CHANGES IN LATITUDE
Have you been craving a little beach weather amid the frosty winter chill? As the snow falls outside your window, do you wish you could shed a few layers and pitch a tent somewhere slightly more temperate? We've got the perfect destination to defrost your outdoor adventure calendar.
TETON Sports husband and wife team Kristen and Adam, both of whom work in our Marketing department, recently visited Hunting Island State Park in Hunting Island, South Carolina to scope out the perfect warm-weather camping destination—and the coastal oasis did not disappoint.
WARM UP TO WINTER CAMPINGNestled along the eastern coast of the United States between Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia, the 5,000-acre park offers an ideal getaway for every type of camper. More than a hundred campsites cater to van-lifers and RV campers as well as tent campers. For those who prefer a more off-the-beaten-path camping experience, definitely check out one of the 25 rustic tent sites available at the park.
Kristen and Adam visited the park in January, a time when the visitors (and the bugs) are few and the views are spectacular. The park features five miles of wide, walkable coastline as well as a dozen different hiking trails (and one that allows mountain biking) ranging from easy to moderately strenuous. Along the way, you'll be treated to some spectacular views of the local flora and fauna, including magnolia and palmetto trees, hundreds of bird species, and even a large saltwater lagoon where you may just spot a seahorse or two.
In February, the average temperature at the park is 61°F, which is perfect for winter camping. In March, the average temperature hovers right around 67°F. Pack a lunch and enjoy one of the many picnic tables scattered throughout the park, climb 167 steps to the top of the historic Hunting Island Lighthouse, or simply stroll along the shoreline to soak up a healthy dose of vitamin D while you wait for spring to arrive. Fishing, boating, paddling, and horseback riding are other popular park activities.
If you're like me and you prefer to travel with your four-legged companions, you'll be happy to know that pets are allowed in most areas of the park, with the exception of the cabin areas, the lighthouse, the pier, and in the shorebird habitat. Just be sure to keep your pups on a leash and always pick up their waste.
BEYOND THE BEACH
One of the best parts about camping in new places is taking the time to explore the surrounding area. From Hunting Island State Park, Kristen and Adam recommend taking a quick drive (about 25 minutes west) to Beaufort, South Carolina.
The second-oldest city in the state after Charleston, Beaufort (pronounced BEW-fert) combines old-world charm with modern appeal. Head downtown to the historic district and spend the day walking among quaint shops and boutiques before sampling some of the delicious local seafood at one of the many restaurants.
Fun fact: Beaufort, SC was once the home of celebrated author Pat Conroy, who wrote The Prince of Tides and Beach Music. It has also provided the backdrop for popular films including Forrest Gump, The Big Chill, and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
Before you plan your trip, be sure to check out Beaufort's Annual Events & Festivals page, where you'll find everything from food and film festivals to outdoor concerts. If you visit over Memorial Day Weekend, you can attend the Original Gullah Festival, which celebrates the heritage and culture of the Gullah Geechee people. (Beaufort is part of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, a National Heritage Area established to recognize the Gullah Geechee and their impact on American history.)
If you have a little more time, about an hour and a half north of Beaufort is Charleston, South Carolina, where you can spend the day sightseeing before heading over to Charleston City Market for a little shopping and a bite to eat. Head south and you'll hit Savannah, Georgia, a city steeped in ghost stories and Spanish moss—and a favorite among visitors to the East Coast. Beaufort and Hunting Island State Park are also a short drive from Hilton Head Island, another popular vacation destination.
WINTER CAMPING DOESN'T HAVE TO BE AN EXTREME SPORT
If Kristen and Adam have shown us anything, it's that camping during the winter season doesn't always have to look like that scene from the end of The Shining. (You know the one.) In fact, some of the best winter getaways are those with a brisk breeze and some beachy vibes, along with plenty of sunlight to hold us over until spring and summer.