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Myrtle Beach’s Zoos and Aquariums: A Visitor’s Guide

When you think of Myrtle Beach, you likely envision miles of pristine beaches, beautiful ocean views, and old-time amusement parks. And, if we’re being honest, that’s what most people head to South Carolina for, aside from the amazing seafood, of course!

Roll up your sleeves and grab your safari hat because Myrtle Beach isn't just about sun-soaked holidays! This vacation utopia is also a wild kingdom brimming with surprises. From the interactive experiences at the Lowcountry Zoo to the playful dolphins leaping along the shores and serene state parks, this seaside destination is an adventure waiting to be explored.

So why not shake up your holiday itinerary and let your little explorers loose in this natural playground? You'll be creating unforgettable memories while learning about our amazing planet. Now, that's what we call a fun-filled vacation!

Here are some of the best places to get your wildlife fix that are perfect for vacationers staying at the nearby Captain’s Quarters Resort.


Lowcountry Zoo at Brookgreen Gardens

Photo Credit: Jodi Parkinson

It’s difficult to imagine a place where art meets wildlife in a garden setting, but that sums up the Lowcountry Zoo at Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet. Lowcountry Zoo, named as one of the Top Ten Gardens in the US by TripAdvisor, is one of the best places in the Myrtle Beach area to really get a feel for both local and exotic wildlife.

The zoo is renowned for its wide range of exhibits, including the Cypress Aviary, a fully enclosed boardwalk that takes visitors through a Cypress Swamp, home to over 100 different bird species. Another highlight is the Red Wolf Ridge, a four-acre habitat specifically designed for the conservation of red wolves, one of the most endangered canids in the world. As you meander your way around, you’ll also get the chance to view river otters, lemurs, grey foxes, and even alligators.


Ripley’s Aquarium

Photo Credit: StacieStauffSmith Photos

Dive into the ocean's depths without getting wet at Ripley's Aquarium of Myrtle Beach. This attraction houses many species of marine and terrestrial animals.

One of the main attractions at the aquarium is the Living Gallery. This exhibit showcases a collection of delicate undersea life, including the Pacific giant octopus, sea anemones, living corals, jellies, and weedy sea dragons, which provide an underwater show that only Ripley’s could pull off!

Don't miss the chance to walk through the underwater tunnel and watch in awe as sea creatures swim above you. The aquarium also offers interactive exhibits, including a touch tank where you can feel the texture of rays and horseshoe crabs or see animal feedings up close and personal.


Alligator Adventure

Photo Credit: StacieStauffSmith Photos

American alligators are a common sight in many parts of South Carolina. To learn more about these impressive local reptiles, a visit to Alligator Adventure is a must!

Located just about 25 minutes away in North Myrtle Beach at Barefoot Landing, a popular entertainment complex along the Intracoastal Waterway. This wildlife park features an impressive collection of alligators, crocodiles, and other reptiles from around the world.

Don’t miss the heart-pounding live shows featuring expert handlers as they feed and interact with these powerful creatures.

In addition to reptiles, Alligator Adventure also houses more exotic animals like rare species of birds, snakes, and small mammals. You’ll find bobcats, mountain lions, hyenas, rams, and tortoises here!


Thompson Farm and Nursery Petting Zoo

Photo Credit: Ashley McBride

  • Address: 100 Brickyard Pl, Conway, SC

If you're traveling with kids, the Thompson Nursery Petting Zoo is the perfect experience for the whole family. Located in Conway, just a short drive from Myrtle Beach, this charming petting zoo lets children and adults interact with friendly farm animals.

Feed goats, cuddle with miniature babydoll sheep, and admire the adorable baby animals that call this place home. You can even take a hayride out to the pasture and take turns feeding larger, more unique animals like American bison or water buffalo! It's a fantastic opportunity for young animal lovers to learn about and connect with nature.

Plus, kids will love the chance to embark on a journey through the massive seasonal corn maze or play in the play area that includes jump pads, zip lines, and more outdoor fun!


Myrtle Beach State Park

Photo Credit: MarynaG

  • Address: 4401 S Kings Hwy, Myrtle Beach, SC

Myrtle Beach State Park is where you’ll want to go if you’re looking for an organic wildlife experience. Like many of South Carolina’s state parks, the focus here is on nature and creating as little resistance to the daily rhythms of the habitats and animals as possible.

One of the best places to catch local wildlife sightings is along the park’s trails. The Sculptured Oak Nature Trail inside the park provides a rare opportunity to see one of the last stands of maritime forest on the northern coast of South Carolina and the many animals that call it home.

If you decide to cast a line at the pier in the park, you might spot a few dolphins playing in the surf. Birdwatching is big at Myrtle Beach State Park. Shorebirds frequent the salt marshes and shorelines.

From time to time, park rangers hold events where you may see a snake or small mammal up close! Check the calendar for dates and times!


Local Dolphin Cruises

Photo Credit: Paulphin Photography 

A unique way to get a truly intimate experience with wildlife in Myrtle Beach is by taking a dolphin cruise. You’ll find companies with friendly skippers on guided tours with outfitters like the Myrtle Beach Watersports and Myrtle Beach Dolphin Cruises.

Narrated tours will give you some insight into the natural history of the Intracoastal Waterway. Then, you’ll head into the Atlantic to find some dolphins! If you’re lucky, your captain will find a few frolicking around, just waiting to put on a show.

This is a great way to get your feet wet with a tour on the water that brilliantly melds history and wildlife together!


Get Ready to Meet Myrtle Beach’s Wild Side

On your next North Carolina getaway, you’ll definitely want to set some time apart for relaxation and casting your cares away along the beautiful sandy shores.

But once you’ve had your fill of that, branch out to some of these fantastic family-friendly activities and wildlife experiences around the Myrtle Beach area.

With your home base at Captain’s Quarters Resort, you’re never more than a short drive away from some of the most fantastic Myrtle Beach zoos, aquariums, and animal experiences!

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