1. Where to Stay
Play three of five courses at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort (from $313). Of all the resort’s accommodations, The Sanctuary is the fanciest; you’ll tee off from the same holes but sleep in a nicer bed (from $340).
Wild Dunes on Isle of Palms is the other major golf resort, and the Boardwalk Inn (from $158) is its sole hotel. If Kiawah is too pricey or your trip is brief, check into the Boardwalk, a cheaper alternative that’s closer to the airport.
If you prefer the city to a resort, go to Charleston Place (from $249). Guests get discounted access to Kiawah’s courses. Relax with a walk through the hotel’s antebellum neighborhood, or get a scrub and a wrap at its stellar spa.
The Planters Inn (from $250) is a boutique hotel that’s been fawning over guests since 1844. Think four-poster beds and cocktails in the parlor.
The Charleston Riverview Hotel (from $139) will soon be a Marriott and is the inexpensive choice for a guys-only weekend. You’re less than two miles from downtown and about a half-hour away from golf.
2. Where to Eat
In the Charleston Grill (at the Charleston Place hotel), French-trained chef Bob Waggoner adds Gallic flavors to low-country standards, like baked grits with goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes.
Woodlands Inn is worth the 30-minute cab ride out to Summerville. The menu changes daily and includes a vegetable-tasting option with dishes like a Wisconsin Dante–cheese soufflé. Book the chef’s table to eat whatever the kitchen staff thinks of next.
Ken Vedrinski left his job as executive chef of the Woodlands Inn to open the Italian-infused Sienna Restaurant on nearby Daniel Island in March 2004. His spin on his grandma’s recipes is so good, the state legislature passed a resolution saying so.
Bowen’s Island (1870 Bowen Island Rd., James Island; 803-795-2757) serves only oysters. Harvested that afternoon and roasted to order, the oysters are deposited onto your ancient table via shovel. Open only for dinner and only in months with an “R.”
Bessinger’s Barbeque does mail order, but locals still go to the source for obscene portions and nightly specials like catfish fries.
3. What to Do
Kiawah’s Ocean Course may be the best in Charleston, but it’s overpriced and often overbooked. The city has several other public courses worth playing. Just across the water and ten minutes from downtown is the Patriots Points Links at Charleston Harbor in Mt. Pleasant. The par-three seventeenth is frequently rated the city’s best hole. History buffs should play a round at The Links at Stono Ferry, on the site of a Revolutionary War battlefield. The Ron Garl design was voted the area’s top course in 2003.
4. Insider’s Tip
An entire par-five hole was built at Kiawah to shoot The Legend of Bagger Vance. It is unmarked and not part of any course, so you can play it for free. Your caddie will know where to find it.
5. An Oddball Day
Bill Murray is a partial owner of the Charleston RiverDogs, the Yankees’ single-A farm team. From April to September, enjoy fireworks on Fridays, giveaways on Saturdays, and the regional specialty snack — boiled peanuts — anytime.
In the off-season, visit the Charleston Tea Plantation: The only place in America where the leaves are still grown, the plantation has 320 varieties of plants and hundreds of thousands of tea bushes. Now owned by the tea-making Bigelow family, the plantation just reopened after a three-year renovation and boasts a tour, formal tea gardens, and a tasting room.
HollyEats uses a grease-stain rating system for low-country road food.
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“The Preview,” the city paper’s weekend entertainment section, posts first online on Thursdays.