Myrtle Beach, the famed resort town on South Carolina’s Atlantic Coast offers plenty to explore. Enjoy the classic boardwalk and amusement park, home to one of America’s tallest Ferris wheels.
From Myrtle Beach, further explore the Atlantic coast’s natural beauty to the north and south of the Grand Strand, or head inland to see more of historic South Carolina, its tobacco farming roots, and unique southern appeal.
Wilmington, North Carolina is home to a 230-block National Historic District, replete with antebellum homes, historic churches, oak tree lined streets and brick sidewalks. A riverwalk along the river front takes visitors past the Battleship North Carolina, a World War II battleship turned museum. Along the seashore, the Carolina Boardwalk offers pedestrian friendly wildlife and nature viewing. Visit Kure Beach’s Fort Fisher State Historic Site, the site of Civil War’s largest land and sea battle, now adjacent to the North Carolina Aquarium. Enjoy the surf at Wrightsville Beach, one of the top surfing destinations on America’s east coast.
2. Murrells Inlet
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Murrells Inlet South Carolina is a small fishing village on a protected coastal inlet, known as the seafood capital of the south. Take a slow stroll along the Murrells Inlet Marshwalk, a boardwalk following the banks of the inlet along side the salt-marsh ecosystem. Enjoy bird watching and wildlife spotting, or stop to enjoy the shops and restaurants that can be accessed from the boardwalk. Get out on the water with a fishing charter, or board a pontoon boat for a historical plantation river tour from the Wacca Wache Marina. Cyclists will enjoy the bike trail from the Inlet to Pawleys Island.
Murrells Inlet, SC
3. Pawleys Island
Pawleys Island is located just a few miles south of Myrtle Beach, but world’s away. The quiet coastline is known for its surf, salt-marshes and unspoiled natural beauty. One of the east coast’s oldest summer resorts, vacationers have been flocking to Pawleys Island since the 1700’s. A historic district includes 12 of the island’s original homes, dating back to the 18th and early 19th century. Today, the island is known for its quiet atmosphere, wide stretches of beach and sand dunes, rope hammocks, fishing, and crabbing along the rivers. While there are no commercial services on the island, fine dining and great seafood is only a short trip away, across the causeway on the mainland.
Pawleys Island, SC
4. Day Trips from Myrtle Beach, SC: Calabash
Calabash is among North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, a series of barrier islands along the state’s most southern shore. Calabash is the most southerly island, on the border of South Carolina. Known as the Seafood Capital of the World, the charming fishing village specializes in fried and lightly breaded fish, oysters, shrimp, and clams. Enjoy watching the fishing boats come in and out of the marina, or take a fishing tour to catch your own meal. Boat tours are also available of the intracoastal waterways, or explore on your own by renting a kayak or canoe. Calabash is home to the Brunswick Plantation Resort and Golf Course offering championship golf and fine dining.
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Charleston, South Carolina was founded in 1670 and has offers history, a natural beauty and southern charm. South Carolina’s second most populated city, Charleston is made up of several distinct areas, from the historic downtown, to the coastal areas and islands. Enjoy cultural and historical tours and activities including visits to Patriot’s Point, Fort Sumter, historic plantations, or the College of Charleston. Enjoy the area parks and nature preserves, including Riverfront Park and its views of the harbor. Adventure on the water with Coastal Expeditions, Spiritline Cruises, or Barrier Island Ecotours. The Charleston Jazz Festival takes place each January and is now in its sixth year.
6. Beaches Near Me: Folly Beach
South Carolina’s Folly Beach is located in Charlestown. Known for its surf, the area is home to several surf schools and board rental shops. Other ways to get out on the water include Charleston SUP Safaris, sailing and fishing charters, Tideline Tours, and Flipper Finders, who take to the waters in kayaks or motorboats in search of up close experiences with dolphins. On land, enjoy the Folly Beach County Park or the Folly River Park, in addition to local playgrounds. Take a stroll down the Folley Beach Pier, the east coast’s second longest, extending over 1,000 feet into the ocean. The small commercial district offers mostly surf shops, beachwear and gifts. Seafood ranges from casual crab shack fare to the fine dining at Blu Restaurant and Bar.
Folly Beach, SC
7. The Grand Strand
South Carolina’s Grand Strand is a 60 mile long stretch of Atlantic coast offering sandy, white beaches and carrying oceanfront communities. The area is defined by North Myrtle Beach in Little River to the north, all the way past Georgetown to Cape Romain at the south. Aside from Myrtle Beach, located at the heart of the grand stand, top locations to visit include Murrell’s Inlet, the historic fishing village, the easy-going Surfside Beach with its oceanfront pier, and Pawleys Island, one of the oldest resort towns on the east coast. Litchfield Beach is named for the 18th century plantation once operating there. Streets of the picturesque town are lined with oak trees, just minutes from the sandy shore. Garden City beach offers oceanfront access, and a Creekwalk boardwalk through the salt marsh.
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The historic Georgetown in South Carolina is a quaint small town located on the seashore. The charming waterfront community is the state’s third oldest city. Oak trees line the downtown streets, visitors will find waterfront shopping and dining, and opportunities for outdoor recreation via fishing and boating. Take a lowcountry tour via riverboat, enjoy an Island Picnic Cruise, or ride through town on a Swamp Fox Tour to learn the 300 year history of the town. Museums include the South Carolina Maritime Museum, the Gullah Museum of the native Gullah and Geechee people, and the 1769 Kaminski House. Along the historic front street, which offers an Oceanside boardwalk, enjoy fresh seafood, lowcountry cuisine, ice cream or handmade chocolates.
Southport, North Carolina was founded in 1792. The historic coastal town is located at the junction of the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean. With a rich maritime history, breathtaking landscapes, and welcoming southern charm, Southport is beloved by visitors. Visit the Fort Johnston-Southport Museum & Visitors Center, the North Carolina Maritime Museum, the Old Smithville Burying Ground, and the Old Brunswick County Jail Museum for a look at the area’s history. Enjoy ocean views along the Southport Pier and Riverwalk or the Southport Marina. Downtown Southport offers plenty of art galleries and antiques shops.
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North Carolina’s Fayetteville is located just south of Fort Bragg in the central part of the state. As the unofficial headquarters of the US Army, Fayetteville and Cumberland County offers a rich military history celebrated through historic sites and museums. The United States Civil War is the focus at the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex. Learn about the present day army at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum, or ASOM. Enjoy the outdoors year round along the Cape Fear River Trail, the All American Trail at Fort Bragg, or with a visit to the Cape Fear Botanical Garden. Things to do in Fayetteville
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11. Brookgreen Gardens
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The Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina combine nature, art, and history for a one of a kind experience on over 9,000 acres. Founded in 1931, the non-profit organization is home to the Brookgreen Botanical Gardens, Lowcountry Zoo, Sculpture Garden and historic rice plantations, plantation cemeteries and earthen fort site from the Civil War. Botanical gardens include the Live Oak Allee, which is home to trees over 250 years old. The Palmetto Garden, planted in 1950 honors the South Carolina state tree. A significant collection of over 2,000 American figurative sculptures are located throughout the gardens, and includes temporary exhibits of outdoor art. The Lowcountry Zoo provides a natural environment for rescued animals of the area’s swamps, woods and waters.
1931 Brookgreen Drive, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576, Phone: 843-235-6000
12. Huntington Beach State Park
South Carolina’s Huntington Beach State Park was gifted to the state by the Anna Hyatt Huntington, a sculptor and philanthropist who lived on the property from 1931 to 1947. Atalaya, the winter home she built with her husband, Archer, is now a National Historic Landmark and open to the public. Enjoy a three mile stretch of Grand Strand beaches, home to the state’s best surf fishing. The 2500 acre park is home to some of the east coast’s best bird watching, and over 300 species have been spotted within the park. Each September, the juried Atalaya Arts and Crafts Fair takes place at the Huntington’s historic home. Thousands of visitors attend the annual show.
16148 Ocean Hwy, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576, Phone: 843-237-4440
13. Day Trips from Myrtle Beach, SC: Conway
© Conway Downtown Alive
Conway, South Carolina is a small coastal town located along the Waccamaw River. A coastal boardwalk parallels the river for a scenic walk. The historic downtown Conway offers shopping, dining, and several historic sites. Begin the day at the Conway Visitor’s Center, located in a historic building that was once the town’s post office. Here you’ll find maps for self-guided historic walking tours, Riverwalk tours and tree tours. Conway is an official “Tree City USA,” meaning they meet the core standards of urban forestry management and celebrate Arbor Day. Events include the October Rivertown Dine Around, participating restaurants offer mini menus day and night.
14. Little River
Little River is a neighborhood of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The fishing community at the north end of the Grand Strand is among the Myrtle Beach’s oldest. Board a deep sea fishing charter at sunrise for a day on the ocean, take a cruise aboard a party boat, or spend the evening on a casino boat. The area is home to some of South Carolina’s best seafood, available in casual or fine dining restaurants. Annual events include May’s Little River Blue Crab Festival, and October’s Shrimp Festival. The Blue Crab Festival has consistently been awarded the Grand Strand’s best annual event award.
Little River, NC
15. Carolina Beach
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Carolina Beach has kept its classic southern coastal charm over the years. The family-friendly town offers a vintage ocean front boardwalk, miles of sandy beaches and world class fishing. Visit the Carolina Beach State Park to experience the area’s natural beauty. The picturesque white sand trail leads to a view overlooking the Cape Fear River. Walk to the point of the old wooden Carolina Beach Pier to enjoy the view, or cast a fishing line into the water. See the ocean’s creatures up close at the nearby North Carolina Aquarium. Nightlife is popular here, as well as the live music scene. The area is host to North Carolina’s largest beach music festival, the Seafood Blues and Jazz Festival.
Carolina Beach, NC
16. Day Trip Near Me: Mullins
© City of Mullins, South Carolina
Mullins, South Carolina is a small town located northwest of Myrtle Beach. Mullins is home to the South Carolina Tobacco Museum, which celebrates the town’s history, which sprung from tobacco farming in 1894. At one time Mullins was South Carolina’s largest tobacco market. The museum’s focus is on pre-1950 tobacco production. A 15 minute documentary video, “When Tobacco Was King” interviews local residents for an oral history of the town’s relationship to the tobacco industry. Annual events include the Golden Leaf Festival and BBQ Cookoff, which takes place every fall. The fair spotlights local food vendors, crafters, and entertainers and includes a parade, 5k run, and car show.
© City of Marion, Municipal Government
Marion is a quaint historic town in South Carolina northwest of Myrtle Beach. Over 1,100 acres of the town comprise a nationally recognized historic district. Among the 90 buildings and one monument within the district are the 1853 county courthouse, and an 1892 brick community building that once served as a jail, a police station, and a fire department. The 1903 Marion County Archives & History Center is located in the Old Record Building and is a popular destination for those wishing to research genealogical history. Visit the Marion County Museum, located in an 1886 schoolhouse and enjoy the City of Marion Hike and Bike Trail, a rails-to-trail project that has converted two miles of the Marion-to-Mullins railroad line into a cycling and walking path.
18. Cherry Grove
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The Cherry Grove community is located at the most northern end of Myrtle Beach and has been named South Carolina’s best beach. Enjoy relaxing along the seashore, kayak or walk to Waites Island during low tide, or explore Hogg’s Inlet for fishing, bird watching, or wildlife spotting. The charming beach town is replete with historic cottages, white sandy beaches, and a slow pace of life that’s perfect for exploring the area’s shopping, restaurants, and live music. The Cherry Grove Fishing Pier was built in the 1950’s and extends nearly 1,000 feet into the ocean. Dine at the Ocean Grill at the nearby Prince Resort at the Pier. The Cherry Grove Oceanfront Park features restrooms, showers, picnic areas and playground equipment.
Cherry Grove, SC
19. Florence, SC
© City of Florence
The lively town of Florence is located about 1 hour and 20 minutes drive north west of Myrtle Beach, making it eminently suitable for a weekend getaway for even a day trip. There is plenty to do in Florence, including activities to suit all ages and tastes. If you enjoy outdoor activities you can go walking and hiking along a network of well-maintained trails. There are several options for playing a round of golf and history lovers and garden enthusiasts can enjoy the 13-mile Rotary Beauty Trail which meanders through a lovely historic residential area. In addition, there is good shopping, excellent entertainment and some great places to stay and to dine.
20. Columbia, SC
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Nestled in the warm heart of South Carolina, Columbia is a perfect destination for a fun weekend getaway or day trip from Myrtle Beach. You can learn more about the city’s history by taking a self guided walking tour through the Historic District or have a few hours of fun on a city scavenger hunt. If you are visiting with children you can visit the Riverbank Zoo and Garden and the EdVenture Children’s Museum. Outdoor enthusiasts can go walking/hiking at Riverfront Park or Lake Murray. In summer you can canoe and kayak in Dreher Island State Park or try paddling, tubing and other fun water activities on the three rivers which flow through the city.
21. Augusta, GA
Famously home to the Masters Tournament, one of the world’s most-watched golfing competitions, Augusta Georgia has a great deal in store for weekend visitors and day trippers. The city boasts a lively downtown area filled with many unique shops which rub shoulders with excellent restaurants, galleries and other attractions. Top Augusta experiences include exploring the Augusta Riverwalk which runs along the banks of the Savannah River, visiting the Morris Museum of Art and the Augusta Museum of History and touring the Boyhood Home of President Woodrow Wilson. Augusta was also the birth place of Soul music – you can hear some at the famous Soul Bar.
22. Savannah, Georgia
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Savannah has everything a visitor could wish for! This charming southern town is full of history, beautiful period architecture, trendy boutiques, art galleries and wonderful places to dine. You could start your weekend getaway by visiting one of the city’s excellent museums or joining a Historic Walking Tour. If you love art and shopping you should head directly to the Downtown Design District. Music lovers are especially well catered for in Savannah and there are many wonderful venues where you can enjoy anything from Jazz to Rock and Classical Music. When it’s time to eat you will find an amazing diversity of restaurants ready to welcome you.
23. Hilton Head Island, SC
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Consistently voted as the best island in the US (by Conde Nast travel magazine), Hilton Head Island is a wonderful destination for a weekend getaway. To begin with, there are 12 wonderful miles of pristine beaches for you to enjoy. Ideal for walking, swimming and body boarding, the beaches are also your gateway to a myriad of wonderful water sports. Golf enthusiasts will find no fewer than 23 championship golf courses on the island – you would need to visit several times to try them all. Besides the beaches and the golf courses the island offers great hiking and cycling trails, wonderful shopping and fabulous dining.
24. Beaufort, SC
Bursting at the seams with charm and history, Beaufort is a much underrated South Carolina gem. The city is one of the oldest in the state, boasting 300 years of maritime history. The downtown waterfront is a great place to start your visit; here you can breathe in the fresh sea air as you watch numerous vessels entering and leaving the harbor, while you browse the interesting shops and boutiques. You can learn about Beaufort’s history by visiting the Arsenal Museum and the National Cemetery or opt to soak up the unique maritime atmosphere as you stroll along Battery Creek on the Port Royal Boardwalk. You could also rent a bicycle and take on the scenic 10-mile Spanish Moss Trail.
25. Charlotte, NC
Charlotte is the largest city in North Carolina, where it is widely known as Queen City. As you would imagine, there are a great many things to see and do in Charlotte, making it an ideal destination for a weekend getaway. Just a few of the fun things you could do during your visit include riding the world’s fastest and tallest roller coaster, exploring the hip and happening Camp North End (once the assembly line for Ford Model T cars), visit a few of the city’s wonderful Art Museums or browse the ever-popular NASCAR Hall of Fame. Charlotte also boasts some amazing attractions for children including Discovery Place Science.
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More Ideas: North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher
The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher is located in Kure Beach, southeastern North Carolina. Opened in 1976 the aquarium was originally known as a Marine Science Center along with its two sister centers now known as N.C. Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores and N.C. Aquarium on Roanoke Island. Jennette's Pier in Nags Head also joined the aquariums later in 2011. The aim of the aquarium at Fort Fisher is to educate the public on the preservation and conservation of marine and aquatic life both throughout the world and locally in North Carolina. The aquarium is partnered with Saving Animals from Extinction (SAFE) and registered as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
The aquarium itself has a range of fixed exhibits as well as seasonal exhibits which open during particular months of the year. Inside is a large amount of exhibit space displaying marine life and habitats, classrooms, a conference room, auditorium and outside an Adventure Reef play area. The aquarium is open all week and visitors should check for opening times. The aquarium offers discounted admission tickets for group bookings, disabled visitors, seniors and military personnel with children under two entering for free. Teachers and school groups can also enter admission free but are asked to pre register with the aquarium before the trip.
The exhibits reveal the environments of the plant and animal life found in the Cape Fear River. They showcase the wildlife from coastline habitats, freshwater swamps and streams, oceans and reefs. The Cape Fear Conservatory exhibit holds freshwater life and is housed in an atrium. Box turtles hide amongst the plant life on the ground and snakes, bass and catfish are amongst the other animals that can be found. Also located in the Conservatory is a large exhibit with native alligators to North Carolina.
The Bamboo Shark Touch Pool exhibit gives visitors the chance to observe and touch lesser known sea life as well as a loggerhead sea turtle display and an albino alligator exhibit dedicated to rarely seen species. The Coastal Waters Gallery sees a special tank known as the Coquina Outcrop Touch Pool where visitors can safely watch the sea animals inside and touch them as they breach the water on the top. Within the Touch Pool are sea urchins, whelks, horseshoe crabs and stingrays.
The Open Oceans Gallery is an exhibit which shows native octopus, live corals, vibrant jellyfish and other animals often found offshore in North Carolina adding an interesting insight into local species found in state. The saltwater Cape Fear Shoals Exhibit is designed in a two story reef style viewing tank with eels, groupers, sharks and stingrays within view. The exhibit is large and is often filled with visitors around the edge of the glass.
The Exotic Aquatics Display shows animals mostly from Indo Pacific regions though some are local. Visitors can view scorpionfish, lionfish, Australian spotted jellies, the red lionfish and spiny lobsters. Another more tropical exhibit is the The Pacific Reef Display which houses a colorful array of fish species such as clownfish, surgeonfish and hawkfish among others. The display has a large collection of live brightly coloured coral in it to match the real life habitat the animals have adapted to. Inside is also a giant clam.
Visitors can also see the Venomous Snakes Exhibit which contains poisonous snakes found in the local region such as cottonmouths, copperheads and rattlesnakes. The exhibit has a glass bay with bark and plants for the to use. Another non aquatic exhibit is the Megalodon Exhibit shows interactive displays of a prehistoric shark with holograms, touch screen interfaces and a 23ft convex screen in a state of the art multimedia suite.
Ongoing programs and education
The aquarium offers a range of tours which vary on topic but can involve management and care of the sea life, feeding and fishing. The tours on offer are the Behind the Scenes Tour available for ages 8 upwards and the Fins and Family Tour for children aged 3 years to 7 years with family members. Other programs are Salt Marshes and Crabbing open to visitors over 7 years, Surf Fishing with an instructor for visitors of 10 years onwards, Canoeing for those who are 8 years and older and the Aquarist Apprentice for those 10 years and older.
School groups can also accessorise their field trip to the aquarium with outdoor activities and adventures, taking part in a live animal program, a tour or classroom activities. The aquarium also offers downloadable curriculums for teachers and for students, internships, job shadowing roles and teen volunteer opportunities.
Back to: Things to do in North Carolina
900 I Rd, Kure Beach, NC 28449, Phone: 910-772-0500