Dolphins swimming at Springmaid pier, free wild things to do in Myrtle Beach

Best things in life are free…amen! Want to watch dolphins swimm in the ocean? Save the $40 or so on dolphin cruises and instead take a stroll on the beach. On my second trip this winter we stayed on the south side of the Grand Strand at historic Springmaid Resort. Once again we were delighted to see dolphins swim by every morning (~11:30) and afternoon (~5PM). This time they were really close to the shore…what a treat!

Best views are from the pier. Here you can relax in the swing, on the giant Adirondack chair or on the wooden benches. Feeling lucky? Then rent a fishing rod ($10 per day) from the pier shop and try your hand at tuna, snapper, mackerel, bluefish, flounder, whiting and trout.

Here is a list with all the free and fun family things to do in and around Myrtle Beach.

Enjoy your vacation in Myrtle Beach!


“I’m too foxy to eat” meet the Nile Crocodile diva at Cape Fear Serpentarium

Must see TV, entertainment it’s free for me! That’s the attitude of the Nile Crocodile, Cape Fear Serpentarium’s MVP.

We were told His Majesty is the zoo most intelligent resident. He loves to watch the weekend live feedings of his neighbor snakes.

It took some convincing but in the end the belly won and the crocodile accepted the “bribe”. Part of the show I bet 🙂

While in Wilmington visit the “The Showboat” North Carolina, the most beloved and decorated WWII battleship. It will lift your spirit!

If alligators, giant crocodiles, Galapagos turtles and green anacondas are your thing, then Alligator Adventure “The Reptile Capital of the World” is your answer. Best time to visit is April – October when the gators are “awake”.

Brookgreen Gardens’ Bloodstain Barn and Atalaya Castle’s Gold-Watcher – mystery tales at Huntington Beach Park

Art lovers, sculpture aficionados and nature enthusiasts watch out! As you stroll Brookgreen Gardens’ peaceful trails showered by a rainbow of extravagant floral arrangements, as you admire one of the most magnificent outdoor sculptures collection in the country, it’s hard to imagine the pain and suffering soaked in these grounds.

“Bloodstains of the dead…Tread them down; walk them out; cover them up. All in vain!”

Brookgreen Gardens

Brookgreen Gardens

Yes, is slavery blood and all the misery that came along with it. During the Civil War this land was part of the Brookgreen Plantation.
Most of the time the owners were out traveling, leaving the business operations to Fraser the overseer. And Fraser “never failed to draw blood”.

“When someone is in the bull pen they have to take a ride on the pony…The overseer gave my mama forty lashes with the strap…A pool of mama’s blood was on the barn floor.”

Once freedom came to Waccamaw River the people tried hunting Fraser down for payback. He was never found. Yet the blood stains in the barn were still there, a painful reminder of their ordeal.
“We didn’t want to pass through the barn…We tried to get rid of them. Tried to wash them off. Wash! Scrub! Stains came back. We walked back and forth…Stomp! Stomp! Stains came back.

Brookgreen Gardens Yellow Sea

Brookgreen Gardens Yellow Sea

We wondered for Christ’s sake why the bloodstains didn’t leave…years passed and still the blood remained”

More than 50 years later, in 1930, Archer Huntington came in, bought the plantation and transformed it into Brookgreen Gardens. “He saw the bloodstains and he tore down the barn. Yep. That was the first thing Huntington did when he bought the plantation…Until he did that, the bloodstains stayed right there.”

Joe, the gold-watcher at Atalaya

Here’s another story that sheds light into Mr. and Mrs. Huntington character and the incredible Atalaya Castle. As a young boy “Archer’s energy seemed unlimited, and his quick mind grasped everything he saw and read…He intended to spend his live giving his father fortune away.”

People in the area were enthuziastic about the jobs prospects from the start of the outdoor museum (Brookgreen Gardens) and a future house (Atalaya). It was Depression time after all. “When they earned a few dollars, they looked at them and counted them, and figure out how far they would go. They didn’t go very far.”

Joe was one of them. He got a job as loading and removing sand but he failed miserably…wrecking the truck on the first day right in front of Mr. Huntington. He was fired on the spot.

Atalaya Castle Huntington Beach

Atalaya Castle Huntington Beach

Joe persisted and few weeks later got a second chance. He split logs, stacked the wood and kept the fire burning at the more than 30 fireplaces inside Atalaya. There were rumors the Huntington hoarded large quantities of money at Atalaya, but Joe saw none of it, for a while at least…

Few weeks later Anna Huntington needed a “scrawny horse” to carve the statue of Don Quixote. Joe found a “nag with bones showing through its rough coat and a head hung nearly to its knees”. Mrs. Huntington was delighted and she pledged to nurse the horse back to health. Joe volunteered for the task. Things looked much rosier with his employers.

Indeed, at Christmas night his trustworthiness was put to the test. Archer Huntington asked Joe to help him move a heavy oak table into the master bathroom. “As the glowing fire reflected on the table, the table itself seemed about to burst into flame. For there, on the table, were stacks of gold, real gold, coins…varying in size from a watermelon seed to a silver dollar”

“Joe, I want you to remain here in the bathroom and keep an eye on it. I will come for it in the morning”. And so he did. To this day, Joe doesn’t know where the gold came from or where it went. He only knows that Huntington trusted him with his fortune that night. “A job that started out so badly ended with each man respecting, and even liking, each other.”

Come to Brookgreen Gardens and Atalaya at Huntington Beach State Park for a once in a lifetime inspirational vacation!

Disclaimer: All the quotes in this post are from Nancy Rhine’s riveting book “Tales of the South Carolina Lowcountry”, an engaging collection of folklore, ghost haunts, and real stories from remote Lowcountry lanes old-timers.

Alligator Strike! Free, raw and uncensored show at Huntington State Park…your place for memorable Myrtle Beach attractions.

Need a breath of fresh air? Tired of the every day gloom and doom? Love, pristine beaches, miles of nature trails winding through lush maritime forests and the romantic Atalaya Castle await you at Huntington Beach State Park, just half an hour drive from Myrtle Beach and Georgetown. Just next door is Brookgreen Gardens, the country’s largest and most amazing outdoor collection of sculptures by American artists.

I'm beautiful! Alligator sun bathing at Huntington Beach State Park

I'm beautiful! Alligator sun bathing at Huntington Beach State Park

How about some FREE, live and uncut entertainment, like being nose to nose from wild roaming alligators? That’s right only feet from the main road and nature trails these prehistoric monsters are sun bathing shamelessly and undeterred. Or so it seems…

Can’t touch me! Yeah, tell that to the dogs. As you can see from the video below the alligators have an issue with dogs and any other small creatures daring to “step on their toes”. Relax, after few minutes of jaws clapping, muscle pumping force display, everything went back to normal…sleeping as a rock! Meanwhile I got some awesome photos and video footage.


Ready for more alligator action?

You’re lucky! Alligator Adventure, the “Reptile Capitol of the World” is located right in North Myrtle Beach at Barefoot Landing. Besides hundreds of cute gators, giant Galapagos turtles and Anaconda snakes you can also say hello to Utan the King of Crocs, the largest one on display in the United States!

Admission to Huntington Beach State Park is only $5 for adults, $3 for kids 5-15 and younger than 5 get in for free. The park is open year around. You can visit Atalaya on your own anytime or go on the FREE guided tours offered March through November (at 2PM Tuesday – Friday and noon on Saturday).

Myrtle Beach Photos of Great Fun in the Sun (Myrtle Beach free things to do)

Cool ocean breeze…white sand tickling your toes…fresh saltwater smell and seagulls flying into the sunset…everybody in the family is in a good mood and willing to goof around (how often does this happen? 🙂 )

Stay at Ocean Creek Resort, an all inclusive and reasonable priced resort; secluded oasis on 57 beautifully landscaped acres and yet close to awesome Barefoot Landing and the Alligator Adventure attractions. It has excellent amenities (pools galore, tennis courts, golf, private beach access, restaurant).

If you’re looking for something to do with your family that’s affordable, educational, memorable and fulfilling then visit Brookgreen Gardens a National Historic Landmark with the world’s most significant collection of outdoor American sculptures and the only accredited zoo on the South Carolina coast.

However if you’re more an adrenaline pumping kind of person then go to Ripley’s Aquarium inside Broadway at the Beach. For about $20 ($10 for kids 6 to 11, and $4 for those 2 to 5) you can say Hello! to 15 foot Sharks pet feisty stingrays, and if you hurry up before the year’s end, can even “shake hands” with Blackbeard, the most ruthless pirate in the Caribbean known to man!

Keep your family happy in Myrtle Beach, a South Carolina’s top family attraction (golf anyone?!)

Brookgreen Gardens photos (educational things to do with kids)

Take a sneak peak into Brookgreen Gardens, located between Myrtle Beach and Pawleys Island and about an hour drive from Charleston, featuring the world’s largest outdoor collection of sculptures by American artists. For aproximately the price of a movie ticket you can enjoy for 7 consecutive days the amazing sculptures, exquisite gardens, the Lowcountry zoo and much more.

Get more information and travel tips at my previous post on Brookgreen Gardens.

That’s a family outdoor recreation, art and history children education definitely worth shouting about!

Learn the Lowcountry history and enjoy the beautiful South Carolina outdoors!

Brookgreen Gardens: amazing sculptures and Lowcountry Zoo near Myrtle Beach

Brookgreen Gardens is a National Historic Landmark with the world’s most significant collection of figurative sculptures in an outdoor setting by American artists and the only accredited zoo on the South Carolina coast.

Brookgreen Gardens Time and Fate of Man

Located between Myrtle Beach and Pawleys Island, SC on highway 17, with more than 300 acres of beautifully landscaped settings, the Brookgreen Gardens collection contains over 900 works of American sculpture, from the early 1800s to present.

Founded in 1931, Brookgreen Gardens was America’s first public sculpture garden. In 2003, the sculpture garden was named the Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington Sculpture Garden in honor of the founders.

Learn about the mysterious Brookgreen Gardens beginnings and the folklore surrounding its remarkable founders as illustrated in Nancy Rhine’s fascinating book “Tales of the South Carolina Lowcountry”.

Travel tips to know before you go
1. Hold on to your admission ticket; it’s good for 7 consecutive days. Trust me you will want to come back to see and enjoy it all.
2. Plan a day for just admiring the sculpture collection, one for the zoo and occasional wildlife encounters and if time permits one to enjoy one of the many events and tours that take place throughout the week.
Mother with child statue3. Sculpture touring is a great way to introduce kids to art. Little ones are immediately attracted to the the mother and child, mother bear with cubs, and Youth Taming the Wild sculptures.

Kids of all ages enjoy creating crafts and watching the daily live animals show at the Lowcountry Center (free admission)

4. Older kids can learn about wild and domestic animals rehabilitation at the Lowcountry Zoo. All animals were either born in captivity or have sustained an injury and would not survive in the wild. You can see: Alligators, Bald Eagles, Great Horned Owls, Grey and Red Foxes and River Otters. Animal feeding is at 3:00 PM. In 2003, Brookgreen Gardens opened the Domestic Animals of the Plantation Exhibit. The animals in this exhibit are considered “rare breeds”, highly specialized hybrid descendants of today: Marsh Tacky Horses, Red Devon Cattle, Tunis Sheep, Guinea Fowls and Cypress Aviary.

On the Trail behind the Garden Wall

5. The entire family can cool off and enjoy a ferry ride at the boat dock off the Trail Behind the Garden Wall.
The Fountain of the Muses
6. Biking, commercial photography, weddings, swimming, fire grill cooking are not permitted. You can bring food and beverages as long as you eat them at the designated picnic areas. There are 3 restaurants and cafes on the premises.

1931 Brookgreen Drive, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576. Off of highway 17 between Pawleys Island and Myrtle beach and across from Huntington State Park.

Buy Yellow Sea Prints

Admission Tickets: Adults 13-64: $12; Seniors 65 and over: $10; Children 6-12: $5. Discount prices for groups of 15 or more.

Visit to learn about Broogreen Gardens calendar of events, tours and Lowcountry excursions schedules, educational programs, maps and driving directions.

See more photos about Brookgreen Gardens here.