Huntington Beach State Park
If you’re looking for somewhere quiet to explore nature, or even a bit of South Carolina history, then you definitely need to spend some time finding adventure in the Huntington Beach State Park! Take a hike on one of the many trails that snake around the marshland and beach forests while immersing yourself in the beautiful landscape of the low country. Huntington is also one of the best places in South Carolina to go as a birdwatcher. So many different species live and fly around the beautiful ocean forest park such as Painted Buntings, Herons, Egrets, Storks, and even the parks resident American Bald Eagles! There is also a part of South Carolinian laying at one end of the park, Atalaya Castle. Built as a winter home in 1931 for industrialist Archer Huntington and his sculptor wife Anna Huntington. Atalaya Castle features beautiful Moorish and Mediterranean architecture designed by Archer Huntington, who was a recognized scholar of Spanish culture and art. It is beautiful to explore, and friends of the Huntington Beach State Park offer guided tours. Each September, Atalaya Castle plays host to the Atalaya Arts and Crafts festival, something you should not miss if you have the chance to visit!
Right across Highway 17 from Huntington Beach State Park is another beautiful way to experience nature and art. Also connected to the Huntington Family, Brookgreen Gardens was started originally as a place for Anna Huntington to showcase her and her sister’s sculpture. Built on the land of 4 former rice plantations, the sprawling landscape gives you plenty of history, art, and nature to explore! Since then it has grown to be a center celebrating great American Sculptors and nature. Brookgreen Gardens features many different things to explore; its home to the low country zoo, a beautiful sculpture garden featuring over 1000 American Artists, and sprawling nature trails perfect to spend a day walking through. There are constantly great events to go to such as a lecture by the sculptor in residence (currently Richard Blake), temporary art installations, and if you’re visiting during winter, the Night of Thousand Candles!
The Pier at Garden City
Just a few minutes walk from Atalaya Towers is the Pier at Garden City, a nice local hub for entertainment. The Pier features two full-service bars, karaoke, and a full arcade making it a great place to hang out and enjoy yourself. If you haven’t brought your own fishing gear, feel free to visit the bait and tackle shop located right at the beginning of the pier to get yourself outfitted for the day! If you get hungry while you’re there the café serves up hot dogs, burgers, fries and cold sodas, Painter’s Ice Cream is located right next door with delicious frosty sweet treats, and Sam’s Corner is located across the street still serving up the diner food that made it a staple so many years ago! Fishing on the pier does cost a ticket price, but pier walking is free so make sure to enjoy it in whatever way you wish.
Atalaya is also perfectly positioned if you wanted to make a quick trip down to the Historic Georgetown Waterfront. With plenty of restaurants, shopping, and places to explore you can spend most of the day waltzing around the beautiful waterfront. With restaurants ranging from seafood, fine dining, and small cafes as well as places for sweet treats, such as Harvest Moon Ice Cream, gives you a perfect place to grab a delicious bite to eat or satisfy a craving. The shops carry goods including home décor, artisan goods, books, clothing, wine, and more. There’s plenty to find and you can spend hours just browsing through all the wonderful shops. You can also find many tours exploring the history of the area and the low country. Find the ghosts that haunt the streets, tour the nearby waters on a boat, learn the history of the area through a walking or riding tour, and even ride out to the Georgetown Lighthouse! Don’t forget to explore the Rice Museum and the South Carolina Maritime Museum as well.