Follow the intriguing story of a philanthropic family, a glorious sea castle, and conservation efforts of one family that helped shape Myrtle Beach

In 1931, a New York City philanthropist by the name of Archer Huntington and his artist wife Anna Hyatt Huntington built a winter refuge in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Anna would recover from tuberculosis among the quiet salt marshes while Archer built her castle.

Spanish and Moorish designs along with his own imaginative touches, and Anna’s help, shaped the home. The thirty-room three-sided castle surrounded a magnificent courtyard featuring lush gardens and a forty-foot-tall statue called Atalaya (Spanish for “Watchtower”). The Huntington’s were appreciators and conservators of native plant species, exotic animals (they had a zoo on their property), and interpretive art. In 1984, the home was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Today, the Huntington legacy lives on at three must-visit Myrtle Beach natural attractions.

Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina

Nestled between Murrells Inlet and Pawleys Island is America’s first public sculpture garden – Brookgreen Gardens. Anna Huntington utilized a portion of their expansive 9,000-acre estate as a designated public sculpture garden in an effort to showcase and preserve interpretive artwork, plants and wildlife.

Today, Brookgreen Gardens is a resplendent display of art and botanical gardens serving as a cultural center for the community and beyond. Every season offers new and exciting experiences, guided and unguided. Take part in unique programs, tours and educational exhibits appropriate for all ages.

Huntington Beach State Park

Huntington Beach State Park has plenty of natural beauty.

Kerrigan Nature Trail in Huntington Beach State Park

During WWII, the Huntingtons left Atalaya and turned it over to the U.S. Air Corps to use as its barracks in 1942. Unaffected by the war, the home remained until the family returned in 1946. After Archer’s death in 1955, Anna would make her final visit to the estate in 1958. In 1960, 2,500 acres were leased for free to the state, which included the castle and Brookgreen Gardens.

Today, Huntington Beach State Park, located in Murrells Inlet, preserves the home and grounds providing tours and holding an annual art festival in honor of Anna. There are many opportunities within the park to experience the natural beauty and history of the estate.

Kerrigan Nature Trail is a ¼-mile (0.3-mile) trail that meanders through iconic southern seascapes of saltwater marshes alive with wildlife. Numerous boardwalks coupled with a natural trail surface offer an enjoyable trek. The pet-friendly trail provides educational signs, scenic observation decks, points of interest, a visitor’s center, picnic area, restrooms, camping spots and a boat launch.

Huntington Beach State Park

Huntington Beach State Park is a great place to birdwatch.

Birdwatching Eco Tour in Myrtle Beach

The calm waters that fill the saltwater estuaries are abundant with sea life, the perfect feeding ground for native seabird species. Birdwatching is among popular natural attractions on the two-hour Myrtle Beach Eco Tour. Sandy Haines with Group Sales at Visit Myrtle Beach suggests that “groups of all ages will be captivated as they tour along the saltwater marsh where you will experience local wildlife and birdlife.” The natural splendor of the Myrtle Beach area is what drew the Huntingtons down from NYC, remember.

Sandy also says groups can explore Murrells Inlet on a cruise explaining, “You will partake in discovering firsthand as a sample dredge is pulled from the depths, unveiling its treasures within a touch tank. Discover the awe-inspiring beauty that awaits, on a voyage of wonder, connection, and cherished memories.”

South Carolina still has plenty more to offer, so for more travel ideas and things to do in the Carolinas and all over the globe, just Subscribe to Leisure Group Travel for FREE

Visit Myrtle Beach

Sandy Haines, 843-916-7248