Day trips await for Wilmington, Columbia, two island state parks

A walk on the Battleship North Carolina includes a skyline view of the city of Wilmington, N.C., east across the Cape Fear River.

Taking a day trip in Myrtle Beach can go in multiple directions — northeast to Wilmington, west to Columbia, and southwest past Charleston to the two other coastal state parks (besides Myrtle Beach and Huntington Beach state parks).

Wilmington

North Carolina’s Port City, known for its locations for filming TV shows and movies, is full of variety. It’s less than a two-hour drive from Myrtle Beach, north on U.S. 17 through Brunswick County. Get details from the Wilmington and Beaches Convention & Visitors Bureau: 910-341-4030, 877-406-2356 or www.wilmingtonandbeaches.com.

— 23rd annual Cucalorus Film Festival, Nov. 8-12 at various sites with easy walking distance of one another downtown. 910-343-5995, www.cucalorus.org.

— N.C. Azalea Festival, April 11-15 at various Wilmington-area locations. 910-794-4650 or ncazaleafestival.org.

— Battleship North Carolina –  dedicated in 1962 as the state’s memorial to its World War II veterans and the 11,000 North Carolinians who died during the war — based at U.S. Routes 17, 74, 76 and 421. 910-251-5797 or www.battleshipnc.com.
— Wilmington Railroad Museum, 505 Nutt St., next to Wilmington Convention Center. 910-763-2634 or www.wrrm.org.

— Springbrook Farms’ Horse-Drawn Tours Wilmington, in trolley pulled by pair of rotating, rescued Percheron draft horses, on half-hour excursions, from Market Street, between Water and Front streets. $12 ages 12 and older, $5 ages 11 and younger. 910 251-8889 or www.horsedrawntours.com.

— Wilmington Trolley Company – 45-minute guided tours in trolley bus, from 106 S. Water St. 910-763-4483 or wilmingtontrolley.com.

— Wilmington Water Tours, 212 S. Water St., between Orange and Ann streets, with various cruises. 910-338-3134 or wilmingtonwatertours.net.

— Cape Fear Riverboats, 101 S. Water St., at Dock Street, with various cruises. 910-343-1611 or cfrboats.com.

— N.C. Ferry, taking about 35 minutes to cross Cape Fear River, between Southport and Fort Fisher. 910-457-6942 (Southport), 910-458-3329 (Fort Fisher), 800-368-8969, or www.ncferry.org.

Columbia

The Palmetto State capital is reachable from Myrtle Beach in about 21/2 hours. Heading west on U.S. 76, save time and skirt Florence by taking S.C. 327 north for five miles, then pick up Interstate 95 south for 11 miles to I-20 west, then in Columbia, take Exit 73A for S.C. 277 south toward downtown for about seven miles. More details from Experience Columbia SC at 803-545-0000 or www.experiencecolumbiasc.com.

— Riverbanks Zoo & Garden, off Off Interstate 126 at Greystone Boulevard, just west of downtown. 803-779-8717 or www.riverbanks.org.

— Columbia Museum of Art, 1515 Main St., with  Free admission through Sept. 14, amid renovations. Free parking on Saturdays and Sundays on surrounding streets and in City Center Garage, 1227 Taylor St. 803-799-2810 or www.columbiamuseum.org

— S.C. State Museum — including planetarium opened in 2014 — 301 Gervais St. 803-898-4921 or scmuseum.org.

— S.C. State House, 1100 Gervais St., at Main Street, with guided tours available, each prefaced with 15-minute DVD presentation on building’s history and architecture. 803-734-2430 or www.scstatehouse.gov/visit.php.

Edisto Beach and Hunting island state parks

South Carolina has its own “ace in the hole” at Edisto Beach State Park, near the confluence of three rivers: the Ashepoo, Combahee and Edisto – part of a watershed buffer zone for the ACE Basin National Estuarine Research Reserve. Reach this park by going about 30 miles southwest of Charleston on U.S. 17 toward Savannah, and turn south on S.C. 174. Then go 28 miles, or about a half-hour, until reaching Edisto Beach. 843-869-2756 or www.southcarolinaparks.com/edistobeach/introduction.aspx;

Farther south, Hunting Island State Park is about 20 miles southeast of Beaufort, on U.S. 21, accessed from U.S. 17. Hunting Island Lighthouse, 132 feet tall, and built in 1875 with black-and-white, curved, cast-iron-panels, with interior brick reinforcement, is 175 steps to climb from its entry point. It’s open to anyone at least 44 inches in height, for $2 extra admission. 843-838-2011 or www.southcarolinaparks.com/huntingisland/introduction.aspx.

 

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