Myrtle Beach's Best Nightlife: Sun Fun City Gets Better after Dark
By Terry Massey
Myrtle Beach Local Expert
The downtown district has undergone a serious transformation in recent years, becoming a center for nightlife thanks to the construction of the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk. The 1.2-mile oceanfront walkway weaves through arcades and open-air cafes and bars to create a festive atmosphere that had disappeared with the closing of the old Pavilion. The colorful 190-foot SkyWheel and numerous new clubs, like Jimmy Buffett's LandShark Landing, are hubs of activity, and Plyler Park plaza features an outdoor stage where free concerts and fireworks shows are held throughout the summer. Myrtle Beach's entertainment complexes continue to serve as centers for night activity. Broadway at the Beach boasts Celebrity Square, a district of a dozen or so bars that allow visitors to pub crawl their way around the square, Barefoot Resort has the House of Blues and Alabama Theater for great live music and Market Common has an urban neighborhood feel with great pubs and dance clubs. For those partial to the good old days, Ocean Drive in North Myrtle Beach has historic beachside dance clubs, like Fat Harold's and Duck's, where '60s music and the shag are still in style. When you return safely back to your hotel, don't be surprised if the outdoor pool bar is still open for a nightcap.
This once-futuristic name is now nostalgic, just like the club itself. 2001 used to be the place for modern music and dance has been transformed into a great place to dance to the oldies. Music from the 1980s and beyond gets patrons of all ages and generations on the dance floor for a fun time. 2001 is three clubs in one - Razzie's Beach Club, a live music venue; Funky Town, the place to shake what your momma gave you on the dance floor; and Club Touch, a modern, urban hot spot. This place is hopping and well worth the price of admission. (843-449-9434)
This elegant theater has the feel of an off-Broadway venue. Various productions share the stage at this theater, allowing guests to catch a comedy play by day and a musical by night. The palace has hosted such talent as Aretha Franklin, Kenny Rogers, B.B. King, Randy Travis and Clint Black, and houses such productions as "Evita," "Lord of the Dance" and "Le Grand Cirque." Show times and admissions vary, so call ahead. The Palace is surrounded by the Broadway at the Beach complex so arrive early and enjoy a nice night out for dinner and some shopping to get the full experience. (843-448-0588, 800-905-4228)
If laughter is the best medicine then the Comedy Cabana is like the local hospital. The longest-running laugh factory on the Grand Strand brings in nationally touring comics that normally wouldn't travel this far off the beaten path except for the chance to take a break from their hectic schedules to relax at the beach. Top nationally touring acts frequent this small but popular hangout and the mood is always light and happy among visitors and employees. A side bar from the showroom makes this place feel more like a locals hangout than a comedy club, and the food is surprisingly good. (843-449-HAHA)
Fat Harold's Beach Club
South Carolina's state dance is alive and kicking at Fat Harold's, a legendary beach club that claims to be "Home of The Shag." Located on North Myrtle's famed Ocean Drive, the club looks like a big shack from the outside, but don't let appearances fool you. Inside, you'll find everybody from teens to Baby Boomers strutting their stuff on the hardwood dance floor sprinkled with saw dust and spilt beer. Don't know how to shag? Never fear. Free dance lessons are held regularly, and there are always some friendly locals willing to take you for a spin around the dance floor. (843-249-5779)
This 2,250-seat theater attracts country music's biggest stars and a great local cast. Nightly shows feature the Alabama's very own entertainers, with frequent appearances by the proud owners - country music super group Alabama. Most shows start at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, but call for exact schedule or purchase advanced tickets online at www.alabamatheatre.com. Located in Barefoot Landing, the theater is surrounded by excellent dining options to make for a nice night out for dinner and a show. Barefoot Landing also offers lots of other shopping and entertainment options so it's a great place to make a night of it. (843-272-1111, 800-342-2262)
Don't miss the chance to see where country music super group Alabama got its start back in the 1970s, and little has changed at this hole-in-the-wall honky-tonk since those days. The house band kicks out live music six days a week and visiting bands and musicians get together to jam on its night off. Patrons off all walks of life share the common bond of live music. Not the fanciest place in town but a must-see for those looking for a true taste of the Myrtle Beach nightlife. The surrounding Myrtle Beach Boardwalk is a great place to take a walk for some fresh ocean air. (843-626-3445)
Calvin Gilmore opened the Carolina Opry in 1986 and it has grown into the most popular live theater in town. Featuring top dancers, musicians, and singers, the Carolina Opry's shows keep audiences coming back year after year for this unique blend of music and comedy. Well reviewed and one of the most sought after tickets in town, the Carolina Opry is great entertainment for the entire family. Shows are held nightly but times and shows vary, so check the schedule and purchase tickets in advance at www.carolinaopry.com. Located next door is the new Pirates Voyage show that's also worth checking out. (843-913-4000, 800-843-6779)
Murrells Inlet Marshwalk
Stroll down the waterfront of this sleepy fishing village along the only stretch of town that doesn't go to bed early. The Murrells Inlet Marshwalk weaves along a path that backs up to a dozen bars and restaurants, most featuring outdoor decks with live music on the weekends. Places like Bubba's Love Shack and the Dead Dog Saloon have bands virtually every night of the week, while other stops like Divine Prime and Fishhouse offer a hip scene for more laid-back revelers. Enjoy a great view of sunset as the fishing boats return to the inlet after a long day at sea. (xxx-xxx-xxxx)
House of Blues
This restaurant and music hall offers Cajun fare and Southern cuisine along with great live music performed by nationally and internationally known rock, folk, blues, jazz and blues bands. Besides offering interesting night life entertainment, they also serve up a wonderful Sunday Gospel Brunch on the outdoor patio deck. Phenomenal gospel music is performed live during the entire brunch. A murder-mystery dinner series is also held during certain times of the year. Call ahead for a schedule of upcoming events. Ticket prices and showtimes vary; most are about $20 and start around 8pm. Smoking section available during lunch hours only. (843-272-3000)
Fourteen clubs make up this section of Broadway at the Beach, allowing patrons to walk from bar to bar and sample this diverse mix of hangouts. Start the night off with frozen drinks at Fat Tuesday or Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, then work up a sweat at the many dance clubs, such as Club Boca, Revolutions and Malibu's. Have a few musical laughs at Crocodile Rocks, where comedians/pianists tickle the ivory keys and funny bones. Sports and games enthusiasts can kill some time and tokens at Broadway Louie's, a sports bar with wall-to-wall big screen TVs and video games. It's all in one party block, and cabs line the street ready to end your night on a happy note with a sober ride to your hotel. (843-913-9333)
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.