Haven’t figured out where to go just yet for March break? Or maybe you’ve got an empty spot in your schedule and are looking for something different?
I’ve been lucky enough to explore a fair bit of the southern U.S.A., which is an easy drive from southern Ontario and Quebec. And I’ve found some pretty cool destinations that may not be on your radar, but should be.
First off is a fantastic little village called Murrells Inlet. It’s about a half hour south of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and it’s got charm by the bucketful.
You’ll find a short but enjoyable boardwalk along the marina and along some marshland areas. It also passes some wonderfully colourful bars and restaurants, where you can order up everything from high-end sushi to burgers and a beer.
Not far away is one of the best golf courses in the South, Caledonia Golf and Fish Club. You enter the grounds under a series of tall trees dripping with romantic Spanish Moss (a relative of the pineapple I’ve been told) and find a glorious, challenging layout with great conditions and stark white egrets stalking the nearby marshlands. Pull up a rocking chair on the porch outside the clubhouse, order a mint julep and watch the golfers ditch their approach shots into the pond that fronts the 18th green.
Also close by is Brookgreen Gardens, where you’ll find a huge variety of flowering plants and shrubs as well as fountains and statuary. Or you can try a fantastically quiet backcountry kayak trip with the folks from Black River outfitting.
A bit further south is Jekyll Island. There are tons of accommodations but I’m partial to the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, one of those throwback, “Dirty Dancing” kind of places with a ton of history and charm to spare. There are lovely nature trails to take, or you can rent a bike and take a ride on the hard, firm-packed sand on the beach. The sunsets are astonishingly pretty out over the Intracoastal Waterway, too.
Jekyll is famous for its fun and inexpensive golf courses. The state of Georgia owns the Jekyll Island Golf Club, and there are three full 18’s and a nine-hole layout. I find Oleander the prettiest of the bunch, but there are pretty holes on Indian Mounds and also on the Pine Lakes 18-hole course. Best of all, it’s just $32 US to play if you don’t take a cart. That’s the price of three tall boy beers at some courses in Ontario.
Not far away is Sea Island, Georgia, home to the old-England feeling Lodge at Sea Island and highly-rated golf from the likes of designer Tom Fazio and others.
If you’re looking for a bit more of an urban experience, it’s hard to go wrong with Delray Beach, Florida. It’s just a short drive from Miami and Ft. Lauderdale and has plenty of big-city amenities, but it’s also got a quiet, main street with one-of-a-kind shops and sidewalk cafes and locals who chat with one another, or with you if you’re so inclined.
The Delray Center for the Arts has great exhibits and live music, while nearby Morikami Gardens has beautiful paths and flowers and rock gardens, plus fascinating displays of Japanese history in south Florida.
The Hyatt Place is a surprisingly hip spot with a boutique feel, while the Seagate Hotel is a more upscale spot with great food that’s closer to the beach. You’re also only a short drive from the ultra posh Boca Raton Resort.