Best Beaches: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

As the largest resort along South Carolina’s 60-mile Grand Strand, Myrtle Beach is the East Coast’s ultimate vacation hub. The town teems with summertime action: the population explodes during summer months from 26,000 to over 400,000 on any given day and includes tourists from around the globe.

Of the many beaches dotting the Strand, Myrtle Beach boasts the greatest number of amusement and water parks, restaurants and live entertainment. As an added bonus, the beach’s location is in proximity to an eclectic assortment of museums, nature preserves and outlet shopping. Over 100 golf courses are a club’s stroke away, and most are open to visiting guests.

Despite having so much to do, it’s impossible to overlook the biggest attraction of all — sun, surf and lots of sand! Myrtle Beach’s actual beach is an extensive stretch of silky white sand, and offers opportunities for fishing, swimming, sunbathing, sailing and surfing. The region is rich with activities, and has successfully maintained the image as a family getaway, with most attractions, entertainment and eateries being geared toward families. In fact, many area hotels offer water rides, activity programs and playgrounds for youngsters.

5 of 5
Myrtle Beach is designed almost exclusively for families, with most amusement parks and activities geared toward children.
5 of 5
The water is clean and mostly tranquil, perfect for taking a dip; beaches offer plenty of water sport opportunities including surfing and sailing.
5 of 5
The beach is extensive and wide; the sand is white, soft and clean.
3 of 5
The area gets incredibly crowded during summer, and the neon signs, souvenir shops and noisy amusement parks may be a bit gaudy for some folk’s tastes.
Non-Beach Activities
5 of 5
There’s no reason to be bored in Myrtle Beach: golfing, amusement parks, shopping, entertainment, museums and nature abound!
Best Luxury Accommodations
Kingston Plantation Embassy Suites
Where: 9800 Queensway Boulevard, Myrtle Beach, SC 29572
Phone: 1-800-876-0010; 843-449-0006
Web site:
Email: [email protected]
Rates: $129 to $479
Well-heeled travelers will find that the Kingston Plantation exceeds their expectations of luxury accommodations. The plantation is 145 acres of gardens, woods and lakes, and features a variety of well-appointed lodgings to suit guests’ needs, including a Hilton resort, an Embassy Suites Hotel, Oceanfront Condominium Towers, Lakeview Lodges, town homes and villas. Families will love the property’s on-site activities, including a half-mile of beach, a 50,000-square-foot sport and health club, SPLASH! Beach Club for kids and a sprawling Caribbean water playground.Best Bed & Breakfast
Cypress Inn
Where: 16 Elm Street, Conway (Myrtle Beach Area), SC 29526
Phone: 1-800-575-5307; 843-248-8199
Web site:
Email: [email protected]
Rates: $130 to $210
Experience the decadence of southern hospitality at the Cypress Inn, located just outside Myrtle Beach. The inn overlooks the gentle Waccamaw River, far enough from the coast’s touristy bustle to be a peaceful escape. Twelve unique guest rooms are richly decorated with satin drapes and hand-carved mahogany furniture; some even feature views of the marina and fireplaces. For an extra fee, guests can indulge in a trip to the day spa, or take advantage of other amenities such as flower bouquets, chocolate-covered strawberries and champagne — all will be brought to your room.Best Family Accommodations
Coral Beach Resort and Suites
Where: 1105 South Ocean Boulevard, Myrtle Beach, SC 29577
Phone: 1-800-556-1754
Web site:
Email: [email protected]
Rates: $40 to $240
Families are hard-pressed to find a dull moment while staying at the family-oriented Coral Beach Resort and Suites located in the heart of Myrtle Beach. Many of the guest rooms have ocean views, and management’s variety of seasonal packages ensure a great value. When they’re not splashing in the ocean, kids will enjoy the resort’s 10 pools, Lazy River tube ride, on-site bowling alley and snack bar, and children’s activity center filled with games and jungle gym equipment. While the kids play, parents can unwind at one of the restaurants or pubs.

Best Budget Accommodations
Driftwood on the Oceanfront
Where: 16th Ave. North and the Oceanfront, Myrtle Beach, SC 29577
Phone: 1-800-942-3456; 843-448-1544
Web site:
Email: [email protected]
Rates: $25 to $142
The family-owned and -operated Driftwood on the Oceanfront has been satisfying the needs of budget travelers for more than 75 years. Located within walking distance of the Myrtle Beach Pavilion, the Driftwood features 90 rooms, many of which have private balconies and ocean views. Two pools and an oceanfront gazebo can be found on the well-kept property, which is only a few steps from the beach. Golf buffs can take advantage of the hotel’s golf packages, which include green fees at one of Myrtle Beach’s championship courses, golf cart, breakfast and lodging.

Best Local Seafood
The Sea Captain’s House
Where: 3002 N. Ocean Blvd., Myrtle Beach, SC 29577
Phone: 843-448-8082
Web site:
Hours: Breakfast, 6 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.; lunch, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; dinner, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Entrée Prices: Breakfast, $5.60 to $9.95; lunch and dinner, $7.50 to $27.95
The Sea Captain’s House has been serving up Myrtle Beach’s tastiest seafood for more than half a century, while gaining almost legendary status. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with freshly caught and prepared seafood. Among the more decadent breakfast items are the Seafarer Omelet, made with crabmeat, shrimp, mushrooms and cheese and the crab cakes Benedict, dripping with hollandaise sauce. For dinner, indulge in the gluttonous Captain’s Platter — shrimp cocktail, clam chowder, salad and a seafood platter (fried or broiled) of shrimp, scallops, flounder, oysters and deviled crab. No reservations are taken, so plan to arrive early in summer!Best Waterfront Atmosphere
Captain Dave’s Dockside
Where: Just south of Myrtle Beach, 4037 Highway 17 (Business), Murrells Inlet, SC 29576
Phone: 843-651-5850
Web Site:
Hours: Lunch starts at 11:30 a.m.; Dinner starts at 5:30 p.m.
Entrée Prices: Lunch, $5.95 to $14.95; Dinner, $14.95 to $23.95
To experience outdoor waterfront dining is to fully experience Myrtle Beach in all its maritime glory. At Captain Dave’s Dockside, patrons have the chance to dine on a deck overlooking tranquil Murrell’s Inlet, watching boats glide past or stop as patrons arrive via watercraft at the restaurant’s private dock. When it’s time to order, partake in the pan-crusted local grouper served with Dijon shrimp cream sauce — it’s divine! Not only does Dave’s offer dining overlooking the lovely seaside, it is also home to a waterfront gazebo and bar where visitors can grab a cold one and kick up their heels to the live entertainment offered seasonally.Best Mix of Dining and Culture
Collector’s Café Gallery & Coffee House
Where: 7726 N. King’s Highway, Myrtle Beach, SC 29572
Phone: 843-449-9370
Web site:
Hours: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Saturday (café hours)
Entrée Prices: $18.95 to $28.95
If the souvenir shops and neon signs of Myrtle Beach get under your skin, the Collector’s Café will come as a welcome, cultured respite. The brainchild of artists Mike Smith and Thomas Davis, the café serves up a mix of funky atmosphere, food and fabulous art. Approximately 45 artists are showcased in the café’s six different rooms, and nearly every object in the place is for sale. Among the enclaves is the gallery dining room with its 30-foot-suspended sculpture, the lounge — a hotspot for night owls seeking drinks, a coffee shop with hand-painted tables and a wine bar featuring painted tiles depicting the winemaking process. The café is modeled after 17th century art bistros in Europe, a rare glimpse of culture at Myrtle Beach. Not into art? The fusion-inspired cuisine has earned itself a reputation on its own merit.

Best Fine Dining
The Library
Where: 1212 N. Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach, SC 29577
Phone: 843-448-4527
Web site:
Hours: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Saturday
Entrée Prices: $17.95 to $37.95
Locals and visitors alike soon learn that Myrtle Beach’s most refined dining experience is found at the Library on the Strand. This posh restaurant replicates a cozy library filled with rich mahogany wood and volumes of old and new books. Diners are treated to linen-covered tables and premier service. The wait staff is trained to memorize ever-changing menu scripts and have mastered the art of tableside food preparation — Caesar salads and bananas porter are among the delicacies prepared before guests’ very eyes. No busboys or food runners are found at this refined establishment — your waiter is at your service from start to finish. Reservations are highly recommended.

Best Kid Stuff
Myrtle Beach Pavilion Amusement Park
Where: Ocean Boulevard between Eighth and Ninth avenues North, Myrtle Beach, SC 29575
Phone: 843-913-5200
Web site:
Hours: Summer hours: 1 p.m. to 10 p.m., daily
Rates: Day passes: $15.95, children 3 to 6, seniors (55+); $24.95, adults; $100, season pass
A surefire hit with the kids, the Pavilion Amusement Park is a constant celebration of good, old-fashioned family fun. For more than 50 years, the pavilion has been making folks young and old smile with its assortment of rides and amusements. Wondering which of more than 40 rides to hop on first? Try the Hurricane Category 5 — a 110-foot-tall, wooden roller coaster, or get your toes wet on the Hyrdro Surge whitewater rafting ride. The pavilion’s 11 acres also include thrill rides, go-cart tracks, arcades and entertainment from bands, jugglers and clowns.Best Outdoor Adventure
Alligator Adventure
Where: Hwy 17 at Barefoot Landing, North Myrtle Beach, SC 29582
Phone: 843-361-0789
Web Site:
Email: [email protected]
Hours: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Rates: $14.95, adults ; $12.95, seniors; $9.95, children 4 to 12; free, children under 3
The unimaginable is possible! Cozying up to crocodiles and alligators is easy at Alligator Adventure — an 11-acre outdoor reptile zoo. Visitors will come face-to-face with over 700 of these fierce creatures, and will also encounter a variety of snakes, lizards, giant tortoises, frogs and exotic birds. The property’s natural swamps and marshes are easily traversed via wooden boardwalk, which guests follow as they are guided through the wilderness. Find out when feeding times are and watch as the alligators chow down on giant rats!Best Golf Course
International World Tour Golf Links
Where: 2000 World Tour Boulevard, Myrtle Beach, SC 29579
Phone: 1-877-377-7773; 843-236-2000
Web Site:
Email: [email protected]
Rates: $95 to $225 for 18- or 27-hole rounds
After teeing off at International World Tour Golf Links, players travel the world in a round of golf — experiencing the best courses from across the globe. The World Tour course features 27 holes derived from the world’s most admired courses, including Augusta National, Pine Valley and St. Andrew’s. This golfer’s fantasy was the brainchild of creator Mel Graham, whose inspiration includes 23 courses spanning six countries. Bronze plaques along the course describe the inspiration for each hole. An ambassador greets guests upon arrival and guides golfers around the immaculate course, making for a unique and upscale golfing experience.

Best Day Trip
Brookgreen Gardens
Where: U.S. Highway 17 between Myrtle Beach and Pawleys Island, SC 29585
Phone: 1-800-849-1931; 843-235-6000
Web Site:
Email: [email protected]
Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily
Rates: Adults $12; seniors $10; students (age 13-18) $10; free for children under 12
Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
A lovely day can be spent strolling and exploring the 300 acres of Brookgreen Gardens. Operating for over 70 years, Brookgreen is the oldest and largest sculpture garden to showcase American figurative sculpture, and is also home to a Lowcountry Trail where native wildlife can be observed. Over 550 works of art from more than 300 artists are found in a series of gardens divided into well-manicured “garden rooms.” Tours, excursions and seasonal programs allow visitors to gain full knowledge of the art and nature in their surroundings.