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Parks and Gardens in Myrtle Beach

  By  Shelbi Ankiewicz
Sandy beach path at Huntington beach state park

Shelbi's Note: "I was always outside growing up, and when I wasn’t running around my neighborhood, I was usually at a park. These have been my favorite places to visit, then and now, across the Grand Strand!"

Myrtle Beach has so much more to offer than just its golf courses and beaches, though they may be a paradise in themselves. It’s also a spot for those entertained by hiking, biking, camping, fishing, bird watching, and visiting botanical gardens or historic sites. These activities are among the others available that you’ll find in State Parks or private places. The State of South Carolina has 47 Parks, including 2 in the Myrtle Beach area. The parks are often open all year round so you can experience the nature changing every season.

Whether you want to spend a day, a weekend, or your entire vacation, these parks will meet your needs if you want to reconnect with nature. Here are some places I particularly love:


Huntington Beach State Park

Huntington is a great place to ride bikes, walk, swim, and relax on a clean beach in Murrells Inlet. There are nice areas with tables if you want to pack your bags and opt for a picnic. Alternatively, you can explore the Huntington Beach State Park Nature Center where you can join a field trip led by staff educators, from March to November. You’ll learn about the birds and marine life native to the region and even get a chance to touch a local species in the touch tank! If you prefer to be further immersed in the water, you can take a kayak tour in the salt marsh led by a local naturalist, where you may even be lucky enough to see alligators! On the historical side, you will have access to the mystery of Atalaya, a National History Landmark and former home to Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington. The old house looks like a castle, faded in facades of blue, modeled after the architecture of the Spanish Mediterranean coast. Lastly, Fishing and bird watching are also fun activities that you can do. Huntington Beach State Park is considered to be one of the best spots for bird spotting in South Carolina, and if you’re interested, you can print out a birding checklist that features over 300 species that people have seen at the park.

Huntington Beach State Park sun over water

Myrtle Beach State Park

Established in 1936 and just a few minutes from the Myrtle Beach National Airport is the Myrtle Beach State Park. This park is one of the nicest spots for camping in the area, with over 250 campsites, 6 cabins, and 7 picnic shelters for gatherings and BBQs. The campsites are just short of a 10-minute walk to the beach, making it an ideal location for watching the early sunrise over the ocean. For fishing lovers, you can practice your favorite sport from the Pier, where you can buy bait and tackle if necessary. If you prefer to spend a day at the park, you can walk the sculptured Oak Trail, or bring your kids to the on-site playgrounds. Other activities like bird watching, biking, and equestrian trails are available from November through the last day of February. However, it’s important to note that while you are free to bike around the park, there are no rentals, so you must bring your own bike, or rent it from a nearby shop. If you intend on driving through the state or hitting more than one state park, you may want to investigate the different packages the South Carolina State Parks offer for a discounted rate. Visit the South Carolina State Parks website for more information.

Hopsewee Plantation

This former rice plantation in Georgetown was built in 1740 and now serves as a historic site that provides insight into the history of the United States. The house, which was the birthplace of Thomas Lynch Jr., a signer of the Declaration of Independence, is nestled between Myrtle Beach and Charleston. It has been turned into a museum where you can learn some about the slaves who lived at Hopsewee, even though much of the history hasn’t been preserved over the years due to a lack of written accounts. After visiting the house and standing in awe at this architecture that’s survived the test of time, you can walk beneath trees adorned with Spanish moss and admire the North Santee River that flows on the local ground. You will bask in this experience if you’re a nature lover, looking for something other than the beach. Once you’ve made your rounds, you can end your trip at the River Oak Cottage Tea Room where you can taste the sweet and savory treats of the Lowcountry. Guided tours of the area are also available.

Brookgreen Gardens

Located in Murrells Inlet, this garden is beloved by locals and tourists alike. It has long time been one of my favorite places to walk, explore, read, and admire the lush greenery we have along the coast. Brookgreen Gardens is a unique melding of art, nature, and history showcasing a Botanical Garden, American sculptures, Lowcountry history, Lowcountry zoo, and natural beauty among oak trees. The gardens were established in 1931 by Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington, the same couple who lived in Atalaya at Huntington Beach State Park and have since served as a cultural center for everyone in the area. You can spend hours here walking around, visiting the different exhibitions and natural landscapes, and even bring a blanket to settle down for an afternoon snack or light read. This site is a must-see if you’re in the area; it’s so widely known it’s been featured in USAToday, Lonely Planet, the Charlotte Observer, and Forbes. From mid-May to mid-August, you can enjoy the ‘Summer Light: Art by Night’ exhibition, where some art light installations are matched with live music. And, if you visit during the Christmas season, you’ll witness, controversially, the most jaw-dropping light display on the East Coast.

Not only does being in nature provide you with amazing experiences and beautiful, picturesque scenery, but walking outside gives health benefits such as burning body fat and strengthening the heart and muscles. It can also increase your energy level, reduce fatigue, and improve your posture. Going outside and breathing fresh air can help regulate your level of serotonin to promote happiness and well-being, so you can be ensured that you can always find your well-being in Myrtle Beach!


Shelbi Ankiewicz
Shelbi Ankiewicz is a senior at Coastal Carolina University studying communication, journalism, and intercultural studies. She is originally from Montgomery, Alabama, but has resided in Myrtle Beach for 14 years. She is the Editor-in-Chief of CCU's student newspaper, The Chanticleer, and is a member of a two-year leadership program called the Wall Fellows. Shelbi enjoys trying new restaurants, traveling to major cities in the SouthEast, and attending concerts. In her free time you can find her hanging out with her frenchton bulldog, Oma, or visiting the local trails Myrtle Beach has to offer.