Camping at Myrtle Beach

myrtle beach 2It’s been a long standing tradition in my family to go to Ocean Lakes campground in September -October. My parent’s like to vacation without a ton of people, so they tend to avoid the busy season. The fall months are great for the beach, you avoid the crowds,you  can take your dog on the beach and the rates are cheaper. My parents rent a house in Ocean Lakes for the  entire month for what it costs in peak season for a week.This is an excellent advantage to homeschooling. You don’t need to fight for your spot on the beach at the same time as everyone else. The weather is still nice and the water is warm.

Ocean Lakes offers a lot of options for visiting Myrtle Beach. You can rent a house or you can bring your own camper and use their hookups. They also offer fresh water fishing at their lakes, there are planned activities such as exercises classes or Bingo ( a family favorite) and they have a convenience store, fast food restaurant and laundromat. It is convenient to grocery stores, restaurants and shopping. So you have the option of staying in the park the whole time because there is plenty to keep you busy, or you can venture out and see what else the city has to offer.

myrtle beach 1Most of the beach homes you rent come with a golf cart that you can use to get around the 310 acres. It’s the largest campground on the East Coast, so this is a definite break of our habit of staying in State Parks. This place has the extra bells and whistles, you can paint ceramics or swim in the heated pool. We enjoy taking a morning or two to spend painting ceramics together, it’s always relaxing and the kids always end up with a masterpiece. This year they added a new water park that we are looking forward to testing out. The showers are newer and cleaner and nicer than your standard ones at a State Park.

So this was going to be the first time I stayed at Ocean Lakes in a camper. Previously I had always stayed with my parents in a beach house. Now there were six of us, so we felt the camper would give everyone there own space but we could still spend time with my parents. We love the idea of camping so close to the beach. The kids were able to ride their bikes to the ocean and around the campground, including back and forth to their grandparents. My parents stayed in a beach house, we set up  our camper at a campsite. We met for dinners at their beach house. There are no fire rings at Ocean Lakes. Usually when I camp I do all of our cooking over an open fire, that isn’t an option here. So it was nice to be spoiled by mom’s cooking each evening. It’s a nice way to meet in the middle with vacation with my parents. My dad isn’t one for eating out, but he enjoys are family meals together, so it works for us all.

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My dad

We usually spend our time taking long walks to the pier. My parents take their Jack Russell with them. She’s getting old and they end up carrying her most of the way. We always meet interesting characters to talk to along the way. Sometimes we’ll see a fisherman catch something, and that will give the kids something to get excited about. We pick up interesting shells along the way.  At one of the piers we usually walk out and spy on the sharks below. It amazes me how close they are and how big they are, I know I won’t be swimming next to the pier anytime soon.

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Late night beach walks with glow sticks, you can’t beat it! 

We enjoy Bingo nights on Mondays, where the crowd in October is mostly Senior Citizens. We compete for junk food and free ice cream cones from the Snack Shack. You wouldn’t believe the thrill of excitement that a getting five in a row can give a six year old, or a sixty six year old for that matter. It’s a lighthearted good time. Late night walks on the beach are always relaxing too. There is nothing like hearing the waves crash on the shore in the dead of night. So we take this time at the beach to reflect on all of the good memories we’ve had in the past and plan on making in the future.

We always look back to our time at Ocean Lakes Family Campground in Myrtle Beach with fondness. We make good memories and get to rejuvenate here a few days each year. We’re going back this year, we just made our reservations.  Do you have a place that you enjoy meeting up with family and making memories? What are your family vacation traditions?

 

 

 

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Fall Creek Falls

fall creek falls

 

Poose and I were married last June. Our first trip camping as a blended family was to Santee State Park in South Carolina. It was a success, we were ready to try out our hand at a place a little closer to home. Fall Creek Falls State Park isn’t very far from where we live, so we loaded up the children for a long weekend and headed out.

 

It was a short drive, and perfect for a long weekend. The campground is rather large ( 222 total campsites), and there were five camping areas from which to chose your site. We found our spot and got settled in. The kids enjoyed getting their bikes out and riding around the loop. There was a large field area in the middle which the kids would run through, play ball ,and at night place their chairs to stargaze. A small playground was tucked in one corner, the smallest children enjoyed playing there with their parents not far away. There were

 

cable trail

 

The campsites were relatively private, and deer would sometimes stroll through the campground, which was pretty exciting to witness. There were several great trails that we enjoyed.You need to drive to reach several of the trails.  A family favorite was the Cable Trail. You need to be in an adventurous frame of mind to tackle it and it is rated “Difficult”, but we were able to do it with Lil’ Z from when he was 6 years old. You hold onto a large cable to help you get down a steep embankment. When you are at the bottom there is a lovely swimming area and you get an awesome view from the bottom of the falls. We spotted a neat little water snake while we were there last time. I highly recommend you give it a try.

 

cable trail2

 

We rented boats one evening. The older kids rented paddle boats, and we rented an aluminum boat to do a little fishing. Lil’ Z was so excited to catch his first large mouth bass. The lake is large and peaceful, you can see people riding their bikes and walking trails. You can also catch a glimpse of the Inn on the lake.We did go one morning for the breakfast buffet at the restaurant inside the Inn. The kids were happy with it, and filled up. I would have preferred some real food at the campsite. It just made me think of a Shoney’s sort of breakfast bar. They called it a southern style buffet. I wasn’t impressed, but it’s nice to have it as an option.

 

The Falls themselves are beautiful, there are several trails to take you to see them. You can view them from the top looking down, if you don’t want to take the long trail down to the bottom. Go for both views for the full experience. The children had the most fun at the Cascade Falls. It was hot and they were ready to plunge into the cold water. The rocks are slippery and it’s best to wear swim shoes of some sort, but it was refreshing and adventurous. It is a dog friendly park, we met many lovely pooches on the trails and in the water. We spent our final morning doing the snake program at the Nature Center. We learned a lot and got to see some snakes up close and personal. Lil’ Z also completed his Junior Ranger program that day.

hanging bridge

 

We had a spectacular visit to Fall Creek Falls. It was the right mix of adventure and relaxation for our family.  The facilities were very well kept up. In fact they were nicer than most campgrounds. They also had a spot to buy fire wood and other necessities. There was also a small ice cream shop and store inside the park. We didn’t try out everything, apparently they have zip lining and horse back riding, but we have to save some things for our next visit, right?

Where is your favorite camping spot? Have you ever been to Fall Creek Falls?

 

Santee State Park

Santee
The fishing pier at Santee State Park, SC

Our family truly enjoys camping and spending time outdoors. Before Poose and I got married, each of us separately enjoyed camping with our children. I bought an old van that I used with my kids for camping, we’d take our tents and we’d enjoy our food over the open fire. Poose had a big 32 foot camper, with an outside kitchen and all the bells and whistles. It has been interesting for us to meet in the middle in our ideal camping experiences.

One of our first adventures together as a blended family was to Santee, SC.  Poose, PeeWee and Perry had camped there before with Lisa, ( Poose’s former wife, and Perry and PeeWee’s mother)ante before she passed away. They spoke highly of the beauty of the campground. We were attending a convention for the deaf nearby, and chose the Cypress View campground for the duration of our stay. I much prefer nature as my backdrop than the inside of a dingy hotel room anytime.

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The sunset at Santee is breathtaking

I was very impressed with Santee State Park. It is in a very serene setting. There are small walking trails meandering off of the main road of the campground. There are many trees throughout the campground making it feel cozy and unexposed. You can walk along beautiful Lake Marion, see the boats skimming across the water and watch people fishing. There is a pier nearby where we tried our hand out at fishing, but to no avail. There is even a beach type area where the kids were able to wade into the water.

Santee Park does offer rentals of Stand up Paddle Boards, kayaks and canoes through an agency that has a small hut set up there. We did rent a kayak and paddle board for an hour. It was extremely overpriced compared to other state parks where we’ve rented kayaks. The kids had fun nonetheless. It was just our pocketbook that was hurting at the moment. Overall though, the cost of camping with a family of 6 is  much more inexpensive than staying in a hotel, so we still saved money. There is a playground area , and small pier cabins that are available to rent.

The facilities are kept clean for the most part. Like most State Park restrooms, they are nothing fancy, but serve there purpose. We all take our water shoes to wear in the showers. Take your own soap, because there isn’t usually any at the sinks. We found the staff to be friendly and helpful. There is a small store near the pier that also offers a small wi-fi hot spot for those techies in your life.

One great experience we had was meeting some neighboring campers. It was three families together that happened to have children the same ages of our children. We had a wonderful evening together with the adults talking and sharing stories. The children played some pretty crazy card games and listened to music under the stars. It made for a wonderful trip, and we hope to meet up with those friends again. Our kids still keep in touch.

Santee State Park is a place where we camp about 3 times a year. We always enjoy it. Lake Shore campground was sadly destroyed by some flooding and storms, and is still closed. We have found the Cypress View campground to fit our needs. It offers beautiful views, a relaxing atmosphere and affordable clean campground amenities. It’s a great option for family camping.