Whether you just got to town or you’ve been here for 90 years, we can all agree on one thing today: It’s oppressively hot outside.
If you’re not near water, your body is likely creating sticky sweat that makes you feel like you just got out of the pool.
This is the time of the year that the snowbirds and the natives alike usually head for cooler pastures. But you’re stuck here and you’re desperate to have fun and escape the heat at the same time.
Here’s our list of 10 hot spots for scratching that good-time itch without getting that prickly heat.
Throw an axe: It’s a nationwide sensation that’s finally made it to the Lowcountry. Axe throwing sounds like something from a World’s Strongest Man episode from early ’80s ESPN. If you’re new to the craze, you should know that some innovative folks have actually found a way to essentially play darts with a gigantic wood-cutting axe. Palmetto Axes (4375 Bluffton Parkway, Suite F behind Off-Island Thrift, Bluffton, 843-816-7878, palmettoaxes.com) will give you a primer on throwing safe. And don’t worry, they have some local libations to quell the frustration when your axe keeps doinking the wall without attaching to the bullseye.
Escape together: Escape rooms are a group adventure where you are trapped in a themed room and have to 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, this is 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 open Wednesday-Sunday by appointment only currently.
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.
Indoor golf galore: You want to play at a championship level course without having to endure the four-hour bake in midsummer sun? Just a few months ago, you had zero options to get that thrill. Now, you have a bevy of choices.
In Bluffton, you can hit Rendezvous Golf (70 Pennington Drive No. 3, Bluffton, 843-757-9199, Bluffton, rendezvousblufftonsc.com) has 100 courses to choose from on their simulators and holds events Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays as well allowing for private play ($40 per hour for up to four players to play).
Featured in our last issue, Chronic Golf (59A New Orleans Road, Hilton Head Island, 843-987-4653, mychronicgolf.com) offers world-class golf course play along with a choice of 13 different sports to challenge friends and family. And you absolutely must try the zombie dodgeball. We are big, big fans.
If you’re jonesing for a Top Golf-esque experience, hit the TopTracer Driving Range at Palmetto Dunes (7 Trent Jones Drive, Hilton Head Island, palmettodunestoptracerrange.com). You will get all the same tech, golf selection and challenges with covered bays to give you the outside feel without all the sunburn.
Go to a movie: This seems so basic, but the movie theaters are actually open again. The prices and concessions deals at Cinemark Bluffton (106 Buckwalter Place, Bluffton, cinemark.com/theatres/sc-bluffton/cinemark-bluffton) has a Tuesday discount day and luxury recliner seating. Join the movie club to get deep discounts on concessions and tickets and rewards for the more you go to the theater. Our first time back as a family was to see the latest “Fast and the Furious” movie. I love me some Vin Diesel, I love me some fast cars and the whole crew, but I never thought I’d cry at one of these franchise movies. But there I was, bawling for joy just to finally be sitting comfortably back in front of a gigantic movie screen.
Hit the Sandbar: It is a Bluffton institution, the quintessential experience to truly capture the State of Mind. Locals know of this spot along the May River where boats park between tides and families empty out to socialize. Yes, it’s become insanely crowded compared to the good ol’ days, as seemingly everyone bought a boat during COVID. But trust us, you can’t call yourself a true Blufftonian until you’ve bathed in the soul-cleansing day of fun at the Sandbar. If you don’t have a boat, hire Capt. Chris at May River Excursions (81 Calhoun Street, Bluffton, 843-304-2878, mayriverexcursions.com) to take you out there.
Museum it up: If you’re looking for hands-on experiences and an air-conditioned way to learn about local history, you have a number of options. 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. There is more to do there than we can do justice in this tiny space. You must see for yourself.
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). It’s considered the satellite location, but has a full slate of programs to entertain the kiddos. The mothership on Hilton Head Island is preparing to open a huge expansion at the new Lowcountry Celebration Park location, but until they open the doors, you can enjoy music and comedy from entertainer Rick Hubbard on Monday nights at 7 p.m. on the steps of the new building.
The best of the rest: Our panel was all over the place with their suggestions. Some of them cover the basics – get a book at the Bluffton Library (120 Palmetto Way, Bluffton, beaufortlibrary.org) or go bowling and play in the arcade at Station 300 (25 Innovation Drive, Bluffton, station300.com). If you choose the latter and are going with kids, sign up for the Kids Bowl Free program (kidsbowlfree.com) and two adults and two kids will be able to each bowl two free games per day.
Some of the suggestions cover people watching, because you will visit an air-conditioned sea of humanity walking the aisles at Target, Sam’s Club or Walmart.
And if you really just want to get a respite while on the road, try the walk-in beer coolers at just about any Parker’s. It is a simple pleasure that will get you back to room temperature in no time.
Tim Wood is a veteran journalist based in Bluffton. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.