Sunseekers and beach lovers should consider heading to Myrtle Beach. Located in the subtropical region on the east coast of South Carolina, this welcoming city sits at the center of a 60-mile stretch of beautiful white sandy beach known as The Grand Strand.
A major tourist destination for around 14 million people each year, it is packed full of family-friendly entertainment and delicious seafood. It plays host to several fantastic festivals each year.
Myrtle Beach City Travel Guide
Top Attractions & Activities
The main reason that most people will make their way to Myrtle Beach is, unsurprisingly, the beach! With 60 miles of it to enjoy, it isn’t hard to find a secluded spot to call your own, or one teeming with excitement and activities if you prefer. Sunrises over the water are spectacular, and night-time walks disappoint as the beach is lightly bathed in the lights of hotels.
Anyone looking for water sports will find plenty of options, including boating, fishing, parasailing, windsurfing, scuba diving, and more!
The shape of the Grand Strand coastline means that waves tend to be pretty small at only around 3-4 feet. Not that this deters surfers! The best surfing can usually be found a bit out of the central area at spots such as Cherry Grove, North End, Bull Island, and Folly Beach. Because the waves tend to be relatively mild, Myrtle can be a great place for kids who are just learning, and there are plenty of surf schools.
Most of the city’s hotels and attractions like the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk, and strolling along the promenade is a great way to discover the city. There are lots of outdoor stages along the route that host a variety of entertainments and special events.
Another way to discover the full extent of Myrtle Beach is to take a ride on its SkyWheel, which is a ten-minute Ferris wheel ride offering spectacular views of the city and the coastline.
When you are done soaking up the ambiance, seek out the entertainment at Ripley’s Aquarium. This family-friendly science center includes a viewing tunnel that winds much more. There are several more family water parks along the oceanfront.
In the evening, there are hundreds of fantastic seafood restaurants serving fresh catch every day. Try Dirty Don’s Oyster Bar, Sea Captain’s House, Bonefish Grill, and the Flying Fish Public Market and Grill.
If you are looking to combine good food with entertainment, head to Pirates Voyage, owned by the one and only Dolly Parton. Enjoy a meal while watching acrobatic pirates perform on a water stage.
MyrtGreen nature lovers can head away from the beach and find plenty of natural beauty to satisfy their souls. Brookgreen Gardens botanical gardens cover more than 9,000 acres and feel like a natural art gallery and historic center. Highlights include historic plantation rice fields and a Civil War fort.
Golf lovers will also feel like their needs are fulfilled, with 90 championship courses in the area. Among the best options are the Pine Lakes Country Club, also called “The Grandaddy,” as it is linked with the first president of the PGA of America, Robert White. The Dunes Beach and Golf Club is also a highlight and has hosted several Champions Tours over the years.through a reef aquarium containing fantastic creatures, including sea turtles, stingrays, and giant sharks.
Families will also enjoy WonderWorks, a science museum that hosts some of the most modern interactive exhibits and lots of activities, including an indoor glow-in-the-dark ropes course and an immersive 6D extreme theatre.
Myrtle Beach’s idyllic location means that many fantastic festivals have decided to call the location home. No matter when you visit, there are some great activities to take part in.
March: The city has been hosting the Cam-Am Festival each March for more than 50 years to coincide with the return of the snowbirds from Canada. This natural wonder is complemented by a complete festival line-up for concerts and performances that celebrate both American and Canadian talent.
April: Myrtle plays host to the Myrtle Beach International Film Festival, which is often compared to the Sundance Film Festival in terms of the quality of the movies on show and the big-name celebrities that turn out.
May: People from Myrtle flood to the small satellite village of Little River to enjoy the World-Famous Blue Crab Festival. This is a family-friendly gathering with live music, kids’ activities, arts and crafts, and, of course, lots of famous blue crab to eat!
June: Country music fans won’t want to miss the Southeast’s premier outdoor country music festival, the Carolina Country Music Festival, which features a range of unmissable headliners alongside some of the best up-and-coming stars.
July: Lovers of the great outdoors will love the Conway Riverfest, which takes place on the banks of the Waccamaw River, as well as live music, expect an artisan market and the famous river raft race.
September: Celebrate the end of summer with the Aynor Harvest Hoe-down, which takes place just north of Myrtle. The day-long festival starts with a parade celebrating local artists and finishes with a street dance.
October: Welcome the arrival of fall with the Little River ShrimpFest, which combines live jazz music with a delicious shrimp cook-off!
Best Neighborhoods & Where to Stay
While Myrtle Beach city center is the heart of the region, it is connected to several satellite villages that are easy to access and great places to stay. Your holiday in Myrtle Beach begins probably at one of its excellent hotels or self-catering apartments designed to coincide with the city’s charming and laid-back vibe.
Central Myrtle Beach is the main city-beach experience, with busy beaches abutted by shopping, dining, entertainment attractions, and a vibrant nightlife. Most of the big hotels in the area line the coast in this region. If you are looking for an all-inclusive stay within walking distance of the major attractions, check into the Captain’s Quarters Resort or the newly renovated Crown Reef hotel.
North Myrtle Beach offers a more laid-back atmosphere, but is still packed with shops, restaurants, and great nightlife. Start exploring around Barefoot Landing, a vibrant commercial and entertainment district. This is where many of the area’s big festivals take place. For all-inclusive comfort, check into the North Beach Plantation oceanfront resort or get yourself a beautiful apartment just steps away from the beach.
If you are looking for low-key and family-friendly, then head to Surfside Beach, which has pristine beaches and seven public parks. Beachside villas are the most popular accommodation choice here.
If you head further north, you will find Little River, a quaint fishing village that will appeal to seafood lovers. Join a fishing charter in the morning, and then cook up your catch of the day. There is a reason that this is where you will find both the Blue Crab and Shrimp festivals! For resort accommodation, you can check into the Prince Resort at Cherry Grove Pier.
For a historic southern setting, set yourself up in Conway, one of the oldest towns in South Carolina. You’ll find oak-lined streets and picturesque historic buildings, all set along the Waccamaw River, as well as private rentals. Consider the Econo Lodge at the University for stylish, secure, and affordable options.
For more extended stays, you should probably opt for rental accommodation with real living space for authentic experiences. Take a look at the range of Viagem’s beautiful apartments in Myrtle Beach for some inspiration. They are well-equipped with modern amenities in the most convenient locations, featuring beautiful indoor and outdoor spaces that flow into each other naturally, giving you the comfort and privacy you need during your stay in Myrtle Beach.
Best Day Trips from Myrtle Beach
If you are staying in Myrtle Beach for a little while, then you have a great base to explore some of the fantastic villages and cities in the surrounding area, in both South Carolina and over the border in North Carolina.
Seafood lovers need just half an hour in the car to cross over to North Carolina and discover Calabash, home to some of the best seafood that you will find anywhere in the world. As well as dining on delicious fresh fish, shrimp, and oysters, there are also some wonderful nature preserves for hiking and fishing.
Music lovers should head 30 minutes south to Murrells Inlet, a small town known for both seafood and melodies. During the day, head out fishing or hire paddle boards and jet skis. At night, head to MarshWalk, where almost every restaurant and bar hosts live music during the summer months.
If you have more time, two and a half hours south, you will find Folly Beach, renowned for its enormous, fossilized sharks’ teeth. As well as swimming, fossil hunting, fishing, and dining, be sure to check out the historic Morris Island Lighthouse, which has been saved by the local community.
Just two hours in the car from Myrtle Beach, you will find yourself in Charleston, undoubtedly the most famous city in South Carolina. Dating back to the 17th century, the city is full of colonial architecture filled with quirky and modern restaurants, shops, and entertainment. Few cities more clearly reflect the harrowing history of the slave trade, the civil war, and the continuing fight for racial equality in the United States.
If Charleston is too far, Georgetown can be reached by car in under an hour. A major colonial-era commercial center, this is another city with a vibrant modern population occupying historic architecture.
Cross over the border into North Carolina to discover Wilmington, which is just an hour and a half away by car. The city’s central historic district is on the National Register and is just block after block of colonial houses, churches, and public buildings. Wilmington’s riverfront is ranked among the best in the country, and there is also no shortage of great beaches.
Getting There & Around
Getting to Myrtle Beach is simple, thanks to the Myrtle Beach International Airport. Most of the big American airlines have routes to Myrtle, including Allegiant Air, American Airlines, Delta, Porter, Spirit, and United Airlines. From the airport, it is only a ten-minute drive to the center of Myrtle Beach.
However, don’t try to travel by train as the nearest stop is 70 miles away in Florence, South Carolina. While there is a bus service from there to Myrtle, it is not direct and can take several hours.
There are plenty of options for arriving by car, with good roads passing Charlotte, Charleston, and Wilmington directly to Myrtle Beach. While a car is the easiest way to get around once you arrive, there is also a pretty good local bus service that covers all the major thoroughfares around the Grand Strand area. Services run seven days a week. A standard adult fare is $1.50 per trip, and there are discounts for students, seniors, children, and others.
Taxis and Ubers are also readily available in the area.
Travel Tips & Hacks
Most travelers should budget around $200 a day for their stay at Myrtle Beach. The average hotel costs around $140 per day, while you can expect to spend another $45 on meals and $15 on transport.
Be aware that the area can be very busy in the summer months. While the city has a permanent population of less than 35,000, more than 14 million visitors pass through each year. In the summer months, you can expect both heavy traffic and long queues at the major attractions.
The sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean visible from the Myrtle Beach area is one of the most spectacular that you will see anywhere. So, on at least one day, set the alarm clock and rise before the sun.
The area was traditionally inhabited by Waccamaw, and Winyah Indians called the region “Chicora,” which simply means “the land.” Spanish colonists then set themselves up in the area in 1526, but their community was ravaged by disease and perished. The area was then exploited as a safe harbor by pirates until English colonists began to settle the area in the 18th century.
Are you thinking of visiting Myrtle Beach sooner or later? You can start planning your trip of a lifetime with our Myrtle Beach travel guide, with a wide range of amazing things to see and do.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Myrtle Beach, you can take inspiration from our collection of Myrtle Beach apartments for an unforgettable vacation in South Carolina.