If you’re among the growing number of travelers looking for a little adventure on your vacation, you’ll find plenty to get your adrenaline flowing in South Carolina. All of the state’s top destinations offer an array of exciting activities and experiences, from hiking and kayaking to zip lining and rock wall climbing.
Visiting Charleston? For a big thrill, consider these six awesome adventures:
Walk or Bike over the Iconic Ravenel Bridge
Towering over Charleston Harbor, the 800-foot-high, cable-stayed bridge looms large in a city skyline defined by more than 400 church steeples. No visit to the Holy City is complete without a trek over this engineering marvel. Thanks to a designated bicycle and pedestrian path running along the south edge of the bridge, you can traverse the bridge and enjoy stunning views of downtown Charleston and its harbor. It’s a heart-pumping 2.7-mile jaunt from Patriots Point Road to East Bay Street with a .3-mile section featuring a calorie-burning 5.6 percent slope. After your walk, enjoy a decadent dinner in town guilt free.
Go Horseback Riding in a Historic Rice Plantation
Tour one of Charleston’s 18th century rice plantations in the same mode of transportation used by its original residents. Middleton Place Equestrian Center offers guided one-hour horseback trail rides through a section of the 7,000-acre estate once belonging to Arthur Middleton, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. From your seat in the saddle, you’ll enjoy views of the main house, springhouse, chapel and famed butterfly lakes as you meander on trails alongside the National Historic Landmark. You’ll also ride around a scenic rice mill pond bordering the Ashley River and experience the true beauty of the Lowcountry landscape.
Kayak to Bulls Island
Just 20 miles from Charleston is one of the most pristine stretches of coastline on the eastern seaboard. The Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge is a haven for wildlife, including more than 293 species of birds, 24 types of reptiles and 36 different mammals. One of the best ways to explore this Class 1 wilderness is on Coastal Expeditions’ kayak excursion to Bulls Island, the largest of Cape Romain’s four barrier islands. You’ll paddle through the salt marsh with the outgoing tide, beach on the north end of the island and then set off on a hike to the haunting Boneyard Beach lined with the weathered remains of trees that were once part of the island’s maritime forest. Rather than paddle back to the mainland, you’ll hop aboard Coastal Expedition’s Bull Island Ferry, making a relaxing end to your coastal adventure.
Sail in Charleston Harbor
Experience Charleston from the water aboard a six-passenger, 27-foot Stiletto catamaran known for its speed and smooth ride. Charleston Sailing Adventures will take you on a 90-minute cruise in the harbor, offering you a different perspective of some of its most famous landmarks, including Castle Pinckney, Fort Sumter and the Ravenel Bridge, along with the chance to see the ever-popular Atlantic bottlenose dolphin. Sitting in the Stiletto’s cockpit or on the trampoline at the bow puts you closer to the water for an exciting sail. Choose from a private daytime charter or a sunset sail at one of the prettiest times of the day.
Test Your Skills on a Ropes Course
You’ll need good balance, strength and stamina to get through the 72 elements on the aerial course at Wild Blue Ropes Adventure Park in nearby James Island. But with green, blue and black difficulty color ratings like those found on ski slopes, you can choose just the right challenge for your skill level. The difficulty of the elements progresses as you ascend the climbing structure. If you find yourself past your comfort zone three stories up, you can exit the course from the upper platforms using an automatic belay system. Whatever route you choose, you’ll always be safely locked to cables with a two-carabiner smart belay system.
Surf the Washout on Folly Beach
Hang Ten at South Carolina’s best surfing beach. Just 8 miles from Charleston, Folly Beach is home to some of the gnarliest swells on the East Coast. Surfers with mad carving skills should head to the Washout, a favorite surf spot created when Hurricane Hugo washed away a block of beachfront homes on the island in 1989. If you’ve never hit the waves on a board, Folly Beach is a great place to try it. You’ll find a number of shops on the island offering lessons and board rentals. They include Isla Surf School, Carolina Salt Surf Lessons, Shaka Surf School, Sol Surfers and McKevlin’s Surf Shop.