The Grand Strand and region abound in places to see animals, including aquariums and zoos. Admission rates vary by site.
ALLIGATOR ADVENTURE, at Barefoot Landing, on U.S. 17 in North Myrtle Beach. 843-361-0789 or alligatoradventure.com.
THE CENTER FOR BIRDS OF PREY, 719 U.S. 17 N., Awendaw, about 35 miles south of Georgetown. 843-971-7474 or www.thecenterforbirdsofprey.
NATIVE WILDLIFE ZOO, AT BROOKGREEN GARDENS, on U.S. 17, between Murrells Inlet and Litchfield Beach. 843-235-6000, 800-849-1931 or www.brookgreen.org.
WACCATEE ZOO, 8500 Enterprise Road, Socastee, west off S.C. 707, just south of S.C. 544. 843-650-8500 or www.waccateezoo.com.
RIPLEY’S AQUARIUM, at Broadway at the Beach, off 29th Avenue North, between U.S. 17 Bypass and Robert Grissom Parkway in Myrtle Beach. 843-916-0888, 800-734-8888 or www.ripleysaquarium.com.
S.C. AQUARIUM, 100 Aquarium Wharf, Charleston, off Calhoun Street, about one mile south from Meeting Street exit off U.S. 17, on west side of the Arthur Ravenel Bridge from Mount Pleasant. 843-720-1990 or scaquarium.org. Also, for tours of Sea Turtle Hospital, reservations recommended at 843-577-3474.
N.C. AQUARIUM AT FORT FISHER, 900 Loggerhead Road (U.S. 421), south of Kure Beach, N.C., near the mouth of the Cape Fear River. 910-772-0500 or www.ncaquariums.com/fort-fisher. Also accessible by the Southport-Fort Fisher Ferry (910-457-6942 or 800-368-8969, or www.ncferry.org.)
Both local state parks have nature programs for extra appreciation of wildlife:
MYRTLE BEACH STATE PARK, on South Kings Highway (U.S. 17 Business), about 1 mile south of Myrtle Beach International Airport, at city limits, across from www.myrtlebeachsp.com.Village. 843-238-5325, 843-238-0874 (for nature center) or
Two major zoos, each about a 3-hour drive from Myrtle Beach, are each worth spending a whole day for exploring:
RIVERBANKS ZOO &GARDEN, off Interstate 126 at Greystone Boulevard, just west of downtown Columbia. 803-779-8717 or www.riverbanks.org.
NORTH CAROLINA ZOO, in Asheboro, N.C. — From northbound on Interstates 73/74, take Exit 66, turn right (east) briefly to pick up U.S. 220 Alternate north, then in a few miles, turn right (north) on N.C. 159 (Zoo Parkway), leading through some small hills to zoo entrance. 336-879-7000, 800-488-0444 or www.nczoo.org.