Labor Day Road Trips Within 100 Miles of Myrtle Beach

You can almost hear it -- the air going out of the 2016 tourist season. From here on in, the crowds are pretty much limited to adults during the week as the kids head back to school. But there's still plenty to do on this last weekend and last day of the 2016 main visitor influx. Give the tourists traveling some distance time to leave town and then enjoy a road trip up Highway 17 from Myrtle Beach to Wilmington, North Carolina, with plenty of stops in between.

A Taste of the Grape

Throw caution to the wind and before you cross into North Carolina, make a quick stop at La Belle Amie vineyard in Little River. Even though wine may not be your favorite way to wash down breakfast, the vineyard offers self-guided tours and tastings during business hours, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

Turn Day to Night

See the night sky during the daytime at the Ingram Planetarium at Sunset Beach, North Carolina. Try to make it for the 1 p.m. show of Accidental Astronauts, a new addition to the facility's schedule, especially for children. It's followed with a scientist's look at the Earth, the moon and the sun geared toward youngsters.

Southport Goodies

Just across the Cape Fear River from Fort Fisher sits Southport. There are shops, galleries and antiques, a Christmas store and at the docks one of my all-time favorite restaurants, Provision Company.

Don't miss the grouper salad or the peel and eat shrimp. Then walk off your meal with a visit to the main drag, Moore Street, to pick up a Southport pickle fork, a silver plated (but look carefully and you might find sterling) fork where three of the tines are turned down, leaving one tine that fits nicely into that pickle jar.

Southport-Fort Fisher Ferry

Board the ferry for the 20- to 25-minute trip on the Cape Fear to Fort Fisher. Ferry staff will board your vehicle, but you can also walk on or ride a bicycle.

NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher

Feed the fishies, touch the animals, visit the dinosaurs and see the amazing animals that call Pleasure Island, which includes Fort Fisher, Carolina Beach and Kure Beach, home. The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher also offers paddling tours and net fishing.

Britt's Donuts

Hard to believe that there's a better glazed donut than a Krispy Kreme, but Carolina Beach lays claim to Britt's Donuts. They don't take plastic. Stop in on Labor Day or wait until next season. The shop closes for the year the following weekend.

Wilmington and beyond

Cross the bridge and you'll find yourself in downtown Wilmington. Take a sightseeing cruise on the river aboard a Cape Fear Riverboat. The last departure is at 4:15. Try one of the Riverwalk restaurants and then relax during a Cinematique movie at Thalian Hall, the opulent 1858 theater that has been in continuing operation since.

A.E. Crone is a freelance writer living near Myrtle Beach, S.C. She has written and edited for a number of newspapers and magazines.