Why We Heart Myrtle Beach More Than Ever
Myrtle Beach is so beloved, it could easily rest on its laurels (i.e., its iconic boardwalk, the adjacent 60-mile stretch of gorgeous coastline, a million family-friendly activities, award-winning entertainment—and the ultimate laid-back beach vibe). But so many cool new things have come—and keep coming—to town, even loyalists will have to deviate from their long-established vacation routines to check out at least a couple of the latest draws. Here, five of our favorite cases in point.
The beach eats somehow keep getting better
If you’re already a long-time fan of Myrtle Beach—and odds are, that’s a yes—we wouldn’t dare suggest skipping your annual pilgrimage to Peaches Corner or Mammy's Kitchen. But this year, you’ll want to make room for some new eats, too. There are two recent additions to the scene—both waterside complexes—where everyone in your travel party will find something to love. THEBlvd’s 55,000 square feet on the beachfront beckons with—among other things—a big, smiling sugar skull. That would be Banditos, serving up a modern Mex mix that includes not-to-be-missed house fries (think adobo, salsa con queso, pico de gallo, jalapeno pepper, lime crema and guac). Or take in some music and Southern-inspired eats at Tin Roof, where the Nashville hot chicken could blow, um, the roof off your meal (in a delicious way, of course). For something less fiery, try the Dixie biscuit sliders with a side of fried green tomatoes and Pimento cheese.
Over at Dockside Village, the recent addition to Barefoot Landing, the waterside feasting continues with the likes of Lucy Buffet’s LuLu’s (yup, Jimmy’s sister’s place), where you’ll find famed Lower Alabama caviar (read: black eyed peas), seafood gumbo (the roux is reportedly stirred until the chef’s “arm falls off”) and fried green tomatoes. Also famous here: the range of specialized menus (gluten-free, shellfish-free, seafood-free, egg-free, soy-free and dairy-free).
Prefer an on-the-go tasting menu? The already beloved Carolina Food Tours is adding new tours in and around Myrtle Beach. Check out the Drinks of Market Common—a 2.5-hour walking tour that includes not just beverages (though the wine and cocktail tastings are superb) but also hand-made chocolates and—a personal favorite of the owner’s—Tupelo honey. Also look out for the forthcoming three-stop Breakfast Tour and Broadway at the Beach (there will be mead!). Or just check out a longstanding favorite: the night tour of Pawley’s island, where the craft cocktails are, well, off the hook (charred cedar Manhattan, anyone?).
The local artists are totally Grand-Stranding
As stellar as the surf and sunbathing may be along Myrtle Beach’s 60 miles of coastline—also known as the Grand Strand—art-viewing will soon rival beach-bumming as the preferred local pastime. Check out the new Grand Strand Art Trail map, where you’ll find a mix of galleries, museums, studios and—because you’ll need to refuel—restaurants. Every genre and medium is accounted for, and you can even DIY at one of the most singular stops on the trail: Conway Glass—housed in a historic building about 15 miles northwest of Myrtle Beach—offers glass-blowing classes a few days a week through April (in addition to studio tours).
The kids will have more reasons to thank you
Myrtle Beach has long been one of the nation’s most family-friendly vacation spots (see: Alligator Adventure, Broadway Grand Prix Family Race Park, Go Ape Zip Line & Treetop Adventure—and of course, the signature SkyWheel on the boardwalk). But the town keeps outdoing itself on that score. This year’s latest? EdVenture Myrtle Beach, a hands-on children’s museum with a focus on aviation and astronomy, where the interactive exhibits include a space ship climbing structure, a flight simulator—and a child-size, 1960s-themed house where kids can watch the first moon landing.
It’s the natural choice
The Grand Strand and surrounding areas offer up stellar nature-viewing, as you’ll find along the ever-improving Waccamaw Neck Bikeway. This hiking and biking trail—which parallels the coast—will eventually span the 27 miles between the Horry/Georgetown county line in Murrells Inlet and the bridge that connects Georgetown to Waccamaw Neck. For now, though, check out the almost 19 miles of trail, and allow for a leisurely stop at Huntington Beach State Park (the driveway comes right up to the path you'll be on), for the birding bonanza that awaits—to say nothing of the natural beauty of the place. Look out for Magnificent Frigatebirds, Roseate Spoonbills, Yellow-billed Cuckoos and 300 or so more of their fine feathered friends.
And if you get to Myrtle Beach before the end of March, check out J&L Kayaks’ new and limited-run paddle to the undeveloped little Bird Island, where—having traversed a salt marsh that's home to dolphins, crabs, herons, egrets and pelicans—you'll go ashore to see the fabled Kindred Spirits Mailbox. But whenever you arrive, don't miss J&L's most beloved offering: the Backwater Twilight Kayak Adventure. This easy, guided sunset paddle—which comes with a primer on the habitat and history of the salt marsh estuaries of North Myrtle Beach—lets you cast eight shades of light on the water thanks to specialized, solar-powered lanterns. Get your night photography skills (and waterproof camera equipment) ready.
You'll dig the new digs
Right on the Boardwalk, the South Bay Inn & Suites should come with a warning: Your kids won’t want to leave. Ever! One of Myrtle Beach’s newest beachside retreats, the property has an indoor waterpark. Yes, a waterpark. To say nothing of the game room and (for parents, too) the poolside Tiki Bar & Grill.
Speaking of things Polynesian, we're also loving the newly redone and reopened Waikiki Village Retro Motel by Oceana Resorts—and not just because this midcentury modern motel is so Insta-friendly (see: the bocce ball court and fab pool. Also great are the beach access, community grills—and free tickets to (or great discounts at) local attractions.
And if you want to stay a while—a common side effect of visiting—check out the new Residence Inn Myrtle Beach Oceanfront, a property geared toward extended stays: Pets are welcome; DIY foodies, too (even the studios have kitchenettes and dining areas)' and those who can't completely unplug from work (sorry!) will find all the requisite amenities to let you at least keep up appearances of taking care of business.