Even with Groundhog Day, the midpoint of winter, behind us – and early spring weather predictions by Punxsutawney Phil of Pennsylvania, Buckeye Chuck of Ohio, and Dunkirk Dave of suburban Buffalo, N.Y. – more chilly days, or at least, nights, will greet the Grand Strand this month.
Besides the bevy of theater shows, art exhibits and historical museums across the area, check out some other places to find fun and sunshine inside.
Trifecta of aquariums
The Carolinas coast from the Cape Fear River in North Carolina to Cooper River in Charleston boasts three aquariums, each of which might merit a day to tour and experience at a leisurely pace.
Each place also has some special residents, such as Gabby, a green sea turtle in the see-through Dangerous Reef tunnel at Ripley’s Aquarium in Myrtle Beach; Caretta, a loggerhead sea turtle in the Great Ocean Tank at the S.C. Aquarium in Charleston, where a Georgetown native, Kelly Thorvalson, manages the Sea Turtle Hospital; and Twister, a 2-year-old spotted eagle ray – one of several pups born from Beaker at Ripley’s Aquarium, whom Tim Handsel, director of husbandry, said has since been transferred to The Seas with Nemo & Friends (formerly The Living Seas) at Walt Disney World’s Epcot in Florida.
off 29th Avenue North in Myrtle Beach; open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays and 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays
Scuba diving shows hourly, alternating between Rainbow Rock and Ray Bay, and mermaid shows at noon and 2 and 4 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays, all free with admission: $22.99 ages 12 and older, $14.99 ages 3-11, and free ages 2 and younger.
Details at 916-0888, 800-734-8888 or www.ripleysaquarium.com.• S.C. AQUARIUM
100 Aquarium Wharf, Charleston, off Calhoun Street, on the west side of the Arthur Ravenel Bridge from Mount Pleasant; open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. through February, then until 5 p.m. as of March
Daily programs, free with admission – $24.95 ages 13 and older, $19.95 ages 4-12, and free ages 3 and younger – include “Leapin’ Lemurs: A Feeding Program” 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., dive shows at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., and “All About Alligators: A Blackwater Swamp Program” at 1 p.m. Also: Sea Turtle Hospital tours 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays-Sundays, for an extra $10 adults, $5 children. 720-1990 or www.scaquarium.org.
on U.S. 421, just south of Kure Beach, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily
“Dialog with a Diver” 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., “Creature Feature” 11:30 a.m., “Ocean Odyssey” 1:30 p.m., and animal feedings 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., all free with admission: $8 ages 13-61, $7 seniors and $6 ages 3-12.
Also: special programs for which preregistration is required and admission is included, such as “Aquarist Apprentice,” 2 p.m. Feb. 16, for $25 ages 13 and older, $23 ages 10-12; “Behind the Scenes” tours 1 p.m. Sunday and Feb. 24, for $15 ages 13 and older, $13 ages 8-12; and “Extended Behind the Scenes” tours 2 p.m. Fridays through Feb. 22, for $20/$18, respectively. 910-458-7468 or www.ncaquariums.com/fort-fisher.
Bowl and roll, and maybe with a glow
Choose from six places to bowl, most of which have cosmic bowling nights. Hours, and rates for games and shoe rental, vary per site:
• Frank Theatres’ Revolutions Entertainment, at Inlet Square, at U.S. 17 Business and U.S. 17 Bypass in Murrells Inlet. 651-9400 or www.revolutionsentertainment.com.
• Little River Lanes, 300 Bowling Lane, Little River, off River Hills Drive, north of U.S. 17. 249-0055.
• North Myrtle Beach Bowling Center, 1105 U.S. 17 S., North Myrtle Beach. 249-2695 or www.nmbbowl.com.
• Surfside Bowl Entertainment Center, 510 U.S. 17 Business N., Surfside Beach. 238-2695 or www.surfsidebowlingcenter.com.
• Waccamaw Bowling Center, 101 Gray Drive, west of Myrtle Beach, off U.S. 501, just west of River Oaks Drive and the Intracoastal Waterway. 236-1020 or www.waccamawbowling.com.
‘Bounce, rock, skate, roll’
Just like the Vaughan Mason & Crew roller skating hit from the tip of the 1980s, strap on some wheels and roll on parquet floors at either of two rinks. Admission and skate rental vary by site:• Dream Land Skating Arena, 4475 Privetts Road, east of U.S. 701, north of Conway; open 7-10 p.m. Thursdays (family and church night), 7-11 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, and 1-5 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays. Also, “Learn to Skate” classes available through Carla Ericson’s Skating Academy; call 385-3886. Rink details at 369-2055 or www.dreamlandskatingarena.com.
• Fun Warehouse Family Fun Center, 2349 Dick Pond Road (S.C. 544), between Socastee and Surfside Beach, a half-mile east of U.S. 17 Bypass; open 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, and noon-9 p.m. Sundays. 748-0302 or www.funwarehousemb.com.
Stay in on the SkyWheel
Ride the tallest landmark, the Myrtle Beach SkyWheel, for a towering, and at night, LED-colorful, view of the Atlantic Ocean coastline.
The gondolas are heated in cold weather, and air conditioned in warmer weather, so comfort is not compromised on a “flight” of three revolutions, which lasts about 10 to 12 minutes.
Hours through March are 11 a.m-7 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays, and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays.
Buy tickets – $13 ages 12-64, $11 ages 65 and older and military (with valid ID), $9 ages 3-11, and free ages 2 and younger – on ground level at 1110 N. Ocean Blvd., adjacent to Myrtle Beach’s Plyler Park, at Mr. Joe White Avenue.
Details at 839-9200 or www.skywheelusa.com.
The Children’s Museum of South Carolina has added a new play medical center, resembling an ambulance, and an imagination playground full of big, foam blocks with which to play; and Ingram Planetarium, in Brunswick County, N.C., highlights the heavens every weekend.• CHILDREN’S MUSEUM OF SOUTH CAROLINA
2501 N. Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach, also accessible from Oak Street, open 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays
Daily programs included with admission – $8 ages 2 and older, otherwise free – “Tales for Tots” 11 a.m. Tuesdays (and with Lt. Christian Sliker from the Myrtle Beach Fire Department on Feb. 19); “Alphabet Soup,” mixing science and literacy, 11:30 a.m. Wednesdays; “Animal Encounters” 11:30 a.m. Thursdays; and “Super Science!” 11:30 a.m. Fridays. Also: “It’s a Candy Land” 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Feb. 18 (Presidents Day), with $6 admission. Details at 946-9469 or www.cmsckids.org.• INGRAM PLANETARIUM
7625 High Market St., Sunset Beach, N.C., opens at noon Fridays-Saturdays
Its shows in a domed Sky Theater are set through May 23: “Astronaut” at 1 p.m., “Dynamic Earth” 2 p.m., “Zula Patrol: Under The Weather” (especially geared to young children) 3 p.m., and “Tales of the Maya Skies” 4 p.m.; and laser music shows, at 5 and 6 p.m. respectively – “Retro” and “Beatles” Feb. 15-16 and “Led Zeppelin” and “Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’ ” (not recommended for young children) March 15-16. Also, in “Math, Astronomy, and the Earth-Centered Universe,” 7 p.m. Friday,a discussion with Henry Steffens, learn about how humans viewed this planet’s place in space 1,200 years into the 16th century.
Admission per planetarium program is $8 adults, $6 ages 60 and older, and students; and $4 ages 3-4. Details at 910-575-0033 or www.museumplanetarium.org.