Be honest…outdoor adventure in Myrtle Beach sounds like a bit of an oxymoron, right? Most people think of “The Strip” when picturing Myrtle Beach and imagine a boardwalk lined with hotels, rides, and arcade games.
But the real reason we decide to go back to Myrtle Beach year after year? Stunning natural beauty.
Surprised? We were, too. We never expected to find gorgeous State Parks, botanical gardens, and wild swamps just a short drive away from all the bustling boardwalk attractions.
So when your family visits this great American tourist destination, make sure you don’t miss out on what one local called the real wild side of Myrtle Beach. Here are our 5 top picks for outdoor adventure in Myrtle Beach that your whole family can enjoy together.
1. Huntington Beach State Park
If you want to surround yourself with the natural beauty of coastal South Carolina, spend a day at Huntington Beach State Park. Start off by exploring the Marsh Walk where you are almost guaranteed to spot sunning alligators and stunning water fowl. Visit the nature center for a ranger led program or take your own hiking tour on one of the park’s interpretative trails. Do not miss a visit to Atalaya, the former summer home of Archer Huntington who built this Moorish castle on the beach for his sculptor wife. Then you can end your day on the pristine 3-mile stretch of uncrowded beach. If there is a more perfect state park out there, we haven’t yet found it.
2. Myrtle Beach State Park
Myrtle Beach State Park is a great family-friendly state park for three reasons: the Nature Center, the playground, and the beach. The program schedule at the Nature Center includes story time, crafts, beach walks, and bird house discovery. The center is small and engaging with friendly rangers on staff, ready to get your kids excited about ecology. The playground was a hit with our crew, and we enjoyed the beautiful scenery while our boys played pirates for over an hour. And yes, once again you must end your visit by heading down to the beach. White sand, warm sun, and sparkling water. Need we say more?
3. Black River Outdoor Center
Perhaps our favorite discovery on our second trip to Myrtle Beach was the Black River Outdoor Center which runs guided kayak eco tours of the Salt Marsh and Cypress Swamp. We were lucky enough to experience both tours, and they were downright magical experiences for us and our 5 year old boys. The tour guides were phenomenal, blending humor and education while bringing the ecology of coastal South Carolina to life. Make sure you talk to Richard, the owner, who will enthusiastically recommend which tour you should take depending on the time of year and season. And if you score Paul as your tour guide, well then it is your lucky day. We now go on a tour every time we visit. It’s truly our favorite outdoor adventure in Myrtle Beach.
4. Barefoot Princess
If your arms are sore from kayaking and your feet are tired from hiking, book a tour on the Barefoot Princess, where you can relax on the top deck with a delicious drink while learning all about the Intracoastal Waterway. This was just good, lazy vacation fun for the whole family. The food was quite good and very affordable…same with the drinks. Live music played and the crowd was fun enough to get up and dance to all the party classics. Our boys performed their very first YMCA. Best part? The captain lets every child on board have a turn steering the ship.
5. Brookgreen Gardens
We have written a couple of posts about why Brookgreen Gardens is a great outdoor adventure in Myrtle Beach. It is the perfect example of what we look for when traveling with our kids, combining engaging activities for the young ones with beauty and educational interest for us adults. You could spend the whole day here without seeing everything, but check out our top 6 activities that are not to be missed.
What makes Myrtle Beach the perfect destination for a family like ours? A vacation in Myrtle Beach means we really can have it all: a beautiful campground in a peaceful, wooded setting; adrenaline pumping activities like zip lining and boardwalk rides; and amazing natural experiences that bring us up close and personal with God’s great creation.
Perfect family vacation: Check.
See you soon, Myrtle Beach.