MYRTLE BEACH IS HAVING A MOMENT
An idyllic ocean paradise and the jewel in the crown of South Carolina's Grand Strand, Myrtle Beach has emerged as the hotspot destination in the U.S. – and not just for its 60-mile stretch of pristine beaches. Here’s a curated list of experiences and adventures that will have you falling in love with Myrtle Beach for the first time, or all over again.
Myrtle Beach has long been a favorite for families but it’s also a paradise for lovers, honeymooners and weddings. Stroll hand-in-hand along the 1-mile oceanfront boardwalk and promenade to take in the breathtaking beaches and watch the gorgeous sunset. Embark on a romantic sunset sail with Enchanted Sailing Charters to explore the magical Myrtle Beach shoreline and South Carolina waters at dusk on a 44-foot sailboat. Or go on a horseback riding adventure along the beach with Horseback Riding of Myrtle Beach, where your southern cowboy tour guide will point out pods of dolphins, American Bald Eagles, pelicans, starfish, jellyfish, and horseshoe crabs and even serenade you with a song.
Rich in history, tradition and charm, The Grand Strand has 14 different regions, including magical Myrtle Beach and each offers a unique glimpse into the past. Once the hideaway of pirates like Blackbeard and Drunken Jack, this stunning stretch of coastline caught the eye of early British colonists who established settlements and rice plantations. Journey through yesteryear by touring Hopsewee Plantation, built circa 1740, four decades before the American Revolutionary War. This National Historic Landmark, now a private residence in the heart of South Carolina’s Lowcountry, is surrounded by ancient live oak trees dripping in Spanish moss. Explore the home’s wide halls, brick cellar, attics and two original slave cabins, and learn about its current owners, previous residents and the slaves who lived and worked the plantation. Afterward, enjoy lunch or tea at River Oak Cottage, one of the state's best tea rooms.
EPIC WATER ADVENTURES
Given Myrtle Beach's practically year-round balmy temperatures, beyond your sand time, there’s plenty of aquatic action to enjoy, especially for adrenaline junkies. Grab the crew and go for a banana boat ride, try your luck at parasailing or carve up the ocean on a jet ski. If dolphin watching sounds like your idea of the perfect holiday, book a group cruise or private charter with Blue Wave Adventures Dolphin Watch Tour. And let’s not forget the waterparks, three to be exact – Myrtle Waves Water Park, Wild Water & Wheels and Splashes Oceanfront Water Park – where you can get your thrills floating down lazy rivers, braving 100-foot water slide drops and splashing and sliding to your heart’s content.
As foodies embrace the concept of culinary tourism – traveling to a destination to experience its authentic, signature, local fare – it goes without saying that the cuisine in South Carolina is a deeply ingrained part of its culture and allure. The Grand Strand has thousands of restaurant options from the elevated to the laid back, and while the area is famed for its fresh-caught seafood (try Cypress Dining Room at Island Vista), the cuisines range from Lowcountry cooking (traditional fare influenced by the area’s French, West African, and Caribbean past) to classic American fare (the endless steak houses are head-spinning), North Carolina-style Calabash buffets and plenty of delicious Italian, (try Vila Romano).
The best place to sample its legendary seafood is in Murrells Inlet, aka the seafood capital of South Carolina, try The Wicked Tuna for epic views. You’ll find hundreds of Calabash (traditional lightly-breaded fried seafood) toward the northern end of the Grand Strand, while the Southern end is the heart of Lowcountry cooking – you’ll love the stone-ground grits, shrimp, blue crab, grouper and country ham at Sweet Carolina’s BBQ.
Myrtle Beach is also making a name for itself as a wine region and the best place to sample the fruits of its labor is at La Belle Amie Vineyard in the quaint town of Little River. Head to the wine-tasting room to sample private-label wines ranging from sweet muscadine to dry reds and bright whites. La Belle Arnie also hosts themed events with live music on the shaded lawn, so bring a picnic blanket. Wine connoisseurs should also make a reservation at SeaBlue Restaurant and Wine Bar in North Myrtle Beach, an elevated steakhouse renowned for its extensive wine list.
ART AND CULTURE FIX
There’s also plenty of art and culture to experience in Myrtle Beach thanks to its many historical museums, art galleries, musicals and theater options. Visit Horry County Museum to see photography, exhibitions and artifacts that showcase South Carolina’s rich history and Civil War era and to explore L. W. Paul Living History Farm, where you can immerse yourself in early 1900s life on a one-horse family farm. History buffs can also learn about the current and past citizens that have played a role in establishing South Carolina’s legacy and heritage at the South Carolina Hall of Fame at Myrtle Beach Convention Center.
And artsy types will love checking out the works of nationally renowned and local artists at Georgetown Art Gallery, Seacoast Artist Gallery and Island Art Gallery. Music lovers will also be delighted to learn of the Carolina Master Chorale, a 70-person symphony community choir that regularly performs choral music, orchestral masterworks, opera, contemporary music, Broadway sensations, vocal jazz and gospel music.
Beyond its famed boardwalk, 60-mile stretch of beach, luxury oceanfront resorts and amusement parks, there’s plenty of local treasures and hidden gems to discover in Myrtle Beach. Think unspoiled natural parks, off-the-beaten-path beach houses, secluded restaurants and day trips to transport you back in time.
Set on a former antebellum rice plantation, Brookgreen Gardens is a 9,000-acre Garden of Eden abundant with native plant species. Stroll through Live Oak Allee to see majestic trees planted in the early 1700s and don’t miss the magical butterfly garden. You can also explore the Spanish-style castle and life of acclaimed American philanthropist and sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington, whose legacy lives on through the sculptural garden she created to showcase her work and that of some of the greatest names in American sculpture past and present, it’s the most significant collection of figurative sculpture in the U.S. The gardens also have their own zoo so you can come up close and personal with local wildlife; eagles, deer, river otters, owls and horses. Oh my!
Nature lovers will be in heaven exploring Huntington Beach State Park, adjacent to Brookfield Gardens. The three-mile stretch of beach is perfect for hiking, biking, fishing, camping and birdwatching. With over 300 different species, it’s hailed as the best bird-watching spots in the Southeast. If you’re lucky you may even spot alligators, sea turtles and minks in the park’s freshwater lake. Another little slice of unspoiled, undeveloped coastline can also be found at Myrtle Beach State Park, popular for its miles of hiking, fishing pier and camping grounds where you can bed down in a rustic cabin.
CLASSIC BEACH HOUSES
Away from the high-rise oceanfront resorts of downtown Myrtle Beach follow the sands north to Cherry Grove to see the seriously cute pastel-hued haze of classic beach cottages. While there, head to Heritage Shores Nature Preserve, one of the most unique parks in the area. Home to seven acres of interpretive trails and located on an island that juts into Cherry Grove March, the park is preserved in its native state and is accessed by elevated boardwalks and observation decks, which are perfect for staring out at the ocean and spying on the local wildlife.
SERENITY AND SURFING
Laid-back unspoiled beaches, sand dunes and great surfing breaks await at Pawleys Island, a barrier island less than four miles long, 25 miles south of Myrtle Beach, that’s separated from the mainland by a beautiful salt march (you can access it by two short causeways).
One of the oldest summer resorts on the East Coast, Pawleys was settled by families of rice planters in the early 1700s and 12 of the original residences remain in the historic district. Beloved for its traditional charm and carefree vibe, enjoying crabbing off the crab dock, fish off the marsh bridges, explore the salt march by kayak or try your luck surfing by booking a lesson with Surf The Earth. Check into a charming beachfront bed-and-breakfast like the Pelican Inn or Sea View Inn to be treated to a homey Southern breakfast, then chill with a good book in a rope hammock on the porch.
The secret to discovering the best of Lowcountry is through food. Built in 1910, Brentwood Restaurant and Wine Bistro is a former Victorian home in Little River, restored into an upscale restaurant serving delicious French meets Lowcountry cuisine. Said to be haunted, the brave can embark on a ghost tour of this historical house after dinner. South Carolina nostalgia also seeps from the walls of Lee's Inlet Apothecary, a vintage-inspired drug store and old-timey soda fountain where you tuck into retro culinary treats like egg creams, malts and banana splits.
Immersing yourself in the past is all part of the allure of a trip to the Grand Strand. Sample ‘White lightning’ moonshine and craft whiskeys at the first legal distillery in South Carolina, Palmetto Moonshine. Enjoy afternoon tea in the southern sunshine at Hopsewee Plantation, the birthplace of It Thomas Lynch, Jr., who signed the Declaration of Independence. Experience life on an early 20th century farm at The L.W. Paul Living History Farm, explore an intact African slave plantation at Hobcaw Barony and stroll through a haunted cemetery at Vereen Memorial Historical Gardens. Touring the stately homes that line the Historic Conway Riverfront is another great way to journey through South Carolina’s deep history and culture.
Spotting an alligator in the wild is all part of the Myrtle Beach experience, but if you want a personal encounter, head to Alligator Adventure at Barefoot Landing to learn all about these fascinating ancient creatures, watch them at feeding time and even touch them. In addition to alligators, there are also snakes and crocodiles. And who knew you could go on safari in Myrtle Beach? T.I.G.E.R.S., also at Barefoot Landing, is a 50-acre property that’s home to 130 animals, including 60 big cats. Take a three hour guided walking safari to interact with the animals and meet its beloved resident, Bubbles, a 9,000-pound elephant.
Your adventure begins here
SERENITY AND SURFING
CLASSIC BEACH HOUSES
Your adventure begins here