Coastal South Carolina USA


Charleston Named Finalist in Outside Magazine's Best Town Contest


Charleston has been selected by Outside magazine, America’s leading active-lifestyle publication, as a finalist in its search to determine the best Outside town in America. The three-week competition, held exclusively on Facebook, is accessible via the “Best Town” link on The winning town will be featured on the October 2011 magazine cover, and an exclusive segment on Outside Television.

Outside (monthly circulation of 2.5 million readers) scoured the nation to find dream cities that offer a balance of great culture, perfect scenery, stress-free and reasonable cost of living, and, of course, easy access to the outdoors; and Charleston is a top contender! Now Outside is calling on the public to help choose the best one ever from a pool of ten finalists that include: Charleston, SC; Chattanooga, TN; Madison, WI; Portland, OR; Portland, ME; Santa Fe, NM; Ashland, OR; Boulder, CO; Burlington, VT; Tucson, AZ.

“These top ten towns ALL have the soul and the substance to be called Outside’s Best Town Ever. Our audience is extremely passionate about where they choose to live and travel – so we are thrilled to engage them in the process to help us determine the best,” says Outside’s Editor-in-Chief Christopher Keyes.

With a rare combination of geography, latitude and attitude, the Charleston area has considerable eco appeal. The Lowcountry—the fertile region surrounding the charming Southern town—features a string of undeveloped, pristine barrier islands along with more than 90 miles of coastline, making it ripe for exploration and outdoor recreation.

“A great climate, beautiful landscape, abundant waterways, great people and plenty of space—all perfect ingredients for a remarkable outdoor town,” says Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr., who has served as mayor for 35 of Charleston’s 341-year history. Hallmarks of Riley’s tenure include a pedestrian lane on the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge—the second longest cable-stayed bridge in North America, sprawling greenways, a riverside baseball stadium and parks that provide access to the waterfront, among other initiatives that have helped make some of the region’s most picturesque places available to the public.

Much of the Lowcountry lifestyle revolves around the water. From flats fishing in tidal creeks to offshore regattas, the seaport community takes full advantage of wind and waves when it comes to outdoor recreation.

“Already this year, we’ve hosted Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week, the largest keelboat regatta in North America; a stopover for the VELUX 5 OCEANS around-the-world-solo race; and the Charleston Bermuda Race, which attracted Stephen Colbert, among other sailing enthusiasts,” says Sarah Piwinski, executive director of the South Carolina Maritime Foundation, an educational nonprofit and owner of the tall ship Spirit of South Carolina. “Plus, with new local trends attracting international attention to our first Kite Week Invitational in May, there’s no shortage of adventures on the water here.”

To truly get off the beaten path, outdoor enthusiasts head to the ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge, Francis Marion National Forest andCape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, one of only two Class 1 Wilderness Areas on the Eastern seaboard.

“The wild places adjacent to the peninsula of Charleston have been recognized as world models in conservation and include the longest contiguous stretch of protected coast line on the east coast of the United States,” says Captain Chris Crolley, owner of Coastal Expeditions, the eco touring company that operates the ferry to Bulls Island. Located within Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, Bulls Island is home to a large population of nesting Loggerhead Sea Turtles, Bald Eagles, dolphins and a staggering 277 species of birds.

“The ‘Boneyard’ beach on Bulls Island is an awesome geographic anomaly that has left the maritime forest stranded on the sea shore,” Crolley says. “The two hundred year old live oaks have been bleached by the sun and weathered by the salt air, they are monolithic on the water front and appear off white in color like bones.”

If the wilderness solitude doesn’t appeal, world-class sporting opportunities abound. In 2010, the United States Tennis Association named Charleston “America’s Best Tennis Town,” an accolade celebrated year round on a wide variety of courts—public, resort and stadium. Every April, Family Circle Cup draws the biggest names in women’s tennis to compete for a $1 million purse.

“It’s not at all surprising that Charleston finds itself in the running for Outside magazine’s ‘Best Town Ever’ accolade,” says Frank Fredericks, managing director of Wild Dunes Resort. “The local community and many of our loyal, repeat visitors rallied together to earn the ‘America’s Best Tennis Town’ title, a distinction we see play out daily on our 17 Har-Tru courts.”

While the Charleston area celebrates its newfound tennis celebrity, golf is an enduring local legacy that dates to 1786, when one of North America’s first golf clubs was organized in the Lowcountry. Now, 225 years later, the game is a driving reason behind the destination’s popularity and poised to be the star amid special events slated for 2012 in the Charleston area. Although the first practice round won’t take place for 14 months, 94% percent of the 120,000 tickets to the 2012 PGA Championship have already been sold.

“The variety and quality of golf is second to none as exemplified by The Ocean Course,” says Roger Warren, president of tournament host Kiawah Island Golf Resort. The Ocean Course was the site of the Ryder Cup in 1991 and has since hosted two World Cups, the UBS Cup, the PGA of America's Club Professional Championship and the 2007 Senior PGA Championship.

Golf is just one of many popular spectator sports. Charlestonians love cheering for the nationally ranked College of Charleston Cougar basketball team, the competitive DragonBoat team, the more than 41,000 Cooper River Bridge Run participants and what is arguably the zaniest minor league baseball team in the nation.

“Where else can you kayak in the morning, enjoy an afternoon picnic at a beach then bump into comedian Bill Murray dressed up in a hot dog costume?” asks Dave Echols, general manager of the Charleston RiverDogs, the single A affiliate of the New York Yankees. “Murray is part owner of the team and a frequent sight at The Joe, the ball park named after Mayor Joe Riley.”

Robert Prioleau, strategy director of the interactive marketing agency Blue Ion, echoes Echols' nod to the high quality of life in the Lowcountry.

"Charleston offers a chance to live and work in a vibrant city where you're minutes away from outdoor adventure," says Prioleau. "You can chase entrepreneurial opportunities and embrace the wild on any given day. I leave my office on a bike and am instantly riding over bridges to barrier islands, where I can jump on a paddleboard and still make it home in time for dinner."

The Lowcountry’s outdoor recreation accolades and title events are manifold:
· Named Best Tennis Town in America by the United States Tennis Association
· Hosts the annual Family Circle Cup (April)
· Host of 2012 PGA Championship (August 2012)
· Hosts North America’s largest annual keelboat regatta (April)
· Sole North American port for the VELUX 5 OCEANS race (May 2011)
· Hosts of the third largest 10k in the United States (April)
· Site of the tallest outdoor climbing wall in the state
· Location of one of Dr. Beach’s Top 10 U.S. Beaches

As part of the contest, the public can vote, submit photos, video and comments backing up their selection; content that will have a chance to appear in the Outside magazine and on Outside Television. All voters will have a chance to win a five-day adventure to one of the top ten towns. The winning town will be determined through a combination of total votes; overall support as a result of content submitted; and creativity.

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