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Lose the Crowd in Myrtle Beach

An osprey cries as he lifts off from the surface of a quiet marsh. A sea turtle floats silently beside a passenger boat. In a garden, vibrant flowers delight guests without making a sound. Groups can find all these peaceful encounters and experiences in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Though Myrtle Beach boasts dozens of ways to dazzle a group with live theater, a boardwalk and numerous other entertainment options, nearby natural attractions can quickly transport visitors to calmer locations far from the city’s bright lights.

Guests can find accessible wildlife escapes both in North Myrtle Beach and south at the coast’s low country. For groups seeking less-active ways to experience nature, Myrtle Beach offers walks through gardens or sunset cruises in search of dolphins. Those keen on more excitement can venture out into nature on kayaks or Segway vehicles.

Groups can bask in Myrtle Beach’s natural wonders with these four ecotourism experiences.

Brookgreen Gardens Tour

Groups can only hope to skim the highlights of 9,000-acre Brookgreen Gardens. Tours of this immense sculpture park and wildlife preserve allow for private garden walks, cruises through tidal creeks and a way to meet native animals normally seen only at a distance.

“I can’t say enough about Brookgreen Gardens,” said Julie Ellis, public relations and communications manager for Visit Myrtle Beach. “A lot of people have preconceived notions that Myrtle Beach only has mini-golf and entertainment venues, and while we have that, there is a calmer, more ecotourism side. Brookgreen Gardens is part of that.”

The site’s themed gardens hold an extensive collection of American figurative sculptures, which guests can admire on a guided tour that gives insight into both the natural and artistic elements of the gardens. Live Oak Allée showcases 250-year-old live oak trees planted when the area was a thriving rice plantation. Other popular gardens are the Butterfly House, the Brenda Rosen Carolina Terrace Garden and the Palmetto Garden.

Groups can also discover the history of the area as a rice plantation on a Creek Excursion Boat Ride or at the new Lowcountry Center and Trail. At the center, visitors walk along a boardwalk that overlooks a restored rice field with interpretive panels. Groups can also watch the one-man show by Gullah native and historian Ron Daise, who traces the history of the Gullah people from Africa to South Carolina.

The Lowcountry Zoo and Native Animal Habitat provides an interactive encounter with some of South Carolina’s wild animals during the Meet the Animals program.