Fall into your happy place in Myrtle Beach
Some beach towns shut down after Labor Day—but not Myrtle Beach. Thanks to its laid-back atmosphere and a myriad of activities along its famed “Grand Strand” 60-mile shoreline, this welcoming South Carolina resort town keeps the fun going long after summer ends.
There are still the obvious coastal draws of sun, sand and lazy rivers, but this isn’t just a destination for beach bums. Outdoor enthusiasts, foodies, families, golfers and arts lovers all will find a way to get their fix in Myrtle Beach. Read on to discover how you can pack the most fun possible into your vacation.
Just because the calendar says it’s fall doesn’t mean the temperature cools down immediately. In Myrtle Beach, both the air and sea temperatures hover in the 60s and 70s through October, giving travelers another two months to sneak in some "summer" fun.
Fall means perfect weather for biking at the 3,500-acre Huntington Beach State Park or the seven miles of mountain biking at Horry County Bike & Run Park. It’s also a great time to kayak along the Grand Strand waterways like the Waccamaw River or the Heritage Shores Nature Preserve and the Intracoastal Waterway.
Accessible on land only by horseback or by sea via kayak, Waites Island is one of the last undeveloped barrier islands in South Carolina and located in North Myrtle Beach. Here you might catch a glimpse of bald eagles, blue herons, marsh hens, osprey and ducks in the fall.
A serene paradise, Brookgreen Gardens is an award-winning National Historic Landmark that spans 9,000 acres in nearby Murrells Inlet, a fishing village 10 miles from the downtown bustle. Guests are invited to walk around the grounds themselves or to join a tour. Admission tickets are good for seven consecutive days and give you access to the gardens, the Lowcountry Zoo, the Lowcountry Center and Trail and the Enchanted Storybook Forest. Head there Nov. 4 for Brew at the Zoo, which gives you a chance to sample more than 30 regional and national craft beers.
While you're in Murrells Inlet, join a dolphin tour where you can see them in their natural habitat. While some dolphins live near the coast all year long, October is a great time for spotting migrating ones as they move to warmer waters.
For a bird's-eye view of the area, head over to the SkyWheel, Myrtle Beach's landmark 187-foot observation wheel. Here, you can step inside one of the 42 glass-enclosed, climate-controlled gondolas, which revolves three times in about 10 minutes. There's room for up to six people, but if your party is fewer than that, you won't be seated with strangers.
You’ll find more than 2,000 restaurants ranging from casual to fine dining in Myrtle Beach, so there’s no question your appetite will be satiated. While land-based cuisine (think pizza and steaks) can easily be found here, seafood gets a starring role since fresh catches come in daily.
If you’re looking for even more seafood, that’s where the annual Little River Shrimp Fest (Oct. 14-15) comes in. Appropriately enough for this little historic fishing village on the northernmost fringes of the Myrtle Beach area, the festival serves up not only shrimp of all kinds, but renowned crab cake sandwiches, mahi mahi and more.
Later that month, dig into what’s known as a chicken bog. This South Carolina staple is a pilaf dish loaded up with chicken and sausage—and you’ll find some of the best about 30 miles inland at the Loris Bog-Off (Oct. 21), when home cooks compete while pros sell ready-made chicken bog—and 35,000 or so attendees leave very full and happy (did we mention the obligatory funnel cake?).
Wash down all that Southern cooking with a trip to one of the area’s many breweries. Located near the boardwalk, New South Brewing has more than 10 beers on tap; try the seasonal Oktoberfest or Big Wooly Mammoth Imperial Stout. At the Grand Strand Brewing Company, you can get your toes tapping with live music on Saturday nights; on Oct. 12 and Oct. 26, you can also stroll two blocks over to the Arts & Innovation District for “Nights at Nance,” free live music at Nance Plaza. Tidal Creek Brewhouse in Market Common offers 12 different beers, plus coffee for your designated drivers, along with a large breakfast, lunch and snack menu.
With breweries dotting 60 miles and limited vacation days, you might need a guide to get the most buzz from your brew. Follow along the Myrtle Beach Beer Trail by downloading the free digital pass; not only will your taste buds be rewarded, but you can also earn prizes as you go.
While the Myrtle Beach area is well-known for championship golf courses designed by the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer (more on that later), kids will probably be more interested in the 900+ holes of mini-golf (or putt-putt as the locals call it).
Red Dragon Cove combines Asian and pirate themes through its two 18-hole courses, which feature rock formations, a pirate ship and a dragon. Mayday Mountain Mini Golf recreates a chartered plane that crash lands on a deserted island; as you wait for your rescue helicopter, you play around the island, seeing waterfalls and lush greenery. Captain Hook’s Adventure Golf lets you wander through a skull cave and board Captain Hook's ship as you go around the course. Professor Hacker's Lost Treasure Golf has a train to take you to the first hole at the top of the mountain and then you play your way back down.
Up to four people can have a "Sloth Encounter" at Ripley's Aquarium, thanks to their new Sloth Valley exhibit that features two resident two-toed sloths, Rico and Cleo. This behind-the-scenes experience takes place with guidance from a sloth keeper during the animals' feeding time. If you prefer just seeing them from a distance, you can do that as part of regular admission.
For a different sort of thrill, head over to WonderWorks, a science-focused indoor amusement park, where you can soar on a zipline, experience zero gravity, lay on a bed of nails or design your own rollercoaster as part of its 100 hands-on exhibits. WonderWorks is easy to spot at Broadway at the Beach as the building is upside down.
Kids of all ages can get in on the fun at Broadway Grand Prix Family Race Park, which has seven unique go-kart tracks, two 18-hole mini-golf courses, an arcade, a bungee ride, bumper cars and rock climbing. The park is open through December.
For some nostalgia, head to the Myrtle Beach Pinball Museum, located near the Myrtle Beach Convention Center and only four blocks from the ocean. No need to bring quarters along; just pay an admission price of $12 and all games—dating back to the 1970s—are free.
If golf is your go-to for relaxation, outdoor recreation or a little friendly competition, Myrtle Beach is already on your radar, what with the nearly 90 courses that dot the coastal landscape. But visiting in the oh-so-mild fall, when daytime temperatures are just right, means you can stay out on the greens all day. Ditto the day after that. And the day after that.
With so many courses within an easy, um, drive—and such tee-friendly temperatures—you can get in three or four rounds over a weekend. Among the spots competing for your attention: Pine Lakes Country Club, aka “The Granddaddy”, which was Myrtle Beach’s first golf course originally designed by Robert White, the first president of the PGA of America. This historic spot less than half a mile from the ocean was also the place where Henry Luce's team had the idea for Sports Illustrated.
Seven local courses make Golfweek’s Top 200 Resort Courses list, including the links-style Grande Dunes Golf Club, which features five holes that play along the Intracoastal Waterway. Myrtle Beach National boasts three courses by the legendary Arnold Palmer, whose design shows off the area’s natural beauty (you’ll find everything from hardwood forests to low country wetlands).
The Dunes Golf & Beach Club opened nearly 75 years ago, and the Robert Trent Jones design has hosted USGA Championships as well as national, collegiate and state events. Take the rare opportunity to play the same holes as the pros—in 2024 the course will host the Myrtle Beach Classic, the Grand Strand’s first-ever PGA Tour event, from May 6-12. In nearby Pawleys Island, the Caledonia Golf & Fish Club is a relative newcomer, having opened in 1994, but the 6,526-yard layout quickly shot up the list of courses you have to play when you’re here.
Arts & culture
There’s more than country and karaoke bars when it comes to entertainment at Myrtle Beach. For starters, check out Alabama Theatre, located at Barefoot Landing. "Iconic" is a new production that celebrates the theater's 30th anniversary with a mixture of comedy, country music hits, Broadway and pop power ballads, classic rock anthems and more.
Head to The Carolina Opry at the Calvin Gilmore Theater; opened in 1986, it was the first and only live theater in the area for the next seven years. To this day, it remains an award-winning show that combined two hours of high-energy music, comedy and dance with state-of-the-art lighting, sound and special effects. This is not your grandmother’s "Hee Haw."
Take a trip to the only art museum in Myrtle Beach, the Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum and be rewarded not only with an interesting array of works but also free admission. The museum has 11 galleries and exhibits that change throughout the year. Upcoming exhibitions include Richard Hagerty's "The big uneasy" (Sept. 12-Dec. 10), Kristine Mays' "A time for everything" (Oct. 3-Dec. 31) and "Local stories matter: Rediscovering our region with the Athenaeum Press" (Sept. 21-Dec. 31).
A variety of fall festivals take place in Myrtle Beach from September-November, so your trip is bound to coincide with one of them. The Beach 'n Chili Fest (Sept. 29-Oct. 1) lets you sample and vote for numerous chili dishes. Harvest Home Festival (Oct. 7-8) lets families make scarecrows and decorate pumpkins at Brookgreen Gardens. Myrtle Beach Jazz Festival (Oct. 20-22) is a chance to listen to regional and local jazz artists.