Myrtle Beach, South Carolina ranks high on the list of favored vacation destinations for Americans and many Canadians as well. It’s perfect for friends, couples, or families, and appeals to a wide age range. Miles of beach, watersports, golf, attractions, unique shopping and dining opportunities, as well as a vast assortment of accommodation options, are all available along what’s known as the ‘Grand Strand’. So, what’s not to like?
There’s so much to see and do in the region that it’s impossible to pack it all into just one vacation. And for that reason, it’s difficult to come up with a definitive list of recommendations. However, we consulted our fellow travelers to see which attractions and activities ranked highest on their must-do lists in order to bring you the Top 10 Things to do in Myrtle Beach. Enjoy!
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Originally called the Barefoot Traders, this distinctive Intracoastal Waterway development received a re-build and was re-opened in 1988 as the Barefoot Landing. To this day it is one of THE tourist hot spots in the North Myrtle Beach vicinity. Boutiques, restaurants, attractions, rides, and nightclubs, all comprise a one-stop-shop of fun.
Having trouble locating a special, one-of-a-kind gift to take home? THIS is the place to find it, with a vast selection of individual shops. Enjoy unique signature dishes at Blueberry’s Grill, have an entertaining lunch or dinner at River City Café, or savor fine dining at Greg Norman Australian Grille. In the mood for some nightlife? Take in a show at the Alabama Theatre or live music at the House of Blues. If wildlife is your thing, The Landing has that, too. Built alongside existing marshland, the water surrounding Barefoot Landing is rife with egrets and herons, as well as fish, turtles, and alligators. You’re likely to see a gator lurking in the water as you cross one of three footbridges that connect both sides of the complex. If not, you’re not out of luck because Barefoot Landing also features Alligator Adventure – one of the largest reptile zoos in the world.
Boardwalk & Promenade
The $6.4 million Myrtle Beach Boardwalk & Promenade area of downtown Myrtle Beach opened in May 2010. It runs 1.2 miles along the oceanfront from Pier 14 located at 14th Avenue North to the 2nd Avenue Pier located at 2nd Avenue North. In addition to providing a scenic walk for visitors, the area is packed full of things to see and do.
Walk the boardwalk for exercise, take a seat on one of many benches to relax and enjoy the view, or explore the shops, restaurants, and attractions in the area. For starters, visit the pier or ride the Skywheel for a bird’s eye view of the Grand Strand while seated in one of 42 climate-controlled gondolas 200 feet above sea level. Other thrill rides in the area include the Sling Shot and Myrtle Beach Zipline Adventures. There are also several Ripley’s facilities, including Ripley’s Haunted House, Haunted Adventure, Mirror Maze, and the original Ripley’s Believe It or Not.
Have dinner at Pier House Restaurant or grab a refreshing drink at Hurricanes, Sharkey’s, or the infamous Bowery. Visit the Fun Plaza arcade or satisfy your sweet tooth at I Love Sugar. And when it comes to specialty shopping, do not miss Tsunami Surf Shop for beach gear, or the Gay Dolphin for unique souvenirs and novelty items. This 26,000 square-foot store is known as the ‘nation’s largest gift shop’ and averages 70,000 items sorted into sections the store calls ‘coves’.
Broadway at the Beach
Broadway at the Beach is a 350-acre shopping center and entertainment complex set around a scenic lake. The facility features more than 20 restaurants, over 100 specialty shops, and 3 theatres. Broadway also offers a wide variety of activities for all ages, including fireworks and special events throughout the year.
Discover treasures and unique souvenirs while strolling the boutique shops. Or, sit down for a memorable meal at Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen, Wahlburgers, Senor Frog’s, or Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville. Additionally, you’ll find some of the area’s most prevalent attractions here, including WonderWorks, billed as an amusement park for the mind; Ripley’s Aquarium; and Broadway Grand Prix, which is all about family fun with rides, mini-golf, and go-karts. Soar & Explore allows visitors to zip line across the lake, and Myrtle Waves Waterpark provides some serious water fun with 22 slides, pools, and play areas. Additionally, Top Golf is located on the property as well as helicopter rides. Believe it or not, all of that is just the tip of the iceberg — there’s a whole lot more! To visit the Broadway at the Beach website, click HERE.
Brookgreen Gardens or Conway Riverwalk
If you appreciate nature and are looking for some quiet time away from shops and amusements, try visiting Brookgreen Gardens located in Murrels Inlet, or take a stroll along the Conway Riverwalk.
Brookgreen Gardens (shown here) is a 9,100-acre sculpture garden and wildlife preserve, located in Georgetown just south of Murrells Inlet. This historic national landmark boasts numerous theme-based gardens featuring American figurative sculptures. Built on the site of four former rice plantations (one of which was Brookgreen Plantation), the grounds also house the Lowcountry Zoo, featuring indigenous wildlife such as alligators, river otters, swamp foxes, and fox squirrels. There are also beautiful walking trails that transverse the nature reserves on the property. If you love taking photos or enjoy taking a scenic stroll, this is the place to go.
However, if you’re looking for a tranquil area that’s a little less touristy, visit the Conway Riverwalk which borders the deep, black waters of the Waccamaw River. This pathway is part of a historic walking trail featuring wooden buildings, playgrounds, and park areas with picnic tables. The Riverwalk extends to Riverfront Park as well as the Conway Marina.
Family Kingdom Amusement Park
Family Kingdom is a seaside amusement park located on Ocean Boulevard, in the heart of downtown Myrtle Beach. The park includes 35 rides for adults and children of all ages, including thrill rides like Slingshot Drop Zone. Newer rides include the Twist ‘n Shout steel roller coaster, Jump Around Dune Buggies, and Magic Bikes.
However, if you’re looking for something a little more nostalgic that will take you back to the early days of downtown Myrtle Beach, climb aboard the wooden roller coaster known as the Swamp Fox (shown here). You can also cool down with a ride on the Log Flume or get a little dizzy on the Tilt-A-Whirl. Classic rides include the historic carousel and the bumper cars. Visitors will also find a Go-Kart track and Splashes Water Park on the property.
Sadly, Family Kingdom sustained some damage due to Hurricane Isaias in the summer of 2020, and portions remained closed due to Covid-19. However, the park plans to reopen as soon as possible. For information on park reopening, hours, ticket pricing, and more, visit the Family Kingdom website HERE.
Golf and Mini Golf
Myrtle Beach is a premier golf destination, with 80+ private, semi-private, and public courses in the region. All budgets and skill levels are accommodated with everything from difficult facilities that challenge pro and avid players to courses that are better suited to occasional golfers. Many of the courses were designed by the greats — Jack Nicklaus, Pete Dye, and Robert Trent Jones.
The Grand Strand region is the perfect place to play a round or two during a family vacation or the ideal place for a golf getaway with some buddies.
If you’re looking for the most challenging courses to play in the region, click HERE to visit our article ‘South Carolina’s Most Difficult Courses’.
As for mini-golf, visitors to Myrtle Beach can expect to find a whopping 50 courses featuring a variety of different themes and obstacles. Some tourist favorites include Cancun Lagoon, Hawaiian Rumble, and Mount Atlanticus. Our personal favorite – Jungle Safari (shown).
Explore the tranquil fishing village of Murrells Inlet, a region of the Grand Strand located to the south of Myrtle Beach. This area is believed to have once been the hideout for the legendary pirate known as Blackbeard. While there are no pirates or pirate ships to speak of these days, there is an abundance of boats – in particular, fishing boats. Murrells Inlet is THE place to go if you are interested in a chartered deep-sea fishing excursion. Numerous companies provide half-day and full-day adventures. If catching fish isn’t your thing but you love to eat it, Murrells Inlet is known as the ‘Seafood Capital of South Carolina’ with several waterfront restaurants in the area. For a look at our review of Wicked Tuna in Murrells Inlet, click HERE.
For a totally relaxing experience, try kayaking through the marsh or stroll the ½-mile MarshWalk — a wooden boardwalk that meanders along the scenic saltwater estuary. Want to kick it up a notch? Take a thrilling airboat ride through the mangroves and see if you can spot any gators.
Sea Screamer or Sea Thunder
When it comes to seaside destinations in the USA, tourists are often presented with tour options for dolphin and whale sighting cruises. So, it stands to reason that Myrtle Beach has numerous tours to choose from. Two of the most popular cruises are with sister boats – Sea Thunder and Sea Screamer, both of which depart from locations just beyond North Myrtle Beach. The reason visitors so often choose these boats is because it’s like getting 3 tours in one — a scenic cruise down the Intracoastal Waterway, followed by the dolphin sighting portion, and subsequently a high-speed thrill ride through the ocean.
For the cruise portion of the tour, guests are treated to beautiful views that include residential properties, waterside cafes, parks and bridges, and golf courses that stretch to the water’s edge. Offshoots of the waterway offer a look at the mangroves and sometimes the wildlife that lives there. Plus, there are historic spots along the route that date back to the Civil War. The ride gets a little choppy as the boat approaches the mouth of the ocean, and then it’s time to look for dolphins. Up until this point, the Sea Thunder tour and Sea Screamer tour are pretty much the same. However, what follows is a thrill ride through the open ocean, pushing the boats’ horsepower to deliver maximum excitement. This is where the boats differ somewhat, and it might make a difference as to which ride is best for you. For a complete overview, be sure to visit our comparison article of both boats and tours HERE.
Shark Tooth Hunting
Most people consider a beach vacation a time to hunt for seashells. And Myrtle Beach has plenty of them along the Grand Strand’s 60 miles of beaches. However, there’s something a little more fascinating along these shores — shark teeth!
Luckily, no special equipment is required for hunting teeth and there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Some people have luck while simply strolling the beach, others will sit by the hour at the edge of a shell bed and patiently sift through the sand and broken shells. There’s no guarantee of finding teeth, but there are a few things you can do to increase your odds. If you’re a novice, start with becoming familiar with teeth so you know what you’re looking for, especially since it’s very easy to mistake blackened chipped shells for teeth. Search shell beds, and ocean creeks or tide pools which tend to trap teeth in the ridges of the shallow water. Some hunters advise searching after a storm because the rough incoming tide will help to expose new layers of sand. Wherever you decide to search, don’t forget to wear plenty of sunscreen as well as sunglasses to reduce glare.
If you want to be impressed by a massive collection of shark teeth of all sizes, visit the Gay Dolphin in downtown Myrtle Beach and check out the Shark Tooth Cove. If you’re having trouble identifying what you’ve found, they can likely help you there. Or you could download the Shark Teeth Mobile App, which helps to identify and classify teeth. Currently, the app is available only from Apple.
Given that Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand area in general boast access to the Atlantic Ocean, Intracoastal Waterway, several lakes, rivers, marshes, and mangroves, it’s fair to say that watersports are popular in the region. Visitors have their choice of kayaking, paddle boarding, water skiing, surfing, kite surfing, parasailing, jet-skiing, and a variety of boats and activities, including banana boats.
There is an assortment of stores in the area that sell watersports-related equipment and numerous companies that provide rental equipment and/or tours. Just remember that if you plan to visit Myrtle Beach during peak season, it might be difficult to get the date and tour you’re hoping for, so it’s wise to research your options ahead of time and book them in advance. If you are considering a jet ski experience, we highly suggest visiting Shawn’s Backwater Adventure as we did.
If you’re hoping to save a little money on attractions, dining, watersports, golf, and beachwear, be sure to pick up a Monster Coupon Book. They are available all over the Grand Strand area, in hotel lobbies and restaurant entrances, etc. Or you can visit their website HERE.
View of Myrtle Beach (lead) – Photo Source Visit Myrtle Beach
Barefoot Landing – Photo Source Barefoot Landing Public FB Profile
Boardwalk & Promenade – Photo Source Shutterstock trial
Broadway at the Beach – Photo Source Broadway at the Beach Public FB Profile
Brookgreen Gardens – Photo Source Wikimedia Commons – License GNU Free Document
Murrells Inlet – Photo Source Wikimedia Commons – License GNU Free Document
Family Kingdom Amusement Park – Photo Source Wikimedia Commons – License Share Alike 2.0 Generic
Jungle Safari Mini Golf – Photo Source Go GlobeHopper
Sea Thunder – Photo Source Go GlobeHopper
Fossil Shark Tooth – Photo Source Wikimedia Commons – License Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Watersports – Photo Source Shawn’s Backwater Adventure