Myrtle Beach—Not Just a Local Secret Anymore
These 60 miles of South Carolina beachfront have long been a vacation staple among nearby families looking for a budget- and kid-friendly stays. But lately, thanks to a host of new flights -- in fact, there are now more nonstop flights to Myrtle Beach than to Charleston -- folks are flocking from all over. Here are seven more reasons why.
Getting there is a breeze
All those nonstop flights to Myrtle Beach International Airport -- from 40 cities and counting -- aren’t the only easy way to get there. Myrtle Beach is also within driving distance of plenty of places. See how long (or short) the drive is from your hometown.
Hotel stays won’t break the bank, even in peak season
Beach towns tend not to be hotbeds of summer deals, but Myrtle Beach happily bucks the trend with frequent seasonal discounts on the city’s 10,000-plus hotel rooms. In fact, not only are the rates reasonable -- sometimes even eye-popping -- but many apply to lodging with kitchenettes, so you can save money on meals, too. Longer stays often get you an extra night free, and midweek stays tend to be cheaper than the weekends.
Parental bonus: Many of these hotels not only have pools; some have lazy rivers and in-house water parks. Hello, Parents of the Year status!
This swath of ocean offers endless diversions
All 60 miles of sand along the “Grand Strand” are public and free, giving you plenty of room to spread out. Though hotels typically don't provide free beach chairs, you’re welcome to BYO or rent.
With summer temperatures in the low 80s, the water calls to both swimmers and lovers of water sports, with the short list of options including banana boats, paddleboards, kayaks, Jet Skis and parasailing.
To go even deeper, as it were, you can learn to dive here if you’re not already certified -- or take your skills to the next level if you are: Scuba Express at Express Watersports offers everything from basic skills to oh-so-zeitgeisty freediving courses. Regardless of how you descend below the surface, highlights of what you might see include wrecks from World War II and the Civil War, as well as artificial reefs.
On the other hand, if you want to ensure encounters with at least a couple of undersea A-listers, you can always sign up to dive with sharks or swim with stingrays at Ripley’s Aquarium.
So do the waterparks
Sure, your hotel might have its own water park (we’re looking at you, Crown Reef Beach Resort guests), but there are plenty of others worth checking out as well from mid-May through mid-September. Among Myrtle Waves Water Park’s many offerings is the beloved FlowRider, which simulates wave-riding. If surf and turf is more your thing, consider Wild Water & Wheels, where you’ll find not only, wave pools, bumper boats and waterslides but also mini golf and a go-kart racetrack. Perhaps the friendliest to little kids, Splashes Oceanfront Water Park offers water flumes, a lazy river and kiddie pools.
You can have plenty of fun staying dry, too
The Myrtle Beach area is renowned for championship golf courses designed by the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, but here’s the thing: Everyone from toddlers to grannies can rock the 900+ holes of mini-golf (or Putt-Putt as the locals call it). Hawaiian Rumble is an 18-hole miniature golf course built around a tropical garden with a show-stopping 40-foot volcano smack in the middle. For its part, Captain Hook’s Adventure Golf lets you wander through a skull cave and Captain Hook’s ship as you make your way through the course. Not to be outdone, Professor Hacker’s Lost Treasure Golf has a train to take you to a mountaintop first hole before you play your way back down.
Not that golf has a monopoly on the fun: Straight-up amusement parks abound here, too. You can soar on a zipline or design your own roller coaster at WonderWorks; spin around on the Tilt-a-Whirl or scream on a wooden roller coaster at the Family Kingdom Amusement Park on Ocean Boulevard; or ride the teacups and fly through the air on a pirate ship at Pavilion Park.
For a more peaceful setting, walk around Brookgreen Gardens, a sprawling and award-winning National Historic Landmark in Murrells Inlet, a fishing village 10 miles from Myrtle Beach’s downtown bustle. Admission tickets are good for seven consecutive days and grant you access to the gardens, the Lowcountry Zoo, the Enchanted Storybook Forest and the Lowcountry Center and Trail.
The food's fabulous
Part restaurant, part beach bar, RipTydz Oceanfront Grille & Rooftop Bar is the latest dining establishment on the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk. Dishes range from salads to gut-busting seafood bar towers (the signature “Rip Tyde” includes a dozen raw oysters, half a pound of shrimp, two lobster tails, a Dungeness crab cluster, smoked salmon and two king crab clusters). Meanwhile, at the longstanding Boardwalk favorite Sea Captain's House, a cozy 1930s cottage overlooking the ocean, try the pecan crusted grouper or traditional shrimp and grits.
If you want to get away from the main drag, head to the MarshWalk in Murrells Inlet. This half-mile wooden boardwalk, where Blackbeard and company reportedly hid their treasures, is now home to foodie favorites such as Creek Ratz (known for its full raw bar); Captain Dave’s Dockside (try the Low Country steamed mussels), and the Claw House — a New England-style lobster house and raw bar.
As for the kid-friendliest options, check out the Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show, where you watch a swashbuckling battle take place on a full-sized pirate ship that sits in a lagoon in front of you. Alternatively, watch some jousting, cheer for your knight and eat with your hands over at Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament.
The summer nightlife is fab, too
Local businessmen started the Sun Fun Festival to lure tourists in the early '50s — and it’s still going strong. Taking place June 1-3, the family-friendly festival includes face painting, music and fireworks.
Then, from June 7-10, some of country music’s biggest names -- including Luke Bryan, Toby Keith and the Zac Brown Band -- hit the stage at the oceanfront Carolina Country Music Fest.
And from June through August, the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk hosts “Hot Summer Nights,” a series of free events Monday through Saturday. The 2018 schedule isn’t yet posted, but expect musing and dancing aplenty.
For even more dancing -- specifically, line dancing -- head to Duck’s Beach Club on Main Street. And to learn Shag -- the official state dance of South Carolina (who knew there was such a thing?) -- head to Fat Harold’s Beach Club, where you can take a beginner’s course on the fun and fancy footwork and twirls.
If you’d rather kick back and let others entertain you, consider Broadway at the Beach, a massive entertainment complex that includes a comedy club, restaurants and nightclubs. One crowd favorite here? Legends in Concert, where you’ll find rotating tribute acts that include Bruno Mars, Tim McGraw, Cher, Shania Twain, and of course, Elvis, this summer.