South Carolina's Hammock Coast
Beat the heat and the crowds on this early spring trip from Mount Pleasant to Murrells Inlet.
You know the best restaurants in Charleston, and you know Myrtle Beach. The 90-mile stretch of pines and sand between South Carolina's most popular tourist destinations often flies under the radar, which seems so fitting for the birthplace of the cotton hammock. Between Charleston's hustle and Myrtle's hype, you'll find authentic shrimping and fishing villages and long ribbons of quiet beach. Pack sunscreen and a trashy novel. It's hammock time.
1. Best Send-Off Breakfast
"Smothered" doesn't do justice to the amount of gravy covering the shrimp and grits ($9) at Page's Okra Grill. Try drowned—in a good way. pagesokragrill.com
2. Best Detour
Bulls Island, a 30- to 40-minute ferry ride ($40) from the mainland, offers 7 miles of wild beach and complete solitude. bullsislandferry.com
3. Best (Freshest) Seafood
T.W. Graham and Company serves seafood straight off the boat in McClellanville. The wahoo ($12) we ate was caught just hours before. 843/887-4342
4. Best (Historic) Local Culture
Tour Hopsewee ($17.50), a former rice plantation overlooking the gentle Santee River. hopsewee.com
5. Best Alternative to Charleston
Visit Georgetown's Harborwalk. Then shop for local goods at both Goudelock & Co. (843/546-8100) and The Rice Museum ricemuseum.org.
6 Best Cheap Bite
Devour the beer-marinated chicken sandwich with garlic aïoli ($9) on the patio at Limpin' Jane's with a view of the Sampit River. limpinjanes.com
7. Best Souvenir
Invented on Pawleys Island, classic cotton hammocks ($131.95 and up) are hand-woven at The Original Hammock Shop by the master, Marvin Grant (pictured). hammockshop.com
8. Best Beach Moment
Stake an umbrella on the north end of the beach at Huntington Beach State Park ($5) and visit Atalaya ($2), a Moorish-inspired home. huntingtonbeachsc.org
9. Best Reader Deal
Deluxe digs at The Sports Lodge are a mile from Murrells Inlet's Marsh Walk. $ Stay three nights and get a fourth free. (Mention SL.) inletsportslodge.com
10. Best People-Watching
Grab an Inlet Mojito ($6; drunkenjacks.com) and stroll Murrells Inlet's Marsh Walk, a harbor boardwalk that passes tiny "Goat Island" with its goats and peacocks.