Twenty miles north of Myrtle Beach sits two small fishing villages just over the state line and Intercoastal Waterway. These tiny towns are Calabash, North Carolina and Little River, South Carolina and they go hand in hand. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a visitor in one of these towns that wasn’t also visiting the other. Here you’ll find some of the most beautiful places famous for their seafood restaurants, gorgeous marinas, and award-winning golf courses. The best part of these two towns? The fact that they both have such distinct flavors and atmospheres to them.
Calabash, North Carolina
The beautiful seaside town of Calabash, NC is known as “the Seafood Capital of the World”, and the proof is in the pudding or…fried shrimp. This is because much of the country’s seafood sails through its waterfront. Incredibly, this tiny town with a population of less than 2,000 has more than 30 seafood restaurants. The famous style of cooking known as Calabash – to lightly batter something and then deep fry it – originated right here and is now loved around the world. Here are just a few things that you can do while in Calabash:
Ella’s of Calabash
Speaking of mouth wateringly fresh seafood, a local favorite of the area since its opening has been Ella’s of Calabash at 1148 River Rd. This beloved spot was opened in 1950 by Lawrence and Ella High as a one-room restaurant, quickly grew with the help of their family, and have been sharing their fresh catches with both locals and tourists ever since. Their Calabash-style prepared food is raved about by all who visit and their fresh oysters are a particular favorite. Passed from generation to generation, the tradition of delicious seafood continues on and hopefully will for decades to come.
Museum of Coastal Carolina
For the science-minded and adventurers alike in your family, The Museum of Coastal Carolina is here in Ocean Isle to provide all of the coastal wonders you crave. The motto of the museum is “To inspire curiosity about our unique coastal environment, history, and the broader natural universe through interactive, fun, science-based experiences”, and the museum lives up to its word. Through the front doors you’ll find hundreds of different species of sea creatures, touch tanks, galleries and dioramas, exhibits, even land animals as well as an ocean reef gallery depicting an actual reef habitat around 65 miles off the Coast of North Carolina. With a large focus on interactive experiences, the Museum of Coastal Carolina will delight and educate both the young and the young at heart.
Ocean Isle Beach and Sunset Beach
Those who know the Carolinas know that they’re famous around the nation for their gorgeous beaches. Two of these beaches are the beautiful, spanning beaches that are Ocean Isle Beach and Sunset Beach. By day these shores provide gorgeous views, plenty of sun, and lots of fun for the entire family. But these beaches also provide bone chilling excitement by night with their notorious ghost walks. The Carolinas are also famous for their rich lore and ghost stories. These stories span legends of pirates and Spanish conquistadors, whiskey smugglers, devastating storms, sunken ships, and mysteries lost to the will of the sea and the veils of time.
Little River, South Carolina
As the earliest settlement in Horry County, Little River has a deeply rooted foundation in sailing and fishing. Similar to its sister city, this small fishing town is lined with not only marinas but also seafood restaurants similar to its sister city, casino boats, watersport outfitters, and lush golf courses.Two of the most famous events held in Little river are the Blue Crab Festival in May and the Shrimp and Jazz festival in September. These two festivals are absolute must-dos for anyone in the area around these times.
Big M Casino
Step aboard South Carolina’s most luxurious casino ships with Big M Casino! With two impressive casino ships that sail year round, you’re bound to have lots of fun and you might even win big when you spend some time out at sea testing your luck. Since opening over a decade ago, Big M Casino has been providing passengers aged 21 and older with five full hours of non-stop excitement. Test your luck with all of your favorites including Blackjack, Poker, Craps, slot machines, Roulette, and the South Carolina classic Pot O’ Gold. Food and drinks including beer, wine, and expertly crafted mixed drinks are available during the ride, and the Big M Casino ships depart from 4491 Mineola Ave.
The Brentwood Restaurant and Wine Bistro
When it comes to dining in Little River, look no further than The Brentwood Restaurant and Wine Bistro. This stunning Victorian home was built in 1910 and has a long history of bringing delicious meals to the area and delighting locals and tourists alike. This house was eventually bought by the Stublick Brothers from Brentwood, Long Island (hence the eventual name of the restaurant) and they quickly set out to elevate the art of cooking to the highest level. The head chef, Chef Eric is a French native and has three degrees from the prestigious Ferrandi Culinary School in Paris. Through his expertise he brings a unique twist to the rich Coastal flavors. Ownership of this mesmerizing Victorian house may have changed hands a few times over the years, but all of the charm and tradition of this beautiful home and restaurant remains the same after these 100 years. Plus, it’s notoriously haunted! The Brentwood Restaurant has been featured on A&E’s Biography Channel so why not come investigate for yourself?
Vereen Memorial Historic Gardens
Immediately off of the busy Hwy 17, you will find a juxtaposition to the hustle and bustle of the tourism that envelops most of the Grand Strand. This oasis is the Vereen Memorial Historical Gardens, a 115-acre nature park and wildlife sanctuary. Under the twisting branches of the large oak trees lined with lush Spanish moss is over three miles of hiking trails and boardwalks that take visitors through many different habitats to explore such as the Intercoastal Waterway shoreline, salt marshes, wooded forests, ponds, and maritime forests. Originally owned by the Vereen Family, the land was donated to the Horry County Preservation Commission in 1971. One can even explore the historic Vereen Family Cemetery which features graves dating back to the Revolutionary War. Picnic shelters are plentiful for those who want to relax and enjoy a meal in paradise, and the Gardens are great for those interested in birding – you’re able to find pelicans, herons, egrets, woodpeckers, owls, egrets, sapsuckers, osprey, and so many more.