Try your hand
at the Grand Strand
Why the Best Beach Escape Goes Well Beyond a Shore Thing
EAT, DRINK &
HAVE AN ON-LAND ADVENTURE
sTAY UP ON CURRENT EVENTS
TRY YOUR HAND AT THE GRAND STRAND
aving come to be known as THE Beach, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, needs no introduction among coastal connoisseurs. After all, 60 miles’ worth of golden shores, warm waters and fun-packed piers would be hard to keep secret. And though this may be all you need to know about the place before you pack your bags, make sure to throw in a bit more than your swimsuit, cutoffs and flip-flops: There’s a lot to do beyond the beach. So much so, in fact, that you’ll want to consult our guide to the ultimate local getaway. The only risk? Realizing you need to tack on at least a day or two to the vacation time you’d already granted yourself.
One of the best things about Myrtle Beach is that if you don’t feel like springing for tickets to a show—or for that matter, even the cost of the drinks that would typically go with a bar performance—free music events are a summertime staple here.
For starters, every Thursday night through October 14, the Music on Main Concert Series brings a genre-spanning series of performers to downtown North Myrtle Beach, where you’ll want to stake out a spot for your towel, beach chair or golf cart as early as 5pm for a show that typically starts around 7pm. North Myrtle Beach is also the scene of the particularly family-friendly Sounds of Summer Concert Series on select Friday nights. And for a grab bag of free music (including karaoke and deejayed glow parties), hit the nightly Hot Summer Nights series on the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk.
You can find intimately-scaled foodie events along the Grand Strand all summer–such as Wine Wednesdays at the area’s most famous producer: La Belle Amie Vineyard, where the weekly get-together involves not just a sampling of Twisted Sisters wines, but also some outdoor eats and live music. (The winery also runs a food- and wine-accompanied summer Festival Concert series on Saturdays.)
For its part, the Westgate Myrtle Beach Oceanfront Resort is home to a series of three-day Myrtle Beach Foodie Weekends, and though a lot of this summer’s capacity has sold out, you can still find dates at the end of July and into August and September, when your stay will include offerings from the iconic Lenny’s Pankcake House and Crabby George’s Seafood Buffet, for starters.
But unquestionably, summer’s biggest food event is the one at the tail end of the season: On September 17, avowed heat seekers will want to be here for the kickoff to the International Chili Society’s World Chili Championship Cook-off—and the two days of gorging to follow. In fact, you can become a People’s Choice Judge by tasting any five contenders and voting for your favorite. (Not that you need limit yourself to five, of course; you can buy as many tasting tickets as your waistband and sweat glands can withstand, though the onsite beer garden should help appease the latter. And if you have young, aspiring chili chefs in tow, they can join you for Mr. Chilihead’s Pepper Sprouts Cooking Class.
Stay up on
& Be Merry
With all that feasting, you’re going to work up a thirst, and the ever-proliferating local craft breweries are here for it. A couple of newcomers to check out: the latest location of Crooked Hammock Brewery in North Myrtle Beach, where you can book a brewery tour and tasting, or just nurse a cold one (consider the citrusy Beach Escape) in the hammock-strewn back yard or on the brewery’s own pier at sunset; and Grand Strand Brewing Company, whose Small Wave session IPA is already, well, making waves in Myrtle Beach, as are the Wingtip pilsner and Airbrush Hazy IPA (doesn't hurt that the house giant pretzels can be upgraded to include cured meats, balsamic onions, sweet drop peppers, okra and more).
To check out some longer-running favorites, check out one of the pioneers of the Myrtle Beach craft brew scene: New South Brewing, which has been producing here for almost a quarter of a century (and serving from a tap room for seven years). You’ll definitely want to go in and see what’s pouring, but at a minimum, be sure to try the flagship brews: White Ale and Nut Brown Ale. For arguably the best combination of local flavor and local beauty, however, check out Independent Republic Brewing at the Landing at the Boathouse, where the beer garden is set against the Intracoastal Waterway, and live music often accompanies the big-personality brews, such as Wheat Chin Music (a “hop kick to the teeth”).
Between the 60 miles of coastline and the seemingly countless creeks, rivers and marshes, the local waters are—at least in the eyes of chefs and seafood lovers—one massive daily market. And though you may not find exclusively local offerings on the area’s menus, you can come close. Take Hook & Barrel, a relative newcomer known for its environmental cred, where sustainably sourced local seafood is an essential element. Thus the fresh catch you’ll spot in everything from the house bouillabaisse to the fish bites appetizer (famously breaded, fried and served with jalepeño dressing and remoulade). For a more traditional taste of the local seafood scene, head to the Sea Captain’s House, an early 20th-century ocean-side residence turned beloved purveyor of local specialties, such as the Carolina flounder sandwich and the award-winning she crab soup. Then again, sometimes one seafood spot per meal isn’t enough. If you’re up for a food crawl, head to the Murrells Inlet Marshwalk or Barefoot Landing, where you’ll find a succession of waterside fish and seafood joints, where you could easily put together a progressive dinner. (Or if you’d rather leave the plotting to someone else, check out Carolina Food Tours’ Murrells Inlet Marshwalk tour.) For more on the local food scene, check out our Events and Grand Strand sections.
For anyone who’d rather check out what’s under the water than zip across its surface, the creatures at the Ripley’s Aquarium are calling. They range from the sandbar sharks, green moray eels and sea turtles of Dangerous Reef to the pettable rays of Friendship Flats to the waddling wonders of the penguin habitat (whom you have amazing, immersive views of through a 50-foot, floor-to-ceiling window and a transparent crawl tunnel). To check out some terrestrial counterparts, head to the Lowcountry Zoo at Brookgreen Gardens, where the short list of native species in residence includes: alligators, bald eagles, grey foxes, red foxes, owls, river otters, herons and egrets, many of which are rescues. In summer, an interpreter will introduce you to a number of these characters during the daily Meet the Animals experience, and as of this September, another beloved experience is returning: Mother Nature’s Café, whereby you observe the animals’ snacking behaviors along a Lowcountry trail.
Even in the lovely languor of summer, not everything moves at a putt-putt-and-Ferris-wheel pace here. So if any members of your travel party feel the need for speed, check out the local aerial offerings. One favorite is the beachside Myrtle Beach Zip Line Adventure, home to the longest zip line in the area as well as other aerial challenges and a little kid-specific course. For those who prefer to achieve speed on terra firma, there’s also excellent go-karting up and down the Grand Strand. At Broadway Grand Prix, for one, the tracks range from fairly fast (Junior Racer) to really fast (Speed Racer) to crazy fast (Grand Prix Pro Track), with a family track, high banking track and slick track thrown in for good measure. If you want to pair your go-karting with a version of speed-boating, head to The Track Myrtle Beach, where stand-out adventures include not only elevated tracks, but also blaster boats.
Have an on-land adventure
Until this point, nearly all the recommended activities and attractions you've read about have been set in either Myrtle Beach itself or in North Myrtle Beach. The exceptions? La Belle Amie Vineyard, which is in Little River, the oldest of the Grand Strand’s communities, where pirates hung out in the 1700s, followed by blockade runners during the Civil War and generations of fisherman thereafter. You also learned about a trio of attractions (the Lowcountry Zoo, Brookgreen Garden and the Marsh Walk) in Murrells Inlet, another old pirate haunt—in this case, of Blackbeard himself —and now the reported Seafood Capital of South Carolina. Last, there was the Harvest Hoe Down Festival in Aynor, an early 20th-century railroad town turned farming community. That leaves nine out of the Grand Strand's 14 communities to explore more on your own—but first, take this quiz to discover a few highlights.
You’ll find that live music at the area’s brewhouses, bars and restaurants is a summertime staple, but for fans of full-blown entertainment productions, Myrtle Beach comes through, well, on a theatrical scale. To see for yourself, start with One the Show, a production of the Grand Ole Opry’s owners, who blend country, gospel, Broadway, pop, rock and comedy at the Alabama Theatre to fans’ eternal delight. On nights off, the show cedes the stage to everyone from country stars to Motown and Beatles tribute bands. Meanwhile, at the Carolina Opry Theater, the beloved eponymous musical revue features everything from hip-hop cloggers to championship fiddling to power vocals. On alternating nights, the Opry is home to a different kind of revue: Time Warp, a best-of retrospective of '60s, '70s and '80s pop, complete with special effects and over-the-top period costumes. Periodically throughout the summer, you’ll also find special events here, from the August 1 Allman Brothers Tribute to the September 12 AC/DC Experience. For more merry-making excursions, check out our Events section.
You’ll find that whatever the occasion or interest, there’s likely an event—if not several—that celebrates it along the Grand Strand. Independence Day, for example, brings dozens of events (parades, fairs, fireworks and more) to the area.
A totally different kind of light show celebrates the alfresco art season at Brookgreen Garden, where you’ll find the Summer Light: Art By Night series every Wednesday-Saturday evening through August 21. And though the grounds are never anything less than magical, they become particularly enchanted-feeling as you make your way through nine variously lit installations, each meant to bring out not only the sculpture or gallery in question, but also the landscape itself. (Sets of live music throughout the experience don’t hurt either.)
Another celebration you’ll want to catch if you’re here at the end of the summer and crave some serious local flavor? The Aynor Harvest Hoe Down Festival on September 18, complete with a parade, music, food and—yes—the reveal of the winner of the Aynor Harvest Hoe-Down Beauty Pageant.
Throwback amusements are a specialty of the Grand Strand, i.e., the 14 communities that make up the greater Myrtle Beach area. Case in point? The local putt putt scene, so full of options that it’s often called the mini golf capital of the world—complete with 50 courses and an annual US ProMiniGolf Association Masters Tournament. If you’re having a hard time narrowing down your choices, consider doing so by theme. Are the kids having a dino moment? Check out Jurassic Golf or Professor Hacker’s Dinosaur Adventure Golf. Do the tropics sound tempting? Think about Hawaiian Rumble, Cancun Lagoon and Jungle Lagoon. Can’t decide? Head for a longstanding favorite: Mount Atlanticus, with all kinds of mythic merriment—including one hole that’s a minotaur maze. Note that if you’re one of the rare mortals to conquer the final hole’s water feature, you’ll get a free lifetime pass and a spot on the wall of fame.
Of course, in the world of vintage family fun, you can’t get more iconic than a beachside Ferris wheel—and Myrtle Beach’s SkyWheel is the ultimate poster child—all the more photogenic and photographed in the wake of this spring’s 10th-anniversary refresh.
Pick up the pace
Enter the animal kingdom
Enjoy some old-timey family fun
Ready to go?
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Welcome to the beach
A network of peat-intensive Lowcountry waterways inhabited by an indigenous fowl species once believed to be a small chicken, but later reclassified a relative of the grouse.
The rails-to-trails project that turned the old bog-adjacent transport system once favored by the area’s commercial hatcheries into multiuse recreational tails.
A trail of eateries (Shorty’s Grill in Loris, Get Carried Away in Pawleys Island, Pickled Cucumber in Conway) that have become pilgrimage sites for foodies in search of the best dish of Chicken Bog, a rice- and sausage-intensive Lowcountry specialty.
None of these.
The Chicken Bog Trail is...
Two full-service bars
All of these.
North Myrtle Beach’s Cherry Grove Pier may hold world records for catches, but the pier in Garden City Beach is an area favorite for its:
Surfside Beach, long known as an especially family-friendly destination, became the first CAN-certified Autism-friendly vacation destination in the U.S.
Atlantic Beach, where a number of the residents descend from the Gullah Geechee people, is by all accounts the only Black-owned beach in the U.S.
In the early 16th century, the indigenous stronghold of Winyah Bay was the scene of the first (failed) European settlement in what would become the U.S.
Which of the following firsts or onlys is untrue?
Socastee, a historic enclave on the Intracoastal Waterway, where you'll find one of South Carolina's 10 swing bridges.
Litchfield Beach, known for its soft, beautiful sands, world-class golf and Waccamaw Neck Bikeway.
Carolina Forest, a mostly residential community along the Intracoastal Waterway where you'll find more golf, a 25-square-mile preserve—and the Tanger Outlets.
Too close to call.
What's the quietest corner of the Grand Strand?
Visit Myrtle Beach's Grand Strand IRL for some firsthand experience.
there's room for improvement
You know quite a bit about Myrtle Beach already, but you can always learn more. Plan a trip to stay sharp.
A perfect score? Impressive. There's always more to learn. Plan a trip to keep up-to-date with your Myrtle Beach knowledge.
Within each question folder, the hotspots over answer options A-D have assigned SDK tags. You can add a tag by opening the SDK panel.
The answer was C -- it's a trail of eateries that have become pilgrimage sites for foodies in search of the best dish of Chicken Bog, a rice- and sausage-intensive Lowcountry specialty.
You got it!
We think it's too close to call, but if you feel strongly, you're welcome to disagree.
We agree. It's too close to call!
The answer is D. Garden City Beach is famous for its arcade, karaoke setup and two full-service bars.
Garden City Beach is famous for its arcade, karaoke and two full-service bars.
The answer was D — they're all true.
They're all true.
Start planning your Myrtle Beach escape today.
None of these (because they're all true).
Between the 60 miles of coastline and the seemingly countless creeks, rivers and marshes, the local waters are—at least in the eyes of chefs and seafood lovers—one massive daily market. And though you may not find exclusively local offerings on the area’s menus, you can come close.
Take Hook & Barrel, a relative newcomer known for its environmental cred, where sustainably sourced local seafood is an essential element. Thus the fresh catch you’ll spot in everything from the house bouillabaisse to the fish bites appetizer (famously breaded, fried and served with jalepeño dressing and remoulade).
For a more traditional taste of the local seafood scene, head to the Sea Captain’s House, an early 20th-century ocean-side residence turned beloved purveyor of local specialties, such as the Carolina flounder sandwich and the award-winning she crab soup. Then again, sometimes one seafood spot per meal isn’t enough.
If you’re up for a food crawl, head to the Murrells Inlet Marshwalk or Barefoot Landing, where you’ll find a succession of waterside fish and seafood joints, where you could easily put together a progressive dinner. (Or if you’d rather leave the plotting to someone else, check out Carolina Food Tours’ Murrells Inlet Marshwalk tour.) For more on the local food scene, check out our Events and Grand Strand sections.