Surfside Beach Is the Ultimate Destination for Families

This all-ages South Carolina destination is the perfect place to make memories that will last a lifetime.  

Surfside Beach, South Carolina
Photo: Courtesy of Visit Myrtle Beach

While Myrtle Beach has long been the main attraction on South Carolina's Grand Strand, it's far from the only destination to explore on the famous 60-mile stretch of coastline. There are 13 other distinct communities waiting to be discovered and enjoyed—including one of our favorites, Surfside Beach. Fifteen minutes down the road from Myrtle Beach, Surfside is Myrtle's smaller, quieter, more laidback little sister. Away from the hustle and bustle of crowded beachfront boardwalks, amusement parks, and giant Ferris Wheels, Surfside provides a welcome reprieve from the tourist-packed arcades, shops, and restaurants we've come to love Myrtle Beach for.

Pegged as "The Family Beach," Surfside certainly lives up to its name. With two miles of pristine coastline that are cleaned daily and monitored by lifeguards to keep everyone safe, you can feel comfortable bringing the whole crew for a day of family fun. Here's how to plan the ultimate all-ages vacation there.

Surfside Beach, South Carolina
Courtesy of Visit Myrtle Beach

What to Do in Surfside Beach

Surfside is a small place. With only two square miles to navigate and fewer than 5,000 locals, its's exactly the type of safe, community-focused town you'll love letting your kids loose in. Surfside's white-sand beaches feature 36 access points, which means that no matter where you choose to stay, you'll never be far from the sand and shore. All you have to do is kick off your flip-flops and race into the waves! The town is also home to seven parks and is well on its way to reopening the iconic 800-foot Surfside Pier, which was damaged by Hurricane Matthew in 2016. If you've got older kids, they'll love the thrill-seeking adventure of a jet ski ride or parasail flight with Shoreline Watersports.

Outside of normal beach activities like swimming, fishing, kayaking, and boating, Surfside is also known for several inland attractions. Wild Water & Wheels is a family-favorite waterpark that offers go-karts and mini golf in addition to 30-plus rides and slides. If the thrill of the hunt is your idea of fun, Surfside is good for more than just beachcombing and shell collecting. Hudson's Surfside Flea Market, the area's largest and oldest open-air flea market, is owned by the third generation of its original owners. The 70,000-square-foot covered market features 400 vendor spaces selling everything from antiques and golf equipment to apparel and one-of-a-kind handmade goods.

Where to Eat in Surfside Beach

For the best bagels on the Grand Strand, head to Benjamin's, a combination bakery, café, and coffee roaster that's famous for its New York-style bagels that come in 15 different flavors. If you're especially hungry, skip the cream cheese and turn your bagel into a breakfast sandwich. The café is also open for lunch, serving sandwiches on house-made bread alongside homemade bagel chips. Crabby Mike's isn't afraid of a theme. The sea-life decorated restaurant is known for its massive buffet of fresh seafood including Alaskan snow crab legs, shrimp, mussels, crawfish, scallops, clams, several types of fish, and more. More casual eats can be found at Joey Doggs, where you can get no-nonsense burgers, hot dogs, and fresh-cut fries near a family campground.

Due to the influx of Northeasterners who regularly visit or have relocated to the Grand Strand, the area has a strong Italian population. The influence is evident in Surfside's dining scene, which features several Italian restaurants worth writing home about. Find authentic Italian and Sicilian dishes like Clams Oreganata and Zuppa Di Pesce in a cozy, family-oriented environment at Valentino Original Italian Restaurant. If you're heading in with the kids, take advantage of early bird specials, served everyday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. For a parent's night out, head to Malibu of Surfside for delicious Italian cuisine in a romantic setting.

Surfside Beach, South Carolina Houses
Courtesy of Visit Myrtle Beach

Where to Stay in Surfside Beach

For single families, the Surfside Beach Oceanfront Hotel is a great option. The newly renovated hotel offers rooms and suites, all with sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean and easy access to the beach below. If you're toting a crew—kids, aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents, you name it—a vacation home is certainly the route to go. Check Airbnb, Vrbo, or local rental companies like Surfside Realty or Dunes Realty to find a home suited to your family's unique needs.

We won't be surprised when that weeklong rental turns into a real estate inquiry. After all, there's no place like home. And there's really no place like a beach home.

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