Memorial Day in the United States is held on the last Monday of May to honor the men and women who have died in service to our country.  We traditionally place American flags on the graves of the deceased and wear bright red poppies that we receive in exchange for donations made to the disabled veterans’ organizations or some other group representing our veterans.

However, as has happened with most sombre holidays, this has become a long weekend to attend the beach or camp out in the mountains.  It is the first long weekend of the season and considered the kick-off to summer celebrating and vacations with the Labor Day weekend in September representing the end of ‘high season’.

In our neck of the woods, this usually means the beach road will be highly travelled as we head east to the seashore along North and South Carolinas’ beautiful coastline.  I don’t need to tell you what there is to do at these destinations as pertains to water sport, shopping, or sipping mango margaritas underneath beach umbrellas or palm trees.

But I am forever amazed at the people who are not familiar with Huntington Beach State Park and the Huntington’s Spanish inspired ‘castle’, as well as Brookgreen Gardens where lush plantings and water features highlight the sculptor of Anna Hyatt Huntington.The green oasis of the gardens, wildlife of the state park loop, and inspiration of Atalya – the name of their ‘castle’ – never fail to call to us when we are there.  It is the perfect place to relax and end a day of hard play with sunburned noses and parched lips.

And there are marsh walks where you can get up close to the alligators and shore birds, sometimes a little too close.And it isn’t far from Myrtle Beach, SC.  Just three miles south of Murrells Inlet on U.S. 17, stop in at one of the restaurants along the way for a fabulous dinner.Cedar Hill Landing is one of our favorites, although there are many to choose from.This is the view of the salt marsh from Cedar Hill Landing Restaurant and if you like, you can sit outside at one of the outdoor tables.  They usually have a little music going, often live.  And the food is outstanding.  We have no interest in any of these places, just sharing personal experience.

This is closer to the beach atmosphere of my youth, when boardwalks lined the dunes and hotels were clapboard structures with independent owners we got to know by name.  Today’s beach atmosphere can be a little too commercialized for my taste.

Stay tuned for a later post based solely on Atalaya.  Its features are too numerous to be covered in a single photo.  And it is open for weddings as is Brookgreen Gardens.  Both make great destination wedding venues, especially when you are looking for something classic as well as beach inspired.