Read Now, Travel Later
COVID-19 has changed the world. The tourism industry has been one of the hardest hit areas of the global pandemic. Local restaurants, museums, state and national parks have all changed hours of operation, procedures, and some have gone out of business altogether.
Please verify current operations of any places you want to visit mentioned in these articles, and contact me if a business has permanently closed so I can update the article. Thank you and stay safe out there!
The news broke with an ominous thud: jellyfish invade Myrtle Beach, stay out of the water. Suddenly thousands of people who traveled across the country for the sun, sand, and surf were left without a chance to get in the water (don’t worry, though, it’s safe again as of this posting). But while Myrtle Beach is known for the long, wide beaches and pleasant waters, that’s not the only thing to do in this bustling tourism town.
Myrtle Beach is the heart of The Grand Strand, a 60-mile stretch of beaches between Little River and Georgetown. Along this length of coastline visitors can find unique attractions, enjoy a scenic walk, view wildlife, go shopping, or take a pleasant sight-seeing cruise. Even if you can’t get into the water (or maybe you just don’t want to get in the water to begin with) Myrtle Beach has plenty to keep you entertained. Here is a list of a few things to do out of the water in Myrtle Beach.
1. Visit One of the Two State Parks
Myrtle Beach State Park is located just a few minutes south of the Ocean Blvd in Myrtle Beach. The park features a wide, long fishing pier that is a great place for fishing or just getting out for a walk. Several picnic shelters along the beach provide a great place for gatherings. You can also enjoy the views of a coastal forest along a short hiking trail.
Huntington Beach State Park is known as one of the most popular places in the state for seeing wildlife. Visitors to the park are immediately greeted with beautiful views of wildlife as they drive along the road between a brackish pond on the right and saltwater marsh on the left. Alligators, great egrets, wood storks, and blue herons are frequently seen here. There are a couple of hiking trails to enjoy through the park that will take you deeper into the coastal forest and closer to some of the wildlife.
Atalaya Castle is also one of the most unique attractions in the area. This large square “castle” was the winter home of Archer and Anna Huntington. Completed in 1933, the home is open for exploration today. Visitors can wind their way through the former master suite, kitchen, sitting rooms, and staff quarters before crossing through a large central corridor beneath a water tower.
2. Go for a Flight on the SkyWheel
Since opening in 2011 the SkyWheel Myrtle Beach has become one of the icons of the ocean front district. Anchored near one end of the Boardwalk, the SkyWheel takes visitors nearly 200’ high in air conditioned gondolas on a giant observation wheel. The views from the top are unbeatable as you look down onto the beach and ocean below. The ride lasts several minutes, often getting two or three full turns around the wheel before being ushered off the ride and through the gift shop. The Landshark Bar & Grill is a good place to grab a cold drink or satisfying meal with a view of the beach before or after your flight (if you’re not a fan of heights, eat last).
3. Visit One of the 9 Piers
There are nine fishing piers between the Cherry Grove Fishing Pier in North Myrtle Beach and Veterans Pier in Murrells Inlet. All of the piers are open for fishing, entertainment, or just sight-seeing. Each pier has its own unique attraction, so be sure to read The 9 Piers Along the Grand Strand to figure out which one you want to visit.
The Cherry Grove Fishing Pier has a two-story covered observation deck at the end of the pier for fantastic views. The Apache Pier is known as the longest wooden pier on the East Coast, a record you’ll believe once you are standing at the end of the pier several hundred feet from the beach. Several of the piers, including Pier 14 and Second Avenue Pier, have restaurants so you can get something to eat while enjoying the views.
4. Putt Your Way Around a Miniature Golf Course
Myrtle Beach has long been known as the unofficial miniature golf capital of the world. Boasting more miniature golf courses than any other destination in the country it is easy to see why they hold this record. This also gives you plenty of opportunities to show off your putting skills with your friends, or a great place to spend an afternoon with the family.
Mount Atlanticus Miniature Golf is one of the most popular and fun places to play in Myrtle Beach. Located near the center of town at the intersection of Highway 501 and 17, this putt putt course towers over the landscape with multiple levels, tiki huts, bridges, and waterfalls.
Captain Hook’s Adventure Golf on North Kings Highway is another popular place to play that has a fun Peter Pan theme for kids. A large pirate ship in the water doubles as one of the holes, a mechanical gator leaps out of the water, and you enter a cave through a skull mouth during one of the routes.
If you want something a little easier to play through, try to the only oceanfront miniature golf business in town: Shark Attack Adventure Golf. Built on the foundation of a former historic hotel, this putt-putt gives you a chance to enjoy views of the beach and sounds of the waves as you work your way around a pond with a menacing mechanical shark. If you want to get out of the sun you can take the lower route that winds through the former rooms of the hotel, giving you a chance to cool down a bit.
5. Take a Helicopter Ride
Helicopter Adventures has one of the largest fleets of helicopters in the area, offering a wide range of tours ranging from a short two-mile spin around the neighborhood to a forty-mile cruise down the coastline. The views are unmatched as you safely fly over the attractions, resort hotels, beaches, and highways just high enough to avoid anything, but still plenty close enough to pick out your hotel room balcony. Rides range from $20-$180 per person and take anywhere from twenty minutes to a couple of hours.
6. Visit One of the 4 Boardwalks
The Grand Strand has four boardwalks that gives visitors a chance to get out, stretch their legs, enjoy the sights, and do some shopping. The Myrtle Beach Boardwalk stretches a little over a mile between Second Avenue Pier and Pier 14, featuring lots of places to shop and eat along the way. The Marshwalk in Murrells Inlet stretches along restaurant row and the Crazy Sister’s Marina, treating you to views of wildlife as you enjoy live music from the restaurants. The Harborwalk in Georgetown runs along Winyah Bay, which is almost always full of anchored sailboats, bringing visitors to one of the many places to eat and shop. Finally, the Riverwalk in Conway is the most peaceful of the group, guiding visitors along the Waccamaw River and old, historic warehouses until you reach a park at the end.
7. Go Shopping
If you’re keen on shopping, Myrtle Beach has you covered. Visitors will find two Tanger Outlet shopping centers in town, one at the border of North Myrtle Beach and the other along Highway 501. Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach has plenty of shopping, eateries, and entertainment located around a man-made lake. Another shopping center on a man-made lake is Broadway at the Beach, the most popular of the shopping centers in the area. Broadway at the Beach is a one-stop destination for all-day entertainment with Ripley’s Aquarium, the Pavilion Nostalgia Park, Dragon’s Lair Miniature Golf, an IMAX theater, and dozens of places to eat and shop.
8. Enjoy Water Parks and Amusement Parks
Just because you can’t swim in the ocean doesn’t mean you can’t still get wet. You could lounge in your hotel’s lazy river, or you could head over to one of the water parks. Myrtle Waves Water Park is one of the most popular with towering water slides and tubes, large pools, and kids-only areas. But if you want to look fondly at the beach while enjoying the splashes, try the Splashes Oceanfront Water Park on Ocean Blvd. This park is beachfront and features enough twists, turns, and pools to keep the kids happy all day. After you dry off and change clothes, walk across the street to the Family Kingdom Amusement Park for a wooden rollercoaster, thrill rides, a zip line, the Log Flume, and several gentle rides for kids.
9. Tour a Unique Museum
Myrtle Beach has no shortage of unique museums to provide some entertainment. The popular Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum has long been an anchor point along Ocean Blvd in the heart of town. Ripley’s has since expanded to include the Haunted Adventure and Mirror Maze for a little more entertainment. The newly-opened Hollywood Wax Museum has become an instant landmark attraction in the beach town with a towering King Kong structure that leads to an even more interesting interior. WonderWorks at Broadway at the Beach looks like an upside down mansion on the outside beach it is an upside down mansion on the outside. This unique hands-on museum is a great place to bring the family for hours of fun.
10. Take a Little Road Trip to Georgetown
Forty-five minutes south of Myrtle Beach is the small town of Georgetown. Located on Winyah Bay at the mouth of the Waccamaw River, this small town is one of those hidden gems most people drive through without realizing what is there.
The downtown area is full of great local places to eat like Big Tuna Raw Bar and the River Room, both located on the Harborwalk. The Georgetown Art Gallery features lots of work from artisans, and you’ll find many more places to shop at Fogel Wharf. If you’re up for a little more walking you can check out Hampton Plantation State Historic Site just south of Georgetown for a chance to tour the former plantation mansion.
11. Enjoy an Eco Tour
If all you want is a relaxing evening of scenery and wildlife, try one of the many eco tours in the area. Blue Wave Adventures is a great dolphin sight-seeing cruise from Murrells Inlet (although the best chances to see dolphins is early). The Plantation River Tour takes visitors out on the Waccamaw River for a two-hour tour of wildlife and old plantations (and for the adults: hop on the airboat tour!). Rover Boat Tours in Georgetown will get you to the oldest lighthouse in South Carolina and give you plenty of time to hunt for the perfect seashell. The Saltwater Marsh Tour is also based in Murrells Inlet and gives you a chance to hop off the boat onto some of the tiny islands around the marshes.
12. Catch a Show
Myrtle Beach has no shortage of fantastic shows and dinner theatres. Alabama Theatre and The Carolina Opry are two of the top shows in the country, each with stunning shows almost every day of the week. Pirates Voyage and Medieval Times are two shows that will also treat you to dinner, making it a great place to bring the entire family and enjoy the evening. Legends in Concert is one of the more unique with tribute artists performing as Elvis, Michael Jackson, and more.