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Baseball

Fans who like to hear the crack of the bat and the cheers of the crowd can plan on attending a game at "the Joe" (Joseph P. Riley Jr. Stadium).

Charleston Riverdogs. The local minor-league baseball team plays at "the Joe," on the banks of the Ashley River near the Citadel. Kids love the mascot, Charlie T. Riverdog. After games, fireworks often illuminate the summer sky in honor of this all-American pastime. The season runs from April through September. Tickets cost a reasonable $7 to $12. Joseph P. Riley Jr. Stadium, 360 Fishburne St., Hampton Park Terrace, Charleston, SC, 29403. 843/577–3647. www.riverdogs.com.

Beaches

There are glorious beaches just outside the Charleston city limits. You and your kids can build sand castles, gather seashells after high tide, or bring a kite and let it loose on a long lead. The Charleston area's mild climate means you can swim from March through October. Public beaches generally have lifeguards in season, snack bars, restrooms and dressing areas, outdoor showers, umbrella and chair rentals, and large parking lots.

Edisto's south side has 4 miles of public beach. At its western end, the beach faces St. Helena Sound and has smaller waves. There is beach access at each intersection along Palmetto Boulevard and free public parking along the road. The beach itself has narrowed because of erosion, so it's best to time your visit for low tide. These clean coastal waters teem with both fish and shellfish, and it's common to see people throwing cast nets for shrimp. It's a great beach for beachcombing. Alcohol is allowed as long as it is not in glass containers. There's little shade and no food stands, so be sure to pack snacks. Amenities: none. Best for: solitude; sunset; swimming.

Anchored by Folly Beach Pier, this is the Lowcountry's most iconic summer playground. To the left of the stairway to the pier is a good seafood restaurant called Blu, with a bar, deck, and incredible ocean views. Street parking is free, but to avoid a ticket, all four wheels have to be on the grass, not the pavement. Small lots right next to the beach access cost $1 per hour. If you're a surfer, keep driving until you reach Folly's Washout. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; parking (fee). Best for: swimming; surfing.

A river winds through this palmetto-fringed park, 12 miles southwest of Charleston. There are lifeguards in designated swimming areas and the water is generally calm, making this the best bet for families. Depending on the tides, there are often little pools that toddlers can safely enjoy. The sand is the hard-packed taupe variety ideal for making sand castles. Seasonal amenities include a snack bar, beach chairs, and umbrella rentals. Anglers can rent gear and cast a line. This is one of the parks that stay open year-round. Best for: swimming. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; parking; toilets; water sports.

If you want a singles scene and beach bars with live music and bikini contests, then this stretch of Isle of Palms is for you. For generations it has been a big draw for beach lovers. Bicyclists are welcome, as are pets on leashes. Parking regulations are strictly enforced. Amenities: food and drink; parking (fee). Best for: partiers; swimming; windsurfing.

Play beach volleyball or soak up the sun in a lounge chair at this 600-foot-long stretch of sand. This beach is as good as the island's idyllic name. The sands are golden, the water is temperate, and the waves are gentle. It's great for families with small children, seniors seeking to avoid the crowds, or those seeking peace and quiet. It is the only lifeguard-protected area on the Isle of Palms. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; showers; toilets. Best for: swiming; walking

The public park about 28 miles southwest of Charleston has an ample 500-foot-wide beach. Stunningly beautiful Kiawah is one of the Southeast's largest barrier islands, with 10 miles of wide, immaculate ocean beaches. You can walk safely for miles, shelling and beachcombing to your heart's content. The beach is complemented by the Kiawah River, with lagoons filled with birds and wildlife, and golden marshes that make the sunsets even more glorious. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; showers; toilets. Best for: solitude; sunset; swimming; walking.

This is one of the most pristine beaches in the Charleston area. The beachfront is owned by the town—some 190 acres of maritime forest overseen by the Lowcountry Open Land Trust. The downside is that there are no amenities like public toilets and showers. There are, however, a number of good small restaurants on nearby Middle Street, the island's main drag. There are approximately 30 public-access paths (four are wheelchair accessible) that lead to the beach. "Sully's" is a delightful island with plenty to see, including Fort Moultrie National Monument. The island is home to some 2,000 people, whose numbers swell in summer with vacationers occupying the many beach houses Amenities: none. Best for: swimming; sunrise; walking; windsurfing.

Biking

As long as you stay off the busier roads, the historic district is ideal for bicycling. Many of the city's green spaces, including Colonial Lake and Palmetto Islands County Park, have bike trails. If you want to rent a bike, expect to pay about $25 a day.

Cycling at your own pace is one of the best ways to see Charleston. Those staying at the nearby island resorts, particularly families with children, almost always rent bikes, especially if they are there for a week.

Affordabike. The name says it all: bike rentals at this shop start at a mere $20 for 24 hours, and that includes a helmet, lock, and basket. Conveniently located in the Upper King area, it's open on Sunday—the best day for riding around downtown Charleston or across the Ravenel Bridge. 563 King St., Upper King, Charleston, SC, 29403. 843/789–3281. www.affordabike.com.

Bicycle Shoppe. Open seven days a week, this shop rents simple beach cruisers for $7 an hour or $28 a day, and that includes a helmet. For those wanting to tackle the Ravenel Bridge, the store offers hybrids for $10 an hour or $40 a day. There's a second branch at 1539 Johnnie Dodds Boulevard in Mount Pleasant. 281 Meeting St., Market, Charleston, SC, 29401. 843/722–8168. www.thebicycleshoppecharleston.com.

Charleston Bicycle Tours. You'll see the quiet streets and hidden secrets of Charleston when you take a multiday tour with Charleston Bicycle Tours. You'll ride past plantations as well as over the Ravenel Bridge, exploring the nearby islands and quaint surrounding towns. Tours include bikes, accommodations, and dining in the area's best restaurants. There's a van shuttle, licensed guide, and even a mechanic. Prices range from $1,295 for a three-day trip visiting the area's plantations to $2,790 for a six-day tour to Savannah. 1321 Bellview Dr., Mount Pleasant, SC, 29464. 843/881–9878. charlestonbicycletours.com.

Island Bike and Surf Shop. Rent beach bikes for a very moderate weekly rates, or check out hybrids, mountain bikes, bicycles built for two, and a wide range of equipment for everyone in the family. The shop will even deliver to Kiawah and Seabrook islands. 3665 Bohicket Rd., Johns Island, SC, 29455. 843/768–1158 or 800/323–0579. www.islandbikeandsurf.com.

Boating

Kayak through isolated marshes and estuaries to outlying islands, or explore Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. Rates vary depending on your departure point and whether you go it alone or join a guided tour. Rentals are about $20 per hour, and a two-hour guided tour will run you about $40. The nearby resort islands, especially Kiawah and Wild Dunes, tend to have higher rates.

The boating options are incredibly varied, from a small johnboat with an outboard motor to a chartered sailboat. If you’re a newcomer to sailing, arranging lessons is no problem.

AquaSafaris. If you want a sailboat or yacht charter, a cruise to a private beach barbecue, or just a day of offshore fishing, contact AquaSafaris. Captain John Borden takes seaworthy sailors out daily, leaving from Shem Creek and Isle of Palms. A sunset cruise on the Palmetto Breeze catamaran offers panoramic views of Charleston Harbor set to a soundtrack of Jimmy Buffett tunes. Enjoy beer and cocktails as you cruise in one of the smoothest sails in the Lowcountry. 24 Patriots Point Rd., Mount Pleasant, SC, 29464. 843/886–8133. www.aqua-safaris.com.

Charleston Kayak Company. Guided kayak tours with Charleston Kayak Company depart from the grounds of the Inn at Middleton Place or Folly Beach. From Middleton, you'll glide down the Ashley River and through brackish creeks in the Lowcountry's only State Scenic River Corridor. Naturalists tell you about the wetlands and the river's cultural history. It's not uncommon to spot an alligator, but thankfully they take no interest in kayakers. Tours last two hours (reservations essential) and cost $45 per person. Both single and tandem kayaks are available starting at $30, including all safety gear. Middleton Place Plantation, 4290 Ashley River Rd., West Ashley, Charleston, SC, 29414. 843/556–6020 or 843/628–2879. www.charlestonkayakcompany.com.

Coastal Expeditions. Outings for individuals, families, and large groups are arranged by Coastal Expeditions. A kayak tour with a naturalist guide costs $58 per person, and kayaks rentals start at $38 for a half day. The company provides exclusive access to Cape Romain National Wilderness Area on Bull Island via the Bull Island Ferry. The ferry departs from Garris Landing and runs Tuesday and Thursday to Saturday from April through November. It costs $30 round-trip. Bull Island has rare natural beauty, a "boneyard beach," shells galore, and 277 species of migrating birds. Coastal Expeditions has additional outlets at Crosby's Seafood on Folly Beach and at Isle of Palms Marina. Shem Creek Maritime Center, 514B Mill St., Mount Pleasant, SC, 29464. 843/884–7684. www.coastalexpeditions.com.

Ondeck Charleston. Learn how to command your own 26-foot sailboat on Charleston's beautiful harbor with the guidance of an instructor at Ondeck Charleston. This academy can teach you and your family how to sail comfortably on any size sailboat, and can take you from coastal navigation to ocean proficiency. Instructors are fun and experienced, and are U.S. Sailing–certified professionals. Skippered charters are also available and start at $285. 24 Patriots Point Rd., Mount Pleasant, SC, 29464. 843/971–0700. www.ondecksailing.us.

St. John's Kayaks. Just minutes from the entrance to Kiawah and Seabrook islands, St. John's Kayaks offers guided ecotours by kayak, fishing expeditions, and powerboat excursions. Safe and stable, easy-boarding kayaks are ideal for everyone from kids to seniors. Local owners share their love and passion for the barrier sea islands. They welcome groups and offer discounted rates. 4460 Betsy Kerrison Pkwy., Johns Island, SC, 29455. 843/330–9777. www.stjohnskayaks.com.

Fishing

Fishing can be a real adventure in and around Charleston. If you travel offshore with an experienced guide, you’ll probably come back with enough fish stories to last until your next trip. This is a pricey adventure best shared with as many of your fishing buddies as possible. Expect to pay about $120 an hour, including bait and tackle. For inshore fly-fishing, guides generally charge $350 for two people for a half day. Deep-sea fishing charters cost about $1,400 for 12 hours for a boatload of anglers.

Bohicket Marina. If you want to catch the big one, Bohicket Marina has half- and full-day charters on 24- to 48-foot boats. Small boat rentals are also available, as well as sunset dolphin-watching cruises. This marina is the closest to Kiawah and Seabrook islands, and this company has a long-standing reputation. For three hours of inshore fishing, expect to pay about $375 for one to three people and $400 to $550 for four or more people, including bait, tackle, and licenses. 1880 Andell Bluff Blvd., Johns Island, SC, 29455. 843/768–1280. www.bohicket.com.

Captain Richard Stuhr. Saltwater fly-fishers looking for an Orvis-endorsed guide do best by calling Captain Richard Stuhr, who has been fishing the waters of Charleston, Kiawah, and Isle of Palms since 1991. He'll haul his 19-foot Action Craft to you and take you on a half-day tour through Charleston's harbor and tributaties for $350. www.captstuhr.com.

Golf

With fewer golfers than in Hilton Head, the courses in the Charleston area have more prime tee times available. Even if you’re not a guest, you can arrange play at private island resorts, such as Kiawah Island, Seabrook Island, and Wild Dunes. There you will find breathtaking ocean views within a pristine setting. Don't be surprised to find a white-tailed deer grazing a green or an alligator floating in a water hole. For top courses like Kiawah's Ocean Course, expect to pay in the $200 to $300 range during peak season in spring and early fall.

Municipal golf courses are a bargain, often costing less than $25 for 18 holes. Somewhere in between are well-regarded courses at Shadowmoss Plantation Golf Club, west of the Ashley River, and the Links at Stono Ferry in Hollywood.

Charleston Area Golf Guide. For everything from green fees to course statistics and vacation packages in the area, contact the Charleston Area Golf Guide. SC. 800/774–4444. www.charlestongolfguide.com.

Charleston Municipal Golf Course. This walker-friendly public course isn't as gorgeous as the resort courses—a highway bisects it—but it does have a lot of shade trees, and the price is right. About 6 miles from downtown and 20 miles from the resort islands of Kiawah and Seabrook, the course has a simple snack bar serving breakfast and lunch, as well as beer and wine. 2110 Maybank Hwy., James Island, SC, 29412. 843/795–6517. www.charleston-sc.gov. $17–$24. 18 holes, 6450 yds, par 72.

Charleston National Golf Club. The best nonresort golf course in Charleston tends to be quiet on weekdays, which translates into lower prices. The setting is captivating, carved along the intracoastal waterway and traversing wetlands, lagoons, and pine and oak forests. Finishing holes are set along golden marshland. Diminutive wooden bridges and a handsome clubhouse that looks like an antebellum mirage add to the natural beauty of this well-maintained course. 1360 National Dr., Mount Pleasant, SC, 29466. 843/884–7799 or 843/884–4653. www.charlestonnationalgolf.com. $56–$66. 18 holes, 6412 yds, par 72.

Dunes West Golf & River Club. Designed by Arthur Hill, this championship course has great marsh and river views and lots of modulation on the Bermuda-covered greens shaded by centuries-old oaks. The generous fairways have greens that may be considered small by today's standards, making approach shots very important. Located about 15 miles from downtown Charleston, it's in a gated residential community with an attractive antebellum-style clubhouse. 3535 Wando Plantation Way, Mount Pleasant, SC, 29466. 843/856–9000. www.duneswestgolfclub.com. $52–$86. 18 holes, 6871 yds, par 72.

Links at Stono Ferry. Built atop a Revolutionary War battlefield, the reasonably priced Links at Stono Ferry is the closest course to Kiawah and Seabrook islands. It's 30 minutes from downtown Charleston, however. It's been ranked among the top 100 courses in the Carolinas. Set in a rural area, the course is an upscale residential community with a focus on golf and horses. Its clubhouse has Southern style. 4812 Stono Links Dr., Hollywood, SC, 29449. 843/763–1817. www.stonoferrygolf.com. $53–$89. 18 holes, 6814 yds, par 72.

Patriots Point Links. A partly covered driving range and spectacular harbor views make this golf course feel special. It's just across the spectacular Ravenel Bridge, and if you drive here you can take advantage of the free public parking. You could also take the water taxi from downtown and arrange for a staffer to pick you up. Four pros offer one-on-one instruction, as well as lessons and clinics. There's a junior camp during the summer. 1 Patriots Point Rd., Mount Pleasant, SC, 29464. 843/881–0042. www.patriotspointlinks.com. $52–$74. 18 holes, 6900 yds, par 72.

Seabrook Island Resort. On this island with acres of untamed martime forests you'll find two championship courses: Crooked Oaks, designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., and Ocean Winds, by Willard Byrd. Crooked Oaks, which follows an inland path, is the more player friendly of the two. Ocean Winds is aptly named for three holes that run along the Atlantic; when the wind is up, those ocean breezes make it challenging. Both courses are run out of the same pro shop and have the same green fee. This is a private island, but guest privileges at the resort are extended to anyone who has a golf club membership. Your hometown golf pro must call for a reservation. 3772 Seabrook Island Rd., Seabrook Island, SC, 29455. 843/768–2529. www.discoverseabrook.com. $115–$170. 36 holes, 6800 yds, par 72.

Shadowmoss Plantation Golf Club. This forgiving course has one of the best finishing holes in the area. It's just off Highway 61, about 17 miles from downtown and 20 miles from the resort islands of Kiawah and Seabrook. A seasoned, well-conditioned course, it meanders through the residential enclave that grew up around it. It's a good value for the money. 20 Dunvegan Dr., Charleston, SC, 29414. 843/556–8251. www.shadowmossgolf.com. $36–$55. 18 holes, 6701 yds, par 72.

Horseback Riding

Put your foot in the stirrup and get a leg up! You can tour the beaches, maritime forests, marshlands, and former rice fields all from horseback. Several good stables in the area offer trail rides. Expect to pay $40 for rides through wooded terrain and $85 for those along the beach.

Middleton Equestrian Center. This long-established stable specializes in English riding lessons. It offers trail rides along wooded and open terrain and through former rice fields. All experience levels are welcome, and headgear is provided. Kids ages 8 and older can ride. Middleton Place, 4280 Ashley River Rd., West Ashley, Charleston, SC, 29414. 843/556–8137. www.middletonplace.org.

Seabrook Island Equestrian Center. This classy equestrian center 24 miles south of Charleston has walking trails for beginning and advanced riders. Beach rides are only for advanced riders who can handle a horse competently at a walk, trot, and canter. Parent-led pony rides are $45 for a half hour, and as many as three kids can take a turn. Private instructions are $55 for a half hour. The center hosts annual equestrian events and notable hunter and jumper shows. 3772 Seabrook Island Rd., Seabrook Island, SC, 29455. 843/768–7541. www.discoverseabrook.com.

Scuba Diving

Experienced divers can explore the Cooper River Underwater Heritage Diving Trail, upriver from Charleston. The 2-mile-long trail has six submerged sites, including ships that date to the Revolutionary War. Expect to pay $100 to $150 a trip. Equipment rentals average $10 for a tank.

Charleston Scuba. Whether you're just learning or an old pro, this dive outfitter offers everything from introductory classes to open-water drives. The company frequents a total of eight sites, and prices range from $130 to $175 for two-tank dives. 335 Savannah Hwy., West Ashley, Charleston, SC, 29407. 843/763–3483. www.charlestonscuba.com.

Soccer

Charleston Battery. Charleston's soccer team plays at Blackbaud Stadium, the first privately funded soccer facility in the country. Games are played from April through September and feature fun-filled giveaways and promotions. The stadium seats 5,100, and tickets range from $10 to $18. Blackbaud Stadium, 1990 Daniel Island Dr., Daniel Island, Charleston, SC, 29492. 843/971–4625. www.charlestonbattery.com.

Tennis

The Charleston area offers tennis options for every skill level. Spring and fall are ideal for play at the area’s inexpensive municipal courses. The resort islands have tennis that can be extremely costly, depending on whether or not you are a guest.

Charleston is the home of the world-class Family Circle Cup, a professional women's tournament. Held over nine days every April at the Family Circle Tennis Center, it attracts some 90,000 fans from around the globe and boasts a roster of former champions, including Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Jennifer Capriati, and Venus and Serena Williams.

Charleston Tennis Center. With 15 outdoor courts lighted for nightime matches, this tennis center is among the city's most popular. (The $8 admission fee certainly doesn't hurt.) There are restrooms on the premises, and balls and racquets are for sale. 19 Farmfield Ave., West Ashley, Charleston, SC, 29407. 843/769–8258. www.charleston-sc.gov.

Family Circle Tennis Center. This world-class facility is, without question, one of the top places to play tennis in the Southeast. Open to the public, the 17 courts (13 clay, 4 hard) are lighted for night play. Rates are $10 for the hard courts, $15 for clay. Four miniature courts for kids four to eight make this a destination for the whole family. With one of the best-qualified teaching staffs in the country, the Instinctive Tennis Academy offers private lessons and clinics for players of all ages. The Family Circle Cup, a signature event for women's tennis, is hosted here each April. Not coincidentally, this is also the city's top venue for concerts under the stars. 161 Seven Farms Dr., Daniel Island, SC, 29492. 843/856–7900. www.familycirclecup.com.

Maybank Tennis Center. Talk about a bargain: the Maybank Tennis Center's eight hard courts are $4 an hour, and its three clay courts are $9 an hour. Balls and racquets are available for purchase, and there are restrooms on the premises. 1880 Houghton Dr., James Island, SC, 29412. 843/406–8814. www.charleston-sc.gov.

Isle of Palms

Wild Dunes Tennis Center. This tennis complex sits in the center of Wild Dunes Resort, where 17 Har-Tru courts include five that are lighted for night play. There's even one with stadium-style seating if you expect to draw a crowd. The pros gear their lessons to players of all levels, from novice to expert. There's even a "tiny tot" program for the kids. The full-service pro shop sells, rents, and repairs racquets. Wild Dunes Resort, 5757 Palm Blvd., Isle of Palms, SC, 29451. 843/886–2113 or 843/886–6000. www.wilddunes.com.

Kiawah Island

Roy Barth Tennis Center. In Kiawah Island Golf Resort's East Beach Village, the Roy Barth Tennis Center is a short walk from the resort's luxurious oceanfront hotel and spa. Open year-round, it has 10 Har-Tru courts (one lighted), three hard courts (one lighted), and a practice court with a ball machine and an automated ball retrieval system. Court time is $34 an hour for guests and $43 for everyone else. Kiawah Island Golf Resort, East Beach ViIlage, 1 Sanctuary Dr., Kiawah Island, SC, 29455. 843/768–2838. www.kiawahresort.com.

West Beach Tennis Club. Open early March to early September, the West Beach Tennis Club features 10 Har-Tru courts and two lighted hard courts. Private instruction ranges from $30 an hour for group classes with a pro to $80 an hour for private lessons with a center's director. Kiawah Island Golf Resort, West Beach Village, 1000 Kiawah Beach Dr., Kiawah Island, SC, 29455. 843/768–2820. www.kiawahresort.com.

Water Sports

When it comes to water sports, Charleston is a great place to get our feet wet. Surfboards can be rented for as little as $5 an hour. An hour of surf lessons will run you about $40, and includes use of a board.

Island Bike and Surf Shop. Rent surfboards and kayaks from this shop and the staff will happily deliver them to your resort on Kiawah or Seabrook island. Boards cost $20 a day. 3665 Bohicket Rd., Johns Island, SC, 29455. 843/768–1158. www.kiawahislandbikerental.com.

McKevlin's Surf Shop. The pros at McKevlin's Surf Shop can teach you what you need to know about riding the waves at Folly Beach. Surfboards start at $7 per hour, and an hour of instruction is an additional $40. 8 Center St., Folly Beach, SC, 29439. 843/588–2247. www.mckevlins.com.

Sun & Ski. Rent Jet Skis at this shop next to the fishing pier in Folly Beach. You can also rent a double-chair setup and an umbrella for the day for $23. 1 Center St., Folly Beach, SC, 29439. 843/588–0033. www.sunandski.com.

Biking

Island Bikes & Outfitters. Since 1990, Island Bikes & Outfitters has been renting bikes to vacationers. Owners Sonya and Tony Spainhour will arm you with a map, orient you to the bike trails, and advise you on how to reach the section of the park that has a boardwalk network for bikers and hikers. Delivery is available. In addition, you can rent golf carts, kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards and buy bait. They sell beachwear, visors, boogie boards, beach chairs, and more. 140 Jungle Rd., Edisto Island, SC, 29438. 843/869–4444. islandbikesandoutfitters.com. Mon.–Sat. 9–5, Sun. 9–noon.

Golf

The Plantation Course at Edisto. Sculpted from maritime forest by architect Tom Jackson in 1974, this course mirrors the physical beauty of the island's Lowcountry landscape. Although it's located within the island's only resort, Wyndham Ocean Ridge, it operates as a public course with memberships. The moderate rates are the same for all seasons, with special three-day cards and weekly unlimited-rounds specials. It offers pick-up service within the resort and from the nearby marina. 19 Fairway Dr., Edisto Island, SC, 29438. 843/869–1111. www.theplantationcourseatedisto.com. $55–$65. 18 holes, 6200 yards, par 70.