Best Myrtle Beach vacation EVER!
June 19, 2012 1:51 PM   Subscribe

Myrtle Beach, SC: what are your must-see/must-dos?

I will be going to Myrtle Beach, SC for the first time next month :-) Are there any places or activities that I just shouldn't miss? I will be there for 4 days/3 nights with my boyfriend. Thanks, all!
posted by sleepykitties to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Prosser's BBQ in murrels inlet!
posted by kestrel251 at 2:45 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Pirate's Voyage show is cool - you'll see water acrobatics and theatrics and get a delicious dinner. It is pricey though.
posted by ZabeLeeZoo at 3:12 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

The prime thing to keep in mind about a trip to Myrtle Beach is that there is an air of tourist trap-ishness that permeates throughout the whole area, the same sort of feel that you get from that stretch along International Drive in Orlando, FL, or pretty much anywhere in Las Vegas, NV. It's been a resort vacation destination for decades, and generations of people have come to expect that kind of experience, so of course the local businesses are going to deliver it.

My last trip to Myrtle Beach was an overnighter back on Presidents Day weekend in February, with my girlfriend. Because we had planned to arrive there Friday around lunchtime and were staying through until Saturday evening, we narrowed our focus almost exclusively to the Broadway at the Beach open air shopping mall, even though shopping isn't exactly our thing.

That's because in addition to the shopping, there's a set of attractions there that the two of us were interested in. One was Wonderworks, a hands-on science museum. The target audience for that venue is actually families with children, but the interactive exhibits are interesting enough to catch an adult's attention too. WonderWorks also has a Zip-line, Ropes Course, and Laser Tag game that are add-ons to the basic admission price.

The second attraction at Broadway at the Beach that we had been eager to try was also something that we weren't exactly in the target demographic for, MagiQuest. The best way to describe MagiQuest is that it's a high-tech interactive treasure hunt that works like a cross between a theme park attraction and a live-action version of a video-game. The general theme is wand-waving sorcery, and while there's absolutely no connection to the Harry Potter franchise, it certainly evokes a Potter-esque feeling that even adult fans can enjoy. I go into more detail in my TripAdvisor review here, but the TL;DR version is if you're at all a fan of fantasy novels, D&D, video game RPGs, or scavenger hunts, this is well worth your time.

Some Broadway at the Beach attractions that we ended up not having time to try were Ripley's Aquarium, and the celebrity impersonation show Legends in Concert (My parents have gone to the latter, and they enjoyed it), nor did we end up staying for their evening fireworks, but in general Broadway at the Beach probably has enough good stuff to make a day of it.

A must-see that doesn't involve Broadway at the Beach would be the Skywheel Ferris Wheel. The view is fantastic, you get to see the pretty much the entire beach and all the beachfront hotels from the apex. At night, they light the thing up, so even if you're scared of heights, watching the lighshow from the beach is always an option. (And of course, the Beach itself is a must-see, but that almost goes without saying.)

If you like mini-golf you'll have plenty of courses to choose from; the town bills itself as the mini-golf capitol of the world. (Since our last visit was centered at Broadway at the Beach, we hit the two courses at Dragon's Lair Mini Golf, but the same company runs courses all over town.)

Another thing I'd put down on my must-see list for a 4 day trip would be Medieval Times. While I usually go to the one in Atlanta, my parents have done the show in Myrtle Beach, and have had the same kind of fun time there.
posted by radwolf76 at 3:16 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Brookgreen Gardens, one of the largest outdoor sculpture parks in the country.
posted by winna at 3:39 PM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

We go to Myrtle for the beach itself. Everything else is cheesy. Therefore, you sit on the beach and do absolutely nothing, lol. You splash and swim in the ocean and then at night take long walks on the beach. Just the thought of it is making me want to go......
posted by PJMoore at 6:14 PM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I just got back from Myrtle! I second pretty much everything radwolf said, with a few additions.

Tanger Outlets has some pretty great shopping that is less touristy and more discount Coach bags and J.Crew. Broadway at the Beach has a shitton of things to do, but radwolf has that market cornered, I think. Watch an IMAX movie. Go to the Hard Rock Cafe. The aquarium is really good fun. Buy an icee for $3.90 and get free refills while you wander around and shop.

The House of Blues almost always has some great band or other event going on. Head down to Ocean Drive (OD to the locals and condo owners) and listen to people play their guitars on the street and watch everyone and their mother shag. Get ice cream. The ice cream in Myrtle Beach is ridiculously fantastic and there's an ice cream shop at every corner. While you're over there, ride the ferris wheel.

Little River is a heartbeat away from Myrtle. It's super small, and there's a little haven of dirty fishermen and bars set on the water. There's also a gambling boat. It's lovely.

Speaking of fishermen, you need to go for a stroll on the pier at dusk. Dads and sons and old friends will be set up, sitting on benches and shooting the shit while they watch their rods. Someone will catch a baby shark and let you stroke its belly. Someone will be gutting a fish. You might see a school/herd/tribe of stingrays gliding through the water below you. There's a gift shop, but it also sells tackle and it's nowhere near as gift-shoppy as most of Myrtle. Take a gander at the picture of the tiger shark. She was a horror.

Barefoot Landing has more shopping. Ride in a biplane across the beach. Get in a banana boat and have your heart die while you whip through the ocean.

If possible, eat at King's, if only for the excellent house dressing, and Hoskin's, which will have huge line if you roll in at 7ish. It's worth it. If you go, you want to get a hush puppy (best in the world, I'm sure), lick it, and stick it in sugar. Your world will be forever changed.

Take a walk on the beach at night. There will be fireworks.

Disclaimer: Myrtle Beach is what you make it. There will be an abundance of YOLO shirts and cheesiness, but located right next to it is Willie Nelson's doppelganger crooning to a bunch of grizzled fishermen watching their women shag.

And when you hit the beach, bring the lifeguard a sandwich. They love that shit.
posted by goosechasing at 6:27 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Oh, trust me PJMoore - I pretty much can't stop thinking about the ocean and the warm sand and the breeze... ahhh. I just didn't want to miss out on "the best ________ ever!" that turns out is just down the street ;)
posted by sleepykitties at 6:29 PM on June 19, 2012

Best answer: You mentioning "Just down the street" from the beach reminds me: Gay Dolphin Gift Cove. It's the granddaddy of beach gift shops, been open since 1946 and is the largest on the East Coast.
posted by radwolf76 at 6:59 PM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Oh, without a doubt we will be hitting up that gift shop, radwolf76 - it looks amazing!

Goosechasing - the pier sounds great! I totally want to pet a baby shark on the belly! King's and Hoskin's sound delicious...

Thank you all for your suggestions, the more the better :D
posted by sleepykitties at 7:09 PM on June 19, 2012

Play putt-putt, visit the Gay Dolphin, hit the beach.

William Gibson on the Gay Dolphin.

One of the most bizarre life experiences I had was waiting on something - I forget what - outside a gas station next to a Wings on a deserted piece of highway not far from Myrtle Beach. An extremely long limousine was there, the inside gutted with some lizards inside, the pool in the back empty except for rainwater and empty cigarette packs.

I took some pictures and searched around on the Internet later and found it was the world's longest limousine.
posted by 23 at 8:19 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've started to answer this question a billion times, but I need more info to make really good, specific recommendations. Do you like local places or chains? Are you actually staying in Myrtle, or are you staying in North Myrtle or Pawley's or Surfside? Do you like family or adult stuff? You've got some good answers above, but one is more for Myrtle and the other is more North Myrtle Beach-centric (NMB is a completely different city).

I would avoid the House of Blues unless you're going there for a specific, great band. There are much better places where you hear good music in a way more picturesque location without paying $$$ for drinks (and I had my wedding reception there). The IMAX theater is a casualty of the bad economy.

I second Brookgreen gardens. They also have a really nice summer concert series. If you're going to be in the area on a Friday evening, you can't beat sitting in the gardens, having a glass of wine, listening to good music (and dancing). Garden tix are a little pricey, though. But so is everything in MB, compared to the region.

Do you know what the Shag is? It's an amazing dance, a local version of the Swing dance. North Myrtle Beach (NMB) is the dance's birthplace. Fat Harold's is a great place for free lessons. Ducks across the street is also good. The only caveat is that it's sort of a dying art form. My parents love to Shag, but none of my friends really do, so you're definitely going to get an older audience. Search "Carolina shag dance" and check out the footwork. Which is amazing, especially for the guy!

I love kayaking; a trip down the Waccamaw is really nice. Also a jet ski trip (usually marketed as the dolphin tour) out to the more uninhabited islands. The best mall shopping is at Market Commons. I also prefer Barefoot Landing to Broadway for the touristy shopping (both do summer fireworks). The NMB flea market is also pretty fun if you like that kind of shopping (and you can tear yourself away from the beach).

There are a lot of chains in MB. A lot of over-hyped, over-priced traps too. If you'd like rec's for a specific type of bar/restaurant, I would be happy to provide. My husband and I live on the north end of the Grand Strand, and we've eaten everywhere.
posted by Kronur at 2:19 AM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Wow, Kronur, amazing suggestions - thank you! We are more into local, non-kid focused, non-chain (local chains are interesting, not so much national chains). I would like to go to at least one "fancy" restaurant while we are there, but stay with the more reasonably-priced stuff for the majority of tje trip. Bars: I *love* tiki! I also love Keno, lol.
The NMB Flea Market is for sure on our must-do list now.
Thank you again for the great ideas!
posted by sleepykitties at 5:11 AM on June 20, 2012

Response by poster: Oop! Forgot to mention where we are staying: The Royale Palm condos (Hilton-owned in case there is more than one place with that name :) ) which I think might be on the North end? We are driving there, so transport isn't am issue.
posted by sleepykitties at 5:16 AM on June 20, 2012

You're staying in a great location--it's definitely towards the north end of the Grand Strand, but technically it's between NMB & MB. Perfect location to visit almost any place, but the Georgetown County end of stuff. (Brookgreen is going to be a little bit of a haul if you decide to go there!)

I think my favorite really nice restaurant near you is Collector's Cafe. Their food is solidly delicious and they have a really nice ambience. (Their website sucks, and there are no prices. I think it's about $30-$35 for an entree, though). Another place that's nice (but not as expensive as Collector's) and close is Fire Island Grille at Barefoot Landing. Especially if you love tiki. We usually go there in the off season when they have BOGO specials; my husband really enjoys it. If you're willing to head a little bit farther north, Sea Blue has really nice tapas. And if you go even more north (in Little River now), I recommend the Brentwood Restaurant.

With your central location, I'd definitely try to do one evening in the NMB Main Street Area; it has a great street scene. There's outdoor music, bars, restaurants, (I always go to Duffy's or the OD Arcade when i'm on Main, but there are also good sandwich/hot dog places). And there's a carnival/fair type thing in the summer at the street end, right on the ocean. And the previously mentioned clubs where people Shag are here as well.

And if you do one evening in NMB, you've also got to be fair to MB. I think it might be fun to go to the new Boardwalk Promenade and even go for a ride on the new Skywheel other's have mentioned. There's lots of activities scheduled there on summer nights.

Also, here's the Fireworks schedule for Broadway at the Beach. Barefoot Landing has them every Monday night through the summer. Have a great trip!
posted by Kronur at 9:47 AM on June 21, 2012

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