Warm up with a winter adventure in Greenville, SC


The South isn't the first place that comes to mind when you think of extreme winter adventures. Let's face it. An inch of snow throws everything into a tailspin. But, with a little creativity, and perhaps a willingness to hop in the car, there are winter adventures to be had in Greenville, SC, and the surrounding area. So, dig out your long underwear and gear up for for some wintry fun. And if the cold is really not your thing, find the warm weather instead.

Get your blood flowing with a winter hike.
The perks of hiking in winter go on and on. First, no bugs. That would be reason enough. Second, fewer people on the trails mean you can enjoy the quiet of nature in a way that's difficult to do almost any other time of the year. Bare trees create open expanses for views that span for miles. And, the waterfalls streaming against the deep winter blue skies paint a sight to behold.

Raise your body temperature as you hike to Raven Cliff Falls in Caesars Head State Park, or enjoy a family-friendly two-mile stroll around Pinnacle Lake on the Lakeside Trail at Table Rock State Park. For a more subdued adventure, catch a glimpse of the Wildcat Wayside Falls from the comfort of your car off the side of Highway 11.

Face your fear of heights with an ice climbing adventure.
Winter displays waterfalls in a whole new light. Frozen. Calling all adrenaline junkies. This one's for you. Ice climbing might just be the ultimate winter adventure. Although rare, occasionally conditions allow for ice climbing in the mountains surrounding Asheville, North Carolina, a short hour and a quarter or so drive from Greenville. Novices can join a guide company such as Fox Mountain Guides and Climbing School for the full experience and for guidance on when to expect ideal conditions. Don't look down!

Head to the coast.
If imagining yourself climbing a frozen waterfall gives you goosebumps, maybe it's time to chill out (or warm up, rather) on the beach. The beauty of Greenville is that it is perfectly situated close to both mountains and ocean. Bring your State Park pass to explore the best of the coastal parks. On Murrells Inlet, Huntington Beach State Park boasts Atalaya, a Moorish-style castle attraction. Directly next door find Brookgreen Gardens where you may run into an alligator or sea turtles lazing about.

For a climb a little more low-key than ice climbing, hike to the top of the Hunting Island State Park lighthouse. The only remaining lighthouse in South Carolina open to the public, this historic building dates to the 1870s and stands 170 feet tall. Hunting Island also features beaches, a lagoon, and forests to continue the adventure.

Experience a blizzard (sort of).
The fairly mild winters of South Carolina don't exactly set the stage for blizzards. So, why not create your own! Well, Edventure Children's Museum in Columbia has done just that. One your way back from the coast, visit Snowville. Children and adults of all ages can climb Mount EdVerest or try out the blizzard simulator. There's also an ice cave to explore as well as a 25-foot sled hill to tube down. Brrr!

Enjoy extreme winter sports from the sideline.
For something a little closer to town, take in a Swamp Rabbit Hockey game to cheer on the hometeam. They heat up the Bon Secours Wellness Arena with intensity, mad skills, and perhaps a fight or two. With the season spanning December through April, there's plenty of competition to keep you interested. And, fun theme nights, such as Star Wars Night, add to the entertainment.

Expand your mind by exploring the winter night sky.
Embark on an adventure to outer space. Every Friday night, stargaze at the Roper Mountain Science Center. Although the T.C. Hooper Planetarium is currently undergoing renovations, it's set to reopen in February and will be better than ever. Once a month, Roper Mountain also hosts a star party, where you can chat up astronomers in the Daniel Observatory.

Warm up with a nice cup o' joe.
After all of that cold weather adventuring, defrost with a hot cup of coffee. Let your taste buds travel to Ethiopia or Kenya with one of Methodical Coffee's excellent brews. To up your coffee ante, Methodical also offers a home barista class. Learn about the various aromas, fragrances, and tastes of quality coffee, and master your pour over skills in this two-hour class. Then you're ready to snuggle up at home by the fire with your delicious pour over and marvel at the incredible winter adventures you've just conquered.

Jannan Poppen is a travel consultant and freelance writer living in Greenville, SC. Follow her adventures, or let her help you plan your next adventure, at jannanpoppen.com.