Myrtle Beach, SC - The Grand Strand - Vacation Travel Guide

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Myrtle Beach Area Features

South Carolina’s Natural Encounters

If you find the natural world exciting, then there are a bunch of places you should visit in the Grand Strand. The gorgeous settings, interesting animals and beautiful plants add to the uniqueness of the region. Engage in the activities offered at some of these natural places and come away with an amazing experience to remember!

Brookgreen Gardens

One of South Carolina’s most beloved destinations is Brookgreen Gardens. Here, art and nature combine into the stunning landscape that once adjoined the home of Archer Huntington and his talented and artistic wife, Anna Hyatt Huntington. This historic and natural setting currently serves as a sanctuary for both animals and sculpture. In addition to the many sculptures that were created by Mrs. Huntington, more than 2,000 works of art from over 350 different artists are at Brookgreen Gardens. Visitors can see these pieces interspersed among the indigenous plants and moss-covered trees that decorate the vast acreage. But Brookgreen encompasses so much more. In fact, it has gained national acclaim due not only to its designation as a National Historic Landmark but also its accreditation with both the American Alliance of Museums and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Few other places can say the same. And yes, there is a zoo. Animals such as gray foxes, river otters and alligators that roam the Carolinian forests and marshes can be seen here. For avid bird-lovers, the Cypress Aviary hosts many species including ibises, egrets and herons. Locals regularly frequent the acreage at Brookgreen Gardens and they will undoubtedly advise visitors to explore it too.

Shelling on the Island

Enjoying the bounties of the sea isn’t limited to dining on seafood. The discarded homes of shellfish have long been used in art, as jewelry, and in collections. Those who are interested in collecting some seashells for themselves may enjoy an excursion with either Cap’n Rod’s Shell Island Lighthouse and Plantation Tours or Shelling & Dolphin Watch Cruise. You’ll get to visit a remote island where the beach is full of shells of all shapes and sizes. Shells you might find are the lettered olives (South Carolina’s state shell), whelks, giant heart cockles, tulips, augers, and shark-eye moon snails. Though not technically shells, sand dollars, sea urchins, and shark’s teeth may also wash ashore. Please just take the empty shells and leave the “living” sea creatures in the water. When you return home, use the shells in art projects or as decorations in the home.

Murrells Inlet and Goat Island

Murrells Inlet is part of South Carolina’s gorgeous lowcountry and is surrounded by scenic marshlands and waterways. Watch as fishermen pull in their catch from Veterans Pier or you can stroll the boardwalk, hoping to glimpse blue herons, ibis and other waterfowl as they hunt for their dinner. Take a kayak out into the water to experience the natural serenity that comes with paddling to a secluded area. You will find some wonderful restaurants and shops nestled on the MarshWalk in the historic fishing village—otherwise, it is predominately a natural splendor for all to enjoy.

There is also an island just across the water from Drunken Jack’s restaurant in Murrells Inlet that is inhabited by goats. Aptly called Goat Island, its furry residents have been the island’s chief landscapers for nearly a quarter of a century—though now, they also receive vegetable trimmings and hushpuppies from the neighboring restaurant (that also protects them) to supplement their diets. Residents and recurring visitors to Murrells Inlet look forward to seeing the small herd of goats each year, and now the goats have feathered companions… peacocks.

Doc Antle’s Myrtle Beach Safari

If you like animals, Doc Antle’s Myrtle Beach Safari lets you take part in a once-in-a-lifetime up-close experience with exotic creatures. Two different T.I.G.E.R.S. encounters are available at different locations depending on how close and in-depth you would like to be. At Barefoot Landing, Preservation Station works to preserve one of the rarest tiger species in the world, the Golden Tabby tiger, but they also showcase the majesty of these and other species up close. To see these beautiful animals interact, play or parent their cubs at this location is completely free. However, you can also support the conservation of these rare species by purchasing a brief photo session with a baby tiger or orangutan sitting in your lap. The experience is priceless and the picture is definitely worth a thousand words. To really interact with tigers, elephants, great apes and many other animals, reserve your place on a 3-hour safari on the Wild Encounters Tour. By purchasing this package, you will be helping to support the Rare Species Fund which supports the worldwide conservation of many species of animals including those you will see on the safari. The money you spend on these great photo sessions and experiences may also save a few endangered lives.

Local Parks

Exercising in the lush parks or natural landscapes can have you feeling like a whole new person—ready to take on anything. Much of the land surrounding Myrtle Beach is devoted to nature. There are meticulously designed parks with facilities for family comfort, some devoted to our furry, canine companions, and other parks that are still wild and ready to explore. One of the most scenic is Huntington Beach State Park, where you’ll find unspoiled beaches brimming with native plants and animals. There is a fee to access the 2,500 acres, but the scenery makes it well worth it. Three miles of shoreline create wonderful opportunities for swimming, fishing, and playing in the sand. Campsites can also be rented if you would like to fall asleep beneath the stars with the soothing sound of the waves lapping against the shore in the background. When you wake in the morning, take a refreshing, early hike on one of the two nature trails and see what wildlife has arisen to greet the day. This may be one of the most relaxing places to visit during your Grand Strand vacation!

These are just a few of the ways you can get in touch with nature in the Grand Strand. By visiting one of them or as many as you can, you’re likely to find your own little slice of heaven and refuge from the busy, modern world.
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