Myrtle Beach is a popular East Coast destination for active families, singles, seniors and just about anyone craving some surf and sun. According to the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, more than 14 million visitors flock to this South Carolina resort area each year. There is something for everyone to enjoy in this lovely destination, thanks to 60 miles of beaches, thrilling theme parks, superb golf courses, plentiful seafood restaurants and lodging options in every price range.
Getting Your Bearings
The Grand Strand, as the Myrtle Beach resort area is commonly called, comprises about a dozen beachfront communities, each with its own charming identity. A few of the most popular tourist areas include:
- Myrtle Beach itself is the region's hub. It is a thriving city with a modern oceanfront boardwalk filled with shops, restaurants and the SkyWheel.
- North Myrtle Beach, the place where the 60's dance craze known as the shag was born, is home to some of the area's most luxurious resorts.
- Atlantic Beach, nicknamed the Black Pearl, has a rich African-American heritage that is celebrated with annual festivals and cultural events.
- Murrells Inlet is known as "the Seafood Capital of South Carolina," thanks to its abundant fresh fish and shellfish.
- Litchfield Beach boasts quaint shops, restaurants, quiet beaches and world-class golfing.
Myrtle Beach accommodations range from luxury oceanfront resorts to mom-and-pop motels to privately owned condos. Rates generally peak during the summer season (mid-June through Labor Day), while great deals pop up in spring and fall, ideal times for a golf getaway. Some lodging options include:
Marriott Myrtle Beach Resort and Spa at Grand Dunes
This pricey beachfront hotel features two pools, an indulgent spa, a waterfront bar and restaurant and rooms with ocean views.
Coral Beach Resort & Suites
Located about a mile from downtown Myrtle Beach, Coral Beach has the right stuff for families: kitchenette accommodations, ten pools, an eight-lane bowling alley and two casual restaurants.
Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club
Set amid 200-year old moss-draped oaks in a historical coastal area of Myrtle Beach, Pawleys Plantation provides a memorable setting for a Lowcountry golf getaway or family vacation. One, two, three and four bedroom villas offer views of a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course.
This Spanish hacienda-style inn sits about 300 yards from the beach. Guests can enjoy a daily breakfast buffet, an outdoor pool, free Wi-Fi and uniquely decorated rooms and suites.
There are a number of privately-owned vacation rental options in the area. Renting a beach home or condominium can be an inexpensive and convenient option for several couples or an extended family.
There are also plenty of camping options in Myrtle Beach. Whether you're planning to pitch a tent or stay in a full-size RV, there's a campground for you on the Grand Strand. Many spots are on the ocean and offer perks including fishing piers, pools and playgrounds. See Campgrounds Near Myrtle Beach for information on specific locations.
While spending time on the beach and in the Atlantic Ocean is a major reason people flock to Myrtle Beach, proximity to the water is not it's only draw. In addition to its golden sands, the Grand Strand offers plenty of kid-friendly attractions, including:
Myrtle Waves Water Park
Thanks to a million gallons of water and 20 acres of splashes, slides and waterfalls, South Carolina's largest water park keeps summer visitors cool when temperatures soar.
Family Kingdom Amusement Park
One of the last remaining seaside amusement parks, Family Kingdom has an old-fashioned wooden roller coaster, carousel and Ferris wheel that serve as nostalgic reminders of simpler times. There are fun modern rides as well, including bumper cars and the Slingshot Drop Zone log flume ride.
NASCAR Speedpark is the perfect place for high-octane enthusiasts of all ages get their thrills. The attraction features seven racetracks, speed bumper boats, kiddie rides and video games.
Spend an afternoon paddling through one of the area's saltwater inlets, richly inhabited by clams, crabs, oysters and a host of bird species. Local tour companies include Express Watersports and Marshwalk Watersports.
Brookgreen Gardens Zoo
The Lowcountry Zoo at Brookgreen Gardens features a variety of native birds and animals in their natural habitats.
Children's Museum of South Carolina
At the Children's Museum, kids are invited to touch, explore and play with a host of interactive, educational exhibits.
Ripley's Aquarium is South Carolina's most visited attraction. It features pools where you can pet a sting ray, as well as view hundreds of fish and marine life species.
Myrtle Beach golf courses regularly dominate Golf Magazine's list of South Carolina's best. With scores of top-notch courses to choose from, there's a at least one to suit every player, from public par-three fairways to landscaped championship courses designed by PGA legends. A few top choices include:
Arrowhead Country Club
Awarded "The Best of the Strand 2012" by WMBF News, Arrowhead is a 27-hole facility along the Intracoastal that's home to three courses: the Waterway, Cypress and Lakes Nines.
Named one of "America's 100 Greatest Public Courses" by Golf Digest, True Blue features an 18-acre practice facility, vast fairways and rolling terrain, making it one of golf's most spectacular settings.
One of Myrtle Beach's oldest and most revered courses designed by Robert Trent Jones. The Dunes is ranked among America's 100 greatest public courses by Golf Digest and Golf Magazine.
Designed for the novice golfer, Possum Trot is known as the "Friendliest Course on the Strand." The course used to be home to the Simply Great Golf Academy, where top-notch instructors can help fix your swing before you hit the first tee.
If you're in the market for an all-golf getaway or want to sample everything the area has to offer, Myrtle Beach golf packagers can tailor a trip to meet your unique needs.
Where to Eat
Whether it's soft shell crabs, a juicy steak or a crunchy taco, Myrtle Beach delivers the goods. The Grand Strand is renowned for fresh seafood, but families will also appreciate the generous portions and laid-back atmosphere of the region's many kid-friendly restaurants.
"Fresh Carolina cuisine" like wild local shrimp with cheddar grits and pan-seared hog snapper are on the menu at this sophisticated seafood spot overseen by Chef Curry Martin. Reviews on OpenTable.com indicate that you can expect both outstanding food and service.
Bubba's Fish Shack
For Bubba-size portions of serious down-home coastal cooking like fried fish, BBQ ribs and buffalo shrimp, head to Bubba's Fish Shack in Surfside Beach, just south of Myrtle Beach. One Yelp reviewer describes it as a "fun place across the street from the beach".
Mr. Fish Restaurant and Seafood Market
Grand Strand seafood lovers cheer for the specialty seafood sushi rolls and fish tacos made with fresh mahi-mahi at this landmark seafood restaurant and fish market. The restaurant is ranked in the Top 10 Best South Carolina Seafood Spots by Southern Living Magazine.
Sticky Fingers Smokehouse
Located in the Coastal Grand Mall in North Myrtle Beach, Sticky Fingers Smokehouse is a down-home BBQ restaurant. It's part of a popular Southeast chain that is well-known regionally is known for its hickory-smoked ribs and sauces.
Visiting shopaholics can indulge their passion at several sprawling centers in the Grand Strand, including two Tanger Outlet locations offering tons of name-brand discounts. Some of the must-visit shopping spots include:
The term "shop" is actually way too small to describe the 35,000-square-foot Callahans, which features aisles of nautically-inspired souvenirs, confections and collectibles, plus a vast selection of Christmas ornaments and decorations.
Broadway at the Beach
Offering great nightlife as well as more than two dozen restaurants, Broadway at the Beach is filled with scores of inviting stores and boutiques offering items ranging from apparel and accessories to giftware.
The Market Common
Famous name brand stores, a multiplex movie theater and dozens of eateries are the draws at this beautifully designed shopping village.
Grand Strand Vendor Market
Conveniently located at the south end of Myrtle Beach, this 80,000 square-foot shopping venue (formerly known as Myrtle Beach Flea Market) is a bargain-shopping experience you won't want to miss.
Coastal Grand Mall
The Coastal Grand Mall features more than 100 national stores including Ulta, Dick's Sporting Good and Bed Bath & Beyond, as well as restaurants and movie theaters.