Myrtle Beach Things to Do

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Vacation Ideas

••• Ripley's Aquarium is one of Myrtle Beach's most popular attractions--for good reasons. ©Arthur Levine, 2008. Licensed to About.com.

With the 2008 opening of Hard Rock Park (and the 2009 reopening of the bankrupt Hard Rock as Freestyle Music Park), park fans and new visitors have been flocking to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. But once they've rocked out on the music-themed coasters at the park, what else can they do to have some fun in the vacation destination? Plenty.

Myrtle Beach is bursting with other attractions, great shows, a vast array of dining options, and a whole host of other diversions.

In fact, there's so much to do, their heads will be swimming with the choices. (Speaking of swimming, during the warmer-weather months, visitors simply have to make time to wade into the 60--60!--miles of beaches known as the Grand Strand. The conditions are nearly always perfect for body surfing. It is the crown jewel that originally made Myrtle Beach so popular.) That's why I'm here to offer some suggestions and help visitors find info as they make their vacation plans.

Myrtle Beach Hotels and Accommodations

From the Grand Strand's signature high-rise hotels along the shore to inland golf resorts, Myrtle Beach offers a huge variety of lodging choices at a number of price levels. Many of the units are 2, 3, or 4-bedroom condos that are owned by individuals, but maintained and rented by the host hotels.

Compare rates for Myrtle Beach-area hotels at TripAdvisor.

Myrtle Beach Theme Parks, Amusement Parks, Water Parks, and Other Attractions

Hey, you're a park fan, right?
That's why you're at About.com's Theme Parks site. So let's take a look at some of Myrtle Beach's many parks and attractions, starting with Freestyle Music Park.

Freestyle Music Park
843-236-ROCK
The 55-acre Freestyle Music Park, which originally opened as Hard Rock Park, offers rock-influenced rides.

But it has expanded its repertoire to include other kinds of music-themed attractions, shows, live performances, restaurants, and shops.

Family Kingdom
Just south of downtown Myrtle Beach on the shore
843-626-3447
Freestyle Music Park isn't the only place in town to ride a roller coaster. Family Kingdom is one of the few remaining family-owned amusement parks in the U.S. The fact that it is a traditional seaside park and has free admission makes it even more of a rarity. There is an adjacent, separate-admission Family Kingdom Water Park.

MagiQuest
At Broadway at the Beach
843-916-1800
This unique attraction is something like a walk-through video game. Instead of using a joystick and staring at a monitor, players move through a sophisticated indoor environment and use an interactive wand to trigger effects, unearth clues, solve mysteries, and rack up points. It all has something to do with wizards, princesses, unicorns, and other lore. Although I consider myself reasonably intelligent, I must admit that I found the whole experience baffling. I'm not a video game maven, nor am I much of a fantasy fan. I also may be well outside the target age range. Hordes of kids were darting to and fro about me engrossed in the game, and they seemed to be having a ball.

There are other MagiQuest attractions at Great Wolf Lodge indoor water park resorts and other locations. The Myrtle Beach MagiQuest is the original.

Myrtle Waves
Across from Broadway at the Beach
843-913-9260
It may seem odd to have a waterpark in an area known for its miles of beautiful beaches. But Myrtle Waves offers a different kind of bathing-suit-clad fun, and features some of waterparkdom's most thrilling slides.

NASCAR SpeedPark
Across from Broadway at the Beach
877-699-9200
With seven NASCAR-themed tracks, this is a go-kart park on steroids. The facility also offers two NASCAR-themed mini-golf courses, kiddie rides, an arcade, and a racecar simulator attraction.

Pavilion Nostalgia Park
At Broadway at the Beach
877-699-9200
A handful of the rides, including the historic carousel and band organ, that used to be at the closed Myrtle Beach Pavilion are at this mini ode to the seaside amusement park.

Ripley's Aquarium
At Broadway at the Beach
800-734-8888
If you're thinking there must be oddities such as two-headed sharks at this Ripley's attraction, think again. Believe it or not, it's a world-class aquarium with many captivating features such as the Dangerous Reef tank (which guests access via a nifty moving sidewalk through an encompassing glass tube), a huge ray pool, and a piranha (yikes!) exhibit. Ripley's Aquarium is one of Myrtle Beach's most popular attractions--for good reasons.

Ripley's Attractions
Downtown Myrtle Beach
843-916-8971
The Pavilion amusement park may be gone, but Ripley's still offers some fun diversions on the downtown strip. The Haunted Adventure, which includes lots of live actors, very dark, disorienting passageways, cool effects, and plenty of haunted maze gotchyas, is quite well done. The complete Ripley's lineup includes:

  • Ripley's Believe It or Not (Museum of oddities)
  • Ripley's Haunted Adventure (Walk-through haunted attraction)
  • Ripley's Marvelous Mirror Maze
  • Ripley's Moving Theater (Motion Simulator Ride)
  • Ripley’s Super Fun Zone (Arcade)

Wild Water and Wheels
Surfside Beach (south of Myrtle Beach)
843-238-9453
The water park includes the Free Fall speed slide, The Dark Hole covered slide, body slides, mat slide, lazy river, wave pool, and a kids play area. The park also offers go-karts.

Next page: More Myrtle Beach things to do- Myrtle Beach Shows and Dining

As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodations for the purpose of reviewing those services. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.

Myrtle Beach Shows

Myrtle Beach is loaded with theaters showcasing everything from country music to Cirque du Soleil-style circus acts. Here's one of the most entertaining choices for a fun evening of live entertainment:

Legends in Concert
2925 Hollywood Drive in Myrtle Beach at Broadway at the Beach.
843-238-STAR
It would probably cost a boatload of money to see Garth Brooks perform. And since he's permanently left the building, it would be impossible to see Elvis Presley croon.

Legends in Concert offers the next best thing: "tribute" artists, otherwise known as impersonators, who look, sound, sing, and move like the real deal. It's an upbeat, if occasionally corny and kitschy show featuring a cavalcade of uncanny performances.

The night I attended, the Buddy Holly and Jerry Lee Lewis doppelgangers were especially dazzling. The guy inhabiting a young, adrenalized Jerry Lee positively rocked the joint. The Buddy Holly stand-in performed note-for-note renditions of 1950s hits and then stole the show with some off-script, wildly funny takes on Ed Sullivan and Richard Nixon, among others. "Elvis" is nearly always on the marquee (although he never entered the building when I visited) along with a roster of four alternating acts that rotates among other Legends in Concert theaters in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and other locations.

Myrtle Beach Dining

There is no shortage of restaurants in the vacation hotspot.

You could head to one of the many chain establishments that have outposts here. But, I'd suggest sampling at least some of Myrtle Beach's local fare, which ranges from informal seafood joints to elegant, upscale restaurants. Here are a few of my favorites:

Crabby Mike's
Hwy. 17 in Surfside Beach, south of Myrtle Beach
843-444-CRAB
First-time visitors to Myrtle Beach may be puzzled by the proliferation of restaurants advertising "Calabash Seafood." As the story goes, restaurants just over the border in Calabash, North Carolina, were renowned for their fried seafood.

When restaurateurs imported the cooking style to the Myrtle Beach area, they dubbed it "Calabash." Today, the term still applies to fried seafood, but also more generically to large buffets featuring seafood. Among the biggest and best of the Calabash gorge-a-thons is Crabby Mike's.

The food isn't fancy, but there's plenty of it, and it's plenty tasty. Befitting its name, there are many items featuring crab, including mounds of crab legs. In addition to a number of fried seafood dishes, Crabby Mike's also offers broiled and steamed seafood items along with dozens of other choices (the restaurant says there are 120 in all), including chicken, beef, salads, and vegetables. Save room for the delicious hushpuppies served before the meal and the desserts available for after the meal.

Waterscapes at the Marina Inn at Grand Dunes
8121 Amalfi Place, Myrtle Beach (along the Intracoastal Waterway)
843-913-2845
Waterscapes focuses on ultra-fresh, in-season, local ingredients to inspire its menu. Since this is Myrtle Beach, that means plenty of seafood dishes as well as regional favorites such as Shrimp and Grits. In addition to the sumptuous entrees and appetizers, Waterscapes features a wonderful array of desserts and breads.

Be sure to save room for the made-on-premises ice cream. And if you're fortunate enough to visit while local peaches are in season, you have to try the heavenly peach ice cream. The service is impeccable, but not overly intrusive. The view of the marina and Intracoastal Waterway is stunning.

Sea Captain's House
N. Ocean Boulevard, on the shore at Myrtle Beach
843-448-8082
Housed in a charming, weathered-shingled building that's more reminiscent of Cape Cod than the Grand Strand, the Sea Captain's House, which opened in 1962, is old Myrtle Beach at its best. Heavy on seafood dishes, the restaurant offers mostly traditional fare with some eccentric touches such as a fresh grouper in a potato crust with a sweet corn, vanilla, and mushroom sauce.

The portions are big, the prices are moderate, and the food is delicious.

It's open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Unfortunately, the Sea Captain's House does not accept reservations; expect long waits during the busy season.

Next page: More Myrtle Beach things to do- Myrtle Beach Mini-Golf and Other Things to See and Do

 

As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodations for the purpose of reviewing those services. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.

Myrtle Beach Mini-Golf

Sure, Myrtle Beach is known as one of the world's golf hot spots. But did you know, that it also boasts one of the world's largest collection of mini-golf courses? Every block, it seems, there's another cascading waterfall beckoning putters to test their skills amid a pirate, tropical, or other whimsical theme. Here are two of the area's best mini-golf attractions:

Hawaiian Rumble
Hwy.

17 in North Myrtle Beach
843-272-7812
With its iconic volcanic mountain, the Hawaiian Rumble mini-golf course makes quite an impression, even among the sprawling neon signs, strip malls, and other clutter along North Myrtle Beach's main drag. And when the volcano starts rumbling and spewing fire, as it does every 20 minutes, it takes its LOOK-AT-ME! status to another level. All of the impeccably maintained holes are arrayed around the centerpiece volcano.

So, the place looks sharp, but how's the golf experience? Hawaiian Rumble is so revered among mini-golf afficianados, it's the home of the U.S. ProMiniGolf Association and frequently hosts the group's Masters and US Open tournaments. (I'll bet you didn't even know there were pro mini-golf tournaments.) There's nothing fancy about the holes themselves--rotating windmills and other retro mini-golf staples are apparently passe these days--but the play is challenging and fun.

Mt. Atlanticus Minotaur Goff
Downtown Myrtle Beach
843-444-1008
Built on the site of a former department store, the Mt. Atlanticus developers didn't have a heckuva lot of space on which to build a rambling mini-golf course, let alone two courses. So the enterprising designers went vertical and incorporated 36 holes into a structure that rises five stories and is punctuated by distinctive thatched-roof tiki huts at its apex.

The play begins inside where golfers choose between the "Minotaur Goff" (a minotaur is a mythological beast with the body of a man and the head of a bull; I have no idea what a "goff" is) and the "Conch" courses. As the players proceed through the courses they move up and down a number of flights of stairs and weave through the structure. The layout and game play at Mt. Atlanticus is considerably funkier than the pristine Hawaiian Rumble, but it's no less fun. And the view of the Grand Strand at the top of the course is magnificent.

Other Myrtle Beach Things to See and Do

Brookgreen Gardens
1931 Brookgreen Drive, Murrells Inlet, SC (south of Myrtle Beach)
843-235-6000
A National Historic Landmark, the beautiful 9,200-acre property includes formal gardens, a vast collection of sculpture displayed in the outdoor gardens, a small zoo, and a lovely guided tour in a pontoon boat. Plan to spend the better half of a day exploring the grounds and enjoying the hushed atmosphere.

To learn more about the area's state parks, museums, fishing, and other vacation options, visit the official visitors site:

Myrtle Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau