Best Outdoor Activities in Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach: it's one big playground for outdoor adventure

Think of the Myrtle Beach area as one big playground, but this one is for all ages. From the huge sandbox and kiddie pool that are the beaches on the Atlantic Ocean to the giant Jungle Gym amusement and water parks, the Grand Strand is a sandy, 60-mile stretch of coast that specializes in great times in the great outdoors.

The main attraction is the beach, of course, and it also happens to be the cheapest. Visitors on the oceanfront can enjoy fun on the beach and chilling by the pool. But for those with a little sense of adventure, there are plenty of outdoor activities to provide spine-tingling thrills or some much-needed rest and relaxation.

For visitors looking for excitement, the Grand Strand has lots of outfitters offering parasailing, island tours, jet-ski rental, deep-sea fishing and dolphin sightseeing cruises, such as Capt. Dick's in Murrells Inlet. If you prefer man-made thrills, water parks like Myrtle Waves and amusement parks such as Family Kingdom offer family fun and some spine-tingling rides.

Looking for something a little tamer? The Grand Strand has more than 100 golf courses where you can put your skills to the test, or take a leisurely walk through the natural beauty of the area at Brookgreen Gardens without the hassle and headache of playing golf. Or simply club down to a putter with a round of miniature golf. Myrtle Beach has all kinds of golf.


A Robert Trent Jones signature course (he oversaw its renovation in the 1970s and early '90s), The Dunes Club was completed in 1948 and stands today as one of the Strand's most respected –" even revered –" golf clubs. One of the course's most endearing qualities is that each hole has been individually named to give golfers a better idea of the challenges awaiting them. The signature hole is the par-5 13th hole, famously known as "Waterloo" thanks to the sharp dogleg it takes around crystalline Lake Singleton. The Senior PGA Tour Championship and other major tournaments have called the Dunes Club home.

Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: If you can only play one golf course in Myrtle Beach, make it The Dunes Club.

Terry's expert tip: This course is very popular so tee times can be hard to come by in the busy spring and fall seasons. Make reservations early.

Read more about Dunes Golf & Beach Club →

North Myrtle Beach

Hang out in the trees where only birds and monkeys dare to explore at the Go Ape Treetop Adventure course at the new North Myrtle Beach Sports and Recreation Center. Located off Highway 31, this ropes and zipline course offers 40 different obstacles for adventurous types. Zoom down the 900-foot zipline over the 25-acre lake, swing on a rope and land on a giant cargo net in the classic Tarzan movie, and navigate your way through a series of ropes and obstacles from more than 60 feet in the sky. A 30-minute safety course is required before tackling the two- to three-hour adventure, and experienced guides are on hand to help you have a fun but safe experience.

Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: There are a few zip lines around town, but none compare to the Go Ape complex.

Terry's expert tip: The fall is the best time of year to enjoy this attraction due to the mild temperatures and changing fall colors.

Read more about Go Ape Treetop Adventure →

Located inside pristine Huntington Beach State Park, this grand home of Archer and Anna Huntington was built in 1931 in the style of the same-named Spanish castle/Moorish fort. Self-guided tours of the grounds are available daily and free of charge with park admission. Stroll the brick-lined hallways and enjoy the beach view from the iron-rod hurricane windows. The interior of the castle features a courtyard filled with wildflowers and palmetto trees, creating a lovely place for weddings and special events. The beach is only a short walk through the sand dunes and sea oats so visitors can explore while taking a break from a day on the beach.

Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: The architecture and natural surroundings make Atalaya Castle truly unique.

Terry's expert tip: Pack a picnic basket and take a break from the beach for a spectacular lunch on a blanket in the castle's courtyard.

Read more about Atalaya Castle in the Sand →

Pavilion Nostalgia Park
Photo courtesy of Pavalion Nostalgia Park

History never looked so fun as a trip to the Pavilion Nostalgia Park, a smaller but memory-provoking version of the old Pavilion that served as the centerpiece of downtown Myrtle Beach for decades. Located at the popular Broadway at the Beach complex, this miniature theme park features rides that generations of visitors used to ride at the Pavilion, such as the century-old Herschell Spillman carousel that stands as a testament to another era. Other rides include the Pirate Ship, the Wave Swinger and the Caterpillar. There are also plenty of rides for younger children, like the Tea Cups and Kiddie Boat Ride. Other attractions include an arcade, carnival-style food and drinks and a miniature golf course.

Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: Enjoy a mix of new and old rides for young and longtime visitors.

Terry's expert tip: Ride tickets are $2 from noon to 2 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays, and ticket bundles can be purchased online at a discounted rate.

Read more about Pavilion Nostalgia Park →

Garden City

Experience the thrill of flight high above the Atlantic Ocean with a parasailing adventure at Captain Dick's. Go solo or ride tandem with a friend as you are strapped into a safety harness that's attached to a parachute, which lifts you off the back of the boat and into the sky for a wonderful thrill and view. Boat rentals, jet ski and wave runner rentals, saltwater marsh exploring adventures, cruisin' the beach trips, dolphin sightseeing cruises, pirate adventure voyages, marina and bottom fishing, gamefish trolling and charter fishing are also available. Prices, dates and times vary by the season, so call ahead for details.

Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: Captain Dick's is one of the oldest and most established outfits on the Grand Strand.

Terry's expert tip: To avoid a possible wait on the land, reservations are highly recommended.

Read more about Captain Dick's →

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.

Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: The combination of water slides and go-cart rides is double the fun for kids.

Terry's expert tip: Myrtle Waves offers a significant discount for those arriving after 3 p.m.

Read more about Myrtle Waves Water Park →

Myrtle Beach State Park
Photo courtesy of Terry Massey

Experience a day of wonder in Myrtle Beach State Park, an oasis of nature amid a sea of human development. Located on the south end of Myrtle Beach, the state park is a stark contrast to the high-rise hotels that are just a short walk away. Featuring old-growth maritime forests with hiking trails that lead to the high sand dunes of the beach, this 312-acre oceanfront park was developed by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) in the 1930s. In addition to about a mile of beach, the park encompasses a fishing pier, a nature center, a campground and cabins and plenty of oceanfront picnic shelters.

Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: While most of Myrtle Beach is heavily developed, the state park is like a natural oasis in the heart of the city.

Terry's expert tip: Check the schedule of events at the front gate for some free and informative family fun.

Read more about Myrtle Beach State Park →

Family Kingdom

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.

Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: Family Kingdom gives guests a taste of the old carnival atmosphere on Ocean Boulevard.

Terry's expert tip: Guests can get a nice discount by purchasing passes to both parks.

Read more about Family Kingdom →

Brookgreen Gardens
Photo courtesy of

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.

Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: Brookgreen Gardens is a paradise for art and nature lovers.

Terry's expert tip: Pack an extra roll of film or plenty of memory on your SIM card for Brookgreen Gardens, the perfect place for family portraits and artistic photography.

Read more about Brookgreen Gardens →

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.

Recommended for Outdoor Activities because: The Boardwalk has breathed new life into the vibrant downtown district.

Terry's expert tip: The Promenade, the centerpiece of the Boardwalk, is host to free concerts and fireworks all summer.

Read more about Myrtle Beach Boardwalk & Promenade →


Meet 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...  More About Terry