Myrtle Beach, South Carolina has long been a top-of-mind choice for East Coasters looking to catch ocean breezes. Year-round sunshine totaling more than 2800 hours annually guarantee that visitors can maximize their time on the sand dunes and cruising around with the top down.
Why visit Myrtle Beach? Quite simply, it’s a city that unabashedly embraces all things kitsch. Though we could stop there, a drive from the top of North Myrtle Beach and down to Murrels Inlet reveals another side to the Grand Strand’s easy-going attitude. Whether you’re coming with kids, with your golf clubs or for your second time, we have mapped out things to do in Myrtle Beach and the stays you can’t miss on your weekend away.
When to visit Myrtle Beach
What to know when the cheapest months are to travel to Myrtle Beach? Check out our Myrtle Beach Travel Advice Calendar!
Spring break, winter break or summer break: all signs seem to point to Myrtle Beach. Predictably, trivago Hotel Price Index data shows that the most expensive months to score a room in MB is over the summer with a peak of $214 for the average room price in July. By mid-year, the city’s businesses and attractions are in full swing which also brings the crowds too!
Things then calm down going into the winter months where you can find average room prices hovering around $86 from December through February. Spending the holidays in town presents the opportunity to check out the Nights of a Thousand Candles, Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland and not to mention a mountain of Xmas shopping possibilities.
Myrtle Beach for Kids
Myrtle Beach has been a no-brainer when it comes to Spring Break as a family: plenty of wild attractions, comfortable weather, no fuss restaurants, not to mention the shopping temptations. We’ve broken down some tried and true highlights along the Grand Strand that should be included in your itinerary as well as our top family hotel pick to maximize on the good times.
When better than a beach weekend for you and your family to learn about what lies under the sea? On our list of things to do in Myrtle Beach, Ripley’s Aquarium is a must for some marine entertainment and education. Kids big on the ‘yuck’ factor will love the Aquarium’s Slime exhibit which introduces visitors to aquatic mess-makers like the mucuousy Mudpuppy and the slippery Banana Slug.
Meanwhile, Ripley’s most popular exhibit is the Dangerous Reef which immerses families in a underwater world of stingrays, sharks and snappers as you pass them on the 340-foot moving glidepath. Little ones will be able to spot a few Finding Nemo friends at Rainbow Rock which recreates a multi-hued Indo-Pacific coral reef.
When strolling the Boardwalk, pop into Peaches Corner, a Myrtle Beach landmark dating back to 1937. Peaches’ menu checks off all of the beach food classics — listing foot long hot dogs, root beer floats and hot fudge sundaes. Those with big appetites may try their chances at the Peaches Corner Challenge which puts iron bellies to the test– that being five pounds of their grub within a twenty minute time limit!
After a day in the sun, nothing soothes quite like Painter’s Homemade Ice Cream. The Myrtle Beach creamery stocks everyday favorites like banana, strawberry and kiwi, and churns out specialty flavors like pistachio almond, pumpkin and red velvet cake. Painter’s drive-in stand and picnic benches are perfect for enjoying your scoops outdoors, thereby sparing the car from being flooded with ice cream soup.
Not only is Myrtle Beach renowned for its concentration of golf courses, mini golf also figures largely into the Grand Strand’s love for all things golf. Try your swing at Hawaiian Rumble Mini Golf whose 18-hole course surrounds a fiery 40-foot artificial volcano. Mayday Golf presents two challenging adventures where families can putt their way out of a plane crash and back to civilization.
Dinner theater is taken seriously in Myrtle Beach. For buccaneer families, try out Pirates Voyage where you’ll be sailing the seven seas through a live action show and a Pirate Feast. Alternatively, princes and princesses can cheer on their knights at Medieval Times as they exhibit their mastery during the Tournament of Games.
trivago Kids hotel Pick: Marriott Oceanwatch Villas at Grande Dunes
Space is the name of the game at the Marriott Oceanwatch Villas at Grande Dunes and lucky for families, all of the property’s two bedroom, two bathroom villas can sleep up to eight! Villa rentals are built around family comforts with fully-stocked kitchens, separate living rooms and dining areas, and balconies. The two-bedroom units can afford parents some privacy while kids make use of the two queen beds in the second bedroom and the sofa bed in the living room.
Around the smoke-free property grounds, families can make use of the on-site grill, restaurant and two pool bars. Kids can check out the MAZE Kids Club between hanging out at the hotel’s indoor and outdoor pools. trivago users have rated the Marriott Oceanwatch Villas at Grande Dunes the top rated three star property in Myrtle Beach– check-in to experience it for yourself!
Myrtle Beach for Golfers
Myrtle Beach and golf are as inseparable as sand and surf. Over 100 golf courses call the Grand Strand home and in 2013 alone, around 3.2 million rounds of golf were played in the Myrtle Beach area. Visitors come from near and far to tee off at what has long been considered America’s premiere golf destination. A temperate climate translates to year-round golfing at these low-country courses.
The view from above when landing in Myrtle Beach may look like a thousand-hole golf course and that isn’t far from the truth. Superstar courses include the Dunes Golf & Beach Club, the Caledonia Golf & Fish Club over on Pawleys Island and the four 18-hole courses at Barefoot Resort & Golf designed by the likes of Pete Dye, Davis Love III, Tom Fazio and Greg Norman.
If you’re looking to pick up a new set of clubs while in Myrtle Beach, find your fit at the PGA Tour Superstore and at Golfsmith just across Highway 17 in North Myrtle Beach. They’ll have you outfitted from head to toe, and equipped with a new umbrella, rangefinder, and of course a travel bag to bring those new irons home. For discounted products, shop the TaylorMade Golf Factory Store at the Tanger Outlet.
If your group is playing an afternoon round in the south by Garden City, why not wrap up the evening at the Gulfstream Café by Marlin Quay Marina. There’s something special to be said about enjoying fresh caught seafood when it’s paired with a view of Murrells Inlet at sunset. The best of surf includes their Oyster Shooters, Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes and Southern Fried Seafood Platter. Turf warriors can’t go wrong with their 9 oz. Filet Mignon.
Looking to take a day off from the putting green? Cast your lines over on the Cherry Grove Pier where you can try your luck at catching some sea trout, pompano, sheepshead, or King and Spanish mackerel (best caught from the King spaces at the end of the pier). Their Tackle Shop can hook you up with rod rentals and an admission fee is charged for a fishing pass which includes State and County permits.
trivago Golfers hotel Pick: Marina Inn at Grande Dunes
Our choice for a home-base during a Myrtle Beach golf weekend is the Marina Inn at Grande Dunes. Overlooking the Grande Dunes Resort Course, the hotel is within a short drive of other Intercoastal Waterway courses such as the Dunes Golf and Beach Club, Pine Lakes Country Club, Arcadian Shores Golf Club and Barefoot Resort & Golf.
Four-star amenities at the Marina Inn include private beach access, an indoor pool and fitness center, ten tennis courts and in-room spa services (how does a post-round deep tissue massage sound?) Room sizes vary from Grande Guest Rooms (King or two Queen beds) up to their Four Bedroom Condos with a wrap-around balcony and space for nine golfers. Hotel dining options include farm-to-table dining at Waterscapes and lighter fare at Reflections and the Anchor Café. Guests rushing off to their tee time can pre-order a Grab & Go breakfast box or Quick & Easy lunch box to grab on their way out the door.
Myrtle Beach for Second-Timers
You know the Boardwalk like the back of your hand, you’ve ended up at Planet Hollywood for one too many dinners and your mini putt game is on point – there is no doubting your status as a Myrtle Beach regular! If your usual MB weekend ritual is getting a bit stale, we’ve got some Carolinian-approved additions to shuffle your itinerary and see the Grand Strand in a new way.
There is nothing quite like a morning ride along the beach by horseback. Be guided by the folks at Horseback Riding of Myrtle Beach or Inlet Point Plantation who can take you out on a sandy walk or trot depending on your experience level. With soft waves crashing in the background and a gentle breeze, this taste of paradise cannot be missed.
Originally serving as the winter residence of sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington, Murrells Inlet’s Atalaya Castle may look slightly out of place in South Carolina. The castle was built in a Spanish-Moorish style and dates back to 1931 though it has sat empty since being vacated during the Second World War.
Take your time wandering the property weaving in and out of the living quarters and former animal pens (where Huntington would keep subjects for her sculptures). Ghost hunters may be interested in knowing that the castle is reputed to have some paranormal activity. Non-believers meanwhile can take in the undisputed serenity of the palm tree canopies casting over the compound.
Nearby, Brookgreen Gardens is perhaps one of Huntington’s largest creations comprising thousands of flowers landscaped across 9100 acres of land. Take your time strolling down the enchanting Live Oak Allée under the shade of the 300-year old oak trees dating back to the Gardens’ former life as a plantation. Aside from the impressive exhibits of horticulture, Brookgreen Gardens is sprinkled with sculptures reflecting a variety of styles and is home to its own Native Wildlife Zoo.
Photo courtesy of the Lee’s Inlet Apothecary Facebook page
Though it may seem bizarre for us to be recommending a pharmacy on our Myrtle Beach guide, Lee’s Inlet Apothecary is more than a neighborhood dispensary. In the olden days, drugstores often offered handcrafted sodas as part of their remedies and Lee’s Inlet continues that tradition today, you don’t even need a prescription! Their soda fountain and lunch counter is a recommended pit stop on the way down to Huntington Beach State Park. Their Good Deeds Goods store-in-store concept stocks socially-minded gifts and housewares that make great souvenirs “with a difference” for friends and family back home.
South Carolina’s soul food just isn’t the same without the zing of hot peppers. So there’s no kidding around the fact that Myrtle Beach has a store dedicated to this fiery fruit. Pepper Palace carries jars upon jars of spicy fruit salsas, barbecue rubs and straight-up hot sauces. Staff are happy to let you sample your way up the Scoville Scale and even for piquant-phobic visitors, browsing the satirical and hardcore labels can be just as much fun.
trivago Second-timers Hotel Pick: Surfside Beach Resort Hotel
Straddling the airport and Pawleys Island, Surfside Beach Resort Hotel is far enough removed from the commotion of the city to unplug yet well-placed enough for easy driving to all the things to do in Myrtle Beach. You won’t be disappointed by any of the property’s 160 ocean view rooms offering unobstructed views of the Atlantic and Surfside Pier (an excellent casting point for some weekend fishing).
Newly renovated rooms can comfortably sleep four and include family-friendly amenities like mini fridges and microwaves. A beachside swimming pool and hot tub are on hand should the waters be a bit too rough for an ocean dip. Cork & Canvas and Karaoke nights at Scotty’s Beach Bar promise a good time past sunset.
Did we leave you out in our weekend guides?
We want to hear what is your Myrtle Beach weekend style.
*Cover image courtesy of the Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach Facebook page