Surrounded by miles of sea, sky and spectacular South Carolina scenery, Myrtle Beach radiates coastal charm and a welcoming atmosphere. But don’t let the name fool you – there’s much more to the area than the beautiful beaches. Fancy getting up close and personal with a dolphin? Want to lose yourself on a world-class golf course? Eat your body weight in shrimp? Myrtle Beach has you covered. To help you make the most of your time in the area, also known as the Grand Strand, we present you with our first-timer’s Myrtle Beach guide.
First things first: make sure to set aside some time to spend on the beach – and to decide which beach to go to. With over 60 miles of coastline, you are officially spoiled for choice when it comes to golden grains.
Myrtle Beach itself and its Boardwalk are lively, bustling areas perfect for those looking to soak up the summertime atmosphere. But for something a bit quieter, the State Parks – both Huntingdon Beach and Myrtle Beach – are ideal. Plus, they have walking trails, campsites, and fishing spots to explore, too.
Pawleys Island is a chilled out, four-mile stretch, which is usually pleasantly crowd-free, while Surfside Beach – known as “The Family Beach” – is great for those travelling with kids of all ages.
As any Myrtle Beach guide will tell you, water sports are a big deal here. You can try your hand at anything and everything from banana boats to parasailing. And if you’re a fan of dolphins, book yourself a spot on one of the Blue Wave Adventures Dolphin Watch tours.
But there’s plenty to do on the beach in the off-season, too. Just swap your swimsuit for a riding helmet and take a horseback ride along the coastline with Horseback Riding of Myrtle Beach.
Food and drink
The spectacular seaside locale means that you should prepare to eat fantastically fresh seafood during your time in Myrtle Beach. Regardless of the time of day (the Crab Cakes Benedict make an amazing breakfast), the award-winning Sea Captain’s House, right in central Myrtle Beach, is a great choice – there’s a reason it has been consistently voted one of the best seafood restaurants in the area.
Head a little further afield, down to Murrells Inlet MarshWalk, and you’ll find yourself at the “Seafood Capital of South Carolina.” You’ll find a whole host of restaurants right there on the waterfront offering up the day’s catch. Wicked Tuna is one of the best, with incredible sushi, classics like Shrimp Po’Boy, and views out over the Grand Strand.
For a taste of the South, try the Fried Green Tomatoes or the Shrimp and Grits at Aspen Grille, or indulge with a full Southern breakfast at Magnolia’s at 26th or Mammy’s Kitchen. And should you be on Pawleys Island, grab a table at Frank’s Outback and sample the tastes of the Lowcountry in an open-air setting.
When you want to cool off from the South Carolina sun, try one of microbrews on offer at Liberty Tap Room or head over to Atlas Tap House and kick back with one of their 45 varieties of Bourbon (they also do a mean BBQ). Ocean Annie’s, on the other hand, is a great spot for cocktails in the late afternoon that turn into nighttime dancing and live music on the beachfront pool deck.
Shopping and other activities
Shoppers have a plethora of shopping experiences to choose from in Myrtle Beach. Hammock Shops Village, found on Pawleys Island, stocks clothes, collectibles and more in a peaceful eight-acre pastoral setting, amid the oaks and azaleas. Or go for an urban village shopping experience at the Market Common, the site of the former Air Force Base, perusing and browsing in over 50 shops. And for those with a penchant for unique one-off items, the open-air Hudson’s Surfside Flea Market on the Grand Strand is something of a treasure trove.
Over in North Myrtle Beach, Barefoot Landing offers a brilliant family day out. This picturesque complex has everything from top-notch shops and restaurants to attractions and entertainment, including a cinema and the hugely popular Alligator Adventure, which has live shows and reptile handling sessions.
Art and culture
No Myrtle Beach guide would be complete without mentioning the Myrtle Beach Art Museum, which offers a wide range of exhibitions. And if you have the time to venture a little further afield, then experience the South Carolina of old at the perfectly preserved Hopsewee Plantation in Georgetown.
A National Historic Landmark, zoo, gallery, and event space, the much-loved Brookgreen Gardens offer some beautiful outdoor space to explore during the summer months. Take a boat ride along the pontoon or a turn around the sculpture gardens before enjoying a long lunch in the Courtyard Café.
Myrtle Beach golf
Golf lovers will be more than satisfied with a trip to Myrtle Beach; there are more golf courses here than you can swing a golf club at – almost 100, in fact. But there are a couple that stand out from the crowd. For old school Southern charm, Pine Lakes (also known as “The Granddaddy”) and Caledonia are the greens to go to. For ocean views and great scenery, head on over to Tidewater Golf Course, or test your swing over at Dunes Golf & Beach Club on a course designed by the master himself, Robert Trent Jones Sr. (non-members must make sure to book tee times through Myrtle Beach Golf).
Then again, if you’re in Myrtle Beach with the family, you might consider swapping your trusty nine iron for a putter and pottering over to one of Myrtle Beach’s 50 miniature golf courses. Myrtle Beach Family Golf is a solid bet, with five fantastical themed courses to try.
Travelling to South Carolina? Then book a flight with Virgin Atlantic and Delta to one of over 80 US cities like Myrtle Beach.
Have you been to any of the places in our Myrtle Beach guide? Have we left anywhere off our list? Let us know in the comments section below.
Written by Giverny Tattersfield