You won't run out of things to do in Myrtle Beach. But if nature calls, it's only a short drive to ecotherapy.
Explore a nature preserve known for an array of rare plants and animals. Go bird watching in one of South Carolina's best birding destinations. Or paddle one of just 21 National Water Trails in the country. You'll also find great fishing down the road in Winyah Bay.
Here are 5 of the best outdoor outings outside Myrtle Beach:
1. Exploring Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve. This 10,427-acre preserve is one of the few places in the world where Venus flytraps grow in the wild. It's also home to South Carolina's largest population of black bears, endangered red cockaded woodpeckers, bald eagles and 23 Carolina Bays, strange elliptical depressions of unknown origin. From March through June, you'll find several varieties of orchids and carnivorous plants in bloom, including frogs' breeches, dwarf sundews and yellow trumpet pitcher plants. In the fall and winter, Neotropical migratory songbirds are the stars of the preserve.
2. Fishing in Winyah Bay. Whether you're looking to reel in tarpon, fly cast for tailing redfish or chase cobia, you won't be disappointed fishing in Winyah Bay, a coastal estuary at the confluence of the Waccamaw, Pee Dee, Black and Sampit rivers near Georgetown. The jetties are a favorite spot to catch a wide variety of inshore fish, including red drum, speckled trout, sheepshead, king mackerel and some huge flounder. Several guide services are available to take you where the fish are biting. If you're looking to get off on your own, try North Inlet, a unique ecosystem where the primary target are redfish, speckled trout, tarpon and flounder.
3. Bird watching in Huntington Beach State Park. The 2,500-acre park features a diversity of habitats, including maritime forests, fresh water impoundments, tidal salt marshes and three miles of beach. For birders, that means you'll have the opportunity to check off a number of avian species on your bird list. Among the 300 species spotted in the park are hawks, cranes, swifts, terns, swallows, warblers and waterfowl. The causeway, jetty and beach are the best viewing areas. Be on the lookout for unusual species like the razorbill, black guillemot, roseate spoonbill and the federally endangered piping plover.
4. Kayaking the Waccamaw River. Less than two dozen rivers in the country have earned the designation of National Water Trail. The Waccamaw is one of them. The passage meanders 100 miles through protected bottomland hardwood swamps, passing the historic riverfront cities of Conway and Georgetown. Several outfitters offer guided trips on this slow-moving, black water river. As you float downstream, you may see bald eagles, wood storks, Prothonotary warblers, Mississippi kites, deer, river otter, beavers and the occasional alligator.
5. Bike the Neck. The Waccamaw Neck Bikeway runs approximately 12 miles along US 17 from Murrells Inlet to Pawleys Island. The paved trail isn't contiguous, but Share the Road routes fill in the gaps. The most scenic section crosses through Huntington Beach State Park's maritime forest and wetlands. Parking is available at several locations, including Morse Park Landing in Murrells Inlet and the north parking lot at the Litchfield Beach & Golf Resort.