Visiting Santee Coastal Reserve With Toddlers

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Why South Carolina?

After my solo trip to South Carolina in July, I knew I had to come back with my little loves! I had a great time enjoying some child free traveling. (its been awhile!) You can read about my most recent SC trip to Murrells Inlet, here. I love South Carolina so much and I knew my girls would too, so I made a point to bring them back this weekend. Let me tell you, this trip did not disappoint.

We visited Santee Coastal Reserve and Pawley’s Island but most importantly we enjoyed each others company and spent quality (see:unplugged) time together. Something I have been focusing on a lot lately is giving each kid my total attention. Looking into their eyes and really making them feel like I’m totally invested in being with them.

Sometimes things are busy and I can feel myself giving them only the most basic of attention. (talking to them while I change their diaper, reading them a book before bed, etc.) Sometimes I’m given an opportunity to sit in the floor with them and play blocks, but I choose to work instead. Sometimes I lay out their crayons and coloring books for them while I get some school work done. It’s all understandable but it can give me a yucky feeling… I feel like I’m not giving them enough attention.

Instead of beating myself up over it, I’m going to change my mindset. I KNOW I have to do my work and my assignments. I know I have to raise my children. But balance doesn’t always come easy. So, this trip with my kiddos was really about giving them myself. Not busy making phone calls or busy reading a textbook momma…nope. Of course I have to work. I have to take pictures. I have to gather information. But most importantly I have to be the kind of mom I want to be.

Santee Coastal Reserve

I was very excited to see the reserve, the pictures I saw of the boardwalk and the wetlands were breath taking. However, what really had me sold was the chance to see deer, black bear, and alligators all in the same place. (an occurrence that I have only experienced South Carolina) The Santee Coastal Reserve is a wildlife management area where the Santee River empties into the Atlantic Ocean. They have hiking trails as well as a breathtaking boardwalk for you to get great views of the wetlands. The reserve is free and is open from sun-up to sun-down.

Pulling into the entrance of the reserve you’re greeted with a long sandy road lined on both sides by tall trees draped in Spanish Moss. Spanish Moss is one of my favorite things about the south! (that and the food of course..) A little advice before you visit Santee Coastal Reserve… BRING BUG SPRAY. The mosquitos are terrible in the summer months and you will be absolutely miserable with out it.

As you approach the signs for the boardwalk you will see two small parking signs on your left leading you into a small grass area where you can park your car. After we parked and literally SOAKED ourselves in bug spray we grabbed a trail map and headed out on the Marshlands Trail. After a quarter mile walk you will come to the boardwalk which is about a quarter of a mile long as well.

I was so disappointed that the boardwalk was over dry land. It not raining for a few days paired with the August sun meant we were greeted with a dry wetland. But, I always welcome a gorgeous swamp land, full of water or not. Given the circumstances we obviously didn’t see any alligators on this trip but we did see a HUGE majestic buck. I was thrilled to see some wildlife! The reserve, like most of the American south is absolutely gorgeous. It looks like a location where they could’ve filmed a scene for The Patriot. The highlight of visiting the reserve was how well my children enjoyed being there, even with the southern heat.

They walked hand in hand carefully stepping from board to board. The Spanish Moss hanging over our heads made our walk magical. The area gives off strong rainforest vibes! (A lot of places in South Carolina do) Our trip came to an end a little earlier than I wanted it to because our bug spray couldn’t fend off the mosquitoes any longer. However, I still recommend the Santee Coastal Reserve. …just not in the summer. haha!

Visiting Santee Coastal Reserve with Toddlers

A Southern Store Find

If you all know anything about the American South, you probably know that a popular southern delicacy is boiled peanuts. (You can read about my first time trying true southern boiled peanuts, here.) So, while on a little excursion to the store for some bug repellant before we visited the reserve… I spotted something very interesting. A CAN of boiled peanuts.

I had no clue that boiled peanuts were canned and sold in stores like this! They are definitely an acquired taste, but I should’ve expected that they would be sold like this because of how much southerns love them!

What are some other southern delicacies that I should try? Leave me a comment and let me know. Happy traveling!

You can follow along on my travels on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest 🙂


A Day at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens


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