The landscapes of the American South boast vast stretches of breathtaking forests and coastal vistas, inviting visitors to slow down and linger for a while. It’s no surprise that so many outdoor travelers flock to Southern shores, lakes, and hiking trails each year. But set apart from the more heavily trafficked parks and landmarks, South Carolina’s Palmetto Bluff is a 20,000-acre diamond among gems. Tucked between Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina, this carefully protected eco-destination is a microcosm of the idyllic South—providing plenty of space to roam and a way to commune with nature. From multicourse open-air dinners shared under Spanish moss to porch cocktails after a hunt, Palmetto Bluff blends outdoor pursuits and Southern hospitality, creating an experience accessible to seasoned outdoor enthusiasts and weekend-dabblers alike. Thanks to the Palmetto Bluff Conservancy, founded in 2003 with the mission of protecting the region’s lush maritime forests and winding tidal creeks, visitors to Palmetto Bluff can still experience the natural wonders just as they existed centuries ago, including endless opportunities for outdoor adventuring.
With a footprint that’s roughly one-and-a-half times the size of Manhattan, and surrounded by three waterways—the Cooper, May, and New Rivers—Palmetto Bluff offers the land as a gracious host and welcomes outdoor explorers of all levels. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more spectacular Southern backdrop for hiking, biking, horseback riding, or simply setting out on a leisurely stroll, choosing your way from a network of paths ranging from the pristinely manicured to tucked-away forest trails that weave beneath canopies of live oaks. It’s easy to soak in solitude and explore all the terrain has to offer with its wide-open trails. Those in search of more active pursuits need not slow down. The wild beauty of Palmetto Bluff also beckons to sports enthusiasts, and here, it’s a way of life.
Palmetto Bluff has a rich tradition of hunting and shooting activities, dating back at least a century to its founding as a hunting estate in 1902. Visitors today can tap into the region’s history and test their aim at the Palmetto Bluff Shooting Club, a veritable institution with 15 shooting areas, including sporting clay stations, a five-stand station, and a wobble deck. All experience levels are welcome on this massive 40-acre tract, leaving plenty of space between guests. Of course, if you prefer gripping a 7-iron rather than a rifle stock, the 18-hole May River Golf Course offers a splendid alternative. The par-72 Jack Nicklaus Signature Course undulates along the riverbank for nearly 7,200 yards, offering a challenging diversion for both newcomers and experienced players.
The nearby Wilson Lawn and Racquet Club caters to athletes of a different ilk, offering eight Har-Tru tennis courts, two immaculate croquet lawns, two bocce courts, pickleball courts, a well-stocked pro shop to help you dress the part, and a collection of courtside shelters to house your spectators and fans. To help you warm up before your match, the River House and the nearby Canoe Club fitness facilities are stocked with state-of-the-art fitness equipment, and both have a saltwater pool for that all-important victory lap.
Water trail adventurers can paddle the scenic, five-mile freshwater route that connects Wilson and Moreland Villages or explore over 32 miles of nearby riverfront. The Cooper, May, and New Rivers wind around Palmetto Bluff and provide breathtaking tracks for boating, kayaking, canoeing, and stand-up paddling. For those who time it just right, the May River retreats at low tide to unveil a hidden, picnic-perfect sandbar.
For a guided waterborne excursion, book an open-air cocktail cruise on the century-old motor yacht named Grace—a 60-foot antique vessel first commissioned in 1913 that is one of the last remaining gas-powered yachts from before World War I. Today, she escorts private tours and charters to some of the most picturesque spots along Palmetto Bluff.
If you’re feeling lucky, try your hand at fishing among the myriad of ponds and lakes that dot the landscape, many of which are well-tended and have been kept sustainably stocked with largemouth bass and bream for the past 70 years. If saltwater fishing is more to your liking, you can also charter a vessel and cast a line for redfish, tarpon, and sea trout among other fresh fare.
With its unmatched natural beauty and close proximity to urban hubs, Palmetto Bluff is the perfect destination for outdoor pursuits. Take a weekend away to discover all Palmetto Bluff has to offer.