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sunset over pier in state park near myrtle beach south carolinaAlong the east coast in the state of South Carolina, there is a captivating stretch of coastline called the Grand Strand, and Myrtle Beach right in the center is the heart of it all.

From the relaxing sound of the Atlantic surf to panoramic sunrises, Myrtle Beach is a magical place with plenty to do. There’s the Skywheel on the Boardwalk, the Intercoastal Waterway, the Cabana District, and last but by no means least, Restaurant Row. These sights and places cover a lot of ground; they are just the beginning of the excitement you can enjoy in Myrtle Beach.

When you are ready to explore the natural beauty of South Carolina, state parks are an excellent way to get a taste of the great outdoors. With over 90,000 acres from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Atlantic, state parks cover a wide variety of natural scenic settings; there are five parks located near Myrtle Beach for you to discover. Come along with us as we visit these beautiful South Carolina outdoor destinations.

Map of State Parks Near Myrtle Beach SC

Here is a map of the South Carolina state parks covered in this post:

List of State Parks Near Myrtle Beach

1. Myrtle Beach State Park

Location: 4401 S Kings Hwy, Myrtle Beach, SC 29575

South Carolina’s first state park is just minutes away from the bustle of Myrtle Beach. With 312 acres of undeveloped and pristine wetlands and one of the last stands of natural maritime woodlands, Myrtle Beach State Park is a tranquil reprieve that offers everything from beach-combing and fishing to hiking and picnicking.

You can also visit the on-site Nature Center and participate in educational opportunities or head to Myrtle Beach Pier, equipped with a tackle shop ready to provide everything you’ll need for your angling adventures. The shop sets you up with a daily fishing license and fishing gear, including bait—and a bonus—a knowledgeable and helpful staff who share information about salt-water shore and pier fishing to help you reel in the big one.

Myrtle Beach State Park has plenty of camp and tent sites; if camping isn’t your thing, there are six cozy ocean-side cabins for rent.

Helpful tip: From learning about the sea turtles that live here in the ocean to the snakes and lizards that inhabit the park, The Nature Center offers fascinating events and programs most of the year.

2. Huntington Beach State Park

Location: 16148 Ocean Hwy, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576

Huntington Beach State Park, located 30 minutes south of Myrtle Beach, has so much to offer, from saltwater marshes and golden sunrises, an imaginative castle, gorgeous pristine beaches, and birds, yes birds—the park is known as one of the top bird-watching sites along the eastern seaboard.

The castle that graces the grounds is called Atalaya Castle. The structure and the property were donated to the state of South Carolina in 1960. Atalaya is now used as a backdrop for weddings, gatherings, and an annual juried arts and crafts festival and is interesting to explore.

Besides a gorgeous three-mile beach, there’s other major attractions—Murrells Inlet (great for paddling), Brookgreen Gardens, the nature center, and walking and biking trails. There’s also camping, picnicking, wildlife observation, swimming, and fishing.

Helpful tip: The best spots for bird watching are off of Sandpiper Pond Nature Trail and on the marsh side of the causeway. To grab a gander at a gator, check out the freshwater side of the causeway and on the road leading up to the Atalaya Castle.

3. Woods Bay State Park

Location: 11020 Woods Bay Rd, Olanta, SC 29114

Head about one and a half hours west of the Atlantic Coast and Myrtle Beach, and you’ll end up in Woods Bay State Park. Woods Bay is a Carolina Bay, “an elliptical depression of unknown origin, oriented in a northwest-southeast direction,” a salt ridge or rim is generally a characteristic feature found along the southeastern edge. Carolina Bays are unique to the Atlantic coastal plain but are most commonly found in South and North Carolina and Georgia. There are many theories about how they formed—underground springs, meteorites, tidal eddies, or that it’s an old coastline are the most touted.

Woods Bay has some of the largest Carolina Bays in its 1,590-acre park, and there are 1,150 feet of meandering boardwalk for viewing the unique flora and fauna of the area. Activities in this day-use-only park range from paddling, fishing, picnicking, and birdwatching. The park offers excellent opportunities to observe other wildlife besides birds; you’ll see everything from tiny tree frogs to alligators basking in the sun.

Helpful tip: The South Carolina State site recommends that the best way to view the Carolina Bays is by navigating along Woods Bay Canoe Trail, which takes paddlers past the actual depressions. Be sure to bring your own kayak or canoe; they are not available to rent at this time.

4. Little Pee Dee State Park

Location: 2400 Park Access Rd, Dillon, SC 29536

If you are looking for a naturally beautiful and out-of-the-way slice of outdoor heaven, Little Pee Dee State Park, a little over an hour northwest of Myrtle Beach in the South Carolina Sandhills region, is just the ticket.

The blackwater Little Pee Dee River, Norton Lake, and the Carolina Bay with its salt rim are intriguing features of this simple, low-key state park with a focus on providing a down-to-earth outdoor adventure. A lot is going on in Little Pee Dee: picnicking, camping, fishing, paddling, boating, biking, and hiking are activities the entire family (or group) can enjoy.

Norton Lake and Little Pee Dee River are famous for fishing; catfish, bass, and bream are abundant. Little Pee Dee Swamp and Beaver Pond Nature Trails are both excellent for hiking and exploration, and you can bike along any paved road in Little Pee Dee. The park is also home to part of Carolina Bay, an egg-shaped geological depression found along the Atlantic Coast with a white sand rim. There are many speculations about how the salt rim got here; one theory is that it may have possibly been an ancient ocean coastline.

Helpful tip: The Little Pee Dee park site information cites that there is no WiFi available, so be prepared to truly “check out” and enjoy the great outdoors in this neck of the woods.

5. Hampton Plantation State Historic Site

Location: 1950 Rutledge Rd, McClellanville, SC 29458

Located just over an hour south of Myrtle Beach in the Sandee Delta, the Hampton Plantation State Historic Site “serves as an interpretive center for the system of slavery and rice cultivation in the region from the colonial period through the end of the Civil War.” Along with this narrative, the site also tells about the generations of freed people who settled in the region after emancipation.

You can tour the mansion and enslaved person’s dwellings to compare and contrast the lives of the enslaved and the plantation owners. There are also interpretative trails that explore Hampton history.

Interesting fact: There is a bodacious 220 something-year-old oak tree in front of the mansion called the Washington Oak Tree. The story behind the oak tree—it was going to be cut down for a clearer view of the mansion during a visit from President George Washington. When the president heard of the plans, he disagreed, and the tree was spared and named in his honor.