Boasting more than 60 miles of pristine shoreline stretching from Cherry Grove to Pawley’s Island, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is famous for its beaches—and rightfully so. But as tempting as it may be to settle down in the soft white sand and spend your entire vacation gazing at the Atlantic, the Grand Strand (as it’s known) serves up a bevy of other ways to enjoy local culture and the outdoors alike.
From world-renowned golf courses and expansive state parks to charming fishing villages, art galleries, and waterfront restaurants perfect for watching the sunset, Myrtle Beach is home to an impressive array of attractions for every style of traveler. Keep reading for seven reasons to balance time in your beach chair with discovering another side of Myrtle Beach.
Explore the dining scene
This region is known as the seafood capital of South Carolina—but the local dining scene is awash with other options. More than 2,000 restaurants in the area serve everything from tacos and tapas to haute cuisine and soul food. For a special night out complete with white tablecloths, try Aspen Grill’s renowned Lowcountry cuisine. Craving something more casual? River City Cafe’s creative burger menu includes a Nacho Burger topped with jalapenos and Doritos. For brats and beer, head to Cafe Vienna, a Bavarian-themed beer garden on Kings Highway.
If you do want a taste of fresh, local seafood, the fishing village of Murrells Inlet is a destination for seafood lovers, with eight restaurants clustered along the scenic MarshWalk. The Claw House is a favorite for brew hounds, with a relaxed vibe and more than 90 beers on tap, while Wicked Tuna specializes in fresh-off-the-boat seafood expertly prepared by a team of chefs. Sea Captain’s House, voted Southern Living’s Best Seafood Restaurant four years in a row, is an oceanfront spot with a beach house vibe for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And for the most indecisive diners, Captain Benjamin’s Calabash Seafood Buffet truly offers something for everyone.
Time to play
From amusement parks to the mile-long oceanfront Boardwalk and Promenade, the city overflows with options for all-ages entertainment. Choose among arcades, go-kart tracks, trampoline parks, and more than 50 putt-putt courses. Most mini golf courses feature elaborately imaginative themes ranging from pirates and dinosaurs to volcanos and Mayan temples, all in keeping with what’s known as one of the golf capitals of the world.
Shop the Strand
With beach shops, flea markets, outlet malls, and high-end boutiques, Myrtle Beach has something for everyone. Outlet mall fans will be happy to find two Tanger Outlets in the area, and Hudson’s Flea Market in Surfside Beach is another popular spot where you can dig for treasures. The Hammock Shops Village has been an iconic stop in Pawleys Island since 1938—and where you can pick up a locally made hammock, basket, or pair of shoes to take home as a souvenir. In North Myrtle Beach, Barefoot Landing has more than 75 specialty shops, as well as the Alabama Theatre and Duplin Winery.
Go back in time
While modern Myrtle Beach shines bright, the region has a rich heritage dating back more than a century. History buffs can visit sites on the National Register of Historic Places including the Myrtle Heights-Oak Park Historic District and William F. Simmons House. Trolley tours are a convenient and pleasurable way to learn about ghosts and pirate legends or local movies and music. Even some shops have decades of history to share, like the Gay Dolphin Gift Cove.
Explore the Myrtle Beach Arts & Gallery Trail
Discover Myrtle Beach’s creative side through the Arts & Gallery Trail, which features more than 100 stops along the Strand. Highlights include the Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum, known as one of the finest visual art museums in the Carolinas, and Brookgreen Gardens, home to the largest collection of figurative sculptures in the country. You’ll also find oceanfront sculptures, colorful murals, and galleries throughout the area. Be sure to track your progress with the Trail’s mobile passport and collect points to cash in at the Myrtle Beach Art Museum.
Check the calendar for special events
Embracing Myrtle Beach’s laidback lifestyle can also include moments of cultural enrichment. Keep an eye on the city’s events calendar for a host of happenings ranging from bike fests and food festivals to Pride and the Sun Fun Fest. The Carolina Opry, Medieval Times, the Alabama Theatre, and Broadway Theatre book entertainment every night of the week. And baseball fans can catch a game with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans at the new John T. Rhodes Myrtle Beach Sports Center.
Discover Lowcountry landscapes in the great outdoors
The South Carolina Lowcountry’s natural beauty is legendary—and not just its stunning beaches. From tranquil tidal marshes to parks peppered with centuries-old live oaks dripping with Spanish moss, Myrtle Beach’s landscapes don’t disappoint. Myrtle Beach State Park and Huntington Beach State Park offer hiking, biking, and birdwatching. And they’re popular destinations for shell collectors and shark tooth hunters. Set aside at least a half day to explore beautiful Brookgreen Gardens or take to the water on a kayak tour. With 215 sunny days a year, Myrtle Beach is a dreamy place to get outside.