Southport, North Carolina
This small coastal village is full of charm and is a popular spot for seafood eating, sunset watching, history tours and movie buffs. Located on the Cape Fear River, this town was an important spot during the Civil War as the location of Fort Johnston. Blockade Runners planted themselves here to earn gold. And many movies - A Walk to Remember, Safe Haven and Nights in Rodanthe - have been filmed here. Plus, it's location along the Cape Fear and Intercoastal Waterway make it a fisherman's and seafood eaters delight.
Holden Beach, North Carolina
Holden Beach is one of the Brunswick Islands located along the Atlantic Coast. Barrier islands with walkable beaches and beach house rentals, they are popular family vacation spots that people return to year after year. The Provision restaurant chain is popular here - most notably the Yacht Provision in Southport - so Holden Beach warranted an afternoon stop along the Intercoastal. You order at the counter, grab your drink from the cooler and find your spot on the back screened porch overlooking the water. Then your seafood or rum runner is brought out for you to enjoy as you watch the boats go by.
Little River, South Carolina
Crossing over into South Carolina, you come to Little River - the town and the river which dumps into the Atlantic Ocean on the border of the two states. Located about 20 minutes north of Myrtle Beach and home to the state's only two casino boats, Little River hosts an annual Blue Crab Festival in May. Since I wasn't there for that, I decided to have dinner on the Little River at Key West Crazy. Went for some apps and watched the boats going in and out of the inlet - dolphin watchers, fishermen, families and sunset watchers.
Murrells Inlet, South Carolina
Have you heard of Murrells Inlet before? You might have. Known as the "seafood capital of South Carolina", Murrells Inlet is home to the Marshwalk - a half mile wooden boardwalk along a saltwater estuary - with waterfront dining, water sports - jet skiing and kayaking - and boat tours. Any given night, you can hear live music and watch the sunset at any of the many restaurants along the Marshwalk. I sat at Drunken Jack's outdoor bar and watched families, extended families, couples and one lost kid (don't worry - someone helped him find his family) I love the Marshwalk! Outdoor dining, happy families on vacation, sunsets and water views - you just can't beat it. Just be prepared that it is almost always crowded - even off season - and even though there are large parking lots, parking can be hard to come by. So be prepared for a wait for a spot - and a table.
Driving along the Coastal Highway south of Murrells Inlet you will pass by the beach towns of Litchfield Beach and Pawleys Island. You will come to the historical town of Georgetown with it's Harborwalk.( Georgetown is the third oldest city in South Carolina and famous as the birthplace of Michelle Obama's grandfather and is worth a visit on it's own. )Then you'll pass by the rural towns of Awendaw and McClellanville along with the Sewanee and Hampton Plantations which give tours on a daily basis. Highway 17 becomes known as the Sweetgrass Basket Highway along the "Seven Mile" stretch just outside of Mt. Pleasant where descendants of slaves have set up stands for tourists to purchase their hand made baskets.
Mt.Pleasant, South Carolina
My next stop was Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina where I was staying for the night. I had heard great things about the southern cooking at Page's Okra Grill. Located off of Highway 17 on Route 1, Page's is a very popular brunch spot - I've heard of incredibly long waits on Saturday and Sunday - and thought it might be less crowded for dinner. It wasn't. Luckily for me, there was one seat available at the counter. So I ordered the vegetable plate - fried okra, pimiento cheese stone-ground grits, macaroni and cheese ( yes, that's a vegetable in the South!) and hush puppies. Followed up with a piece of carrot cake. Two things to know about Page's - the food is delicious and the servings are humongous. My meal could've fed a family. So I ate what I could and boxed up the rest for my host - including almost all of the cake - and headed a mile down the road to try to catch the sunset.
Shem Creek Park is located in - yep, you guessed it - the Shem Creek area. Known for kayaking, bars and restaurants like Red's Ice House and fishing boats, Shem Creek is an uber popular area of Mt. Pleasant. This night I was only there to walk the boardwalk and watch the sunset- I actually missed it by a few minutes and it was a bit cloudy already -but it was still a nice walk.
Isle of Palms
Isle of Palms is located on a barrier island connected to Highway 17 by the Isle of Palms connector. It's a small community with a few restaurants and the popular Wild Dunes resort. I roused myself early enough to catch an Atlantic Ocean sunrise - it doesn't happen very often!
I stayed to enjoy some beach time before I had to go home. It was hard to pack up and leave but it sure was an enjoyable and scenic drive. If you have a chance to get off the beaten path and drive the Coastal Highway, I'd give it a try. You might eat some fresh seafood - or tour a pre-Revolutionary War plantation - or catch a sunrise. You just never know!
This post is part of a link-up with: Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, The Weekend Wanderlust Travel Blog Party and Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections Enroute!
If you haven't given to help those suffering from Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana and are interested in doing so here's a few organizations that would gladly take donations. The area I live in was hit hard by flooding two years ago and some are still devastated by it, so I'm guessing that the need in Texas and Louisiana will be ongoing for many years. So you may care to donate now and check in in the future to see what is still needed.
Galveston Food Bank
Corpus Christi Food Bank
The Texas Diaper Bank
This is just a small list of places you can give. Please consider a financial donation as some places are running out of space for physical donations.