The Best Things To Do In Myrtle Beach
Say the words "beach trip" to half a dozen people, and they are likely to summon distinct vacation visions: some sleepy and sun soaked, some packed with outdoor adventure, and some retail rich—where browsing for seashell-encrusted souvenirs and shopping for breezy cover-ups are the activities of the afternoon. That's why, when planning a seaside getaway with the girls, it's key to pick a place that can satisfy everyone's wish list. As the anchor of a 60-mile stretch of Grand Strand waterfront communities, each with its own unique appeal, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is perfectly positioned to cater to just about any crew's ideal coastal escape. Innovative epicurean experiences? Check. Fresh seafood? Check. Boutique-shopping districts loaded with charm? Check. Lush landscaped gardens, moonlit kayak tours, and live music spilling out into the streets? Check, check, and check.
What's more, Myrtle Beach's recovery from the effects of Hurricane Matthew in 2016 was just the beginning of the city's current renaissance. There's a fresh crop of new (and improved) hotels opening each season; the iconic boardwalk keeps expanding (this year, it will stretch all the way to 16th Avenue North); and old-favorite entertainment districts are proudly showing off new looks (see Broadway at the Beach's warehouse-inspired overhaul).
The warming trend in Myrtle Beach begins in March, with temperatures usually hitting the low 70s by April and reaching idyllic daytime highs in the upper 70s and low 80s by May. That means now's the time to send a group text to your girlfriends and start lining up your calendars. With so much variety offered, all you need to bring to ensure a good time is plenty of SPF—and a solid game plan for your vacation. That's where we come in.
Myrtle Beach Hotels and Resorts
If having a central location to slather on sunscreen together in the morning (or sip nightcaps in your pajamas at day's end) is key for your group, book a stay at the Island Vista Resort, where the multi-room suites sleep up to 10 and feature amenities such as full kitchens, cozy living and dining areas, ocean-view balconies, and laundry machines. It's billed as "the only oceanfront hotel for nearly a mile in either direction." So, with big buffers separating the resort's wide, clean beach from the nearest hotels, it feels fully removed from the rowdy crowds and miniature golf madness of the city's more densely developed areas.
Two miles northeast of the Island Vista Resort, there's also Myrtle Beach Marriott Resort & Spa at Grande Dunes, which is the gold standard of the Grand Strand. Here, the lack of large-group lodging options is offset by luxe, recently refreshed rooms and a quiet, full-service spa. Pair beach views with spa experiences, and you're setting yourself up for a fantastic vacation indeed. No matter where you stay, pack the essentials: lightweight layers, a wide-brimmed hat, and plenty of SPF. The town's vibe is casual, but you'll want to bring a few nicer outfits for nights out.
Myrtle Beach Bars
Start things off on a high (make that high-energy) note with a cruise through the open-air bars clustered near the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk, with their people-watching patios and party-time vibes. But a trip isn't all sugary frozen drinks and oversize fishbowls here. It's worth veering slightly off the main drag for something with a little more personality and polish. At The Chemist, modern mixology is served up with a science-lab twist (try the Molecular Mule, which is made with vodka, house-made blueberry-lavender simple syrup, lime juice, and from-scratch ginger beer) alongside a menu of experimental dishes.
The Prohibition-themed Strong Waters Craft Cocktails & Kitchen, which flies fittingly under the radar, rotates a menu of local-leaning microbrews seasonally but always keeps two in-house, barrel-aged cocktails on tap, along with a Bartender's Choice option for indecisive—or adventurous—tipplers. It's also a hub for live music and fantastic sandwiches and burgers.
Closer to the water, find newcomer RipTydz Oceanfront Grille & Rooftop Bar, which is owned by the folks behind Wicked Tuna in Murrells Inlet. RipTydz raises the (beach) bar with super-fresh seafood, a sprawling rooftop restaurant that transforms into a club, and a top-notch perch for sunsets. Watch for the 187-foot-high SkyWheel—a block away—to light up at dusk.
Myrtle Beach Breweries and Distilleries
When it's time to enjoy a sip of a local brew, make your way to Grand Strand Brewing Company, which opened in 2021 and is the city's newest destination for craft beers, sampling (which you can do indoors and out), a taproom turning out handmade beers, and tasty eats from an on-site kitchen that invites local chefs to cook and share.
Likewise, Crooked Hammock Brewery also opened in this year. It's located in Barefoot Landing and draws beer and food lovers from near and far with its restaurant and beer garden. It's a family friendly hangout with craft beers; ribs, cornbread, and giant pretzels on the menu; seating both indoors and out; fire pits for cool nights; hammocks for hanging out; and places to play for kids and adults. (Corn hole, anyone?)
For even more fun, there's also Twelve 33 Distillery, a craft production distillery that sources locally and offers tours and tastings. Check out the recent releases to find out what delicious spirits they're cooking up on the coast.
Myrtle Beach Restaurants
Speaking of waterfront dining, there's no shortage of options, attitudes, and dress codes to choose from, and you and your traveling companions can easily divide your time between fancier environs and flip-flop–friendly joints. For brunch, there's 56-year-old Myrtle Beach mainstay the Sea Captain's House, a 1930 home with a grassy lawn that backs up to the sand. Regulars go for Crab Cakes Benedict and the restaurant's signature She Crab Soup.
In the evenings, locals descend on the lively joints along Main Creek in Murrells Inlet. Many of these spots employ their own fleets of fishing boats to deliver the daily catch. Don't miss Dead Dog Saloon, which is beloved for its live music and award-winning hush puppies; The Claw House, a New England-style raw bar that joined the strip in 2016; and Drunken Jack's, long known for its fried seafood platter and often legendary wait times.
For a classic Southern meal, check out 10 Fold Biscuits, a new restaurant that opened in Myrtle Beach in 2021. It's becoming a go-to spot for fried chicken, brisket, and their fan-favorite shrimp and grits biscuit. Also be sure to check out Abundance, a spot for fine dining that serves modern dishes with a French spin dreamed up by Chef Joseph Palmitessa and sous chef John Boulanger. Another new favorite located on the Grand Strand is the Opa Opa Taverna & Bakery, which can be found in the Grand Dunes village shops. Don't miss the Greek classics on the menu, including baklava, spanakopita and tiropita.
There are worthy exceptions to the always-eat-on-the-water rule. Hook & Barrel in Myrtle Beach is a new sustainable-seafood restaurant from cookbook author Heidi Vukov. Enjoy the elevated Italian eatery Costa Coastal Kitchen & Bar in Murrells Inlet and also the locally sourced fare at Pawleys Island favorite Rustic Table from co-owners Anne Hardee and chef Adam Kirby. For a pre-dinner diversion, stroll along the half-mile MarshWalk and have a look at the goats and peacocks inhabiting tiny Goat Island offshore. Then order a tomato sandwich with clam chowder or a salad with pecan-encrusted flounder at the Rustic Table, or try one of their signature items, like Shrimp 'n' Gritz—with South Carolina Adluh creamed corn grits, sausage, tomatoes, parsley, butter, white wine, and lemon.
If time permits during your trip, travel 20 miles to Little River to dine on farm-to-table cuisine (which is paired with a well-curated wine list) at The Parson's Table Restaurant & Bar. It's housed in a converted 1885 church featuring a mix of salvaged elements from other decommissioned houses of worship across the South.
Myrtle Beach Shopping
Visitors can hardly hurl a seashell in this town without hitting one of those ubiquitous beach-gear emporiums that are bursting at the seams with cheap T-shirts and fidget spinners. But there are far more compelling options here too. Start with a swimwear upgrade from Tara Grinna, a line of fit-focused suits, separates, and cover-ups sold at namesake storefronts in North Myrtle Beach and Pawleys Island.
You can stock up on Southern-made snacks (from brands like Birmingham's Merry Cheese Crisps and New Orleans's Love, Cookie) while browsing at the original Southern Living store in The Market Common. To take a deeper look inside the happening local creative scene, join a First Friday Art Walk, now approaching its second year, and peruse the works on display in over a dozen galleries and restaurants located in the Five Points area along Broadway and Main streets. If you can't make First Friday, stage a walk of your own any day you like.
Myrtle Beach Events and Festivals
Myrtle Beach has lots of exciting events that draw visitors from across the South to its stretch of sand. They come looking for good eats and plenty of fun in the sun (and they certainly do find it). Moo and Brew Craft Beer, Burger and Music Festival happens in September. It's a gathering where foodies can enjoy unlimited sampling of 200+ great beers from the Carolinas and across the country. There's also a competition for best local burger joints, which is a delicious proposition.
The Loris Bog Off happens each year on the third Saturday in October, and it celebrates chicken bog, a local delicacy that combines rice, chicken, sausage, and pepper into a dish you won't soon forget. The food celebrations happen alongside live music and fireworks. The Little River Shrimpfest also happens in October, and it brings jazz music and a shrimp cook-off to the shores of the Little River.
Myrtle Beach Attractions
When you're ready for a change of pace from the go-go energy of Myrtle Beach proper, pile everyone in the car and head south to Huntington Beach State Park. It's a great place to break up a day of sunbathing and shell collecting. Explore its uncrowded beaches with nature walks and see if you can spot wildlife like sandhill cranes, roseate spoonbills, and even the occasional alligator. Your group can also enjoy a self-guided tour of the palm-shaded Atalaya, which was the onetime winter estate of philanthropist Archer Huntington and his wife, Anna Hyatt Huntington, who was a prominent sculptor in the early 20th century.
Situated just across the road is Brookgreen Gardens, where over 80 of Anna Hyatt Huntington's sculptures, plus a strong collection of works by more than 430 other American figurative sculptors, keep watch over more than 350 acres of elegant gardens, splashing fountains, and moss-draped live oaks. (FYI, during the summer, the gardens offer a special illuminated exhibit during the evenings.)
If there's a member of your group who's looking forward to some outdoor adventure, now's the time to test the waters—and her mettle—with a guided stand-up paddleboard excursion through the marshes of Murrells Inlet with Crazy Sister Marina. You could also book a sunset kayak tour or private small-group surf lesson for the crew with Surf the Earth in Pawleys Island. Top tip: Leave time and room in your suitcase for a hand-knotted cotton rope hammock (designed in 1889) from The Original Hammock Shop in Pawleys Island. You'll relish this relaxing reminder of your trip every time you kick back in it.
For those who are itching to get on the dance floor, Myrtle Beach has something for you too. Book a free lesson in the Carolina shag, a historic dance style that was re-popularized in the 1989 film Shag. You can find lessons on Tuesday nights at Fat Harold's Beach Club in North Myrtle Beach.
And if all of that wasn't enough to keep you busy all season long, there's even more coming soon to Myrtle Beach, including a downtown cultural arts center; a new retail and restaurant area called The District; American Surf Park, the state's first man-made surf park; and The Hangout at Broadway at the Beach, among many more attractions. For more information and to start planning your next beach trip, check out visitmyrtlebeach.com.