You might surmise from its name that Myrtle Beach in South Carolina is the kind of place where beach-related activities are high on anyone’s must-do list – and you would be right. But Myrtle Beach is about more than its beaches, and in fact the area most people visit when they say they’re going to Myrtle Beach encompasses several towns along the coast.
Myrtle Beach is a small city where visitors outnumber residents by a huge margin every year. The whole area around Myrtle Beach is far more developed than you might expect of a city this size, and it probably won’t surprise you to learn that much of that development is in the way of big hotel and condo buildings along the beachfront. Finding a place to stay in Myrtle Beach isn’t usually the problem, it’s finding one in your price range – especially in the high season, when the best deals are snapped up quickly.
The Atlantic Coast is dotted with beach towns that are far less touristed, but those places also tend to have less going on – so if you’re planning a trip for a group with diverse interests Myrtle Beach may be a great solution.
There’s an airport in Myrtle Beach but it’s pretty small, so you’re likely to have to stop at a bigger airport to change to a smaller plane for the final leg of your journey. Once in Myrtle Beach, you’ll need a car to get around – but be warned that traffic can get bad and it can take quite a bit longer to get from place to place than you might expect.
Here are some of the top things to do in and around Myrtle Beach.
Hit the Beach
As mentioned, the most obvious and popular attraction in Myrtle Beach is the beach itself. There’s roughly 10 miles of shoreline to enjoy, although you’d be amazed how quickly it all gets claimed during the high season. If your budget allows, staying in a Myrtle Beach beachfront hotel or a condo vacation rental makes for a much nicer trip, because you won’t have to worry about driving to the beach from wherever you’re staying and finding a parking place. You’ll also be able to get an earlier start on staking out your spot on the beach if all you have to do is walk from your building straight onto the beach.
There are all kinds of water sports you can do in Myrtle Beach, including kayaking, fishing, parasailing, windsurfing, scuba diving, and jet skiing. You can go on sailing or boating tours, either to seek out sea life (dolphins included) or just to enjoy being on the water, and you can take lessons on sailing, surfing, and even catamarans.
Don’t miss the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk, too, which just opened in 2010 and has already been named National Geographic’s #3 boardwalk in the country.
Second only to the beach in Myrtle Beach in terms of popularity is golf. And you don’t have to be a serious golfer or even any good to get out and enjoy one of the area’s many golf courses.
There are more than 100 golf courses in and around Myrtle Beach, many of which have been designed by the world’s most famous golfers. Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Greg Norman have all lent their design skills to golf courses in the Myrtle Beach area. Some of Myrtle Beach’s golf courses are incredibly challenging, and most of them take advantage of their beautiful natural surroundings so that even if you’re frustrated by your game you’ll at least have something pretty to look at.
Serious golf not your thing? If you don’t want to visit one of the lesser-known courses in the area or take golf lessons during your trip, may we suggest one of the miniature golf courses in Myrtle Beach instead? This area is known for golf, sure, but with 50 miniature golf courses in addition to all the real golf courses, it’s also known as the “miniature golf capital of the world” with more miniature golf courses per square mile than anywhere else.
Amuse Yourself at Amusement Parks
There are lots of amusement parks in and around Myrtle Beach, making it easy to visit a few of them during one trip without feeling like you’re stuck with one option.
Myrtle Waves is a huge water park, one of the biggest on the east coast, and the popular Family Kingdom Amusement Park is one of those fantastic old-school parks you expect every coastal city to have. During the high season, the Freestyle Music Park has regular concerts as well as music-themed carnival-style games and rides. And inside Broadway at the Beach there’s an aquarium, movie theatre, IMAX theatre, restaurants, and shops.
Experience the Opry
You don’t have to go all the way to Nashville to visit the Opry – well, you do if you’re looking for the authentic “Grand Ole” version – but Myrtle Beach has its very own Opry you can check out in Myrtle Beach: The Carolina Opry.
The Carolina Opry opened in 1986, and it offers a few different shows to choose from. You can check out the classic Opry show, which is two hours of music, comedy and dance, or you can check out one of the more modern variations. There’s a multimedia show with music from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, a series of laser light shows set to different musical genres, and a holiday show that runs before Christmas.
Tickets aren’t cheap for any of the performances, but it’s an award-winning show and good for all ages.
Check Out Life in the Fast Lane
If music isn’t your style and you’re tired of golf and the beach, you might enjoy a day spent at the Myrtle Beach Speedway.
Although there aren’t major NASCAR races at Myrtle Beach any longer, there are still regular car races that run every week from the spring through the fall. Saturdays at Myrtle Beach Speedway during racing season mean races starting around 5pm and going for several hours. There are races for stock cars, mini-stock cars, and super trucks – and the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stock Cars series still races at Myrtle Beach. It’s general admission seating in the grandstands, and it’s not a terrible idea to bring earplugs for everyone, but an evening watching the races at Myrtle Beach Speedway can be a fun summertime activity.
For a blend of car racing and amusement parks, there’s always the NASCAR SpeedPark in Myrtle Beach, a series of go-kart tracks with different racing levels to appeal to just about everyone – plus a variety of amusement park rides, attractions, and NASCAR-themed restaurants as well.
Test Lady Luck
Say the word “casino” and you might readily think of Las Vegas or Reno, but there’s all kinds of gaming in Myrtle Beach, too.
Technically speaking, gambling isn’t legal in South Carolina, but the clever folks in Myrtle Beach have found a way around that. If you’re interested in tempting fate and seeing if Lady Luck will smile on you, you can hop on a “casino cruise” – a gaming boat that opens for business as soon as it hits international waters. The ships have all the card games, roulette wheels, and slot machines you’d expect, as well as live entertainment and fine dining.
There’s no browsing the gambling and wandering off to the beach or an amusement park if you get bored, of course, since you’re on a boat way off the coast. But if you know that spending five hours on a casino cruise won’t make you stir crazy then it’s a fine way to spend a day or an evening.