All the Best Attractions Myrtle Beach Has to Offer
By Terry Massey
Myrtle Beach Local Expert
There's a lot more to Myrtle Beach than golf and the ocean. Entertainment options are aplenty for visitors of all tastes. Whether you want to be in the middle of the action at the new Myrtle Beach Boardwalk and Promenade or seek the seclusion and scenic beauty of the Carolina coastline. The downtown Myrtle Beach area has become a new center of activity on the Grand Strand, with free concerts and fireworks displays held throughout the summer months. The 1.2-mile stretch of wooden walkway offers scenic views of the Atlantic Ocean on one side and open-air shops, cafes and bars on the other. The Boardwalk allows visitors to stroll to the new 190-foot SkyWheel, which gives breathtaking views of the city and coast. Two local piers connect to the path and allow visitors to venture farther out into the ocean without getting wet, although both feature restaurants and bars where you can wet your whistle. Nearby Broadway at the Beach continues to be one of the biggest draws, featuring such attractions Ripley's Aquarium. For those looking for aquatic fun, Myrtle Waves Water Park and Wild Water and Wheels are great hot spots to keep cool, and Family Kingdom is the area's only oceanfront theme park. There are more than 100 golf courses within a 45-minute drive of Myrtle Beach, giving visitors the chance to enjoy the great outdoors, and Brookgreen Gardens and Huntington Beach on the South Strand are wonders of the South Carolina Lowcountry.
Dunes Golf & Beach Club
Built in 1948, the Dunes Club was the second golf course to open on the Grand Strand, which now features more than 100 links layouts. Although this is a private course, a limited number of public-play rounds are available for those looking for a relaxing round on the oceanfront and the surrounding maritime forest. The clubhouse and other facilities are outstanding. Relax after your round on the oceanfront patio deck and replay your round in your mind as you unwind with a cocktail or two. If you only play one round of golf in Myrtle Beach, make it at the Dunes. (843-449-5236)
The beauty of the South Carolina Lowcountry is in full bloom at Brookgreen Gardens, a 9,100-acre property located about 15 miles south of Myrtle Beach. Visitors can stroll through the many sculptures, fountains and flowers and take a break in the shade of giant live oak trees that pre-date the U.S. Constitution. This former rice plantation also features boat rides through the marshes and a zoo featuring alligators, birds and other creatures native to South Carolina. A new butterfly pavilion exhibit allows visitors to get up close and personal with various species of butterflies. This is Lowcountry nature at its best. (843-235-6000, 800-849-1931)
Wild Water — Water and Race Theme Park
Wild Water & Wheels is home to thousands of thrills for kids of all ages - even the grown-up ones. With 16 acres featuring water slides, a wave pool, a lazy river, an arcade, mini-golf, and go-cart racing. Special passes allow kids to play for the entire day or purchase unlimited access to certain parts of the park, like the go-cart track or the water park rides. Perfect for birthday parties, family reunions or other special events, Wild Water & Wheels is designed with kids in mind but perfect for the entire family. Open May through September, but daily hours can vary. (843-238-9453)
Ripley's Aquarium Myrtle Beach
Located within Broadway at the Beach, this aquarium houses thousands of unusual and colorful marine animals. The highlight of a visit here will be a ride on the moving sidewalk, which travels through a glass-enclosed tunnel inside the massive 750,000 gallon shark tank. Other fun exhibits include Rainbow Rock, which is home to thousands of beautiful fish from the Pacific, and the interactive Sea-For-Yourself Discovery Center. If you plan on visiting any of Ripley's other nearby attractions, purchase a combo ticket and save 10-15 percent. Be sure to check out the snack bar and souvenir shop before you call it a day. (843-916-0888, 800-734-8888)
This multi-purpose complex offers the best in entertainment, dining and shopping in one scenic location on the Intracoastal Waterway in North Myrtle Beach. The House of Blues, Alabama Theater and Alligator Adventure are among the fun stops along the way through the maze of unique restaurants and shops. Located across the Waterway from Barefoot Resort, Barefoot Landing is a great place to unwind after a day on the links. Visitors also can take a relaxing cruise down the Intracoastal Waterway aboard the Barefoot Princess, or take one of the haunted walking tours that introduce guests to some of the Grand Strand's scariest ghost legends. (843-272-8349, 800-272-2320)
The Market Common, Myrtle Beach
This new multi-purpose complex brings the feel of an upscale, urban shopping district to the Grand Strand. Featuring dozens of entertainment, dining and shopping opportunities, Market Common offers national outlets that can't be found anywhere else in South Carolina. Dine at P.F. Chang's or Tommy Bahama's, shop at Orvis or Coldwater Creek, catch a movie or some fireworks - all in one truly unique location. Market Common is a great place to stroll and window shop, or catch a movie or an outdoor concert. The district is surrounded by parks and hiking trails, making it a great place to spend an entire day. ((843) 839-3500)
Myrtle Waves Water Park
Cool off from the summer heat at South Carolina's largest water park, featuring more than 30 rides and water slides for the whole family. This 20-acre park features towering, twisting water slides, a massive wave pool and a children's aquatic playground that are sure to bring smiles to faces looking for some fun in the sun. Kids can spend the day riding the thrilling water slides while the older set can relax in the lazy river or ride a float in the wave pool. Families going for the whole day can rent a private cabana for picnic lunches and a place to chill out. (843-913-9250, 877-699-9200)
After the old Pavilion closed, Family Kingdom was left as Myrtle Beach's only oceanfront amusement park. Rather than rest on its monopoly, Family Kingdom expanded into two attractions in one. The amusement park has a new roller coaster to go with the famous Swamp Fox, plus about 30 other fun rides with a mix of fun and fear that appeals to the whole family. The water park is right on the beach and features several flumes, slides and wave pools. The amusement park is open March-September, but daily hours vary so call ahead. The water park is open from Memorial Day-Labor Day daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (843-626-3447, 843-916-0400)
Broadway at the Beach
This multi-purpose complex is home to some of the best entertainment, dining and shopping on the Grand Strand. Featuring top attractions, such as Wonder Works and Ripley's Aquarium, Broadway features hundreds of business surrounding a large lake. Check out the nightlife at a dozen clubs in Celebrity Square, dine at some of the best restaurants in town and shop at major national outlets and locally owned stores. Broadway at the Beach also hosts special events that attract millions to this popular venue annually. The surrounding area also is surrounded by other theaters and entertainment venues that allow you to park once and play all day. (843-444-3200, 800-386-4662)
Myrtle Beach Boardwalk & Promenade
The downtown district has been revitalized by this new attraction, highlighted by the 190-foot SkyWheel that lights up the Myrtle Beach skyline. The largest ferris wheel on the East Coast offers scenic views of the Atlantic Ocean and the entire Grand Strand, but it's the area right around the SkyWheel that shines the most. A 1.2-mile wooden walkway spans the beachfront on one side and open-air cafes and shops on the other. Left abandoned when the Pavilion closed in 2006, the downtown area is back and better than ever thanks to the new Boardwalk. It's a great place to stroll or to rock 'n' roll. (843-916-2000)
About Terry Massey
It's no surprise that journalist Terry Massey is credited with creating the word 'stay-cation.' He considers the past 18 years in Myrtle Beach a vacation. He and his wife Stephanie were honeymooning in Myrtle Beach, when Terry was offered a job at the local newspaper. Without hesitation, they packed a U-Haul with their belongings - including unopened wedding gifts - and moved to the beach. They now have a daughter, Riley, a golden retriever, Duff, and their roots are deeply grounded in the sand. After 13 years at the newspaper, Terry became a freelance writer to cover all the things that brought him to the beach.
Read more about Terry Massey here.