By Brian Jewell
ou’ve seen the shows and perused the shops. Now it’s time to check out some of the other intriguing attractions in Myrtle Beach.
Group travelers love Myrtle Beach for a host of reasons. This South Carolina destination has miles of sandy shores, as well as the large number of hotel, dining, shopping and activity options that go along with beach destinations. Groups can get their fill of whatever they crave — from daytime golf to evening entertainment — with plenty of free time in between.
If your group has traveled to the area before and would enjoy doing it again, consider offering them some new opportunities while they’re there. A number of interesting nature experiences and soft adventure tours have been developed throughout the Grand Strand in recent years, and groups will find a variety of ways to enjoy themselves both on land and on water.
Wildlife and Wild Times
Land-based adventures in Myrtle Beach run the gamut from exotic-animal encounters to racecar-driving experiences. Among the most unusual attractions in the area is T.I.G.E.R.S. Preservation Station at Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach.
“It’s owned by a man who trained a lot of animals for television and movies, and created this place where those animals can go to retire,” said Kimberly Miles, spokeswoman for the Myrtle Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “When you go to visit, it’s like a safari in the U.S.”
The Preservation Station is known for its tigers, with a menagerie of Bengal tigers, royal white tigers, Siberian tigers and a golden tabby tiger, which is said to be one of the rarest tigers in the world. Guests will also see a liger, which is a rare crossbreed of a lion and a tiger.
Animal lovers can have a number of hands-on experiences with the resident creatures. Many visitors enjoy petting and bottle-feeding the tiger cubs being raised at the facility. Groups can also pet wolves, feed elephants and interact with an orangutan, which swims in its own private pool.
The Myrtle Beach Speedway recently introduced a new way for travelers to have interactive experiences. The NASCAR Racing Experience puts participants in the driver’s seat of a racecar.
“You can actually ride or drive in a real NASCAR racecar,” Miles said. “If you want to drive the car, you have to take a short class because the cars have a manual transmission. They have professional drivers who will drive you around if you prefer not to do it yourself. It’s become a really popular alternate activity for groups.”
Unlike some other racing programs that have drivers making their way around an empty track, the NASCAR Racing Experience allows groups of visitors to take cars out on the track together and race each other. Drivers start by meeting with a crew chief, who teaches them the basics of racing; they then strap themselves into their cars. An in-car radio system allows them to communicate with the crew chief as they drive. Drivers get up to 40 laps to race each other, with no pace car, speed limits or passing restrictions to get in the way.
For a more leisurely land-based experience, groups that visit Myrtle Beach can take shag dancing lessons. The Carolina shag is a dance that originated in the area in the 1940s and remains the official state dance of South Carolina.
“There are a number of shag clubs where you can go and learn how to do the dance,” Miles said. “You can take lessons and then stick around and dance with people who know how to do it well. It’s a great local-flair activity.”