The area known as Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand, on the coast of South Carolina between Charleston and North Carolina, was originally settled by the Waccamaw tribe. They set up a trading post before the arrival of the Europeans in the 18th century. The Grand Strand now refers to Georgetown and Horry counties, from Georgetown to Little River. This includes Pawleys Island, Litchfield Beach, Murrells Inlet, Myrtle Beach, and North Myrtle Beach.
This part of the state has been a tourism hub since the 1930s and now receives over 14 million visitors per year. It’s popular for spring break and for its bike weeks, one of the largest in the United States. While most see Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand as a spring and summer destination, there are plenty of things to do year-round due to its warm weather.
What to Do
SkyWheel– This recent addition to the Boardwalk offers views of the surrounding area. Rides last a few rotations and less than 10 minutes. Some nights, they even run it at night, all lit up! VIP rides offer privacy and more ride time. Get discounted tickets here. 1110 North Ocean Boulevard, Myrtle Beach
Brookgreen Gardens– What started as a private garden has become one of the area’s most beloved attractions, open for the last 85 years. Brookgreen incorporates sculpture into open spaces and also has a wildlife section and seasonal events. 1931 Brookgreen Drive, Murrells Inlet
The Carolina Opry– Myrtle Beach has become a surprising location for the performing arts. The Carolina Opry was one of the first, offering dance and musical performances throughout the year. 8901 North Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach
South Carolina Civil War Museum– Located at a shooting range, the South Carolina Civil War Museum is a small museum that details the state’s history in the conflict. Artifacts have been gathered by archaeological digs and include cannons, handguns and uniforms. 4857 Highway 17 Bypass South, Myrtle Beach
Helicopter Adventures– For only $20, you can go on a short scenic helicopter flight over Myrtle Beach. Flights leave regularly near Market Commons. Keep in mind that there’s a higher rate if you’re solo. 1860 21st Avenue North, Myrtle Beach
Atalaya– Located in Huntington Beach State Park, this landmark is a Moorish-style former summer home of Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington. Guided tours are available. The surrounding park is also a place to spot native species of wildlife. 16148 Ocean Highway, Murrells Inlet
Myrtle Beach Pelicans– Catch a game with the city’s minor league baseball game, which is a Class-A advanced affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. Best of all, tickets are no more than $15 per person for a game. 1251 21st Avenue North, Myrtle Beach
And, most importantly, you should go to the beach. Choose from dozens of spots throughout the Grand Strand. Keep in mind that you may have to pay to park and beaches in the state parks are subject to an entry fee.
Where to Eat
Wicked Tuna– Located in Murrells Inlet, known as the seafood capital of the state, Wicked Tuna is a large space with a varied seafood-heavy menu. Fish tacos and sushi are favorites as well as their cocktails. They also have weekly events like bingo and karaoke as well as waterfront seating. 4123 Highway 17 BUS, Murrells Inlet, (843) 651-9987
Croissants Bistro&Bakery– For the best brunch in the Grand Strand, head to Croissants, a local favorite for their cakes, pastries and, of course, breakfasts. Grab the eggs benedict on, what else, a croissant with a mimosa and take a slice of cake to go. 3751 Robert M. Grissom Parkway, Myrtle Beach, 843-448-2253
Litchfield Restaurant– This greasy spoon on US-17 serves breakfast all day as well as lunch. The menu includes meat-and-threes, fried chicken, and burgers in addition to daily specials. 12223 Ocean Highway, Pawleys Island, (843) 237-4414
Applewood House of Pancakes– You’ll find many pancake eateries in the Grand Strand area, but Applewood is tucked away from the main tourist area in Pawleys Island. You may still have to wait for a short stack, but you’ll be pleased once you get a chance to chow down. 14361 Highway 17, Litchfield, (843) 979-1022
River City Cafe– You’ll find locations all over town, but Murrells Inlet is a favorite location for its proximity to the ocean. Don’t mind the peanut shells on the floor and shabby decor, as it’s part of the ambiance. Burgers are what they’re known for, but they also have seafood and salad options. 4393 Highway 17 BUS, Murrells Inlet (multiple locations), (843) 651-1004
Peaches Corner– A boardwalk staple for 75 years, Peaches Corner is perhaps most well known for their footlong hot dogs and cheap beer. But they also have burgers, sandwiches, ice cream and even breakfast. It’s one of the cheapest places to eat on the Grand Strand! 900 North Ocean Boulevard, Myrtle Beach, (843) 448-7424
Quigley’s Pint & Plate– Pawleys Island seems like an unlikely place for a brewpub, but Quigley’s is just that. And as good as their beer is, the food matches it entirely. They have the best happy hour on the island as well as trivia, karaoke and growler fills. 257 Willbrook Boulevard, Pawleys Island, (843) 237-7010
Hog Heaven– Hog Heaven is as casual as it gets, with pulled pork and all the fixings. They also have seafood and country cooking, such as macaroni and cheese, collard greens and fried chicken. Oyster lovers can indulge in all-you-can-eat for only $20 on weekends. 7147 Ocean Highway, Pawleys Island, (843) 237-7444
Flying Fish Public Market and Grill– Conveniently located near the Carolina Opry at Barefoot Landing, Flying Fish has a large window where you can see your dinner freshly prepared. Seafood dishes include sushi, shrimp and grits and boiled and steamed crab legs, shrimp and more. 4744 Highway 17 South, North Myrtle Beach, (843) 663-3474
The Chemist– This science-themed restaurant may just be downtown’s most surprising restaurant. Servers wear lab coats, coasters feature chemical symbols and cocktails are served in beakers. They also put an emphasis on molecular gastronomy, so your soup might come in a test tube or be made with liquid nitrogen. 300 9th Avenue North, Myrtle Beach, (843) 445-7077
Nacho Hippo– Nacho Hippo puts a spin on standard Mexican fare with creative tacos, quesadillas, and salads. Korean barbecue, lobster, and curry chicken come as optional fillings in dishes. Choose the Hippo for a quick and easy lunch at Market Common or at their new North Myrtle Beach location. 1160 Farrow Parkway, Myrtle Beach, (843) 839-9770
New South Brewing Company– Myrtle Beach is also home to one craft brewery, which is open to visitors Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays for tours and tastings. Located only a few blocks from the Boardwalk, it’s a great place to spend the afternoon. They also have food trucks in case you get hungry. 1109 Campbell Street, Myrtle Beach, (843) 916-2337
Where to Stay
When it comes time to choose your accommodation in Myrtle Beach, you’re in for a tough decision. There are thousands upon thousands of hotel rooms on the Grand Strand, including the chain hotels you’ve come to know as well as a number of independent properties. Even most hotel rooms resemble condos, but have a front desk. Budget and luxury oceanfront hotels include Springmaid Beach Resort and Anderson Ocean Club, respectively. Condos you can rent offer the comforts of home and more space at Ocean Creek Resort, pictured, and Kingston Plantation Condos. You can also rent an entire home from websites like HomeAway. Camping is another option, depending on the season, at Myrtle Beach’s state parks and at the local Myrtle Beach KOA. They have tent and RV sites as well as cabins.
Visit Myrtle Beach hosted my most recent stay, which helped me gather information for this guide.
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