Repeat after me, bring your bikes!
Huntington Beach State Park is located in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina. We previously camped at this state park twice and both of us grew up visiting this beach with family. The campground has 173 campsites, 66 of which are full hook-up with sewer connection. Both the north and south campgrounds have short walks to the ocean. The entire park offers 2500 acres of wildlife and the beach extends for three miles.
This is the first trip that we stayed in the south campground, the full hook-up section. There is a $15 difference between the full hook-up campsites and the standard electric and water sites. We were excited to have a full hook-up site because for our family it means longer showers. There’s certainly pros and cons to both sections of the campground. With full hook-up in the south, you get sites that are closer together, but they are paved.
Besides the beach and the inlet, the other attraction at Huntington Beach State Park is Atalaya Castle. We toured the 1930s castle on our first visit to Huntington back in 2018. It costs $2 for a self-guided tour and the park offers guided tours at certain times. This year we did not wander through the castle, but we did take family photos with Whitney Carroll Photography outside.
We also skipped the nature center because we visited it back in 2020 when it was brand new. Something new that we did this year in the park was drive over to the North beach access and then walk to the jetty. The jetty is the end of the state park where the inlet meets the ocean. There’s a large rock wall with a paved walkway deep into the ocean. Bring your shoes with you, we were not able to walk far down the paved walkway because it hurt our bare feet. By the time we got there at 11 a.m. it was full of people fishing. The wall is further than it appears and a long walk for a toddler. We had to carry her on our shoulders for most of the walk—totaling three miles.
About three months prior to our reservation we picked up site 140, a cancellation. This is a 50ft back-in campsite in the south campground. The majority of the sites in the south campground have the outdoor living space on the back side of the camper. This provides zero privacy between you and your neighbor. In fact, if the camper in site 141 had a campfire at the same time as us it would seem like a waste of wood to have two fires, the fire pits are that close together.
Campsite 140 also sat directly in the sun for most of the day. There was a tree located to the right of our picnic table and fire pit, but it only provided shade to the area in the morning hours. Campsite 139 to our right had shade throughout multiple hours of the day. In the future we would try to get this site for that reason. The campers who reserved the site for our week never showed up.
We were six campsites down from the bathhouse which has nice bathrooms, but with a full-hook-up we did not use them. We did use the laundry room in the south campground a couple times during our stay. It was $1.25 per wash and another $1.75 to dry the clothes. The campground information provided to us said the campground has wi-fi. By the bathhouse we were able to pick up a weak signal, however at our campsite there was nothing.
Strangely, we also did not have cell service (Verizon or AT&T) at our campsite. Not sure if we were just located in the black hole of the park, but we had great signal on the beach and other locations of the park.
While the campsites in the south campground are closer together than we would like, families on the beach are much more spread out. This is one of our favorite things about Huntington Beach State Park, the lack of crowding on the beach (no matter the time of year). We were far enough away from the day use section that people enjoying the ocean just for the day wouldn’t spread out on the beach close to us.
The Atalaya Art Festival occurred during the time of our stay at Huntington Beach State Park. It draws people from all over the country to view and buy art from artists who hail from Rhode Island to Michigan to Texas and beyond. This brought quite a bit of traffic and made it difficult for us to get back to our campsite from the entrance of the park. While multiple family members have attended the festival and loved it, we made the decision to spend our last day on the beach. Entrance to the festival is $10 per person. We wish that the food trucks had been accessible to anyone in the park and that the festival lasted longer during the day. We did not want to give up our beach time, but if it had gone past 5 p.m. we would have been interested.
As soon as we made our reservation I contacted Whitney Carroll for another family photo session. This is the third session we have done with her since our visit in 2020. Atalaya Castle and the beach provide a beautiful backdrop for photos. Our two-year-old was super grumpy the first half of the session and Whitney was still able to get beautiful shots of our family. She frequently does photoshoots in the Myrtle Beach area as well.
We tend to eat dinner out at restaurants more often when we are at the beach. We have a couple of favorites in Murrells Inlet and some we don’t care for at all: looking at you, Drunken Jack’s.
In no particular order here are the ones we love:
- The Claw House
- Mojos – New to the Marshwalk, has a playground for kids
- Stella’s Homemade Ice Cream
- Rway Pizza
- Wicked Tuna — We loved our food at Wicked Tuna in September, 2020, but this trip we were not impressed with the food and service, especially for the prices. That being said—maybe it was a one-off.
When visiting tourist destinations we leave our dogs, Cedar and Summit, in the camper. They usually sleep the entire time we are gone with the lights off and radio on. To ensure their safety we purchased the Marcell Temperature Monitoring System six years ago. It sends us text alerts if the camper loses power. More details on why the temperature monitor is necessary here. Be sure to use our affiliate code to save $20 on your purchase. Imagine20
Growing up vacationing with family at this beach, we have many memories of visiting the arcade in Garden City. It’s a short drive from Murrells Inlet and a great place to take the kids for a couple of hours. Across the street from the arcade is Garden City Beach Pier, and as you drive north along Waccamaw Drive, there are more restaurants, and a couple bars.
Huntington Beach State Park books out as soon as the reservation window opens, 13 months out. We managed to pick up the cancellation about four months before our trip happened and that is after three months of checking almost every day. There’s a lot to love about this state park and more people are discovering that.