March 21, 2014

SC Grand Strand warm, quiet in spring

Outdoor attractions along the coast of South Carolina’s Grand Strand are ready for visitors before the summer tourist season arrives.

If any season might be greeted with a welcome hug in Myrtle Beach, it’s spring. Sure, the warm-weather attractions aren’t open yet, but there’s plenty to see and do – and without crowds.

Here’s what’s going on now at major outdoor attractions along the Grand Strand:

Myrtle Beach State Park

Spring hours/admission: 6 a.m.-10 p.m. daily; $5 for adults, $3 for ages 6-15, $3.25 for South Carolina residents 65 and older.

Programs: Most meet in nature center (1-4:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays, closed April 4-6); most are free with park admission.

Details: On U.S. 17 Business, one mile south of Ocean Boulevard/Farrow Parkway. Info: 843-238-5325 (nature center);

Alligator Adventure

Spring hours/admission: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. daily; $19.99; $17.99 for 62 and older; $14.99 for ages 4-12; 3 and younger, free.

Programs: Special shows daily on lemurs (9:30 a.m.), alligator handling (11 a.m. and 1, 3 and 5 p.m.) and reptiles (10 a.m., noon and 2, 4 and 6 p.m.).

Details: In Barefoot Landing, U.S. 17 in North Myrtle Beach. Info: 843-361-0789;

La Belle Amie Vineyard

Spring hours/admission: 10 a.m.-5:30 for wine tastings; wine shop open until 6 p.m..

Programs: Blues & Jazz Fest (April 5); April Music Fest (April 19); Key West Music & Wine Fest (May 3); Nantucket Music & Wine Fest (May 15). For festivals, open noon-5 p.m. Saturday; admission varies.

Details: 1120 St. Joseph Road, Little River, S.C., just west of North Myrtle Beach Middle School. Info: 843-399-9463;

Brookgreen Gardens

Spring hours/admission: 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. daily (in April, open until 8 p.m.); $14; $12 for 65 and older; $7 for ages 4-12.

Exhibits: “Equine Spirit: The Horse in American Art,” through April 20.

Programs: “Children’s Butterfly Activity Afternoon,” 1-4 p.m. March 30 at Whispering Wings Butterfly House and the Enchanted Storybook Forest, giving kids a preview of butterfly exhibit, along with finger-painting, coloring, storybook reading and craft-making. Also, tips given on adapting yards at home to attract monarchs, with free milkweed seed packets given to first 200 guests who visit butterfly exhibit. 15-minute visits March 30: $1; otherwise, 30-minute walk-throughs are an extra $3 ($2 extra for ages 4-12) through October.

Also: “FrogWatch Training,” 10:30 a.m.-noon April 5 and noon-1:30 p.m. May 8 (reservations: 843-235-6016). “Plantacular Sale,” April 12-13. “Into the Wild” lecture about butterfly conservation, noon-1 p.m. April 22.

Details: U.S. 17 between Murrells Inlet and Litchfield Beach, S.C., across from Huntington Beach State Park. Info: 800-849-1931;

Hobcaw Barony

Spring hours/admission: Welcome center open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and some Saturdays; free.

Tours (reservations required): Barony tours, including Hobcaw House, generally 10 a.m.-noon and 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays; $20. “Hobcaw Barony Behind the Scenes,” 1-4 p.m. March 26, and April 1 and 18, and 10 a.m.-1 p.m. April 30; $30. Bellefield Plantation tour, 1-3 p.m. April 2 and 2-4 p.m. April 17; $20. “Birding on the Barony” tours, with Jerry Walls, a naturalist from Hemingway, S.C., 8 a.m.-1 p.m. on third Saturday monthly, including April 19 and May 17; $35.

Details: The 25-square-mile preserve is on U.S. 17, just north of Georgetown, S.C. Info/reservations: 843-546-4623;

Huntington Beach State Park

Spring hours/admission: 6 a.m.-8 p.m. daily through April 6, then until 10 p.m. through Nov. 2; $5; $3 for ages 6-15; $3.25 S.C. residents 65 and older.

Atalaya open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily for self-guided tours for $2 extra (also, docent tours at 2 p.m. Sundays-Fridays and noon Saturdays through October; free with admission to home); optional 45-minute audio tour ($4).

Programs: “Coastal Kayaking,” 10 a.m.-noon Mondays, starting April 7, through October, in guided salt-marsh tour from Oyster Landing in Murrells Inlet, S.C.; $35. Register at 843-235-8755 by 4 p.m. the previous Sunday. Other programs available, many free with park admission.

Details: U.S. 17, between Murrells Inlet and Litchfield Beach, across from Brookgreen Gardens. Info: 843-237-4440 (nature center);

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