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Guests at Ocean Reef Resort have lots of alternatives for fun, both on and off the property. But if you want to take a break from a day at the beach or pools, and a night at the nearby restaurants and attractions, a day trip to Murrells Inlet, SC, is hard to beat. From world-famous seafood and world-class golf to beautiful scenery and wet and wild watersports, this tiny fishing village offers boatloads of fun.
Located about 20 miles south of Ocean Reef, Murrells Inlet seems a world away from Myrtle Beach. The laid-back lifestyle and nautically oriented culture are evident from the time you first set foot into Murrells Inlet, which is actually two places. The body of water that is home to fishing fleets and personal watercraft, and then there’s the part of that is on dry land, but just barely. That’s why it’s called the South Carolina Lowcountry, because the surrounding swamps and tidal creeks create a scenic setting for a unique way of life.
The inlet itself is the lifeblood of the local economy and community. Fishing and shrimping boats operate out of the local marinas and deliver fresh seafood to the local docks. Locals catch blue crabs and dig oyster clusters from the local creeks and pluff mud to serve in area restaurants. Charter fishing boats take aspiring anglers out into the deep blue ocean for deep-sea and sport fishing, while watersports operators take visitors for parasailing rides and Banana Boat Tours, as well as jet ski rentals and paddleboat tours. Murrells Inlet revolves around the water.
And then there’s Murrells Inlet the town, which has a small permanent population but is packed with fun things to see and do. On the historic waterfront, the Marshwalk is a wooden walkway that leads hungry visitors to a dozen or so seafood restaurants overlooking the harbor. The fresh catch of the day is likely being unloaded on the local docks, and the restaurants and bars offer outdoor patio seating, live music and entertainment and some of the best and freshest seafood dishes you will find anywhere. It’s not nicknamed the “Seafood Capital of South Carolina” for nothing.
On the north end of the inlet, Huntington Beach State Park offers visitors an up close and personal encounter with Lowcountry wildlife and wilderness. Salt marshes, tidal creeks, pristine beaches and maritime forest provide beautiful scenery for guests and prime habitat for all kinds of creatures that call the park home – alligators, otters and exotic birds like herons, hawks, eagles and egrets. Atalaya, a Spanish-style castle that sits on the coast, adds some man-made charm to the natural wonderland.
Just across Highway 17 is Brookgreen Gardens, the oldest and largest botanical sculpture garden on the East Coast. Guests wander through lush landscapes of ancient live oak trees, rare flowers and plants, and awe-inspiring works of art by famous American sculptures. Built on a former rice plantation, Brookgreen also includes the Lowcountry Zoo and Farm, the Gullah Cultural Center, and tours of the old plantation property. Boat rides and other special events are held year-round, and a tea room and restaurant offer excellent food and atmosphere for a relaxing visit.
And there are lots more attractions, shops and restaurants where you can get the full Murrells Inlet experience. The Inlet Square Mall offers a more modern retail outlet, while rows of mom-and-pop shops in the historic district provide shoppers with one-of-a-kind bargain opportunities. Seafood shacks and local watering holes are great places to grab something to eat or drink and hear some tall fishing tales from locals. It’s all part of what makes it an ideal destination for Ocean Reef guests looking to explore the Grand Strand’s Lowcountry charm.