Part of South Carolina’s Grand Strand — a coastal area that includes Myrtle Beach to the north — Murrells Inlet is a place for those who don’t care for high-rise condos on crowded beaches. In fact, there is no beach at all.
This historic fishing village in the marshland is often called the seafood capital of South Carolina and was once a hiding place for pirates as well as home to Colonial-era rice plantations. Legendary mystery writer Mickey Spillane was so charmed by its laid-back Low Country ambiance that he called the inlet home for the last few decades of his life.
Brookgreen Gardens and “Nights of a Thousand Candles”: The whopping 9,200-acre property contains formal gardens, forest and saltwater marshes, not to mention an impressive collection of outdoor sculptures. During the first three weeks of December, the garden hosts “Nights of a Thousand Candles,” when trees, trails and gardens are adorned with lights as musicians and carolers provide seasonal entertainment. Low Country culinary treats such as she crab soup, fried shrimp and chicken bog are available for purchase from 3:30 to 9 p.m. during Night of a Thousand Candles. www.brookgreen.org
Marsh Walk: No matter what you do in Murrells Inlet, you should head to the Marsh Walk for a stroll after you do it. This waterfront promenade stretches alongside the saltwater estuary, offering scenic vistas of the tidal marshes and easy access to marinas, restaurants and bars. www.murrellsinletmarshwalk.com
Huntington Beach State Park: Just south of Murrells Inlet and across the highway from Brookgreen Gardens, the park boasts 3 miles of undeveloped beachfront, something you won’t find anywhere else along the Grand Strand. The site is recommended for bird watching, camping, nature walks and jetty fishing. www.huntingtonbeach sc.org
Charter boats: Half-day, full day and specialized fishing charters are available from many different operators at inlet marinas. The benefit of having so many charter choices means you can show up without reservations and find a boat tour to suit you. If fishing isn’t your style, many of these operators also offer sightseeing, dolphin watching and water sports excursions. Capt. Dick’s and Sea-Batical are two of the many charter options. www.captdicks.com, www.sea baticalcharters.com
Murrells Inlet Seafood Market: If you’d like to buy and cook your own just-off-the-boat dinner rather than catch it, this is the place to go. 4886 U.S. Route 17 Business in Murrells Inlet, call 843-651-9309 for hours and info.
If you go
Murrells Inlet is about 370 miles from Atlanta. Head east on I-20 until it ends in Florence, S.C. Take U.S. Route 76/501 east from Florence to Myrtle Beach, then head south on U.S. Route 17 Business to Murrells Inlet.
Where to stay
Brookwood Inn. Most visitors stay in condos and hotels farther north along the Grand Strand, but for an old-school Low Country experience, check out this nostalgic roadside motel. Rates start at $55. 5098 U.S. Route 17 Business, Murrells Inlet. 843-651-2550, www.staybrookwoodinn.com
Where to eat
Recommending a dining spot in the seafood capital of South Carolina is akin to picking a favorite child. These choices are offered as examples of the various options available.
Capt. Dave’s Dockside. Upscale seafood restaurant with a piano player tickling the ivory in a prime waterfront location. Entrees $13.99 to $27.99. 4037 U.S. Route 17 Business, Murrells Inlet. 843-651-5850, www.davesdockside.com
Inlet Crab House and Raw Bar. Casual waterfront seafood joint. Entrees $6.95 to $24.95. 3572 U.S. Route 17 Business, Murrells Inlet. 843-651-8452, www.inlet crabhouseandrawbar.com
Murrells Inlet Inc. 843-357-2007, www.murrellsinletsc.com.
— Provided by Demand Studios