Baseball in Charleston
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 their 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. 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. This shop sells and rents bikes. Rentals are a mere $20 for a 24-hour day ($45 a week), which includes a helmet, lock, and basket. Conveniently located in the Upper King area, it is also open on Sunday from noon to 5—the best day for riding in downtown Charleston and/or across the Ravenel Bridge. 534 King St., Upper King, Charleston, SC, 29403. 843/789–3281. www.affordabike.com.
Bicycle Shoppe. You can rent bikes at the Bicycle Shoppe seven days a week. The typical rental is a simple beach cruiser for $7 an hour or $28 a day, and includes a helmet. For those wanting to tackle the Ravenel Bridge, the store offers hybrid geared bikes for $10 an hour or $40 a day. 281 Meeting St., Market area, Charleston, SC, 29401. 843/722–8168. www.thebicycleshoppecharleston.com. 1539 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., Mount Pleasant, 29464. 843/884–7433. www.thebicycleshoppe.com.
Charleston Bicycle Tours. Local tour guides will show you the quiet streets and hidden secrets of Charleston, its historic homes and gardens on the multiday Charleston Bicycle Tours. Groups ride past plantations as well as over the Ravenel Bridge; they explore the islands, and quaint surrounding towns. Tours include quality bikes, four- and five-star hotel accommodations, and dining in the area's best restaurants. There's a van shuttle and support with a licensed guide and mechanic. Custom biking, kayaking, or walking tours can be arranged. Prices range from $995 for a two-day trip to $2,495 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 island cruisers (beach bikes) for a very moderate weekly rate of $34.95, or check out tandem bikes, bicycles built for two, hybrids, mountain bikes, Burley trailers, cargo trailers, adult tricycles with large baskets, joggers' children's strollers, baby strollers, and more. The shop will even deliver to Kiawah and Seabrook Islands. If you just want a bike for a day or two ($20 per day), you have to pick it up and return it. Kayak rental costs $40 for a double kayak and $30 for an individual. 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 sailing or motor yacht charter, perhaps a beach barbecue, an ecotour, or just to go offshore fishing, contact AquaSafaris. Captain John takes seaworthy sailors out daily, leaving from Shem Creek and Isle of Palms. A sunset cruise on the Palmetto Breeze catamaran offers guests panoramic views of Charleston Harbor serenaded by the sounds of Jimmy Buffett. 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. Kayakers glide down the Ashley River and through brackish creeks, in an area that is the Lowcountry's only State Scenic River Corridor (22-mi stretch). Naturalist guides interpret the surrounding wetlands and tell of the river's cultural history. It's not uncommon to spot an American 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 for rent at $40 for a tandem and $30 for a single, including all safety gear. If visiting January through April, inquire about cypress swamp tours. 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 groups are provided by Coastal Expeditions. They have additional kayak outlets at Crosby's Seafood on Folly Road and at Isle of Palms Marina. A kayak tour with a naturalist guide is $58 per person, and they rent kayaks for $38 (single) or $48 (tandem) for a half day. They provide 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–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. Shem Creek Maritime Center, 514B Mill St., Mount Pleasant, SC, 29464. 843/884–7684. www.coastalexpeditions.com.
Island Bike & Surf Shop. Island Bike & Surf Shop rents surfboards and bicycles and will deliver to the resort islands. Boards cost $20 a day, $15 after four days. Bikes are $34.95 plus tax for a weeklong rental including delivery and pickup. 3665 Bohicket Rd., Johns Island, SC, 29455. 843/768–1158. www.islandbikeandsurf.com.
Ondeck Charleston. Take your family sailing, take the helm, and 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 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 US Sailing–certified professionals. Skippered charters are also available: three-hour sails are an affordable $150 for a Colgate 26-footer; $200 for a full day. 24 Patriots Point Rd., Mount Pleasant, SC, 29464. 843/971–0700. www.ondecksailing.us.
St. John's Kayaks. Based on a historic plantation just minutes from the entrance to Kiawah and Seabrook Islands, St. John's Kayaks offers guided ecotours by kayak and fishing and ecological powerboat excursions. Safe and stable, easy-boarding kayaks are ideal for active seniors and kids. Local owners share their love and passion for the barrier sea islands. They welcome groups and offer them discounted rates; call for group rates. 4460 Betsy Kerrison Pkwy., Johns Island, SC, 29455. 843/330–9777. www.stjohnskayaks.com.
Thriller. Thriller is a high-powered, adrenaline-spiking tour for Charleston. This brightly painted catamaran is propelled by two turbo-diesel engines and it can clock 25 miles an hour. It runs from Charleston harbor to the Morris Lighthouse and back, passing another lighthouse and five forts. The live narration is broken up by rock music. Tours cost $35 per adult. 1529 Strathmore La., Mount Pleasant, Charleston, SC, 29464. 843/276–4203. www.thrillercharleston.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. 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, and this charter company has a long-standing reputation. For inshore fishing, expect to pay about $375 for three hours minimum for one to three people and $400–$600 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 $375. 547 Sanders Farm La., Charleston, SC, 29492. 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. From green fees to course statistics and golf 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 gorgeous like some of the resort courses—a highway bisects it—but it does have a lot of shade trees and the price is right. About 20 miles from the resort islands of Kiawah and Seabrook and about 6 miles from downtown, the course has a simple snack bar serving breakfast, lunch, and beer and wine. 2110 Maybank Hwy., James Island, SC, 29412. 843/795–6517. www.charleston-sc.gov. 18 holes. 6450 yds. Par 72. Green Fee: $27/$39. Facilities: Driving range, putting green, pitching area, golf carts, pull carts, rental clubs, lessons, restaurant, bar.
Charleston National Golf Club. The best nonresort golf course in Charleston is well maintained and tends to be quiet on weekdays, which translates to lower prices. The setting is captivating, with the course carved along the intracoastal waterway, traversing wetlands, lagoons, and pine and oak forests. Finishing holes are set along golden marshland. Diminutive wooden bridges and a handsome, salmon-colored clubhouse that looks like an antebellum mirage add to the natural beauty. 1360 National Dr., Mount Pleasant, Charleston, SC, 29466. 843/884–7799 or 843/884–4653. www.charlestonnationalgolf.com. 18 holes. 6412 yds. Par 72. Green Fee: $48/$58. Facilities: Driving range, putting green, pitching area, golf carts, pull carts, rental clubs, pro shop, golf academy/lessons, restaurant, bar.
Dunes West Golf & River Club. This semiprivate, championship golf course was designed by Arthur Hill. It has great marshland and river views and lots of modulation on the Bermuda-covered greens shaded by centuries-old oaks. The generous fairways with greens that may be considered small by today's standards make approach shots very important to scoring low. Located about 15 miles from downtown Charleston, it is 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. 18 holes. 6871 yds. Par 72. Green Fee: $46/$95. Facilities: Driving range, putting green, pitching area, golf carts, rental clubs, pro shop, golf academy/lessons, restaurant, bar.
Links at Stono Ferry. A popular semiprivate course with reasonable rates, this is the closest golf course to Kiawah and Seabrook Islands and is 30 minutes from downtown Charleston. In past years, it has ranked as one of the top 100 courses in the Carolinas. Set in a rural area, Stono Ferry 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. 18 holes. 6814 yds. Par 72. Green Fee: $41/$87. Facilities: Driving range, putting green, pitching area, golf carts, rental clubs, pro shop, golf academy/lessons, restaurant, bar.
Patriots Point Links. A partly covered driving range and spectacular harbor and bridge views make this golf experience special. It is just across the spectacular Ravenel Bridge, with free public parking. You could also take the water taxi from downtown to the nearby Hilton and arrange for a Links staffer to pick you up. Four pros instruct, and there are lessons and clinics, as well as a junior camp during the summer. 1 Patriots Point Rd., Mount Pleasant, SC, 29464. 843/881–0042. www.patriotspointlinks.com. 18 holes. 6900 yds. Par 72. Green Fee: $60/$85. Facilities: Driving range, putting green, pitching area, golf carts, rental clubs, pro shop, golf academy/lessons, restaurant, bar.
Seabrook Island Resort. There are two championship courses here: Crooked Oaks, by Robert Trent Jones Sr., and Ocean Winds, by Willard Byrd. Seabrook Island has acres of untamed maritime forest and natural coastline. Crooked Oaks, an interior course, 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. Seabrook is, however, a private island, although guest privileges are extended to anyone who has a membership in a golf club. To play here, your hometown golf pro must call Seabrook's pro for a reservation. Seabrook Island Rd., 3772 Seabrook Island Rd., Seabrook Island, SC, 29455. 843/768–2529. www.discoverseabrook.com. 36 holes. 6800 yds. Par 72. Green Fee: $105/$165. Facilities: Driving range, putting green, pitching area, golf carts, pull carts, rental clubs, pro shop, golf academy/lessons, restaurant, bar.
Shadowmoss Plantation Golf Club. This is a well-marked, forgiving course with one of the best finishing holes in the area. It is just off Highway 61, close to Middleton and Magnolia plantations, and is about 20 miles from the resort islands of Kiawah and Seabrook. A seasoned, well-conditioned course, it was designed in the 1970s and a residential enclave grew up around it. It's a good value for the money. 20 Dunvegan Dr., Charleston, SC, 29414. 843/556–8251. www.shadowmossgolf.com. 18 holes. 6701 yds. Par 72. Green Fee: $36/$42. Facilities: Driving range, putting green, pitching area, golf carts, pull carts, rental clubs, pro shop, golf academy/lessons, restaurant, bar.
Kiawah Island Golf Resort Golf Courses
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. This is Kiawah's Gary Player design, which features holes playing along tidal marshes and offering panoramic views of the Kiawah River and golden spans of spartina grass. Reservations essential. Kiawah Island Golf Resort, 1 Sanctuary Beach Dr., Kiawah Island, SC, 29455. 843/266–4020. www.kiawahresort.com. 18 holes. 6503 yds. Par 72. Green Fee: $215 nonguests/$183 resort guests. Facilities: Driving range, putting green, pitching area, golf carts, caddies, rental clubs, pro shop, golf academy/lessons, restaurant, bar.
Ocean Course. Golf fans and media from around the world flocked to the Ocean Course in 2012 for the PGA Championship, where Rory McIlroy grabbed the win. Considered one of Pete Dye's most superb designs, this seaside course received worldwide attention as the host of the dramatic 1991 Ryder Cup. The course starred in Robert Redford's The Legend of Bagger Vance in 2000. In 2007, it hosted the Senior PGA Championship. Named by Golf Digest as America's Toughest Course, it offers spectacular views along 2½ miles of Atlantic Ocean. The superbly manicured fairways and greens challenge amateurs and professionals alike. Caddies are included in the green fee (but not their gratuity), as are carts. However, know that in the morning, it is a walking course only. The stellar clubhouse with its seafood restaurant and full-service bar are exceptional. Reservations essential. Kiawah Island Golf Resort, 1000 Ocean Course Dr., Kiawah Island, SC, 29455. 843/266–4670. www.kiawahresort.com. 18 holes. 7873 yds. Par 72. Green Fee: $222–$338. Facilities: Driving range, putting green, pitching area, golf carts, caddies, rental clubs, pro shop, golf academy, restaurant, bar.
Oak Point. Outside the Kiawah gate, in the center of Hope Plantation, a residential enclave that was an indigo plantation, lies this Scottish-American-style course and its $1 million clubhouse. Reservations essential. Kiawah Island Golf Resort, 4394 Hope Plantation Dr., Kiawah Island, SC, 29455. 843/266–4100. www.kiawahresort.com. 18 holes. 6450 yds. Par 72. Green Fee: $66–$215 depending on season. Facilities: Driving range, putting green, pitching area, golf carts, caddies, rental clubs, pro-shop, golf academy/lessons, restaurant, bar.
Osprey Point. This Tom Fazio course offers the utmost in 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. The impressive clubhouse with 14,000 square feet of pro shop selling attractive, high-quality apparel; attended locker rooms; and a semiprivate dining room certainly add points. Kiawah Island Golf Resort, 1000 Governors Dr., Kiawah Island, SC, 29455. 843/266–4640. www.kiawahresort.com. 18 holes. 6932 yds. Par 72. Green Fee: $114/$212. Facilities: Driving range, putting green, pitching area, golf carts, caddies, rental clubs, pro shop, golf academy/lessons, restaurant, bar.
Turtle Point. This famed Jack Nicklaus course has hosted many amateur and professional tournaments, including the 1990 PGA Cup Matches and the Carolinas Amateur Championship. It features three spectacular oceanfront holes. The undulating course flows seamlessly through interior forests of hardwoods and palmettos and along backwater lagoons, and boasts a $7.5 million clubhouse built in a classic Lowcountry style. Reservations essential. Kiawah Island Golf Resort, 1 Turtle Point Dr., Kiawah Island, SC, 29455. 843/266–4050. www.kiawahresort.com. 18 holes. 7061 yds. Par 72. Green Fee: $99–$215. Facilities: Driving range, putting green, pitching area, golf carts, caddies (on request), rental clubs, pro shop, golf academy/lessons, restaurant, bar.
Wild Dunes Resort Golf Courses
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, a thing of beauty, with a million dollars' worth of dirt and named his sculpture "Wild Dunes." The dunes are adorned with greens, and severe hazards can be found around every bend. Of the 18 holes, 17 incorporate water, marsh, or both, as well as bunkering. Nine holes are situated along the Intracoastal Waterway and require shots from one island to the other across the water. Wild Dunes Resort, 5757 Palm Blvd., Isle of Palms, SC, 29451. 843/886–2004. www.wilddunes.com. 18 holes. 6446 yds. Par 70. Green Fee: $65/$110. Facilities: Driving range, putting green, pitching area, golf carts, rental clubs, pro-shop, golf academy/lessons, restaurant, bar.
Links Course. With prevailing ocean breezes, undulating dunes, and natural water hazards, it's 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. Links has been ranked as one of the top 100 courses in the United States and in the world by both Golf Magazine and Golf Digest. 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. 18 holes. 6396 yds. Par 70. Green Fee: $115/$165. Facilities: Driving range, putting green, pitching area, golf carts, caddies, rental clubs, pro shop, golf academy/lessons, restaurant, bar.
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 through wooded and open terrain and former rice fields. All experience levels are welcome, and headgear is provided. The price is $45 for the trail that is taken at a walk, but only children 10 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. Open to the public, this center 24 miles south of Charleston has walking trail rides for $65 (children must be 8 years old and up) and $70 for advanced riders. Beach rides are only for advanced riders and are $95 for an hour. "Advanced" here means that you can handle a horse competently at a walk, trot, and canter. Parent-led pony rides are $40 for a half hour and as many as three kids can take a turn. The boarding stable will board short-term for $45 a day. Private instructions by the director are $55 for a half hour, and there are several lesson options. This is a classy operation that hosts annual equestrian events and notable hunter and jumper shows. 3772 Seabrook Island Rd., Seabrook Island, SC, 29455. 843/768–7541. www.discoverseabrook.com.
Stono River Riding Academy. About 7 miles south of Charleston, Stono River Riding Academy is a well-established and caring school and stable that offers trail rides through 300 acres of maritime forests, with excellent instructors and guides. Rides must be arranged in advance and cost $65 an hour; only English saddles are used. The trail rides are generally done at a walk, with a guide giving commentary on riding techniques and on the Lowcountry. 2962 Hut Rd., Johns Island, SC, 29455. 843/559–0773. stono.thechartgroup.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. This outfitter has maps, equipment rentals, and charter trips to the Cooper River Trail and off-shore starting in September, weather permitting. They frequent a total of eight sites, and prices range from $120 to $170 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-specific facility in the United States. Games are played from April through September and feature fun-filled giveaways and promotions. The faithful team supporters of the Charleston Battery are referred to as "The Regiment," and after the games, fans retreat to the clubby English pub. 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. Appropriate clothes and tennis shoes are required on the center's 15 hard courts, which at $8 an hour are inexpensive even for nonresidents. The courts are lighted at night, and there are restrooms on the premises. Tennis balls and racquets are also for sale. 19 Farmfield Ave., West Ashley, Charleston, SC, 29407. 843/769–8258. www.charleston-sc.gov.
Family Circle Tennis Center. World class, the Family Circle Tennis Center is, without question, one of the top facilities in the Southeast. The 17 courts (13 clay, 4 hard) are all lighted for night play and open to the public. Rates are $10 for the hard courts, $15 for clay. Four Quick Starts, miniature courts for children four to eight years old, have been added. The Instinctive Tennis Academy has private lessons (prices vary) and clinics for adults and children as young as four years old. It has one of the best-qualified teaching staffs in the country. The women's tennis Family Circle Cup is hosted here each April. A signature event for women's tennis, this tourney has brought in the sport's top names. Not incidentally, it is the city's top year-round outdoor arena and a venue for music concerts under the stars. 161 Seven Farms Dr., Daniel Island, SC, 29492. 843/856–7900. www.familycirclecup.com.
Maybank Tennis Center. Maybank Tennis Center is public and has lights on its eight hard courts ($4 an hour for nonresidents). Its three clay courts are $9 an hour. Tennis balls and racquets are available for purchase; restrooms are on the premises. 1880 Houghton Dr., James Island, SC, 29412. 843/406–8814. www.charleston-sc.gov.
Kiawah Island Golf Resort Tennis Complexes
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. The Roy Barth Tennis Center is in Kiawah Island Golf Resort's East Beach Village, a short walk from the Sanctuary, the resort's luxurious oceanfront hotel and spa. Open year-round, it has nine Har-Tru courts (one lighted), three hard courts (one lighted), and a practice court with a ball machine and automated ball retrieval system. Court time is $34 an hour for guests renting accommodations through Kiawah Resort and the Sanctuary, $43 for all others. Kiawah Island Golf Resort, East Beach ViIlage, 1 Sanctuary Dr., Kiawah Island, SC, 29455. 843/768–2838. www.kiawahresort.com.
West Beach Tennis Club. Adjacent to the Straw Market's shops, this seasonal club (open March 2–September 7) features 10 Har-Tru courts and two lighted hard courts. Private instruction ranges from $80 an hour with a center's director to $30 per person per hour for three or more people with a teaching pro. Kiawah Island Golf Resort, West Beach Village, 1000 Kiawah Beach Dr., Kiawah Island, SC, 29455. 843/768–2820. www.kiawahresort.com.
Wild Dunes Resort Tennis Center
The Wild Dunes Tennis Center. This tennis center started out as a small, local tennis club, and it has never lost its love for the game. The tennis complex lies in the center of the Wild Dunes resort, where 17 Har-Tru courts include 1 stadium-style court and 5 lighted for night play. The pros in the ranked teaching program gear their lessons to each player, from novice to expert. Wild Dunes offers adult, junior, and Tiny Tot programs, professional instruction, and matchmaking for all levels. The full-service pro shop sells, rents, and repairs racquets. All Wild Dunes Resort guests can have one hour of complimentary court time per room, per day from noon to 6. For additional hours or court times reserved before noon, the cost is $15 per hour for guests renting accommodations. 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. Island Bike and Surf Shop rents surfboards and kayaks and will deliver to the resort islands. Boards cost $20 a day, $15 after four days. 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 surfing at Folly Beach. Surfboards can be rented for as little as $7 per hour to $30 for 24 hours (or $75 for a week); an hour of instruction is an additional $40 and includes board use. 8 Center St., Folly Beach, SC, 29439. 843/588–2247. www.mckevlins.com.
Sun & Ski. Rents Jet Skis at this shop off the beach, just to the right of the fishing pier. 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.
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