Go There: A Treasure Hunter’s Guide to Myrtle Beach, SC
From oysters to a bountiful botanical garden, we’ve got the ultimate guide to a vacation in Myrtle Beach.
Welcome to “Go There,” a Livability.com series about travel and how to maximize your time in some of our favorite cities. Do you have a place in mind that we should visit next? Let us know!
Today, we’re visiting Myrtle Beach, SC. You may know this coastal city as a Spring Break hotspot, thanks to its sandy stretches of beaches, famed golf courses and tourist attractions galore. But, Myrtle Beach also has a storied pirate past, with tales of pirates like Blackbeard sailing the Carolina coast in the early 1700s. As legend has it, Blackbeard lit slow-burning cannon fuses in his jet black beard as a scare tactic — and these types of wild pirate stories are retold at dinner shows. Shiver me timbers! Myrtle Beach also has pirate-themed restaurants and a Captain Hook-themed miniature golf course.
Channeling that swashbuckling spirit, we’re going on a treasure hunt in Myrtle Beach. The treasures we seek are the lesser-known jewels and hidden gems. Let's go!
Where to Stay
Located on the Intracoastal Waterway, Marina Inn at Grande Dunes is a luxurious resort with spacious guest rooms that start at 435 square feet and come with private balconies. (1. Request one that overlooks the marina. 2. Wake up for the sunrise. 3. Sip coffee and enjoy.). Locals come to this hotel to dine at Waterscapes Restaurant, a sustainable seafood restaurant with Southern European influences that’s upscale without feeling pretentious. Palm trees shade the pool and in-room massages are available to book.
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Traveling with kids? With nine pools, a lazy river and water play features for children, the Sea Crest Oceanfront Resort doubles as a waterpark. It’s also nearby fun attractions like Pirate Adventures, where little ones can board a pirate ship, get a curly mustache painted above their lip, and even have a (fake) anchor tattoo applied before they depart to search for sunken treasures.
Another hotel that matches the fun vibe of the city is Surfside Beach Oceanfront Hotel, which even has a surfcam you can watch leading up to your visit. Every room has a beach view, plus there’s a pool, hot tub and karaoke nights.
Where to Eat
Among chain restaurants are plenty of local gems that you’ll want to save room for, including Johnny D’s, which is famous for its creative homemade waffles, like red velvet, banana split or cinnaroll — expertly blurring the line of breakfast and dessert.
Wicked Tuna, a waterfront restaurant in Murrells Inlet, is “hook to plate,” meaning the restaurant’s fishing fleets head out into the Atlantic Ocean to reel in fresh grouper, mahi-mahi, sea bass and snapper to serve guests. Creative cocktails and sushi rolls also star on the menu at this lively restaurant.
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Just outside of Myrtle Beach is The Parson’s Table, a fine dining restaurant housed inside an 1850s church, with original wood still intact in the main dining area and colorful stained glass windows. Fried green tomatoes fancied up with goat cheese and sweet red pepper coulis, along with she crab soup, are Carolina indulgences.
For oyster and clam lovers, we’re excited to reveal this secret: You can get a South Carolina Saltwater Fishing License ($10 for residents, $35 for nonresidents) and harvest up to two bushels of oysters a day between Oct. 1 through May 15.
What to Do
Definitely enjoy the ferris wheels and the larger-than-life tourist attractions in Myrtle Beach, like Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! museum of oddities. But, as a juxtaposition, carve out an afternoon to slip away to Georgetown, a historic town with a waterfront boardwalk and oak trees lining the street that give it a “little Charleston” vibe. Peruse the 30 shops and art galleries. Then, pro tip: Dip into Indigo Market, a specialty grocer, for a fresh-baked baguette, gourmet cheese, and a bottle of wine — the makings of a DIY sunset happy hour.
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Break up your beach days with a saltwater marsh kayak tour in Huntington State Park led by the skilled guides at Black River Outdoors. As you paddle through the marsh, keep your eyes peeled for herons, egrets, bald eagles and even sea turtles.
For a fun night out, snag tickets to the Carolina Opry and settle into this opulent theater for a two-hour variety show that includes music, dance and comedy. Here, you’ll find some top-notch talent performing like NBC’s “The Voice” contender Delvin Choice.
Where to Shop
You’ll find all kinds of souvenir shops, plus deals at the Tanger Outlets. But the Hammock Shops Village in Pawleys Island is a must-visit shopping destination with 25 locally owned shops. Here, you can learn about rope hammocks and even bring one of your own hand-woven hammocks home from The Original Hammock Shop.
With 9,127 acres to explore, and year-round blooms, Brookgreen Gardens is a community treasure. Live Oak Allée is a special spot, with 250-year-old Live Oak trees, some dripping in white lights and making them even more picturesque. The gardens also have a treasure trove of sculptures, with more than 2,000 crafted by 430 different artists. Come spring, acclaimed British artist Bruce Munro is bringing a large-scale light exhibition to Brookgreen that will be a must-see. “Bruce Munro at Brookgreen: Southern Light” will run from April 8 to Sept. 12, 2020.