When we pulled into Myrtle Beach State Park, Wesley was fast asleep. His twin brothers, however, were not. So we found a parking spot between the playground and the beach so Wes could rest and the boys could play. Max informed me that I was going to be “the bad pirate” and that he and Theo were going to be “the good pirates.” Then he informed me that I had to go over to the kiddy playset because that was my pirate ship and they were both about to raid it. Things were not looking good for dad.
Much to my relief, the boys soon become engrossed on the larger of the two play sets—which allowed me to become engrossed in the warm southern charm of this majestically wooded state park. While the boys ran and screamed I soaked in the stunning contrast of the sleepy cypress trees and the cool silvery ocean just beyond the dunes.
I was hoping to run up to the beach for my first ocean swim of the season, but Wesley was awake and we decided to go for a stroll and check out the campground and the nature center instead. We are staying at the Myrtle Beach KOA, and we have really loved it, and plan on coming back again, but this state campground looked fantastic too. The sites were spacious and there were dozens of families riding bikes and making the short walk up to the beach for sand, surf, and sun. The campground had no vacancy and was filled with a nice mix of tents, pop-up campers, travel trailers, fifth wheels, and motorhomes of all shapes and sizes.
The Myrtle Beach State Park Nature Center is tucked away in a cozy little corner at the south end of the campground near the horseshoe and bocce ball courts. Stephanie commented that all campgrounds should have bocce ball courts. They are cheap, easy to build, take up little real estate, and can provide hours of family friendly fun. We also decided that every campground should have a nature center.
Our whole family loved this place. It was charming on the outside and colorful on the inside. The boys were particularly attracted to the chalk board wall and each one of them drew a masterpiece or two before we all decided to head up to the beach.
It was a little windy, but warm, and we were all so thankful to be in South Carolina, instead of back home in New Jersey, where it was 20 degrees colder.
While Max and Theo played with their sand toys, Wes showed off his sweet new Myrtle Beach hat. But the fun really started when the boys saw a teenage girl dribbling a soccer ball on the wide open sand. She inspired them. They asked to play soccer and I was happy to oblige–I had left a ball in the bed of my pick-up trunk for just such an occasion.
Stephanie and I kicked the ball around with them for half an hour and had a blast. It had been a perfect day and I couldn’t imagine it getting any better. But I still had something that I really wanted to do. As mommy played with the boys I waded out into the sparkling ocean for a quick swim. It was a little cooler than I had imagined. When the waves started crashing around my knees I was shivering and contemplating heading back to the beach. Why was I hesitating? After all, I have surfed all winter long in New Jersey in 30 to 40 degree water temps–and I have always loved a cold water swim. Maybe because the day had been long and fun and I was tired? Or maybe because I was in an unfamiliar place?
Just then I looked to my right and saw an eight or nine year old boy swimming further out than I was. He was diving under the waves and laughing. He inspired me. I dove under the next wave and popped up feeling cold but invigorated. Another wave rolled in and I swam over to it, turned towards the shore, and bodysurfed it all the way back onto the beach of my new favorite state park.
Myrtle Beach State Park costs five dollars per person for a day pass, which can also be used at Huntington Beach State Park for free admission on the same day. Ages five and under are free at both locations. If you want to camp make sure you book early–the campground is very popular–and for good reason. Peak season rates run from 27 to 42 dollars. They offer full hook up sites, water and electric sites, rustic tent sites, and cabin rentals. Don’t forget to visit the nature center and bring your bathing suits and bocce balls!