By Kitty Bean Yancey
Swimming. Splashing in a water park. Fishing. Golfing. Shopping. Taking a spin in a gondola on the SkyWheel. Myrtle Beach offers myriad activities. But those looking for more unique diversions or unusual attractions might try these:
1. Take a guided Myrtle Beach kayak tour.
Explore the Lowcountry by paddling on the Waccamaw River, through the salt marshes and the Spanish moss-covered Cypress Swamp. Black River Outdoors Center has a roster of tours departing from various spots near Myrtle Beach. Fishing kayak tours are increasingly popular.
2. Visit T.I.G.E.R.S. Preservation Station.
T.I.G.E.R.S. Preservation Station at Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach is home to such species as the Bengal, the Royal White and the rare Golden Tabby tiger. Visitors can hold a tiger cub and baby ape and be photographed for a donation to T.I.G.E.R.S.’s preservation efforts. A safari “wild encounter” south of Myrtle Beach is also offered.
3. Dine with goats in Murrells Inlet a.k.a. Goat Island.
Enjoy one of the many seafood restaurants in this fishing village just 15 minutes south of Myrtle Beach— one of which has wildlife watching on the menu. From spring to late fall, Drunken Jack’s uses goats to cut the underbrush on a small island it overlooks and has added peacocks to enhance diners’ viewing pleasure.
4. See the Carolina Opry.
Nashville isn’t the only town with a foot-stompin’ Southern songfest. The Carolina Opry in the 2,000-seat Calvin Gilmore Theater in Myrtle Beach delivers performances of country, pop and gospel hits, along with comedy and dance numbers.
5. Sip homemade white Merlot wine.
Did you know you can go wine tasting in a vineyard here? Family-owned La Belle Amie in Little River is a pleasant place to tour and tipple, about a half hour north of Myrtle Beach. Call to see when live music is scheduled.
6. Go shelling with Cap’n Rod.
The good captain or one of his Lowcountry Tours mates will take you shelling on deserted barrier island beaches, glide you past gators and historic rice plantations, while giving commentary on the area’s rich past. Tours, not offered off-season, start an hour south of Myrtle Beach, in Georgetown.
7. See one of the USA’s top gardens.
Aside from spectacular seasonal blooms, Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet holds the largest collection of American figurative sculpture in the nation—more than 1,400 pieces. Children will like its Lowcountry Zoo, which houses native species including gators, bald eagles, baby goats, foxes and river otters. If you have a great time exploring the flora and fauna, you might be interested to see what other destinations house gorgeous gardens.
8. Rev up your vacation.
Muscle-car aficionados will be in heaven at Wheels of Yesteryear in Myrtle Beach. It showcases about 50 restored vintage rides, including a 1963 split-window Corvette Sting Ray and a 1965 Pontiac GTO.
9. Give the kids some culture.
In between splash fests and rounds of mini golf, take children to Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum in Myrtle Beach, where rotating exhibits are eclectic and permanent collections include Southern art and crafts. The museum even offers guided field trips for groups of kids, summer camps and workshops.
10. Take a swing.
Take home one of the hand-woven rope hammocks that embody the Lowcountry lifestyle. You’ll find a variety of sizes and styles at The Original Hammock Shop in Pawleys Island, about 45 minutes south of Myrtle Beach.
Ready to go? Find a Myrtle Beach vacation rental home and start deciding which unusual attractions to hit!
Kitty Bean Yancey is a Washington, D.C.-based award-winning former USA TODAY travel writer. She freelances for publications including AARP Magazine and AAA publications.