Driftwood at the Boardwalk

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Alligator Adventure at Barefoot Landing takes the bite out of boredom for Driftwood’s guests

Driftwood at the Boardwalk embodies Myrtle Beach’s quintessential character.

For more than 70 years, visitors from around the world have stayed at this oceanfront hotel. It is a hop and a skip from the 1.2-mile Myrtle Beach Oceanfront Boardwalk and Promenade and the SkyWheel, an attraction with 1 million LED lights and the largest wheel of any type east of the Mississippi River.

Simply put, if you wanted to, you could just hang out in and around the Driftwood and have a glorious time without even driving your vehicle.

However, if you don’t mind burning a little a gas, Alligator Adventure at Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach is a perfect destination if you want to explore the wild side.

The reptilian kingdom is about 12 miles away from the Driftwood, and it is known as “The Reptile Capital of the World.”

Situated on more than 15 acres of wetland habitat in North Myrtle Beach, it is home not only to alligators but also crocodiles, snakes, lizards, frogs, turtles, tigers and other creatures.

The most famous of its residents is Utan, also known as the King of Crocs.  A native of Thailand, he is a hybrid crocodile with the DNA of a Saltwater crocodile and a Siamese crocodile. Utan is the nation’s biggest crocodile in captivity, measuring 18-feet and weighing about 2,000 pounds. Utan’s teeth look like spears, while the croc’s skin betrays his prehistoric lineage.

Utan lives in a specially made exhibit that is 5,000-square feet, generous room for his astounding size. The croc is one of more than 800 crocodilians featured at Alligator Adventure. The alligators range in sizes from eight-inch hatchlings to 15-foot bulls and cows weighing 500 to 1,000 pounds.

If you visit Alligator Adventure, you will see more than 300 adults in the primary exhibit chilling out while employees share intriguing information about these reptiles that outlived the dinosaurs. You also get a chance to see personnel feed the alligators by hand.

In addition to the outdoor alligator exhibits, other exhibits include the Crocodile Cove and the Lizard, Frog and Turtle House.

The biggest star of the Crocodile Cove is Tommy, a false gharial crocodile from Southeast Asia that is more than 15 feet long and weighs more than 1,000 pounds. Also featured in the same exhibit is Bob, a female American alligator born without a tail at Alligator Adventure. Bob has private living quarters.

As mentioned earlier, however, alligators are not the only celebrities at Alligator Adventure.

The Serpentarium is a haven for exotic snakes living in the state-of-the-art facility that is air-conditioned.

A giant green anaconda, measuring at least 25 feet in length and weighing 440 pounds, lives here. Also calling the Serpentarium home is a king cobra, a mangrove snake and the black mamba – the infamous African snake featured in the movie “Kill Bill Vol. 3.” Shaded in skin that is a gray charcoal color, it is one of the continent’s longest venomous snakes, measuring 8.2 to 10 feet in length, according to Wikipedia.

From creatures that slither to those that walk on four legs like Nadia and Aidan, sister and brother Siberian tigers, Alligator Adventure is an unique zoo that will wow you.

If you go:
What: Alligator Adventure
Where: 4604 U.S. 17 S. (at Barefoot Landing), North Myrtle Beach, S.C. 29582
When: Hours are from 9 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Show times for feedings and other activities vary.
Cost: Adults, $18.99; children (ages 4-12), $12.99 and seniors, $16.99.
Information: 843-361-0789 or visit http://alligatoradventure.com/
Directions: Start out going southwest on North Ocean Boulevard/S.C. 73 toward 16th Ave. N. Take the first right onto 16th Ave. N. Take the second right onto North Kings Highway/US-17 BR N. Keep driving north until you see Alligator Adventure on your left.

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