For native Lowcountry residents, the next two months are the equivalent of a Northern winter. Even some of the transplants will argue that our extreme temperatures, outdoor conditions and tiny biting creatures are far worse than any amount of snow that needs shoveling.
But for most, it is a minor tradeoff for the beauty and serenity of coastal living.
And let’s be real. Sun and humidity, it’s a first-world problem – the kind of “struggle” that is minor compared to others enduring true ordeals. Plus, there is a camaraderie in the sticky skirmish with Mother Nature.
The smarter folks young and old plan their escape to cooler shores this time of year. By the time you read this, I will be in Maine visiting family and enjoying the best part of the Downeast calendar. But there is still plenty of entertaining distraction to not fret the sticky sweat.
When we asked our “blue ribbon panel” where they turn to fizzle the sizzle, many of them said “home” or “bed” or “the couch.” When we told them to turn off the Netflix and belay that malaise, they came back with outstanding suggestions to fill out our hot spots to chill out and have fun.
Golf with a roof overhead: It is hard to believe that with all of the savvy entrepreneurs in the area that it took this long to bring indoor golf to the Lowcountry. Four hours in an outdoor EZ-Bake Oven is not as appealing right now. Oddly enough, we went from next to zero indoor options to a myriad of experiences all along U.S. 278 in the course of about 18 months.
If you want to be more on the mainland, Rendezvous Golf (70 Pennington Drive No. 3, Bluffton, 843-757-9199, Bluffton, rendezvousblufftonsc.com) is your best option. The spot right next to R-Bar offers 100 courses to choose from on their simulators, with tournaments each Friday, Saturday and Sunday and private play by appointment ($40 per hour for up to four players).
Closer to the bridge, check out X-Golf Hilton Head (1414 Fording Island Rd, Bluffton, 843-815-9444, xgolfhiltonhead.com), which offers 50 courses and six simulators and a beautiful clubhouse setting with the Turn Grill and Sports Bar. On the island, try Chronic Golf (59A New Orleans Road, Hilton Head Island, 843-987-4653, mychronicgolf.com) for both golf and a selection of 10 sports and zombie dodgeball to play on one of their simulators.
If you’re jonesing for a TopGolf-esque experience, head to the TopTracer Driving Range at Palmetto Dunes (7 Trent Jones Drive, Hilton Head Island, palmettodunestoptracerrange.com). It’s not quite inside, but it’s roofed with misters, TopGolf tech and a delish sports bar menu.
Go for a ride: My family’s choice for inside entertainment is a no-brainer. Once we took a ride on the track at K-1 Speed Bluffton (71 Towne Drive, Bluffton, 843-815-5278, k1speed.com/bluffton-location), we knew why you don’t call this go-kart racing. The electric cars at K-1 can reach speeds up to 45 mph and the twists and turns of the two-level track make this feel like a roller-coaster ride that you steer. There is one turn in particular where you need to drift like you’re in a “Fast and Furious” movie to stay atop the leaderboard.
I have become a fast fan of Formula 1 and this, in my humble opinion, is as close as you can get to racing for money on a circuit. There are standings (you get points for every racer you finish ahead of in each race) and K-1 has monthly leagues for all ages. There is a hearty indoor arcade and a VR gaming arena for those not wanting to race, and a restaurant to refuel after your race. It is about $24 for one 12-lap drive – that may seem steep, until you actually ride the course. Pro tip: Buy the three-pack that equates more to $16 per ride.
If you’re looking for more of a traditional go-kart experience, check out the area’s first go-kart track at Adventure Hilton Head (33 Broad Creek Marina Way, Hilton Head Island, 843-681-3625, myadventurehiltonhead.com). There are eateries, zipline courses and an aerial rope challenge for those not ready to get behind the wheel.
Yearn for the yarn: Everything old is new again, and so it is with knitting. The younger generation have embraced this centuries-old hobby as the cool new trend, and Tracy Winslow is glad to feed the need for weave at Lowcountry Shrimp and Knits (181 Bluffton Road, Building F, Bluffton, 508-864-0718, shrimpandknits.com). Most afternoons and Thursday evenings, you will find knitters and crocheters of all levels around Tracy’s tables, laughing and learning together.
Winslow offers a variety of classes, kits and yarns to go along with a truly chill atmosphere. This isn’t just for women either – plenty of men are embracing this hobby (see the Liberty Mutual commercial for proof). Plus, Peaceful Henry’s is a walk across the parking lot for those looking to quench their cigar and libation thirst to cap off a truly unique Old Town afternoon.
Tune in and chill out: Newcomers continually approach me with their surprise over the depth of the Lowcountry music scene. Long-time visitors and residents know that though they may wear flip flops and t-shirts, the area’s musicians are world class entertainers. Many of them tour the country in the area’s offseason, but it is prime time to hear some of the region’s best musicians. The list of bars and restaurants that offer music is too long to list here, but if you’re looking for dedicated indoor music venues, The Roasting Room (1297 Bluffton Road, Bluffton, 843-368-4464, roastingroom.live) should be your first stop.
Upstairs from The Corner Perk is an intimate setting that has rapidly become a must-play locale for the country’s top musicians. The acoustics are exquisite and when you sit in the pews and close your eyes during a concert, you truly will feel like you’ve gone to musical church. If you’re beach bound, check the schedule at Coligny Theatre (1 North Forest Beach Drive, Hilton Head Island, 843-686-3500, colignytheatre.com), where Matt Stock and John Cranford have created an impressive venue out of a classic movie theatre setting.
Axes and shooters: If you’re looking for a thrill with a weapon, you have plenty of options. Those more interested in the trendy night out that is axe throwing can head to Bluffton Axes (4375 Bluffton Parkway, Suite F behind Off-Island Thrift, Bluffton, 843-816-7878, palmettoaxes.com) or Moss and Hatchet (2139 Boundary St., Beaufort, 843-379-5656, mossandhatchet.com). Both spots offer coaching to show you how to throw to make your axe stick to the wooden target without impaling yourself. You can get libations in both locations and a kitchen menu at Moss and Hatchet.
If you’re looking to hit the target with a firearm, head more toward S.C. 170. Palmetto Indoor Range (98 Purrysburg Road, Hardeeville, 843-784-5474, palmettoindoorrange.com) and Palmetto State Armory (358-A Browns Cove Road, Ridgeland, 843-379-4867, palmettostatearmory.com) each offer firearm rentals, ammo to purchase and classes to teach proper technique.
Find your muse-um: Hands-on experiences to learn about local history and wildlife are plenty. The Coastal Discovery Museum (70 Honey Horn Drive, Hilton Head Island, coastaldiscovery.org) offers interactive programs with alligators and blue crabs and 68 coastal acres of Lowcountry stories and mystique waiting to be explored. . If you’re a military buff and want to take a little bit of a ride, our panel suggests both the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth off of I-95 in Pooler (mightyeighth.org, tickets $8-12) or the Marine Museum at Parris Island (parrisislandmuseum.com, admission free). And if your kids are looking for an interactive museum, check out The Sandbox at the Tanger 2 Outlet (1414 Fording Island Road, Suite E-180, Bluffton, thesandbox.org).
Then there is the history journey you might not have expected. The Kazoobie Kazoo Factory, Museum, and Gift Shop (12 John Galt Road, Beaufort, 843-982-6387, thekazoofactory.com) lets you experience the history of one of the coolest and simplest sound makers ever created. The museum houses one of the largest kazoo collections in the world and the factory tour lets you see kazoos being made and lets you make a kazoo for yourself.
There’s always a movie: Blockbusters are back and there are a number of ways to experience them in the area. Cinemark Bluffton (106 Buckwalter Place, Bluffton, cinemark.com/theatres/sc-bluffton/cinemark-bluffton) offers Tuesday discount days, recliner stadium seating and a monthly movie club that earns you free tickets and discount concessions. On the island, Northridge Cinema 10 (435 William Hilton Parkway, Hilton Head Island, 843-342-3801, southeastcinemas.com) offers all the latest-run movies and Park Plaza Cinema (33 Office Park Road, Hilton Head Island, 843-715-0479, mannsparkplazacinema.com) is an independent theater with first-run movies and more unique events like monthly trivia nights. They also have a bar with adult beverages, and you can take them into the theatres.
There’s also the drive-in experience, my favorite way to see a movie. Jake Higgins has recently taken over ownership of Highway 21 Drive-In (55 Parker Drive, Beaufort, 843-846-4500, hwy21drivein.com), one of only three drive-in theaters remaining in South Carolina. Higgins aims to continue upgrading a wonderfully nostalgic night out. The dining options and concessions are outstanding and the weekend flea markets are quickly becoming a collector’s haven.
Did we mention escapes? Escape rooms are a group adventure where you are trapped in a themed room and must use the clues all around the room to solve puzzles and find your way out within a certain time limit (usually an hour). If you’re claustrophobic, keep reading, not for you. But for all others, it is an action-packed and brain-busting adventure as you work your way through intricately planned scenarios. Some rooms are creepy, some scary, some just outright frustrating. Lockstar Escape (70 Pennington Drive, Suite 17, Bluffton, 843-757-8727, lockstarescape.com) is your mainland option with three different rooms to explore. If you’re on the island, try Hilton Head Escape Room (10 Executive Drive, Suite 102, Hilton Head Island, 843-681-7529, hiltonheadescaperoom.com) has three scenarios to choose from with varying degrees of difficulty. Expect to pay about $30 per person for an hour of fun.
Head to the water: What better way to cool off than to experience the stunning waterways that drew us all here? In Bluffton, you can leave right from the Calhoun Street dock for a dolphin or sunset cruise along the May River, a water taxi to Daufuskie Island, or one of my family’s more recent staycation adventures, a crabbing adventure. We got to see how commercial fishermen catch them in pots and then put some raw chicken on hooks and caught a bunch ourselves (you can bring home what you catch if they’re legal size). Call Capt. Chris and his team at May River Excursions (81 Calhoun Street, Bluffton, 843-304-2878, mayriverexcursions.com) to choose your own water journey.
Personal watercraft are also a fun way to see the waterways and you have a number of options on the island to rent one of these aqua vehicles. H2O Sports Hilton Head (149 Lighthouse Road, Hilton Head Island, 843-671-4386, h2osports.com), Lowcountry Watersports (86 Helmsman Way Suite 101, Hilton Head Island, 843-684-2004, lowcountrywatersports.com) and Shelter Cove Marina (1 Shelter Cove Lane, Hilton Head Island, 843-548-0532, sheltercovemarina.com) are our three favorite spots to find watercraft to rent. You’re looking at around $150 per hour for these water cycles. All three locations also have boats to rent.
And if you’re looking to be more of a regular boater to hit the Bluffton Sandbar, check out Carefree Boat Club (843-802-3009, carefree-boat-club-hilton-head.business.site) and Freedom Boat Club (843-682-2628, freedomboatclub.com) to see your options for owning the water without owning the boat.
Tim Wood is a veteran journalist based in Bluffton. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.