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Huntington Beach State Park Guide — Hiking, Camping, and More 

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Amar Hussain
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Amar Hussain

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Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications incl...
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Huntington Beach State Park is in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, and covers a 3-mile stretch of the Grand Strand beach. This park offers many exciting activities, including exploring historic landmarks, hiking on scenic trails, participating in educational programs, fishing, and birdwatching. With such a wide range of activities, every visitor can find something to enjoy here.

How To Get to Huntington Beach State Park

Where Is Huntington Beach State Park?

Huntington Beach State Park is in Murrells Inlet, just a 30-minute drive from Myrtle Beach, one of the major cities closest to the park. This 2,500-acre park boasts one of the best-preserved beaches on the Grand Strand. It also features freshwater lagoons, salt marshes, and maritime forests.

Huntington Beach State Park Opening Hours and Seasons

This park is open year-round from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. However, during daylight saving time, the park has extended hours and remains open until 10 p.m. The Nature Center can be visited between 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. Atalaya Castle can be visited from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. However, during daylight saving time, the castle has extended hours and remains open until 5 p.m.

Hot Tip:

Atalaya Castle often hosts events throughout the year and may be closed to the public. To avoid disappointment, contact the park office before your visit.

Nearest Airports to Huntington Beach State Park

The most convenient airport to reach Huntington Beach State Park is Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR), just 16 miles away. It will take you approximately 30 minutes to drive there. With flights to over 50 nonstop destinations, this airport offers reasonable fares and excellent customer service.

Various airlines operate at this airport, including Allegiant, American, Delta, Southwest, Spirit, and United. After arriving, you will find numerous car rental kiosks for arranging the last leg of your trip to the park.

Driving to Huntington Beach State Park

Driving to Huntington Beach State Park is a breeze. For those coming from Murrells Inlett, drive 3 miles south on Highway 17; the park entrance is on the left. Visitors from Georgetown will drive 20 miles north on Highway 17, and the park entrance is on the right.

Taking the Train to Huntington Beach State Park

There is no train service to this state park.

Taking the Bus to Huntington Beach State Park

No buses can take you directly to the park. However, a Greyhound bus can get you close to it. The nearest station to the park is Myrtle Beach, approximately 17 miles away. Once you reach the station, you can hire a taxi or ride-sharing service to get to the park easily.

Getting Around Huntington Beach State Park

The best way to navigate this park is by mixing driving and walking. Several parking areas are scattered throughout the park to make the most of your visit, so you can drive to a lot and get out to explore. The park provides a printable map to help you plan your adventures.

What To See and Do in Huntington Beach State Park

Huntington Beach State Park is a glorious destination that offers learning, adventure, and relaxation opportunities. The park boasts many attractions and activities, so you’ll never run out of things to do.

Atalaya Castle

Atalaya Castle
Image Credit: Zack Frank via Adobe Stock

Atalaya Castle once belonged to Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington, a philanthropist and sculptor who left the park and the adjacent Brookgreen Gardens as their legacy. The Huntingtons built Atalaya from 1931 to 1933 as a winter home for themselves.

Atalaya Castle boasts 30 rooms arranged around a courtyard filled with native plants and a 40-foot-tall water tower. The castle features indoor and outdoor art studios and animal enclosures where monkeys, horses, bears, and leopards were kept. Local laborers built the house during the Great Depression to help boost the economy. Regular tours are held to educate visitors about this historic landmark.


The beach at Huntington Beach State Park is a true paradise for those seeking endless opportunities for fun in the sun. With its crystal-clear waters, soft powdery sand, and gentle ocean breeze, it’s the perfect spot to relax, unwind, and soak up the natural beauty of the South Carolina coast.


Many people consider Huntington Beach State Park one of the best spots for birdwatching in South Carolina. This activity can be enjoyed year-round. Over 300 bird species have been recorded in this park. You can find birds near the causeway, beach, pond, marsh, and jetty. Some bird species commonly seen at this park include ospreys, bald eagles, buffleheads, and razorbills. The park offers a bird checklist to keep track of the birds you see during your visit.

Hot Tip:

Don’t forget to bring your binoculars and camera for a better view of the magnificent birds that call this park home.


The park offers a plethora of opportunities to fish in its waters. You can indulge in the popular pastime of surf fishing or try your luck at fishing from the jetty. It’s important to keep in mind that you must have a valid South Carolina fishing license to fish here. You can expect to catch species such as sea trout, bluefish, and red drum. Pack your fishing gear and prepare for an exciting fishing day amidst breathtaking natural beauty.

Hiking Trails

If you’re a nature lover and enjoy exploring the outdoors, you’ll be pleased to know that Huntington Beach State Park offers several hiking opportunities. These hikes are considered easy and offer opportunities to see the park’s diverse wildlife, beautiful plant life, and breathtaking ocean views. Pack your hiking gear, grab your camera, and immerse yourself in this stunning park’s beauty.

Nature Center

Nature Center at Huntington Beach State Park
Image Credit: ehrlif via Adobe Stock

The Nature Center at Huntington Beach State Park is a fantastic destination to explore during your visit. The center features several exhibits that showcase the bird and marine life of the surrounding area. One of the most popular exhibits is the touch tank, which houses various local marine species. The center also offers exhibits on birding and alligators and has numerous aquariums. The Nature Center is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Park Programming

The park offers various programs regularly, catering to visitors of all ages and interests. These programs range from guided tours of the historic Atalaya Castle to educational programs featuring the park’s wildlife and their feeding habits, guided hikes through the park’s scenic trails, and cultural events showcasing the area’s rich history.

Moreover, the schedule of carefully curated events varies each month, so there’s always something new to look forward to. These programs are the perfect way to immerse oneself in the park’s natural and cultural heritage and learn more about its diverse flora and fauna.

Best Times To Visit Huntington Beach State Park

This park is open all year round and is a wonderful place to visit, no matter the season. However, certain times of the year may be better than others.

Best Time To Visit Huntington Beach State Park in Winter

Huntington Beach State Park is a fun destination for winter travel. December is the best time to visit this beautiful park. The weather is ideal for outdoor activities, with temperatures ranging from the upper 30s to the low 60s. While there is a chance of rain, averaging around 7 days this month, you can easily prepare for it by packing your rain gear.

Bottom Line:

December is also the least busy time of year, making it an excellent choice for visitors looking to escape the crowds and enjoy peace and quiet.

Best Time To Visit Huntington Beach State Park To Avoid the Crowds

If you’re dreaming of exploring a park at your own pace without the crowds, then December is the best time to visit. During this month, the temperature is quite comfortable, ranging from the high 30s to the low 60s, and there are plenty of activities to enjoy. A December visit will allow you to experience the park without the stress of crowds, long lines, and traffic.

Best Time To Visit Huntington Beach State Park for Ideal Weather

Huntington Beach State Park for Ideal Weather
Image Credit: Maryna via Adobe Stock

It’s always important to consider the weather when planning a vacation, research weather trends, and plan your trip around typical weather patterns. October is an excellent time to go for great weather. The temperatures during this month are typically in the mid-50s to mid-70s, and there are usually about 5 days of precipitation. However, it’s always wise to be prepared for rain, so pack a jacket and rain gear just in case.

Cheapest Time To Visit Huntington Beach State Park

Careful planning makes it possible to save money on travel. The best time to visit Huntington Beach State Park and save money is early to mid-September. During this time, flight and accommodation rates are at their lowest throughout the year, which means you can save hundreds of dollars on travel expenses.

Annual Events in Huntington Beach State Park

This park offers an impressive array of wildlife, nature, and history programs throughout the year. Additionally, the park hosts several highly anticipated annual events that locals and visitors love.

Atalaya Festival

The Atalayla Festival has been happening at the Huntington Beach State Park each September for nearly 30 years. This festival offers a range of activities, such as arts and crafts, delicious food, live music performed by local musicians, and opportunities to explore and learn about the park’s history, flora, and fauna. People eagerly look forward to this event every year, and it’s always fun.

Gator Gauntlet

The Gator Gauntlet is an annual 5k race in April. Participants are encouraged to wear gator costumes and can win a prize for the most outrageous outfit. This event directly benefits Huntington Beach State Park, and all proceeds go towards improving the park’s trail systems. Exploring the park while getting a workout is a wonderful opportunity.

Where To Stay in Huntington Beach State Park

When planning a vacation, choosing a place to stay is a top priority. Fortunately, numerous accommodations are available when visiting this South Carolina park.

Inside the Park

The only lodging option for visitors planning to stay within the park’s boundaries is to set up camp in the great outdoors. There are sites specifically designated for tents only, but most sites within the park are for RVs or tents. The park offers a total of 173 sites, with 66 of them having full hookups for water, sewer, and electricity.

Camping amenities include hot showers, restrooms, and complimentary Wi-Fi. Make reservations in advance to ensure you can get a spot. An overnight stay in the park is an excellent way to immerse yourself in the park’s natural beauty fully.

Towns Near Huntington Beach State Park

Numerous accommodation options are available in the towns near the park for visitors who prefer a more traditional stay. Whether you are looking for a peaceful retreat close to the park or a comfortable stay in a larger city, you can easily find the perfect option within a short drive from the park.

Murrells Inlet, South Carolina

Murrells Inlet South Carolina
Image Credit: Wollwerth Imagery via Adobe Stock

Murrells Inlet is nestled on the southern coast and offers a perfect gateway to the stunning Huntington Beach State Park. This quaint village is the closest to the park, making it ideal for nature lovers and visitors seeking outdoor adventures.

The town offers a wide range of lodging, dining, and recreation options, catering to every taste and budget. Visitors can stay in charming bed and breakfasts, private rentals, or budget-friendly hotels. There are seafood restaurants, nightclubs, and cafes serving freshly caught seafood and delicious local cuisine.

Plenty of outdoor activities exist in and around Murrells Inlet. Visitors can explore the park’s pristine beaches, observe wildlife, and participate in water sports like kayaking, paddleboarding, and fishing. The town also boasts several golf courses and hiking trails, offering beautiful views of the surrounding marshes and forests.

Bottom Line:

Whether you seek relaxation, adventure, or both, Murrells Inlet has it all. It’s a hidden gem that will leave you with unforgettable memories.

Litchfield, South Carolina

Nestled just 4 miles from Huntington Beach State Park, Litchfield offers a perfect blend of relaxation and recreation. The city is home to various accommodation options, from cozy inns to luxurious beachfront resorts, ensuring visitors of all tastes and budgets can find something to suit their needs. Litchfield also boasts a vibrant dining scene, with numerous restaurants serving various cuisines, including fresh and delicious local seafood.

For those looking to get active, Litchfield offers a plethora of outdoor activities to choose from. Visitors can swim, surf, and sunbathe at the pristine beaches or explore the area’s scenic hiking trails and nature reserves. Fishing enthusiasts can also cast their lines in the nearby rivers and streams, while golfers can tee off at one of the city’s picturesque golf courses.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach vacation or an action-packed adventure, Litchfield has something for everyone.

Where To Eat in Huntington Beach State Park

When hunger strikes during your visit to the park, excellent restaurants are nearby. There’s also a sweet shop on the property, so you’ll have plenty of options to satisfy your cravings and enjoy your visit without feeling hungry.


The only dining option available within the park is Spoonbills. This ice cream shop serves Wholly Cow Ice Cream and is next to the park’s gift shop. It’s an ideal spot to take a break from your park adventures and enjoy a refreshing treat.

Dead Dog Saloon

Dead Dog Saloon is a highly-rated restaurant just 4 miles from the park in Murrells Inlet. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily and has a diverse menu that includes popular items like burgers, tacos, sandwiches, fresh seafood specialties, pancakes, eggs, and more. Additionally, the restaurant regularly hosts live music, making it a perfect spot to relax, enjoy the ocean views, and enjoy a delicious meal while listening to some great tunes.

Graham’s Landing

Graham’s Landing is a highly regarded restaurant less than 2 miles from the park. The menu is renowned for its fresh, locally sourced seafood offerings, prepared in a traditional low-country style. Customers can also enjoy high-quality meat dishes complemented by homemade sides such as grits and fries. Graham’s Landing is a true embodiment of Southern hospitality, and its food is sure to leave a lasting impression on all who dine there.

Huntington Beach State Park Facts

Huntington Beach State Park
Image Credit: fran.trudeau via Flickr (license)

1. The Huntingtons Originally Owned the Park

This park was originally owned by Archer and Anna Huntington. After their passing, the land was leased to the state in 1960.

2. It Houses a National Historic Landmark

Atalaya was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984 to preserve Huntington’s history and legacy as a vital piece of South Carolina’s heritage.

3. There’s an Abundance of Animals

A diverse range of wildlife inhabits this park, including loggerhead sea turtles, spoonbills, pelicans, and alligators that can often be spotted.

4. It’s a Safe Haven for Sea Turtles

The park’s southern region hosts an average of 25 sea turtle nests annually. The park provides a safe environment for the turtles to nest and for the hatchlings to make their way to the water.

5. The Park Features Salt Marshes

The park contains numerous salt marshes, among the world’s most productive ecosystems. The South Carolina Heritage Trust Program has registered much of the marsh in Huntington Beach to ensure its preservation.

Final Thoughts

Huntington Beach State Park is an exceptional destination for anyone who loves to explore and have fun. The park offers various educational and recreational activities, including camping, hiking, beachgoing, and touring historic sights. With so much to see and do, it’s no wonder the park attracts over 500,000 visitors yearly.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to visit Huntington Beach State Park?

The admission fee for the park is $8 per adult, with discounts for seniors and youth. Atalaya has a separate fee of $2 per visitor. Children who are 5 years old and under can enter the park and Atalaya for free.

How much time should I spend at Huntington Beach State Park?

Plan to spend between half a day and a full day exploring the park. This will allow for hiking, participating in park programs, and enjoying the beach.

What nearby attractions should I visit during my Huntington Beach State Park trip?

There are various attractions to explore in the vicinity of Huntington Beach State Park, such as Brookgreen Gardens, Pirate Adventures, and nearby beaches.

Can I bring my dog to Huntington Beach State Park?

Dogs are always welcome at the park, but pet owners must keep them on a leash and clean up after them. Dogs are not permitted in the park buildings, and they are also not allowed on the north end of the beach.

Amar Hussain's image

About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.


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