Whether you're spending a week or a weekend on the south end of the Grand Strand, you'll find lots to do and great places to eat in Murrells Inlet.
This fishing village on the beautiful marsh calls itself the Seafood Capitol of South Carolina, and it's not surprising that US 17 Business is lined with restaurants and seafood markets.
Here's a plan for a three-day visit:
Your visit to Murrells Inlet won't be complete without a visit to Brookgreen Gardens, one of South Carolina's true gems. Spend a long time here to take in the impressive sculpture collection, to stroll through the gardens, which are beautiful any time of year, and to visit the Lowcountry Zoo. You can grab lunch or snacks at the Pavilion Restaurant, Courtyard Café or Old Kitchen at Brookgreen, or you could take a picnic with you. Grab a pizza or hoagies at Fox's Pizza Den.
You've probably had enough walking for one day and would just like to be served a wonderful meal. Go to Perrone's Gourmet Market for a delicious taste of the coast. Try their lobster bisque or crab soup as a warm up. For an entree, you can choose from a variety of fish, or for even richer flavor go for the duck breast or pork chops. It's the perfect meal after a fun but full day of exploration.
Go to Applewood House of Pancakes, just down US 17 Bypass in Litchfield Beach. You'll love the food, but you'll especially enjoy trying to decide what to choose from this interesting menu. Whether you're in the mood for steak and eggs, waffles, pancakes or an omelet, you'll find it here.
During the day
Head to Huntington Beach State Park for a day of sunning, fishing and watching nature. Don't miss a visit to Atalaya, the castle that was the winter home of Archer Huntington and sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington. If you love to ride, bring your bicycle along. A nice bike trail stretches through most of Murrells Inlet and down to Litchfield Beach. It's easily accessible from the State Park. Pack a lunch from one of the places listed above, unless your idea of breakfast is 11:30 a.m.
If you're staying in a place with a kitchen, cook your own seafood feast. Head out to Harrelson's Seafood Market or Seven Seas Seafood Market. Both are on US 17 Business, and both offer an assortment of fresh seafood from local waters. At Harrelson's, you also can buy crab cakes made by An Mathis Springs, better known as the Crab Cake Lady. Springs' family also owns Harrelson's. If you need some produce to finish off your meal, stop by Lee's Farmers Market. This also is a good spot to pick up meats, cheeses and bread.
Or if you feel like a fun night out at a restaurant, try Drunken Jack's, one of the many exciting restaurants on the Marshwalk.
Stop in at Vinny's Café for a big breakfast at a great price. Owner Vinny serves up favorites from his hometown of Philly, including Taylor Ham and Philly scrapple, along with omlettes, French toast and other breakfast standards.
If the weather is warm, work off that breakfast in a kayak. Nothing is more peaceful than paddling around the beautiful salt marsh for a couple of hours. You could also go on a dolphin tour with Blue Wave Adventure Tours emphasizing the ecology, wildlife and beauty of the SC coast.
Grab lunch at Lee's Inlet Apothecary, which has an old-fashioned soda fountain. You'll feel like you've gone back to the 1950s as you enjoy a pimento cheese sandwich and an ice cream soda or shake.
Take a stroll on the Marshwalk. Go early enough to see what's come in on the fishing boats and enjoy the spectacular view.
Look for the goats on Goat Island, and don't miss the statue of Bubba Love, who is almost a Murrells Inlet institution. Love grew up on the Inlet and worked in restaurants with his mother as a boy. He works at Drunken Jack's now, where part of his responsibility is tending the goats on Goat Island. There's even a lunch and bar spot named for him, Bubba's Love Shak. Along with several of the other restaurants on the Marshwalk, Bubba's has seating outdoors for nice weather. On a recent trip to the Love Shak, my husband and I shared a "Bubbatizer," a delicious crab dip Florentine with chips.