The Lesser-Known Attractions of Myrtle Beach
by Heiko Obermoeller
Myrtle Beach in South Carolina is a well-known vacation destination with all of the amenities and attractions you could possibly want – from the huge and varied entertainment complex known as Broadway on the Beach to the impressive SkyWheel Ferris wheel, with its enclosed gondolas that take you up to sweeping views of the beach and beyond. But Myrtle Beach has several lesser-known attractions that offer a bit of a respite from the more popular sites in the city.
Located within Huntington Beach State Park, Brookgreen Gardens is an outdoor museum that stretches along four former rice plantations. Brookgreen was voted by TripAdvisor users as one of the top 10 public gardens in America. It’s an enchanting space where you can very happily lose track of time.
Inside its beautiful gardens, more than 1,000 sculptures are on display – the largest open-air collection of sculptures from American artists in the world. The contrast between the old oak trees and modern sculpture creates a nice atmosphere to enjoy during an afternoon walk. You can also cruise along the creek on a 48-foot pontoon boat and observe alligators and water birds.
Adjacent to Brookgreen Gardens, within Huntington Beach State Park, is Atalaya, the former winter residence of philanthropist Archer Huntington and his wife Anna, a sculptor (whose works are on display at Brookgreen Gardens). This Moorish style structure, which resembles a fortress or a castle is dominated by a large square tower. There was so much learn and explore at Atalaya that I would highly recommend doing a tour, either a guided tour or an audio tour. You will learn so much more and appreciate the history of this unique attraction. For example, Anna Huntington so enjoyed sculpting live animal forms that she had a bear pen constructed on the property!
After my interesting experience at Brookgreen Gardens and Atalaya, I make my way to nearby Murrells Inlet, an old fishing town south of Myrtle Beach known as South Carolina’s seafood capital. That sounds promising for my active appetite! Quaint and welcoming shops and restaurants line the Murrells Inlet Marshwalk and it’s hard to make a decision where to eat. Here from the boardwalk that stretches along marshland, I watch fishermen come in on their little boats, unloading the fresh catch. Shortly after my arrival, it gets dark, and many tiny lights illuminate the boardwalk. Finally, the live music streaming out of a charming seafood restaurant attracts my attention, and I decide to spend the rest of my evening there.
Murrells Inlet also offers fishing charters, a pirate ship adventure for kids and dolphin watching, so no matter what age your family members are, there is something for everyone.
T.I.G.E.R.S. Wild Encounters Tour
While this wasn’t something I was able to visit while I was in Myrtle Beach, it came highly recommended by both locals and visitors and is a must-see for those with a sense of adventure. Located closer to central Myrtle Beach but still off the beaten path is T.I.G.E.R.S. Wild Encounters Tour, a guided walk through a 50-acre preserve where visitors will meet tigers, wolves, leopards, chimpanzees, orangutans and other endangered species, many of them up-close and un-caged. During the tour, professional photographers shoot pictures and video, giving you the opportunity to take home souvenirs incomparable to any other.
Myrtle Beach has so much to offer beyond its beautiful beaches and lively attractions. This is a true outdoor paradise, boasting a beautiful and diverse environment for any kind of traveler – simply a perfect vacation spot!