10 things you need to see in North Myrtle Beach that aren't the beach

Rain or shine, there's plenty to see and do

By Lois Alter Mark,

North Myrtle Beach (which is different from Myrtle Beach) is the perfect place to spend a beach vacation. It’s been called an emerging destination but, in reality, it’s already an annual tradition for thousands of families.  

A quieter alternative to its neighbor to the south, it’s close enough to take advantage of everything Myrtle Beach has to offer. All it's missing are the crowds. And, with a nine-mile stretch of South Carolina coastline, it offers beautiful scenery and outdoor activities from kayaking and paddle boarding to horseback riding and golf. 

But what happens when the weather doesn’t cooperate?

Here are ten ways to spend a rainy day in North Myrtle Beach and still feel like you’re in paradise. 

"Ooh", "Ah" and eat at Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show

Enjoy a four-course feast and fun entertainment at Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show — Photo courtesy of Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show, a Dolly Parton Company

More Cirque du Soleil than dinner show, Pirates Voyage redefines the genre, making it the perfect activity for every member of vacationing multi-generational families.  

With a gigantic pirate ship holding court in a 15-foot-deep lagoon in the middle of the arena, the production is first-rate and the acrobatics breathtaking. There’s so much to look at – plank-diving pirates, rope-dancing mermaids and lots of aerial feats and gymnastics – but don’t forget to enjoy your four-course feast which is a treasure in itself. 

Gawk at reptiles at Alligator Adventure

Alligator Adventure is one of the largest reptile facilities in the world — Photo courtesy of Explore North Myrtle Beach

The swamp-like setting for this must-see attraction is so authentic, it’s easy to find your imagination running wild as you cross the wooden walkway and realize the "rocks" you’re surrounded by on either side are actually the eyes of gigantic alligators peering over the water at you.

One of the largest reptile facilities in the world, Alligator Adventure is home to over 200 species, including the world’s largest crocodile and two rare albino alligators (there are only a dozen in the world).

The sign by their pool says that, according to Cajun superstition, a lifetime of good luck will come to anyone who’s seen one of these creatures. That’s more likely to happen if you heed the other sign that warns, "Do not sit or lift children above rail!"

Make eating a religious experience at The Parson’s Table

Executive Chef/Owner Ed Murray, Jr. literally takes you to church in this lovely restaurant that was actually the Little River Methodist Church back in the 1850s.

Much of the wood is still original, and the beveled and stained glass comes from old churches throughout the South. While the decor reflects the rich history of South Carolina, the menu celebrates its future with a go-local focus on the region’s fresh product and seafood. That sense of reverence you feel during your meal is as likely to be inspired by the food as the surroundings.

Feed raccoons – and yourself – at Joe’s Bar & Grill

Raccoon Cove Deck Bar at Joe's Bar & Grill — Photo courtesy of Lois Alter Mark

Sure, the steaks and seafood are delicious at Joe’s Bar & Grill, and the atmosphere is down-home cozy. But there’s another reason you have to eat at Joe’s – the raccoons.

Taking advantage of its location above a scenic saltwater marsh, the restaurant hosts its furry neighbors on an outdoor playground/feeding station where the raccoons hang out, show off their agility and feast on loaves of bread. Eat your dinner or at least enjoy a drink on the aptly-named Raccoon Cove Deck Bar for an up-close-and-personal view of these playful creatures.

Learn how to shag dance

Shag dancing at OD Pavilion — Photo courtesy of Explore North Myrtle Beach

The shag officially became South Carolina’s state dance in 1984, but it had been going strong since the 1950s when teens in North Myrtle Beach started adapting swing-style moves to the beat of the rhythm and blues that were transforming music.

You can still take shag lessons at the iconic Fat Harold’s Beach Club, where locals and visitors gather on the dance floor to continue the tradition. You don’t need to know any steps and you don’t even need a partner. All you need to do is show up! 

Stay in your pajamas and enjoy the view

Spend the day tucked in at Tilghman Beach & Golf Resort — Photo courtesy of Explore North Myrtle Beach

North Myrtle Beach offers a variety of vacation rentals for all budgets, many of them offering spectacular ocean views.

Check out North Beach Plantation and Tilghman Beach & Golf Resort for spacious apartments where you can gather your family or friends, cook or bring in meals and spend lazy days just watching movies, playing games and building memories.

Go out for pancakes

Breakfast at Golden Griddle Pancake House — Photo courtesy of Lois Alter Mark

Thanks to generations of Greek restaurateurs who set out to fill a need for vacationers, pancake houses abound in North Myrtle Beach. Families wanted to go out for a meal and breakfast was a treat in which even those on a budget could indulge.

The tradition continues today, and the Golden Griddle Pancake House has been a local favorite for decades. Order the number-one selling Big Dog Combo for a trifecta of pancakes, eggs and bacon or sausage. You’ll be welcomed by sweet-as-maple-sugar servers who call you "hon," keep the coffee flowing and don T-shirts bearing stacks of pancakes and the hilarious, "I’m a hot mess."

Experience an International Ritual at Cinzia Spa

Find tranquility at Cinzia Spa — Photo courtesy of Cinzia Spa at North Beach Plantation

Don’t be surprised when you find yourself wishing for bad weather so you’ll have an excuse to spend the day inside the beautiful Cinzia Spa at North Beach Plantation.

Sure, you can get a great massage, facial or mani/pedi, but since you’re not rushing out to the beach, you have time to take advantage of one of the spa’s unique 100-minute International Rituals.

Whether you opt for Hawaii, Fiji, India or Cinzia’s own signature ritual, you’ll be re-balanced, renewed and refreshed with treatments that embrace ancient traditions, therapeutic disciplines and Western practices. By the time the sun comes out again, you’ll be revitalized and ready to go. 

Drink wine

Wine tasting at Duplin Winery — Photo courtesy of Explore North Myrtle Beach

The oldest and largest winery in the South, Duplin offers tastings – so you can try the sweet Muscadine wine for which they’re famous – as well as behind-the-scenes looks at the bottling process.   

At La Belle Amie Vineyard, home of Twisted Sisters wine, you can attend a tasting or one of their weekly events like Wine Wednesdays, Oldies Thursdays and Wine Down Fridays.

Shop at Barefoot Landing

There's lots to see and do at this unique shopping destination — Photo courtesy of Explore North Myrtle Beach

If you’ve been saving your money for a rainy day, you can spend it – and a very pleasant day – at this popular shopping, dining and entertainment destination set along the Intracoastal Waterway. 

Barefoot Landing is a charming, self-contained village featuring dozens of one-of-a-kind boutiques along with beautiful scenery. Check out PURPLEologist, where purple reigns; indulge your skin with the sugar scrubs at Bud 'n Belle; and pick up a head covering to keep you dry – and looking good – at Carolina Hat Company.