The Finer Side of Myrtle Beach
Over 13 million visitors come to Myrtle Beach annually — more than the entire state of Hawaii — packing the 10-mile stretch of sand. While the Grand Strand has long been known as a family favorite for warm weather vacations, the town has more to offer besides amusement park rides, miniature golf courses and $49 hotel rooms. With family living in the area, I’ve spent almost every summer of my life experiencing the resort town as a local and away from the crowds. Follow my tips to experience only the finer side of Myrtle Beach on a seaside getaway.
What to Do
While most of the area’s beaches are hopelessly crowded, the undeveloped beaches of the state park are quieter and cleaner. Admission is free for children age five and younger, while adults are just $5 and the park is dog-friendly year round. After sunbathing, visitors can explore Atalaya Castle, the Moorish-style remains of a stately winter home surrounded by palm trees.
Myrtle Beach has more than 100 golf courses in the area but Pine Lakes Country Club was the very first and still a favorite of local golfers. Built on natural dunes just a half mile from the ocean, “The Granddaddy” features freshwater lakes, rolling fairways and an Antebellum-style clubhouse credited as the birthplace of Sports Illustrated magazine.
The gardens opened in 1932 as the country’s first public sculpture garden on the grounds of four former rice plantations. Spanning over nine thousand acres, the preserve encompasses themed gardens, the Lowcountry Zoo and trails snaking through a natural ecosystem of enormous oak trees, fragrant Magnolia bushes and . From March to November there is a complimentary shuttle, making it easier for guests to see more of the sprawling estate.
Where to Eat
From morning coffee to freshly baked pastries and sandwiches, the award-winning restaurant (and wine list) has been a Myrtle Beach favorite for nearly 20 years. Owner Heidi Vukov was named South Carolina Restaurateur of the Year for her baked delicacies and homemade recipes. Don’t leave without ordering dessert – the bakery’s wedding cakes were awarded WeddingWire’s “Couples’ Choice Award” for 2016.
A short drive south of Myrtle Beach, visitors can find Murrells’ Inlet, considered the Seafood Capital of South Carolina. Serving Low Country cuisine on the waterfront since 1974, the family-owned Captain Dave’s Dockside Restaurant makes the most of its location with huge windows overlooking the marsh, giving diners up close views of passing boats and wild goats that inhabit the island across the waterway. Come early on the Fourth of July for a front row seat to the Murrells’ Inlet boat parade which sails by the restaurant.
Where to Stay
The Mediterranean-style hotel sits on a 370-foot-wide private beach and guests have access to the adjacent Grand Dunes golf course and tennis courts. The property features an indoor and outdoor pool with a waterslide as well as a full-service spa and was dubbed “the area’s most luxurious property” by Travel + Leisure.
The AAA 4-Diamond hotel “oozes luxury” (Fodor’s), from its quiet location on the Intracoastal Waterway. Spacious guest rooms start at 450 square feet and all have private terraces looking out at the waterway or the property’s private marina. Although not oceanfront, the resort reserves a private section of the nearby beach for its guests and provides a complimentary shuttle service for the five-minute trip. Guests also have preferred access to the Grand Dunes Golf Course and optional in-room spa services.