For many of us, pets are part of our daily lives, so it’s only natural to bring along our four-legged family members on family vacations.
According to a survey by the American Pet Products Association, the number of pet owners who bring their animals with them when they travel is up nearly 20 percent in the last decade.
As we all know, some pets travel better than others, while many dogs, for instance, seem predisposed for a good road trip. Just rattle the keys, open the car door, roll down the windows and away you go, tongues and tails wagging in the breeze.
And if you’re thinking about a South Strand voyage with Fido in tow, it’s not as simple as packing up a leash and some Milk Bones. That’s why Garden City Realty has compiled this guide to bringing your canine companion(s) to our beautiful slice of the Carolina coast.
Where can you even find a dog-friendly vacation beach rental? Well, Garden City Realty has you covered, of course.
But we’ll get to that momentarily.
This guide will also help you maximize beach time with your pooch, identify South Strand dog-friendly dining and libations, recreation/entertainment spots and point you to some expert hacks for traveling with your pup.
With the dog days of summer behind us, some of the local beach restrictions regarding dogs have changed with the season and we’ll get into that, too.
IN THE DOGHOUSE
First things first, if you’re planning a visit that includes bringing your dog along for the sun and fun, you’ll need a hound-hospitable place to stay. A doghouse, if you will – in the best way possible.
The good news is, Garden City Realty has a number of dog-friendly properties in its rental program to choose from. Follow this link to find a beach retreat suitable for Fido and family: https://www.gardencityrealty.com/garden-city-dog-friendly-rentals
Online, these properties are denoted with a paw icon. But be sure to verify before you pull the trigger and book your home-away-from-home that the property is indeed dog-friendly. If you need help, get in touch with one of our hospitable and knowledgeable guest services representatives at 877-767-7737.
Also, when staying at one of our pet-plus-people paradises, you must abide by Garden City Realty’s dog-friendly properties agreement. To get the scoop, follow this link: https://www.gardencityrealty.com/dog-friendly-property-agreement
An important part of this agreement to point out is the fact that puppies (younger than 16 months) are not allowed – however cute they might be.
BARK AT THE DUNES
Before heading out to the beach to catch some rays and waves with your furry bestie, it’s helpful to know the rules and local leash laws.
The beaches along the South Strand are located in multiple municipalities, therefore rules and restrictions regarding canines cavorting on the local sandy shores vary.
Here’s a quick breakdown of nearby beaches with public access:
Myrtle Beach – The south-end shores of Myrtle Beach are governed by the city’s laws, and there’s good news here: After Labor Day, dogs are allowed on the beach at any time through April 30, although they must be kept on a leash that does not exceed seven feet long. And you must clean up your pet’s dookie bombs.
Unincorporated Horry County – Fido is free to frolic on Horry County’s beaches (which include a good stretch of Garden City Beach) as well after Labor Day through June, provided he’s on a hand-held leash that doesn’t top six feet.
Myrtle Beach State Park – Although state-owned property, the park’s beach areas are in Horry County and follow the county’s ordinances regarding canines (see above).
Surfside Beach – The town that bills itself as “The Family Beach” only allows four-legged members of the family on its beaches from Labor Day through the beginning of May.
If you’re into legalese, read the full ordinance here: Mini TOC: Chapter 17 – ZONING | Code of Ordinances | Surfside Beach, SC.
Unincorporated Georgetown County – Including portions of Garden City Beach and Murrells Inlet as well as Litchfield Beach and North Litchfield Beach, dogs are allowed on leashes or under voice control from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Before or after that? Run free, run like the wind…but keep in mind beach accesses open one hour before sunrise year-round and close at 8 p.m. November through April 14.
Huntington Beach State Park – This beachfront oasis is dog-friendly, but dogs are not allowed on the north end of the park’s beaches. There’s plenty for Fido to explore on the south end beaches however, so fret not. Leashes of six feet and less are required year-round.
Town of Pawleys Island – The beaches on this laidback island loosen up even more in autumn as dogs are only required to be leashed May through October. According to the town’s website, “owners must have a leash in hand, have their dog under voice control and pick up after them.”
EATS, TREATS & FEATS
With a name like Dead Dog Saloon, you may be wary, however this sprawling eatery on the Murrells Inlet Marshwalk welcomes living and breathing dogs on its outdoor decks overlooking the marsh. Other eateries along the half-mile Murrells Inlet Marshwalk that don’t mind your tail-wagging buddy tagging along table-side outdoors include Bubba’s Love Shak and Mojo’s Marina Bar & Grill.
Murrells Inlet overall is a hotspot for your hotdogs as several dining and drinking establishments allow dogs in outdoor seating areas including Hot Fish Club, Tuna Shak, Pop Pop’s Pit BBQ, Graham’s Landing and the appropriately named Barking Dawgs Tavern.
On the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base which has been redeveloped, including the live/work/play section known as The Market Common, there’s Tidal Creek Brewhouse, which has its own fenced-in area where doggies can cavort while their families grab some brews and munchies.
You and Fido both might need to run/walk off that delicious dinner, so pay your check, grab your doggy bag and go stretch those legs at some nearby outdoor dog-friendly recreation spots.
Also located on the aforementioned former airbase, there’s Barc Parc South, the area’s original leash-free 14-acre haven for dogs to explore, including the large pond/lake as its centerpiece. It is open from sun up to sun down. For park rules and more info, go to: https://www.cityofmyrtlebeach.com/i_want_to/find/barc_parcs.php.
Likewise open from sunup to sundown, except on Wednesdays when it is closed for cleaning from 10 a.m. to noon, is the Surfside Beach Bark Park on Pine Drive next to the Surfside Beach Library. There are several rules for this facility, including the requirement of rabies vaccinations and current tags, so it is probably best to familiarize yourself with the regulations here.
A little bit different from the aforementioned public spaces, there’s another dog park in the Murrells Inlet area, but it is for patrons of A Dogs’ Way Inn, where the Barking Dawgs Tavern is also located. Patronizing Freeway Park won’t break the bank, however. Fees are $5 per pet per day and you must register your dog with A Dog’s Way Inn before utilizing the park. The park features three acres of fenced in grounds to roam, a fully-stocked fish pond, a bridge over the water, and no leash restrictions. There are several requirements for your four-legged pal at this spot, including proof of vaccination, so it’s best to check out their website to get all of the info:
The two state parks we discussed earlier also provide plenty of space for Fido to explore in addition to their beaches. Nature trails, boardwalks, a pier, and grassy open spaces are some of the things to investigate with your personal canine detective at both Myrtle Beach State Park and Huntington Beach State Park. Dogs are not allowed inside the parks’ buildings, including the famed Atalaya Castle at Huntington Beach State Park. Dogs must be leashed.
And be forewarned that both parks charge a small admission fee per vehicle.
Despite your expert planning, inevitably you’ll find yourself running short on Fido’s food and treats, or perhaps you forgot to bring a vital accessory (such as a leash). No worries, there are plenty of pet supply outlets on the South Strand.
There are some big box chain stores along with some mom-and-pops, for a nice variety of shopping experiences.
Competitors Petco and Petsmart are across SC 544 from each other near the junction with U.S. 17 Bypass. Petco is in SayeBrook Town Center next to Target, and PetSmart is across the highway next to Kohl’s. There’s also a Petco further south on Ocean Highway in Pawleys Island.
A new addition to the area’s pet supply retail options is Pet Supply Plus, just east of Inlet Square Mall. Other options include Pet Galley in Murrells Inlet, Coastline Pet Supply on SC 707 in Socastee, and Rocky Valley Kennels Puppy Boutique and Jean’s Pet Boutique, both in Surfside Beach.
And since every good boy and girl deserves a favor, why not reward your four-legged children with a tasty baked treat or chew? Make a trip to Pawleys Island to experience Woof Gang Bakery, chock full of treats, snacks and gourmet baked items that might even make a human’s mouth water.
Last, but certainly not least, you may be an experienced dog traveler but
check out these tips Garden City Realty compiled to get you ready for hitting the road with Fido as your co-pilot: : https://www.gardencityrealty.com/blog/traveling-with-a-dog/
And here’s 16 things NOT to do when traveling with Fido:
Also, check out this guide to traveling to South Carolina with your pooch: https://www.sciway.net/tourism/dog-friendly-travel-guide.html
By Kent Kimes for Garden City Realty