Destination: Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina
Miles from Naples: 521
The natural riches of the Carolina coast have drawn settlers for eons. In 1902, New York banker Richard T. Wilson Jr. fell in love with the Lowcountry and purchased the land of Palmetto Bluff, where he built a mansion for summer escapes. Today, remnants of his four-story estate remain in the heart of the 20,000-acre residential and recreational preserve surrounded by the scenic May, Cooper, and New rivers. The spot still beguiles visitors with its fascinating wildlife and unspoiled spaces.
Why go: Palmetto Bluff is an understated and sophisticated enclave set within an ecological wonderland.
Good sports: Tee off at the 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature course at the May River Golf Club and watch for lazy gators lolling by the water; target some clays on the course of the Palmetto Bluff Shooting Club; explore the Bluff’s trails on horseback with Longfield Stables; and head to the Wilson Lawn and Racquet Club for a game of tennis, croquet, or bocce.
Aquatic life: With 32 miles of coastline, water activities are de rigueur. Cruise elegantly aboard Grace, a 60-foot restored antique yacht. Catch a guided tour with Boo Harrell, manager of Outside Palmetto Bluff. He’s well-versed in local history and a master storyteller who captivates with tales of the area’s quirky characters. And he knows where to best catch sight of mama dolphins with their young, the ultimate spot to take kids fishing, and more secrets of the local waterways.
Where to sleep: Montage Palmetto Bluff offers guest rooms, village homes, and cottages featuring pine floors, vaulted ceilings, screened porches, fireplaces, and elegant furnishings. In September, the resort unveils its expansion—a stately new inn with a 13,000-square-foot spa, a resort pool, and two dining venues.
Southern haute cuisine: The refined River House serves beautiful and delicious dishes made with organic, seasonal, and indigenous ingredients. Try super-fresh local oysters kissed with a Champagne mignonette and crispy-skin duck garnished with dots of pureed heirloom sweet potatoes, Brussels sprout leaves, and foie gras.
Family fun: Check out Palmetto Bluff’s tree houses with the kids; one is three stories, the other five—with the top perch offering a magnificent 360-degree view. In the evening, gather around the fire pits alongside the River House for conversation and live music. Singing is optional; s’mores are compulsory.