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Whether you are a beachcomber, bird watcher, history buff, art lover, golfer, hunter, sports fisher, tennis player or just someone who wants to get away from everyday life, there are many options for fun on South Carolina’s Hammock Coast. From the Murrells Inlet MarshWalk, with its scenic views and laid-back atmosphere, to historic Georgetown, which is South Carolina’s third oldest city, there some great choices for activities.

Only a 3.5 hour drive from Uptown Charlotte, here are 8 ways to enjoy nature on South Carolina’s Hammock Coast.

1. Visit Huntington Beach State Park and take part in the available Salt Marsh Creeks Tour. Paddle through spartina cordgrass marshes and saltwater creeks from the sandy dunes of Huntington Beach State Park past mysterious Drunken Jack Island, reputed to hold the treasures of the pirate Blackbeard, to a fresh-water lagoon with alligators basking in the sun. See bald eagles, osprey, wood stork, herons, egrets, sea turtles, wading shore birds, oyster catchers, and maybe even porpoises and sting rays that inhabit the ecotone between sand dunes and maritime forest.

2. Go shelling on a barrier Island with Cap’n Rod’s Lowcountry Boat Tours. This is a bird watcher’s paradise under the shadow of the Georgetown Lighthouse and it offers the opportunity explore North Island and beach comb where the sea unfolds her secrets, depositing an ever-changing array of shells. For a birdwatching-oriented trip, check out the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center. It’s a nature-lovers dream, featuring a tour of the South Island, one of the premier waterfowl refuges along the Atlantic coast. Reservations are required.

3. Dolphin Adventure – Located right up the road in Murrells Inlet, across Highway 17 Business from the MarshWalk restaurants, Express Watersports offers truly unique opportunities for the whole family to experience the most intimate dolphin encounters on South Carolina’s Hammock Coast.

4.  Hobcaw Barony, a natural preserve and wildlife refuge, was also the winter residence of presidential adviser and Wall Street millionaire Bernard M. Baruch. Open to the public through guided tours, you see the 13,500-square-foot mansion where he hosted such visitors as President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Sir Winston Churchill. Other stops in the 17,500-acre refuge include the grounds and stables of Bellefield Plantation, a ride through the only existing slave street left on the Waccamaw Neck, and a stroll along a salt marsh boardwalk. The Discovery Center features a small nature/history museum with two alligators, a saltwater touch tank, a touch table, videos and many other exhibits to entertain adults and children.

5. Take a paddle board tour and journey through the Pawleys Island and Litchfield salt marsh eco-systems. You will experience a unique look at the beautiful environment that surrounds this picturesque area.

6. Brookgreen Gardens – A showplace of art and nature developed in the 1930s by Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington on the site of four colonial rice plantations. Over 550 pieces of America’s finest 19th- and 20th-century sculptures, by artists such as Frederic Remington, Daniel Chester French and Mrs. Huntington, are exhibited among 2,000 species of plants over hundreds of acres. Native animals and birds can be seen in the Lowcountry Zoo, and special guided nature cruises and kayak trips wind through the tidal creeks and abandoned rice fields for a closer peek at the area’s history and wildlife. Don’t miss Brookgreen’s special exhibits like the Summer Light: Art By Night or the not-to-be-missed annual holiday lights spectacular, Nights of a Thousand Candles, where visitors walk through a winter wonderland of 2,700 hand-lit candles and nearly two million twinkling lights.

7. Lowcountry Tours and Adventures – Guided birding & general nature tours to plantations and preserves in and around Georgetown County. Birds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, wildflowers, trees and history are all emphasized. Professional naturalist guided with personalized service.

8. Hiking at Huntington Beach State Park continues to be one of visitors’ favorite nature activities. The park offers several wooded trails that run along the coast in highly forested areas where wildlife, flora, and fauna can be seen. And not to mention that the park is one of the best birding sites on the East Coast, offering visitors a chance to see more than 300 species annually.

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