Charleston offers a host of recreational opportunities from world-class golf and tennis facilities – for watching or playing – to many options for boating, biking or even bowling. You won’t be bored on a trip to Charleston.
The city is home to the Charleston Riverdogs baseball team. On any given night, you might see co-owner and the team’s “director of fun” Bill Murray. The team is a single-A affiliate of the New York Yankees and is known for its wild (and some might say mildly racy) theme nights, such as “Nobody Night,” when fans were locked out until the fifth inning so they could announce official attendance at zero, and “Vasectomy Night,” which was canceled when local officials and season ticket holders, including a bishop, objected to the plan to give away a free vasectomy on Father’s Day. Any way you cut it, you will have a good time at a stadium nicknamed “The Joe” when the Riverdogs are in town.
Other high-level sports teams include perennial NCAA tournament hopefuls in the College of Charleston men’s basketball team and the United Soccer League team Charleston Battery.
Charleston also is home to one of the top U.S. clay court tournaments on the women’s tennis circuit. The annual Family Circle Cup WTA event brings the biggest names in women’s tennis to Daniel Island each April. Started in 1973 in Hilton Head Island, the event moved to Charleston in 2001. Big-name winners over the years have included: Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Conchita Martinez, and more recently Venus and Serena Williams. The tennis center hosts other events throughout the year, including junior and adult USTA championships. You can even get a lesson from the pros there.
If you like to play as well as watch, also check out Wild Dunes, which has been ranked by Tennis magazine as one of the top 10 U.S. tennis resorts for nine years running; Seabrook Island, with its 15 clay courts and tennis vacation packages; and Kiawah Island, with its two tennis clubs and plenty of pros to help you take your game to the next level.
While you’re at Kiawah, you may want to check out the island’s other specialty: golf.
Kiawah’s Ocean Course has hosted the Ryder Cup (1991), the 2007 Senior PGA and the 2012 PGA Championship, which will be played there again in 2021. Aptly named, the Ocean Course provides unparalleled views of the Atlantic and the windswept dunes of one of South Carolina’s most beautiful barrier islands. Kiawah also has four other fantastic courses, and all are open for public play. Elsewhere in Charleston, there are more than a dozen other courses, including four in Mount Pleasant, three in Summerville and two each on Seabrook Island and the Isle of Palms. Where you play depends on how much you want to spend, where you are staying, and what else you want to see and do. Check out the Charleston Golf Guide online to find the courses that are right for you.
While you are on Kiawah, you’ll want to check out another of its specialties: the beach. Kiawah’s Beachwalker Park has been called one of the top beaches in the world. You can stroll the wide boardwalk through live oaks and other marsh plant life between the ocean and Bohicket River. If you’d rather surf than stroll, check out the Washout at Folly Beach, which those in the know say is the best surfing in South Carolina. Created by Hurricane Hugo in 1989, the Washout is exactly that, the spot where the ocean washed out the beach. The unimpeded flow of wind across the dunes into the Folly River is credited with creating the rolling waves surfers enjoy here. And they enjoy it all year long. A January nor’easter can bring out the wetsuit-clad surfers by the dozens.
Boating, Biking and Bowling
Learn to sail at the Charleston Sailing School or with the College of Charleston Sailing team. If you have never been on a boat or if it’s been a long time, these courses will help you (re)gain your sea legs. Even if you never plan to buy a boat, the classes are just plain fun and are typically so small that instruction can be tailored to the students’ needs. Get a group of friends and learn to sail together.
Biking is a great way to see the city of Charleston or to enjoy the many parks and beaches that surround the city. Rent a bike for $25 a day or $55 a week at Affordabike. For more extensive guided trips, check out Charleston Bicycle Tours for one-, three- or six-day tours of Charleston and surrounding areas. The tours include accommodations and meals.
The Alley is the only downtown Charleston location to roll a few frames, but there is so much more. You can enjoy some seriously good food – think oyster po’ boys, fried green tomato BLTs, and shrimp and grits fritters. You also can enjoy local craft brews at the bar or play some old-school arcade games.