(ARA) - Basking on the beach or playing in the surf are high points of summer vacation for many people. In fact, going to the beach is among the top five activities for American leisure travelers, according to the U.S. Travel Association.
While beach time will always have its place in the hearts of anyone who loves being outside in summer, there are plenty more ways to enjoy the great outdoors beyond the surf and sand. Consider these tips from the outdoor fun experts at the Myrtle Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau:
* Warm up to wildlife - Look for an outdoor destination that will afford the opportunity to see native wildlife in its natural habitat. From dolphin watching to critter spotting, getting an eyeful of the local wildlife can be a fun, exciting way to enjoy the outdoors. Choose a spot that offers variety. For example, Huntington Beach State Park in the Myrtle Beach area of South Carolina is home to more than 300 species of birds, making it a favorite birding spot for both beginners and dedicated birders. Further south, the Center for Birds of Prey also offers weekly flight demonstrations of wild birds.
* Play on and in the water - When you want to really enjoy all the water has to offer, look for a beach destination that offers an array of water sports, from windsurfing and parasailing to kayaking or fly fishing.
* Romp under the water - Splashing in the surf is great fun, but don't overlook the cool things that wait beneath the surface. Snorkeling for brightly colored fish and coral is great for the whole family or, if you're more adventurous, shipwrecks serve as homes to underwater sea creatures and make interesting viewing for explorers. Look for outfitters like Coastal Scuba in Murrells Inlet, S.C., that offer scuba adventures for divers of varying experience levels.
* Get the lay of the land - When you want to wander away from the water, look for a destination that offers interesting landscape beyond the beach. The best destinations will offer a variety of interesting hiking and biking trails, appropriate for people of varying skill levels.
* Go guided and organized - You can work up a sweat and enjoy the great outdoors with more sophisticated fun, too. Golf is the ultimate refined sport and a healthy way to savor time outside. It can even be an opportunity for family time. In Myrtle Beach, 46 courses offer free play for children during the summer months, including Arrowhead Country Club, which is renowned for its scenic Intracoastal Waterway views and all-day tee times. Another unique Myrtle Beach opportunity is "paddleboard yoga." Surf the Earth, a gear shop in Myrtle Beach, leads a paddle to a secluded beach where participants enjoy core-focused yoga.
When it comes to outdoor fun in the summer sun, no one wants to miss the beach. But when you're ready to get off the beach towel, keep in mind the plethora of other activities and opportunities the great outdoors offer.