Master Your Golf Game in Thoroughbred Country, South Carolina
Every second week in April, in a reverent homage to their sport and a certain televised tournament, avid golfers make reservations far ahead to play the courses near Augusta National. For them, watching the game isn’t enough, and many prefer the golf in nearby Thoroughbred Country, South Carolina where several courses boast their own pedigree and prestige.
Situated along I-20 between Atlanta and Charleston, just east of Augusta, Georgia, the rolling topography and mild climate make for fun, challenging and year-round play. In the late 19th century, as the railroads pushed farther south, Aiken became the home of the famed Winter Colony where Vanderbilts, Astors and other Golden Age notables vacationed in elegant resorts and “cottages.” Golf, croquet, polo and other equestrian pursuits became pastimes that are still treasured today. Here are notes on some of the courses favored by locals, pros and duffers. Expect higher greens fees during the week-long event. Check the clubs’ websites or call for details and availability. While tee times are much easier to obtain than badges for the hallowed course, they do book quickly. Whether during golf’s greatest tournament or any other time of year, Thoroughbred Country is top of mind for golfers and their families who are looking for plenty of additional attractions.
The Aiken Golf Club
Designed by Donald Ross and originally built in 1912, this historic course has many ties to golf’s greats, including early ladies’ professionals. Extensive renovation has led to accolades: it’s rated in the "Top Three Courses to Play during Masters Week" by Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive," one of the "Best Courses to Play Near Augusta National" by "Golfweek"; and “Best Kept Secret” and “Most Charming” by other critics. Just 20 miles east of Augusta National, this course tips its hat to Pinehurst as well as Scottish tradition. Fees are elevated during the championship, but it’s still considered a deal. Reservations required. The Aiken Golf Club, 555 Highland Park Drive, Aiken, South Carolina; 803-649-6029. 18 holes. Par 70. Walk/cart.
Cedar Creek Golf Club
Designed by Arthur Hills, Cedar Creek has been garnering awards almost since its opening in 1991. The course features long, par 4 holes and sloping fairways that can send shots into the rough and elevated, undulating Bermuda greens. Cedar Creek Golf Club, 2475 Club Drive, Aiken, South Carolina; 803-648-4206. 18 holes. Par 72. Walk/cart.
Midland Valley Country Club
Designed by Ellis Maples and built in 1961, Midland Valley features towering pines, significant terrain changes and large, undulating Bermuda greens with plenty of up, down and side hill lies. Midland Valley Country Club, 151 Midland Drive, Graniteville, South Carolina; 803-663-7332. 18 holes. Par 71. Walk/cart.
Mount Vintage Golf Club
Golf course architect Tom Jackson designed the 27 holes to fit perfectly into a diverse topography. The three nines provide a variety of shot values and distinguishing features, yet blend together to leave the golfer with vivid memories of an enjoyable experience. Mount Vintage Golf Club, 375 Mount Vintage Plantation Drive, North Augusta, South Carolina; 803-279-5422. 27 holes. Par 72.
River Birch Golf Course
Built in 1981 and operated previously as the Paw Paw Country Club and the Bamberg Golf and Sports Club, River Birch was renovated in 2021 and is under new, experienced golf course and restaurant management. The par 72, 6,683-yard golf course was designed by Russell Breeden, who designed a number of golf courses in the Myrtle Beach area. River Birch Golf Course, 128 Paw Paw Road, Bamberg, South Carolina; 803-245-8432.
Sweetwater Country Club
Designed by Russell Breeden. Bermuda greens. This design is relatively benign in terms of elevation and length, but more than makes up for that with its water, sand and elevated greens. Sweetwater Country Club, 571 Clubhouse Lane, Barnwell, South Carolina; 803-259-5004. 18 holes. Par 71. Walk/cart.
The Inn at Houndslake/Country Club
This course was designed to offer versatility for both weekend golfers and professionals and hosts many tournaments. A pet-friendly, unique 30-room lodge is located on the grounds. Guests may use any of the Club’s facilities. The Inn at Houndslake/Country Club, 897 Houndslake Drive, Aiken, South Carolina; 803-648-9535. 27 holes. Par 36 for each 9.
The River Golf Club
Designed by Jim Fazio. Bent grass greens. Cart. Built as a Hilton Head-style links course with mostly flat fairways and water on 11 holes. The River Golf Club, 307 Riverside Boulevard, North Augusta, South Carolina; 803-202-0110. 18 holes. Par 71.
For those who favor nine-hole courses, try Williston Country Club at 15 Fairway Drive, Williston, South Carolina; 803-266-7616. 9 holes. Par 36. Bermuda greens. Walk/cart.
For a fun, family event, South on Whiskey Mini Golf brings on a quirky challenge, along with batting cages and an event space for rental. 3197 Whiskey Road, Aiken, South Carolina; 803-643-1715. Wed-Sun.
If you go...
Thoroughbred Country meanders through charming small towns with unique shopping, history and delicious Southern cuisine, creating the perfect road trip getaway with plenty to do for equestrian and active outdoor enthusiasts. Multiple disc golf locations throughout the region provide ample opportunity to try the sport from a slightly different angle. Take time to meander North Augusta’s 9.2-mile Greeneway Trail. Don’t miss the hidden gems: a drive-in movie theater, the Aiken County Historical Museum, the Savannah River Site Museum, Hopelands Gardens and the Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum. Explore the city via the Aiken Trolley Tour or, if it is not a Saturday, contact Tailored Tours of Aiken. Nearby, the Silver Bluff Audubon Center & Sanctuary offers opportunities to engage with nature up-close while Blackville’s God’s Acre Healing Springs is a popular site for visitors seeking out the storied waters. Visit the Veterans Memorial Trail in Bamberg and the Battle of Rivers Bridge State Historic Site in Ehrhardt to gain insight into the area’s history.
For details, delightful and unique accommodations, dining and more, go to www.TBredCountry.org.
Everyone’s personal brand of fun is different. Some people like trying new restaurants, traveling, going to bars and clubs or playing outdoor sports. Others enjoy riding roller coasters, going to the movies, or playing video games. But having fun can be expensive – the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average American spends over $3,500 on entertainment per year. To help Americans find the cities with the greatest number and variety of fun yet cost-effective options, WalletHub compared more than 180 U.S. cities based on 65 key metrics. They range from fitness centers per capita to movie costs to average open hours of breweries. With such different preferences, what, then, makes a fun city? To help Americans find the cities with the greatest number and variety of fun yet cost-effective options, WalletHub compared more than 180 U.S. cities based on 65 key metrics. Below are some of the best places to visit based on their different metrics. Best Cities for Foodies Little Havana in Miami - courtesy of marriott.com For those who love to try new cuisine and enjoy culinary experiences, five cities tied for most restaurants per capita. Foodies will have plenty to look forward to in Orlando, Miami, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Chicago. These cities are also known for great nightlife, entertainment, vibrant culture, and iconic landmarks—they make a great destination for almost any type of traveler! Looking for the best Cuban food? Head to Miami to sample this incredible cuisine. In Little Havana on Calle Ocho, visitors will find authentic vaca frita, croquetas, cortados, and much more. If Chinese food is more your style, San Francisco is home to the largest and oldest Chinatown outside of Asia. Best Cities for Nature Lovers and Fitness Enthusiasts Diamond Head State Park - courtesy of loveoahu.org Prefer the outdoors? WalletHub found that Las Vegas, New York City, Chicago, Cincinnati, and Charlotte (NC) are the cities with the most park playgrounds per capita. Families with young kids, couples that enjoy a romantic evening walk, and those looking for a scenic morning run on their trip will appreciate these towns for their abundant park space alongside other fun amenities like great food, nightlife, and entertainment. For those seeking out more nature than the typical city park can offer, these towns boast the most parkland per capita: Anchorage, AK; Chesapeake, VA; Honolulu, HI; Jacksonville, FL; and Scottsdale, AZ. Each of these cities has a unique landscape and climate. Honolulu, in particular, boasts several different ways to explore the outdoors with wonderful beaches for surfing, swimming, and playing, as well as volcanic mountain escapes for hiking, exploring, and stargazing. In addition to the above towns, Fort Lauderdale, FL; Tempe, AZ; Huntington Beach, CA; Salt Lake City, UT; and Rochester, NY have the most fitness centers per capita—so no matter the weather, visitors will have a great chance of looking for other ways to stay active while traveling. Best Cities for Bar Hoppers and Nightlife Lovers OMNIA at Caesars - courtesy of vegas.com WalletHub ranked the top cities with the most accessible bars: Fort Lauderdale, FL; Rochester, NY; Providence, RI; Buffalo, NY; and Richmond, VA. Fort Lauderdale ranked number one in this category, but this Florida town has another going for it—with the most fitness centers per capita, bar hoppers that partied a little too hard the night before will have plenty of options to sweat it out the next day at the gym! Alternatively, those that like to dance the night away will find that San Francisco or Las Vegas will be more their style. These two cities tied for first when it came to the most dance clubs per capita, followed by Orlando, Houston, and New York City. Finally, for those looking for a particularly good deal, WalletHub found that the cheapest beers can be found in bars in Brownsville, TX; Las Cruces, NM; Gulfport, MS; Milwaukee, WI; and Missoula, MT. Best Cities for Entertainment Seekers Mardi Gras in New Orleans - courtesy of mardigrasneworleans.com It turns out that San Francisco doesn't just have great restaurants, and Honolulu isn't just for nature lovers—both these cities also top the rankings when it comes to festivals per capita. New Orleans, LA and Tampa, FL tied for the top spot as well. New Orleans is probably best know for their festival thanks to their incredible Mardis Gras celebrations. While it is an iconic celebrations, visitors will find many other opportunities throughout the year to see the streets come alive in New Orleans. Of course, if festivals aren't quite your thing or you're hoping to avoid a noisy crowd, take note of these towns for the cheapest movie tickets around: Port St. Lucie, FL; Montgomery, AL; Montgomery, AL; Jackson, MS; Akron, OH; and Corpus Christi, TX.
Ski season is open! As usual, skiing in the US attracts snow enthusiasts from all levels and backgrounds. Whether you are with your family, a group of friends, or on a solo trip, there are plenty of reasons to head to the mountains. But which resort should you choose? Holidu, the booking portal for holiday rentals, decided to carry out a study to determine which ski resorts in the US are the most popular on Google for the 2022-2023 winter season. Resorts were ranked by average number of online searches per month during the past year. Information regarding ski pass prices as well as the accommodation costs have also been included to show you out of the most popular, which resorts offer the best value for money. Get ready to hit the slopes for some epic trips without needing to break the bank! (TIE) #9. Mount Snow, Vermont Mount Snow, Vermont - courtesy of mountsnow.com Tied for 9th place is Mount Snow in the Green Mountains, which received an average of 44,000 online searches per month in the last year. This southern Vermont resort boasts a family-friendly vibe and has plenty of activities for all types of visitors, regardless of ski ability. It has also been rated as having the best terrain park in the east! So if you enjoy challenging yourself to perform some tricks, Mount Snow is the place for you. What are you waiting for? Average daily ski pass: $113 (TIE) #9. Snowbird, Utah Snowbird in Utah shares the 9th place spot with an average of 44,000 searches per month in the past year. Snowbird is located in the Wasatch Range of the Rocky Mountains near Salt Lake City, and it offers a wide range of winter activities for the whole family. From classic skiing and snowboarding to more alternative choices like snowmobiling and snowshoeing, Snowbird offers it all! Average daily ski pass: $151 (TIE) #7. Heavenly Mountain Resort, California Heavenly Mountain Resort - courtesy of travelnevada.com In another tie, we have Heavenly Mountain Resort, California’s largest ski resort, in 7th place. Heavenly spans across the California-Nevada border, offering snow-sports enthusiasts over 4,800 skiable acres of terrain. This resort has been open since 1955 and treats visitors to breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe as its backdrop. Average daily ski pass: $171 (TIE) #7. Vail Ski Resort, Colorado Vail ski resort - courtesy of vailresorts.com Next up is Vail Ski Resort in Eagle County, Colorado sharing the 7th place ranking. This resort can be found at the base of Vail Mountain within White River National Forest and is the third-largest single-mountain ski resort in the US, offering more than 5,200 acres of ski terrain. Its world-renowned skiing is only complimented by its equally impressive offering of shops, restaurants, accommodations and overall party atmosphere. Average daily ski pass: $211 #6. Big Sky Resort, Montana Big Sky, Montana - courtesy of visitbigsky.com Next up we head to Madison County, Montana and to Big Sky Resort. Big Sky is actually one of the largest ski resorts in the US based on acreage, and you’ll have plenty of powdery slopes to explore when visiting here, as it records more than 400 inches of snow each year! Moreover, Big Sky prides itself on being a mountain village that maintains its charming vibe year-round and has plenty of accommodation and dining options to suit everyone. Average daily ski pass: $170 #5. Hunter Mountain, New York Hunter Mountain in New York is the fifth most popular this year! The resort belongs to Hunter, Greene County, and is approximately three hours northwest of New York City. Hunter is a subsidiary of Colorado-based Vail Resorts, a company that owns a number of the most popular ski resorts on this list. The resort has terrain across three mountains and one of its best features is its state-of-the-art snowmaking that covers all trails, which has resulted in it being dubbed the “snowmaking capital of the world”. Hunter also has quite an even breakdown of beginner, intermediate, and expert trails, meaning ski and snowboarders of all abilities will enjoy a trip to this fantastic resort! Average daily ski pass: $84 #4. Breckenridge, Colorado Breckenridge ski lift - courtesy of powderhounds.com The second Colorado ski resort appearing in this ranking is Breckenridge, with an average of 67,000 searches per month. Located at the base of the Rocky Mountains’ Tenmile Range, this resort is made up of 3,000 acres of terrain, Five Peaks and three base areas, making it a ski lovers playground. One of the best things about this resort is the quaint mountain town it belongs to. Breck attracts visitors from all over the world eager to experience the bustling and lux ski resort life. Average daily ski pass: $197 #3. Palisades Tahoe, California Palisades Tahoe ski resort - courtesy of palisadestahoe.com Heading to California next, Palisades Tahoe secures its position as the third most popular ski resort this year! Located in Olympic Valley, northwest of Tahoe City in the Sierra Nevada range, Palisades Tahoe is home to 34 lifts and a whopping 6,000 acres of skiable mountain. Palisades Tahoe is no stranger to popularity, having often been cited as one of North America’s best resorts. It is also known as one of the most advanced ski areas, ranking in the top 10% of most-difficult ski resorts in North America thanks to its 59% of trails that are expert-level rated. Beginners and intermediate skiers need not worry, as the huge size of this resort means that it still has plenty to offer less experienced and confident skiers. Average daily ski pass: $157 #2. Crystal Mountain, Washington Crystal Mountain lies around 2 hours from Seattle and offers plenty of parking to cater to visitors. This is Washington’s largest ski resort and has 11 lifts, 80 named runs and covers more than 2,600 acres of terrain. The resort welcomes over 400 inches of annual snowfall! If you’re lucky, head to Crystal on a clear day, you will be treated to incredible views of the surrounding Cascade Range and the epic Mt. Rainier! Average daily ski pass: $65 #1. Copper Mountain, Colorado Copper Mountain - courtesy of coppercolorado.com Copper Mountain in Colorado is officially the most popular US ski resort this year! With an impressive 10,000 more searches per month than the second-place resort, Copper Mountain is an outright winner. And rightly so! From its world-class skiing and snowboarding terrain to its charming villages filled with family-friendly activities and accommodation options, it’s not hard to see why this is the nation’s must-visit resort. This winter 2022/23 season is Copper Mountain’s 50th anniversary and being crowned the most popular resort in the States seems a fitting way to celebrate.Average daily ski pass: $154 — View the full top 50 ranking here.
Leave the City Behind for These Winter Wonderlands
Looking to escape the crowds this holiday season? While big cities tend to boast the most holiday fun with Christmas markets, New Year's Eve parties, and shopping opportunities galore, these states ranked by The Family Vacation Guide are true winter wonderlands and offer great opportunities to unwind away from the hustle and bustle. By looking at average snowfall, number of ice skating rinks, number of festive events, and festive hashtags used on social media, The Family Vacation Guide ranked the most "Christmassy" states to visit. Maine Camden by the Sea, Maine - courtesy of wdayradionow.com Maine ranked first overall in the rankings, with an impressive 1.68 festive events available per 100,000 people—the second most of any state—and 23 festive events in total. Visitors can go and admire the lights at Boothbay Harbor, experience Christmas by the Sea in Camden, or watch the Christmas parade in Wells. The state also gets 61.8 inches of snow per year, with abundant wildlife including moose and black bear—a truly magical outdoor winter experience. Maine also has a high number of skating rinks, with 0.73 ice skating rinks per 100,000 people. The holidays are on everyone's mind, too, as Maine has 25,490 Google searches for the term “Christmas trees” and 8,335 festive hashtags on Instagram. Vermont Snow in Vermont - courtesy of newenglandwithlove.com Vermont is also a great option for those hoping to experience a white Christmas. The state receives an average of 81.2 inches of snow per year spanning over a total of 54.4 days out of the year, the third highest in the US. It also has 0.77 ice skating rinks and 0.93 festive events (4th most) available per 100,000 people. Vermont also has 10,930 Google searches for the term “Christmas trees” and 5,072 festive hashtags on Instagram. It ranked just behind Maine for overall most "Christmassy." Alaska Aurora over Alaska - courtesy of Alyeska Resort Alaska is probably the closest you're going to get to the North Pole in the US, and its no surprise the state receives 74.5 inches of snow throughout the year. Despite its vast wilderness and many remote outposts, Alaska has the third most holiday season events per capita with 1.49 per 100,000 people. Colony Christmas is a great place to take the whole family. There is also the Gingerbread House Contest, Cornhole Tournament, and Arctic Olympics. The state has the second highest number of ice rinks per capita, with 1.9 skating rinks available per 100,000 people and 14 rinks in total. Anchorage, the state’s largest city, has six ice skating rinks alone. Alaska also received 9,240 searches for the term “Christmas trees” on Google and features in 2,049 festive hashtags on Instagram. Wyoming Jackson Hole in the snow - courtesy of jacksonholewy.com The Cowboy state ranked first for number of festive events per capita—1.73 festive events available per 100,000 people, with 10 events in total. Visitors can attend the Holiday Craft Fair in Lander on December 10 or for those who are big Western fans, you can visit the Cowboy Christmas Market. Wyoming is also a great place to visit for snow lovers during the holiday season, with the second highest average snowfall. The state gets an average of 91.4 inches of snowfall within 36.7 days during the year. It also has the fourth most ice skating rinks per capita. North Dakota Downtown outdoor ice rink in Fargo - courtesy of wdayradionow.com The best state to visit with your family if you’re a fan of ice skating is North Dakota. The state has 2.62 skating rinks per 100,000 people—the most of any state—with 21 rinks in total. One of the best rinks, which is perfect for families, is the seasonal ice skating rinks located in Fargo. This chilly midwestern region is also home to several festive events, ranking 7th in holiday events per capita, and has the 10th highest average snowfall at 51.2 inches. — To see more rankings from The Family Vacation Guide, click here.
There is no better place to spend time with your family than on a winter dude ranch vacation – away from the hustle and bustle of the overcrowded shopping malls and busy holiday season. If you are looking for a snowy adventure in the stunning Rocky Mountains look no further than these ranches listed below. Snowshoeing, skiing, snowmobiling, relaxing by a crackling fire, enjoying wonderful food and cozy accommodations, and making memories to last forever is what you will find at these DRA member dude ranches. Keep reading to learn more and start planning your winter dude ranch vacation today! Western Pleasure Ranch – Sandpoint, Idaho Western Pleasure Ranch - courtesy of duderanch.org As a blanket of white transforms, the Western Pleasure Ranch into a winter wonderland, you and your family can enjoy scenic horse-drawn sleigh rides powered by one of their many draft teams. You will feel like a child again as they jingle through a 2-mile loop trail of dense forests in the foothills of the Cabinet Mountains with amazing views of the Selkirk Mountain Ranch. With a wide variety of horse-drawn sleighs, including a five-passenger, three twelve passengers, and a two-passenger, they have the right size sleigh to accommodate your family, friends, and even that special someone for the romantic two-passenger sleigh. Triangle X Ranch – Moose, Wyoming Triangle X trail ride and the Tetons - courtesy of duderanch.org Head to the iconic Jackson Hole, Wyoming for some incredible skiing and winter fun! Bask in the beauty of the snow-covered Teton Mountain Range and enjoy the comforts of Triangle X Ranch. The cabins are cozy, the food is divine, and the hot tub will make you never want to leave! Triangle X Ranch is located in the heart of Grand Teton National Park and is the only concession open to operate in the wintertime! They offer unsurpassed cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, photography, and wildlife viewing right out your front door. After a full day, return to the comfortable lodge and relax western style with a warm fire and a large outdoor jacuzzi. Triangle X Ranch opens the day after Christmas for their winter season, so be sure to book soon! Bar W Guest Ranch – Whitefish, Montana Carriage ride on Bar W - courtesy of duderanch.org Are you dreaming of Montana? Many people are right now! Escape to the Big Sky State to enjoy all of the winter activities that Montana has to offer. At Bar W Guest Ranch you will find snow activities like sleigh rides, ski & stay packages, cross-country & nordic skiing, winter fat biking, backcountry skiing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, ice skating, snowshoe tours and much more! Schedule the trip that makes you feel like you are in a holiday Hallmark movie at the Bar W Guest Ranch! Latigo Ranch – Kremmling, Colorado Sunset on Latigo Ranch - courtesy of duderanch.org Skiing and snowshoeing in the mountains of Colorado during winter vacations is probably one of the dreamiest vacations you can think of if you are an outdoor enthusiast. Latigo Ranch in Kremmling, Colorado has just what you are looking for. Cozy cabins, miles of trails for adventures, gourmet meals, stunning scenery, and good company are what you will find at Latigo. You will also find yaks! They are a fun addition to the ranch and a rarity at dude ranches. Find your perfect winter ski vacation away from the crowds at resorts and at a dude ranch. Sundance Trail Guest Ranch – Red Feather Lakes, Colorado Winter horseback riding, stargazing from the jacuzzi, storytelling in front of the crackling fire, hearty homecooked meals, and welcoming accommodations, what more could you ask for? Sundance Trail Guest Ranch in Northern Colorado offers all of these great things listed before and more! When you are planning your holiday vacation, do not count out Sundance Trail Guest Ranch. They are easy to get to from Denver International Airport, offer a quiet, peaceful, and wonderful winter vacation for your group, and you can bring your pets! It really isn’t a true family vacation if the furry friends can’t come along, right? C Lazy U Ranch – Granby, Colorado C Lazy U Ranch - courtesy of duderanch.org Take a trip to Grand County this winter and enjoy all that C Lazy U Ranch has to offer for winter fun! Snowmobiling, snow tubing, ice hockey, ice skating, sleigh rides, skiing and so much more are offered at C Lazy U to keep everyone busy, enjoying the outdoors, and making memories together. Delicious hearty meals will keep you fueled throughout the day and comfortable cabins will leave you well-rested and ready for more action. Enjoy the holidays at C Lazy U Ranch or spend other time throughout the winter when things are a little slower. No matter when you visit, a great vacation is what you will receive at C Lazy U Ranch. Vista Verde Ranch – Steamboat Springs, Colorado Luxury, adventure, beauty, peacefulness, and a whole lot of fun and memory making is what you will find at Vista Verde Ranch in the wintertime. Activities like snowmobiling, snowshoeing, snow tubing, sleigh rides, skiing, and much more is offered at Vista Verde Ranch along with luxury accommodations, gourmet food, and scenery that will leave you breathless. Whether you are booking a holiday vacation or just a winter getaway, do not overlook Vista Verde Ranch outside of beautiful Steamboat Springs, Colorado.