Secluded Oceanfront Hotel Minutes from Myrtle Beach
The waves of the Atlantic lap up on white sandy shores as gently sloping sand dunes crest lazily above the horizon. This exclusive stretch of beach lies just beyond the doors of The Oceanfront Litchfield Inn and is accessible only to guests of the hotel. In the reception area, orange- and apricot-colored tiles cool beachcombers' feet, and wicker furniture cloaked in seashell-patterned cushions invites a rest during check-in.
A private balcony with an ocean view appends each Oceanfront Tower room, where overnighters can repose or flirt with passing seagulls, and private screened-in porches abut Oceanfront Dunes rooms. Guests can flop onto king, queen, or double beds and frolic through the airy rooms, each appointed individually with tropical accents and a beachy palette. In the mornings, a continental breakfast awaits, squelching hunger with make-your-own waffles, bagels, danishes, cereal, muffins, juice, coffee, and seasonal fruit.
Two oceanfront pools, bordered by a sundeck, entice guests with a salt-free swim. Neighboring the pool, Austin's Cabana Café and Beach Bar serves casual fare and beverages for lunch and dinner six days a week, with dishes such as a flash-fried oysters appetizer ($8) and a chicken caesar wrap ($11). For an upscale dining affair, the chic Austin's Ocean One proffers stunning views of the Atlantic and a rotating menu of local seafood and hand-cut steaks. Diners can pick the brain of the staff sommelier before choosing a glass of vino ($5.50+) from the copious wine list and noshing on a 6-ounce grilled filet mignon with shrimp ($23) or a panko- and herb-crusted local flounder ($26) prepared by executive chef Bill Austin.
Pawleys Island: Historical and Laid-back Beach Town
Proudly touting itself as "arrogantly shabby," Pawleys Island charms visitors with its unpretentious barefoot style and rich history. Twelve residences in the historic district date back to the late 1700s, recalling an era when Pawleys Island was inhabited by rice planters who owned plantations on nearby rivers. Close by, shoppers can peruse a cluster of 20 specialty stores and restaurants known as The Hammock Shops, which date back to 1938. Surrounded by gardens teeming with moss-draped tall oaks, azaleas, and camellias, a bevy of hammocks, rockers, and benches provides a place to pause and slip into a siesta.
Nearby Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, named one of America's 100 Greatest Public Courses by Golf Digest in 2007–2008, was built on a site of an erstwhile working southern rice plantation. An antebellum-style clubhouse anchors the property, which is dotted with centuries-old live oaks and abandoned pelican speakeasies. North of the hotel, the 9,100-acre Brookgreen Gardens burst with verdant beauty and an impeccably manicured outdoor sculpture garden founded in 1931. Travelers can peruse the cultivated grounds solo or embark on a docent-led tour covering a portion of the 1,400 works by more than 350 sculptors. Within the gardens' Lowcountry Zoo, visitors can glimpse native animals such as alligators, bald eagles, river otters, and red foxes.