Camping at Myrtle Beach State Park

Myrtle Beach State Park - a walking path that leads to the campground from the beach

Myrtle Beach State Park – a walking path that leads to the campground from the beach

Myrtle Beach State Park is one of my favorite places to spend the day at the beach in the area, and when my daughter asked if we could celebrate her seventh birthday by camping there, I was excited to pack up our 24-foot camper for a weekend of family fun!

We booked our campsite online and checked-in easily.  The park rangers and park volunteers were friendly.  Our campsite backed up to the woods (we chose a site on the last loop of the campground) where we were a short walk from one of the numerous bath houses and trash dumpsters.  Our campsite was semi-private surrounded by towering pine trees and other foliage which allowed us plenty of room for the camper, a fire/barbecue pit, picnic table, two coolers, four chairs, a van and a dually truck, and we even had room to spare!

After setting up our home-for-the-weekend we strolled down to the camp store to see what they had to offer. They had a small selection of food and drinks, a coffee bar, candy and ice cream, games and toys, as well as essential camper hoses and tools.  We walked away with some insect repellent sticks/incense for $1 (we were told they kept the bugs away but didn’t smell very pleasant because they were made out of “elephant poop”) and a bundle of firewood for $5.99.

The Myrtle Beach State Park Pier

The Myrtle Beach State Park Pier

The next morning we walked to the beach where my 15- and 17-year old sons rough-housed in the ocean. I dug holes with my daughter and my sons (a favorite beach pastime it seems), built sand castles, threw the Frisbee, and found sea shells and sharks teeth on the shoreline.  After lunch we split up and the boys and their father gathered their fishing gear to surf fish – my husband had already surveyed the fishing situation to learn that no one was catching anything on the pier.  Their trip was semi-successful as my youngest son caught a whiting.

Instead of fishing, my daughter and I put on our walking shoes and decided to check out the state park grounds. We discovered a third playground – one just for campers (the other two are open to any park guest and we have frequented those on previous trips to the State Park).   We visited the Nature Center which had three large aquariums full of fish and crabs and anemones.  We put together puzzles that depicted the life-stages of a frog (tadpole to frog) and butterfly (caterpillar to butterfly), and we touched snake skins and a gray squirrel pelt.  We spent quite a bit of time at their activity corner which housed park artifacts with questions and answers attached to them displaying fun facts (ex. a bird bone is hollow because it makes for a lighter bird and an easier flight; a turtle shell is considered part of the turtle’s skeleton; and a yellow-bellied sap-sucker is a woodpecker that drills holes in the bark of a tree in a straight line).

The Sculptured Oak Trail

The Sculptured Oak Trail

We then ventured to the 1/2 mile Sculptured Oak Nature Trail to enjoy the unspoiled maritime forest.  We stopped at the placards along the trail where we learned about different trees and what their bark and sap could be used for.  We enjoyed the shaded scenic trail over two creeks and even found a pond.  Once we finished the trail we stopped at the park store at the pier and bought two scoops of ice cream to cool us down.  We walked down the pier to discover first-hand that no one was catching fish and we dropped 25 cents into one of the coin-operated binoculars where my daughter scoped out the beach for her brothers and father fishing.

Dinner time found us cooking out (hamburgers and hot dogs of course!).  After dinner we checked out the game equipment campers can rent for free which included: bocce ball, ladder golf, and horseshoes.  We decided to “rent” their corn hole game and discovered their bean bags were filled with sand!

That night, to complete our camping experience, we lit a fire and toasted marshmallows to make s’mores. Once the kids were in bed my husband and I witnessed a raccoon come out in the dark of night to snack on our camping neighbors’ bowl of dog food.

The next morning we planned to take the kids to the beach to catch their first ocean sunrise, but we didn’t quite make it there before the sun crested the ocean (maybe next time). As the boys threw out their fishing lines in the surf and we found more shark’s teeth, I paused to dig my toes in the sand, feel the cool water surround my ankles, and look out over the Atlantic ocean.  Myrtle Beach State Park truly delivers a South Carolina beach experience made of memories.

Cost: Camping rates are seasonal and vary from rustic-tent, standard (electric & water), to full-service (electric, water & sewer), and range from $20 – $43/night.  Regular park admission/daily rates: $5 for 16 years and older, $3.25 for 65 years and older, $3 for 6-15 years old, Free for 5 years and younger.

The camper at our campsite

The camper at our campsite

The playground located in the middle of the campsites

The playground located in the middle of the campsites

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