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Snowbirds Flock to South Carolina's 200 Miles of Beaches

South Carolina Beaches - Travel DestinationFor generations, northerners have been among the earliest-arriving snowbirds to the South Carolina coast for that first respite from winter's bite.

For good reason. Spanning about 200 miles or so from Little River at the North Carolina line to the Georgia border with Savannah (think Myrtle Beach to Hilton Head), the South Carolina coast offers sweet weather, historic towns and plantations, teeming tourism meccas… and the beach.

People flock to beaches. South Carolina's are no exception. While the state has shared in the explosive population growth along the United States coastline of the past few decades, South Carolina's beaches remain accessible and attractive.

For instance, travelers down Interstate 95 can turn left after crossing into South Carolina and soon find themselves on the Grand Strand, a 60-mile crescent of shoreline anchored by Myrtle Beach.

Characterized by long, sweeping stretches of sand and surf, the Grand Strand offers both bustling and less-boisterous choices for plopping that plastic chaise lounge and propping the umbrella.

sunrise over Myrtle Beach
Sunrise over Myrtle Beach

In Myrtle Beach proper, hotels old and new, restaurants and shops line the beach, with public access points interspersed. Then there are the quiet ocean-side beach communities such as Cherry Grove, Atlantic Beach (considered perhaps the nation's first predominantly African American beach town), Garden City and "elegantly shabby" Pawleys Island.

Each offers varying degrees of public beach access and wide choices of hotel, cottage and condo rentals. (Just go to the Web, punch "Myrtle Beach vacations" into a search engine and you're on your way.) Myrtle Beach and Huntington Beach State Parks also offer beach access, camping and more.

The Grand Strand ends as U.S. 17 takes travelers over picturesque Winyah Bay and into Georgetown, an historic old shipping town. Much of the coast then is protected wildlife refuges until the Charleston area, itself a world-class destination for lovers of history and architecture but also home to popular beach destinations at the Isle of Palms to the north of town and Folly Beach just to the south.

Next up going south is storied Edisto Island. Live oaks draped with Spanish moss overhang the narrow highway across the big island to Edisto Beach, a classic beach town which offers public access at Edisto Beach State Park and between many of the beach houses up for rent along Palmetto Boulevard.

Then there's the Beaufort area. Beaufort itself is a river town and home to the Marine Corps' legendary Parris Island, while the major beach destination is nearby Hunting Island State Park.

At the south end of South Carolina's coast is Hilton Head, where beach access primarily is offered to the hundreds of thousands of visitors who book rooms, houses and condos on the big sea island. Rates are lower now than in the summer and there's less traffic and crowds, too, making this an ideal time to give it a go.


More about South Carolina beaches around the Web:

Best South Carolina Beaches
- Travel Channel review of top picks with related travel videos.

South Carolina State Parks - Beaches - The official site offers a complete guide to coastal parks with lists of locations, amenities, maps and photos.


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