We just got home from Myrtle Beach, and we all agree it was one of our favorite family vacations so far! Like all beach towns, Myrtle Beach has a laid back attitude and vacation state of mind. The entire Grand Strand and Myrtle Beach area is LONG… like 60 miles from one end to the other. You will need to rent a car. We spent 7 nights there and still didn’t come close to seeing everything. To be fair, our hotel had amazingly fun pools, and the weather was super hot, so we had several ‘resort days’ where we only left the property for dinner. Speaking of dinner, they have 2000 restaurant choices in the area but many of them still get booked up. If you get there by 5 or 6 you will likely have a shorter wait. Here’s a list of some of our favorite family activities in no particular order.
1. The Beach – Boardwalk and Promenade. That’s what we came here for after all. There is easy access to the beach… public beach access is available with a small amount of parking about every other block. Typically you will see a row of beach umbrellas with chairs under them. These are for rent for about $30 from the lifeguard. You can always bring your own chairs, blanket and umbrellas for free. We didn’t stay long enough to worry about where to eat without losing our spot, but there seems to be a really strong honor system there. Part of that vacation state of mind I mentioned earlier. Bring some toys for the kids to make sand castles… a sturdy plastic cup will do in a pinch.
Be careful of the current, the area is known for riptides. Don’t let little ones in without testing the waves yourself first… they’re strong! We stayed along the shoreline and looked for shells, tried to catch little fish in our cup (never got one), and built sand castles. The beach can be full of broken shells, especially after a storm, so wear water shoes. Where the sand is clear of shells, it’s really soft, although hot, so the shoes still come in handy.
Head to The Boardwalk Wednesday evening for fireworks (they kick off at 9:30 p.m. and last about 20 minutes). There’s a new ropes course and zip-line ride at the site of the former Pavilion Amusement Park, which adds to the appeal of the Boardwalk. There’s also the SkyWheel, which offers a colorful light show and unparalleled views of the Atlantic Ocean. Family Kingdom is a state-fair style amusement park with family friendly rides and a wooden roller coaster. It’s the only seaside amusement park in the area.
2. Broadway at the Beach. Not actually at or on the beach, it’s inland by several blocks. But what it lacks in ocean views, it more than makes up for in family entertainment options! Similar to Epcot or City Walk at Universal Studios, Broadway at the Beach features several stores, restaurants and attractions (including mini golf) around a central lagoon. Tuesday nights they have a great fireworks display.
3. Children’s Museum of South Carolina. This small children’s museum is packed with big fun for kids! The exterior is deceiving, the inside holds so many activities. Their website lists 19 exhibits, but there’s at least that many more that are not listed! We spent 2 hours in there (a nice break from the heat!) and still didn’t do everything. Of course there’s much for toddlers and preschoolers, but my 7-yr old found tons of things to do, including building circuits with a nearby 10-yr-old. I highly recommend a visit here for some hands-on fun.
4. Golf and mini golf options galore. Like 46 courses that offer ‘kids play free’ in the summer (such as Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club and Possum Trot Golf Course), and 50 mini golf courses (earning the destination the nickname of the “miniature golf capital of the world”). Favorite mini golf destinations include: Hawaiian Rumble, Hawaiian Village Mini Golf near Pirate’s Voyage and The Carolina Opry, Dragon’s Lair at Broadway at the Beach, and Captain Hook’s Adventure Golf near the beach.
5. Live stage shows. Family friendly live stage shows are all the rage and Myrtle Beach has some incredible shows! There are several to choose from, but these are the best of the best in my opinion.
–Le Grande Cirque: Adrenaline at the Palace Theatre – (think Le Cirque du Soleil, without the steep price tag) This is one of the best shows I’ve seen in any city! Heart-stopping acts, laugh-out-loud comedy, and beautiful cirque performances. If you can only see one show while you’re here, make it this one!
– Pirate’s Voyage dinner show (replaces Dixie Stampede) is fabulous fun! Experience the swashbuckling excitement of two pirate crews as they battle each other on deck, in the water and in the sky above their full-sized pirate ships in a 15-foot deep indoor hideaway lagoon to the cheers and delight of fans. The building itself is impressive, and once inside, you are completely immersed into a pirate fantasyland. We splurged and our son ‘joined the crew’, which means he got his face painted to include a pirate beard and scar, pirate hat, sword, (clip on) earring, and flag. He loved it! The food is good – no kid’s menu, everyone gets the same food – but they give you a variety of food so there’s something for everyone.
– The Carolina Opry & Good Vibrations show – We saw the Good Vibrations show at The Carolina Opry (music from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s). So many good songs, done well, and the highlight (for us) was the clogging group All That!… you can read our full review here.
–Medieval Times – we did not get to see this show, but heard great things from those who did. It’s the classic story of knight jousting and you get to eat with your hands. Kids love that.
-If your child likes animal encounters, you should check out T.I.G.E.R.S. There’s a (free) preservation station at Barefoot Landing, and also 50-acre preserve you can visit, just 17 miles south of the Barefoot location. Read more about this animal star safari here.
I know I left out a lot… it is a top 5 list after all… but which family activities do you think should have been included? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
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