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Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is a fun and popular summer destination for families. It has the requisite beautiful coast and waterfront seafood restaurants you’d expect in a summer beach getaway; it even has a boardwalk Ferris wheel. But you’ll find cool and fun things to do both on the water and away from the beach, too. Explore the away from the beach activities, maybe on rainy days or on days when you just need a break from the sun or something new to explore. Here are the 10 top things to do in Myrtle Beach with kids.
Go to the beach
It’s a no-brainer. The beach is why you’re here, right? And Myrtle Beach delivers, claiming 60 miles of sandy shoreline. All of it is public for walking, swimming and playing. If you aren’t staying at a beachfront hotel, use any of 10 public access points along the coast. If you want to get off the sand and out on to the water, there are plenty of options from renting jet skis or joining a dolphin-watching cruise, to climbing onto a banana boat with friends and family.
Eat fresh seafood
The Southern Atlantic Coast is known for its oysters, shrimp, and other fresh seafood. Head to Marsh Walk at Murrell’s inlet. You’ll find your choice of casual fish houses on and near this lively boardwalk, which reliably has live music and crowds on summer evenings.
Go under the sea at Ripley’s Aquarium
A rainy day doesn’t have to stop you from doing some ocean exploring. See sting rays, sharks, sea dragons, and penguins at this inland aquarium that’s part of the Broadway at the Beach shopping and entertainment center. Get up close to hundreds of jellyfish without getting stung or travel down the Amazon River. As an add-on you can explore the local coast in a glass bottom boat.
Walk the boardwalk
Walk or bike along the 1.5-mile boardwalk. Part of the promenade is shady and bordered by dunes and sea grass. Part has all the requisite boardwalk offerings, including ice cream stands, arcades, restaurants, attractions, and outdoor entertainment in the summer. This is where you’ll find the Skywheel, a huge glass-enclosed Ferris wheel that is a nod to the boardwalk amusement park that used to be nearby,
Cheer for the Pelicans
Not the sea birds, but the Chicago Cubs’ minor league baseball team. The Pelicans play their home games at nearby TicketReturn.com Field from mid-June to mid-September. Minor league games are usually very kid-friendly, with tickets and concessions usually costing much less, and the between-innings entertainment is low tech and just hokey enough.
Sample the Low Country outdoors
If you need a day away from the sun and surf head to Brookgreen Gardens, a botanic garden, zoo, nature and animal preserve, and sculpture garden all in one space. Walk through an allée of 250-year-old live oak trees, admire the kitchen garden, native palmetto garden, and a terrace garden full of roses and other perennial flowers and shrubs. Follow a trail past a restored rice field and learn about the slaves, owners, and employees who lived here when it was a plantation. There are weekly programs about the local Gullah Geechee community. And the zoo offers the chance to see a range of Low Country wildlife, including alligators, foxes, bald eagles, owls, and sea birds. It’s a full day but a worthwhile opportunity to explore the southern coast’s unique culture and history.
Spend a day at Huntington Beach State Park
The gem of this state park is Atalaya, a sprawling, low-rise Moorish-inspired “castle” built in the 1930s by a New York philanthropist and his artist wife. You can take a guided tour of some of the home’s 30 rooms and see the interior courtyard full of native plants and palm trees that surround the water tower that gives the house its name.
Out toward Murrell’s Inlet, Huntington Beach State Park also has a long stretch of public beach, a picturesque stone jetty, and walking trails and boardwalks you can use to explore the local coastal terrain and spot wildlife. It has programs with naturalists a few mornings a week, too. Bring a cooler and a blanket and spend the day.
Explore the marshes
The marshes are as much a part of Myrtle Beach as the sand and surf. They house a lot of wildlife along with some of that wonderful local seafood. The best way to see them up close and appreciate them is with a guided kayak tour. Local outfitters focus on different marshes and, in general, tours are 2–4 hours long and in the early morning or evening. Look for the tour that suits your family’s paddling ability and inclination to rise early.
Myrtle Beach has long been a destination for golfers. You’ll find 90 golf courses within easy driving distance, some of which were designed by greats like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Greg Norman. Many are built to work with the natural coastal landscape, making them scenic as well as challenging. The hardest part of a golf getaway here is deciding where you want to tee off.
Myrtle Beach has a plethora of shopping opportunities. Head to Broadway at the Beach for stores that can supply all the beachwear, flip-flops, sun hats, and sunglasses you need. Barefoot Landing has local specialty stores including one where everything is purple and another where everything is made of bamboo. Find beach wear, golf items, regional wines, and liquors and more. Tanger Outlets has two shopping centers here to give you a head start on back-to-school shopping and last-minute summer bargains.
Eileen is a long-time journalist and the founder of FamiliesGo! She has traveled to five continents and loves everything about America’s South-East coast, but especially low-country cooking.
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