72.
Ocean Course. Considered one of Pete Dye's most superb designs, this seaside course is famous for hosting every major PGA event in the country. The course, which offers spectacular views along 2½ miles of beachfront, starred in Robert Redford's film The Legend of Bagger Vance. The superbly manicured fairways and greens challenge amateurs and professionals alike. Carts are included in the green fee, as are caddies (but not their gratuities). In the morning, this is a walking course. The stellar clubhouse, with its seafood restaurant and full-service bar, are exceptional. Reservations are essential. Kiawah Island Golf Resort, 1000 Ocean Course Dr., Kiawah Island, SC, 29455. 843/266–4670. www.kiawahresort.com. $222–$338. 18 holes, 7873 yds, par 72.
Oak Point Golf Course. Outside the gate of the Kiawah Island Golf Resort, this Clyde Johnston–designed course sits in the center of Hope Plantation. Centered on a $1 million clubhouse, it makes full use of the area's rolling hills. Reservations are essential. Kiawah Island Golf Resort, 4394 Hope Plantation Dr., Kiawah Island, SC, 29455. 843/266–4100. www.kiawahresort.com. $66–$215. 18 holes, 6450 yds, par 72.
Osprey Point Golf Course. This Tom Fazio–designed course offers some of the best views that the Lowcountry has to offer: maritime forests, pristine lagoons, natural lakes, and saltwater marshes. Every hole has picturesque vistas. It's a favorite of residents and resort guests alike. The impressive clubhouse has 14,000-square-foot pro shop selling high-quality apparel; fully staffed locker rooms; and a semiprivate dining room. Kiawah Island Golf Resort, 700 Governors Dr., Kiawah Island, SC, 29455. 843/266–4640. www.kiawahresort.com. $114–$212. 18 holes, 6932 yds, par 72.
Turtle Point Golf Course. With three spectacular oceanfront holes, this famed Jack Nicklaus–designed course has hosted many amateur and professional tournaments over the years. The undulating course flows seamlessly through interior forests of hardwoods and palmettos and along backwater lagoons. The $7.5 million clubhouse is built in a classic Lowcountry style. Reservations are essential. Kiawah Island Golf Resort, 1 Turtle Point Dr., Kiawah Island, SC, 29455. 843/266–4050. www.kiawahresort.com. $99–$215. 18 holes, 7061 yds, par 72.
Wild Dunes Resort is a 1,600-acre oceanfront resort on the tip of the Isle of Palms some 30 minutes from downtown Charleston. It has two nationally renowned, Tom Fazio-designed courses, the Links and the Harbor courses. Groups frequent this family-friendly resort because of its meeting facilities, and many resort guests opt for the golf package.
Harbor Course. Tom Fazio designed this course, shaping a million dollars' worth of dirt into an unforgettable landscape. The dunes are adorned with greens, and hazards can be found around every bend. Nine holes are situated along the Intracoastal Waterway and require shots across the water. Wild Dunes Resort, 5757 Palm Blvd., Isle of Palms, SC, 29451. 843/886–2004. www.wilddunes.com. $65–$110. 18 holes, 6446 yds, par 70.
Links Course. With prevailing ocean breezes, undulating dunes, and natural water hazards, this course has been called a seaside masterpiece. Considered one of architect Tom Fazio's best Lowcountry layouts, the Links Course is challenging enough for the most avid golfer. It's consistently ranked among the top 100 courses in the country. Players are permitted to walk the length of the course, regardless of time or day. Wild Dunes Resort, 10001 Back Bay Dr., Isle of Palms, SC, 29451. 843/886–2002. www.wilddunes.com. $115–$165. 18 holes, 6396 yds, par 70.
Put your foot in the stirrup and get a leg up! You can tour the beaches, maritime forests, marshlands, and former rice fields all from horseback. Several good stables in the area offer trail rides, and there are also equestrian centers, lessons, and jumping rings. Trail rides average from $40 for wooded terrain to $85 for an advanced beach ride; they go out for about an hour.
Middleton Equestrian Center. This long-established stable specializes in English riding lessons. It offers trail rides along wooded and open terrain and through former rice fields. All experience levels are welcome, and headgear is provided. Kids ages 8 and older can ride. Middleton Place, 4280 Ashley River Rd., West Ashley, Charleston, SC, 29414. 843/556–8137. www.middletonplace.org.
Seabrook Island Equestrian Center. This classy equestrian center 24 miles south of Charleston has walking trails for beginning and advanced riders. Beach rides are only for advanced riders who can handle a horse competently at a walk, trot, and canter. Parent-led pony rides are $45 for a half hour, and as many as three kids can take a turn. Private instructions are $55 for a half hour. The center hosts annual equestrian events and notable hunter and jumper shows. 3772 Seabrook Island Rd., Seabrook Island, SC, 29455. 843/768–7541. www.discoverseabrook.com.
Experienced divers can explore the Cooper River Underwater Heritage Diving Trail, upriver from Charleston. The 2-mile-long trail has six submerged sites, including ships that date to the Revolutionary War. Charters will run you out to the starting point. Expect to pay $95 to $145 a trip. Equipment rentals average $10 for a tank.
Charleston Scuba. Whether you're just learning or an old pro, this dive outfitter offers everything from introductory classes to open-water drives. The company frequents a total of eight sites, and prices range from $130 to $175 for two-tank dives. 335 Savannah Hwy., West Ashley, Charleston, SC, 29407. 843/763–3483. www.charlestonscuba.com.
Charleston Battery. Charleston's soccer team plays at Blackbaud Stadium, the first privately funded soccer facility in the country. Games are played from April through September and feature fun-filled giveaways and promotions. The stadium seats 5,100, and tickets range from $10 to $18. Blackbaud Stadium, 1990 Daniel Island Dr., Daniel Island, Charleston, SC, 29492. 843/971–4625. www.charlestonbattery.com.
Whether your interest in tennis is casual or serious, the Charleston area, especially its resort islands, offers tennis options for every skill level. Spring and fall are simply ideal for play. You can play for free at neighborhood courts, including several near Colonial Lake and at the Isle of Palms Recreation Center. Others owned by the city charge a mere $4 to $9 an hour for nonresidents. The resort islands are the most costly, depending on whether or not you are a guest.
Not only is the Lowcountry home to a pair of top-ranked tennis resorts, but it has a thriving year-round tennis community and is the home of the Family Circle Cup, a world-class professional women's tournament. Undoubtedly, this is a great place for avid players to enjoy a getaway vacation immersed in the sport they love.
The annual Family Circle Cup, held over nine days every April at the Family Circle Tennis Center, attracts some 90,000 fans from around the globe and boasts a roster of former champions, including Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Jennifer Capriati, and Venus and Serena Williams.
Charleston Tennis Center. With 15 outdoor courts lighted for nightime matches, this tennis center is among the city's most popular. (The $8 admission fee certainly doesn't hurt.) There are restrooms on the premises, and balls and racquets are for sale. 19 Farmfield Ave., West Ashley, Charleston, SC, 29407. 843/769–8258. www.charleston-sc.gov.
Family Circle Tennis Center. This world-class facility is, without question, one of the top places to play tennis in the Southeast. Open to the public, the 17 courts (13 clay, 4 hard) are lighted for night play. Rates are $10 for the hard courts, $15 for clay. Four miniature courts for kids four to eight make this a destination for the whole family. With one of the best-qualified teaching staffs in the country, the Instinctive Tennis Academy offers private lessons and clinics for players of all ages. The Family Circle Cup, a signature event for women's tennis, is hosted here each April. Not coincidentally, this is also the city's top venue for concerts under the stars. 161 Seven Farms Dr., Daniel Island, SC, 29492. 843/856–7900. www.familycirclecup.com.
Maybank Tennis Center. Talk about a bargain: the Maybank Tennis Center's eight hard courts are $4 an hour, and its three clay courts are $9 an hour. Balls and racquets are available for purchase, and there are restrooms on the premises. 1880 Houghton Dr., James Island, SC, 29412. 843/406–8814. www.charleston-sc.gov.
Kiawah Island Golf Resort is also known for its high-quality tennis, instruction, special events, and nationally recognized tournaments. It has two tennis complexes, the Roy Barth Tennis Center and the West Beach Tennis Club. Both centers have pro shops, rentals, and even matchmaking services.
Roy Barth Tennis Center. In Kiawah Island Golf Resort's East Beach Village, the Roy Barth Tennis Center is a short walk from the resort's luxurious oceanfront hotel and spa. Open year-round, it has 10 Har-Tru courts (one lighted), three hard courts (one lighted), and a practice court with a ball machine and an automated ball retrieval system. Court time is $34 an hour for guests and $43 for everyone else. Kiawah Island Golf Resort, East Beach ViIlage, 1 Sanctuary Dr., Kiawah Island, SC, 29455. 843/768–2838. www.kiawahresort.com.
West Beach Tennis Club. Open early March to early September, the West Beach Tennis Club features 10 Har-Tru courts and two lighted hard courts. Private instruction ranges from $30 an hour for group classes with a pro to $80 an hour for private lessons with a center's director. Kiawah Island Golf Resort, West Beach Village, 1000 Kiawah Beach Dr., Kiawah Island, SC, 29455. 843/768–2820. www.kiawahresort.com.
Wild Dunes Tennis Center. This tennis complex sits in the center of Wild Dunes Resort, where 17 Har-Tru courts include five that are lighted for night play. There's even one with stadium-style seating if you expect to draw a crowd. The pros gear their lessons to players of all levels, from novice to expert. There's even a "tiny tot" program for the kids. The full-service pro shop sells, rents, and repairs racquets. Wild Dunes Resort, 5757 Palm Blvd., Isle of Palms, SC, 29451. 843/886–2113 or 843/886–6000. www.wilddunes.com.
Although the ocean waters are warm and inviting, you'll also find surf and waves at some beaches, notably at Folly and Kiawah Island. Surfboards can be rented from McKelvin's for as little as $5 per hour to $25 for 24 hours (or $75 for a week); an hour of instruction is an additional $40 and includes board use. Out on John's Island, near Kiawah and Seabrook islands, instruction is $15 a day. Jet Skis are available at Folly Beach for $50 a half hour and $85 an hour, and a second rider pays just $10.
Island Bike and Surf Shop. Rent surfboards and kayaks from this shop and the staff will happily deliver them to your resort on Kiawah or Seabrook island. Boards cost $20 a day. 3665 Bohicket Rd., Johns Island, SC, 29455. 843/768–1158. www.kiawahislandbikerental.com.
McKevlin's Surf Shop. The pros at McKevlin's Surf Shop can teach you what you need to know about riding the waves at Folly Beach. Surfboards start at $7 per hour, and an hour of instruction is an additional $40. 8 Center St., Folly Beach, SC, 29439. 843/588–2247. www.mckevlins.com.
Sun & Ski. Rent Jet Skis at this shop next to the fishing pier in Folly Beach. You can also rent a double-chair setup and an umbrella for the day for $23. 1 Center St., Folly Beach, SC, 29439. 843/588–0033. www.sunandski.com.