The Museum of Coastal Carolina
The Museum of Coastal Carolina is North Carolina’s only natural history museum on a barrier island, and it is only about 50 minutes from Myrtle Beach. It is a small building but it is full of interactive, educational, coastal exhibits.
Kelly, my daughter, Hannah, and I arrived on a Saturday morning and were greeted by a friendly volunteer. When we paid our admission fee we were told we could get $1 off our admission to the Ingram Planetarium if we went there the same day and showed them our receipt. We grabbed a small stapled booklet labeled, “Scavenger Hunt,” (this kept my seven-year-old engaged in the museum exhibits as she checked off certain animals and found different information) and a pencil and began our self-guided tour through the museum.
Our first stop was a wave generator where you could turn a speed dial (slow to fast) in order to produce waves and watch what that wave action did to the sand on a beach; we saw the phases of the moon and how that interacted with a low or high tide; and we scooped sand around a replica of a piece of land and watched the water flow change depending on where we “dredged.” We also saw the bones of a whale, numerous sharks teeth, snakes, a diorama of a forest, and butterflies under a microscope. There was a room with fish on the walls and a water tank in the middle where a volunteer showed us different salt water species and let us hold starfish, hermit crabs, and a sea anemone. We walked through a replica of an ocean reef, which was a room darkly lit with blue lights with sea creatures hung around the walls and ceiling so it felt as if they were swimming around us. In another room we saw a movie about sea turtles, created our own puppet show with ocean animal puppets, and put together dinosaur puzzles. The last room showed us a stuffed American Eagle and owl, displayed a tanned deer skin, a bear skin, and a few other furs that we could touch, and we saw a hollowed out tree which made a canoe and learned about Indian arrows.
Before leaving we turned in our “Scavenger Hunt” booklet and the volunteer let Hannah pick a prize – a shell – out of a container to take home.
There seemed to be just the right amount of hands-on activities and information posted to explain each exhibit so that it kept the attention of my seven-year-old and myself.
The Museum of Coastal Carolina hosts events and educational programs. Check out their website for schedules and seasonal times.
21 East Second Street
Ocean Isle Beach, NC 28469
Cost: $9 adults (ages 13-61); $7 children (ages 3-12); free for ages 2 and under; $8 seniors (age 62+)