All vacation destinations have their signature experiences. Head to New York City and ask for sightseeing suggestions, and you’re likely to be pointed toward the Statue of Liberty, Central Park or the Empire State Building. In Saint Louis, the Gateway Arch is likely to top the list of suggestions, while visitors to Seattle are regularly sent to the Space Needle or the Pike Place Market.
The Grand Strand is no different, as it offers a set of signature experiences that are considered unique to the area. Attractions that spring to mind include, of course, the beach itself, the Myrtle Beach SkyWheel, the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk & Promenade, and Broadway at the Beach.
But as the locals in most major tourism destinations know – including the major cities mentioned above – some of the best places for capturing an area’s unique feel may not land high on the top-attractions list, instead serving as something of an insiders’ secret. With that in mind, consider these off-the-beaten-path Grand Strand attractions that, while they may not draw the biggest crowds, are certainly signatures of the area that are well worth checking out:
Hobcaw Barony: Located on the Waccamaw Neck peninsula just east of historic Georgetown, South Carolina, this privately owned, 16,000-acre nature and research preserve was once home to a number of rice plantations. Later, the land was purchased by Bernard M. Baruch, a Wall Street millionaire and presidential adviser who used it as a winter hunting retreat. Today, the property includes 35-plus historic buildings representative of the area’s 18th and 19th century rice-cultivation eras. Highlights include the Hobcaw House, where 20th century leaders such as Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt once overnighted; Bellefield Plantation, the former home and stables of Baruch’s daughter, Belle; and a fully intact former slave village. For information on touring the property and its attractions, visit hobcawbarony.org.
Atalaya Castle: The former winter home of industrialist/philanthropist Archer M. Huntington and his sculptor wife Anna Hyatt Huntington, this 30-room mansion in Murrells Inlet overlooks the Atlantic Ocean at Huntington Beach State Park. Serving as a fitting tribute to Anna’s artistic legacy, the annual Atalaya Arts & Crafts Festival is held each September at the Spanish-Moorish style compound. To learn more about the circa-1930s castle and its history, visit atalayacastle.com.
Mrs. Fish Seafood Grill: Now that you’ve worked up an appetite visiting some of the Grand Strand’s hidden historic gems, head for this downtown restaurant that has been a locals’ favorite since 1988. Here, in what began as a seafood market with a small lunch grill, you can indulge in some of the area’s freshest signature seafood dishes. Favorites include the Fried Seafood Platter with flounder, shrimp, scallops, oysters and clam strips, as well as seasonal selection of fresh catches. Explore the lunch and dinner menus at mrsfishgrill.com.
After visiting some of the Myrtle Beach area’s hidden gems, head back to the comfortable oceanfront accommodations and luxurious amenities at The Strand Resort to rest up for another great day on the Grand Strand. Whether you’re looking to take in the area’s most popular sights or discover something new and lesser known, we’re eager to help you make some great vacation memories during your Myrtle Beach a