One of the best things about growing up in the Myrtle Beach area in the summer is the variety of programs hosted by the area's state parks. Affordable, educational and family-oriented, the state parks' summer programs are perfect for visitors, too. Those looking to escape the beach or waterpark for a day will find that either Myrtle Beach State Park or Huntington Beach State Park in Murrells Inlet is the perfect place to do so.

Two of our favorite programs embrace longtime seaside activities: pier fishing and crabbing. Beginning June 20 at Myrtle Beach State Park and happening every Thursday, Friday and Saturday through August 31, attendees can learn the basics of saltwater pier fishing, including proper bait and tackle.

The program is free with park admission if you bring your own fishing poles but rentals are available, if needed, for $5 per class. You also need to bring bait (shrimp is the best), but it is also sold from the fishing pier. Due to limited space, the pier fishing program requires pre-registration during the week you plan to attend. Call the Nature Center at 843-238-0874 for more information, including what to wear and where to meet.

Our other favorite program is the crabbing offered at Huntington Beach State Park. The program teaches you how to catch a local seafood delicacy, the Atlantic blue crab, while learning about their ecology. Participants will use hand lines, chicken necks and dip nets to pursue these salt marsh predators, and should wear shoes and clothes they don't mind getting muddy. The program is catch and release, and tickets ($3 per person) must be purchased in advance at the park store.

The crabbing program is offered every Wednesday and Friday through August 31 from 12-1 p.m., and those interested can call Huntington Beach State Park at 843-237-4440 for more information.

State parks