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A Traveling Insider’s Guide to Myrtle Beach

Head back to the beach with our expert travel guide, featuring everything you need to plan your next Myrtle Beach vacation. | By Paul Oswell | May 13, 2022

A family-oriented destination on the South Carolina coast, Myrtle Beach has all the elements of a classic American seaside town. It has contemporary attractions and entertainment venues and features a beach and boardwalk made for sunbathing on golden sand and snacking on saltwater taffy. Extensive shopping, exciting live entertainment options, fairground attractions and a wealth of fresh seafood restaurants complete the picture.

Here are some ideas for making memories in Myrtle Beach:

  • Grand sands: Enjoy some family time on the gorgeous sands, which offer sunbathing, water sports and plenty of amenities

  • Souvenir stands Stroll along the boardwalk and buy gifts from the cute shops, and enjoy the traditional fairground rides and SkyWheel

  • Must-see bands: Take in big-name entertainment acts, from musical superstars to top comedians and touring Broadway shows

Why visit Myrtle Beach?

If you look in the right places, you can still see the wax myrtle shrubs that gave the town its name, but the beach, boardwalk and neighboring developments have long taken over this lively coastal destination. Most recreational activities take place on or around the 60 miles of sands that make up the Grand Strand, which stretches from fishing village Little River to historic Georgetown. Boating, water sports and an alluring selection of golf courses are the main draws, but there’s plenty to explore beyond the beaches as well. Venture a little farther out and you'll find tranquil, scenic spots, including a coastal state park where you can spot sea turtles and birds.

The Myrtle Beach Boardwalk stretches for just over a mile along the oceanfront. It’s a modern construction but harks back to a bygone age with its souvenir shops and food stands selling classics such as saltwater taffy. The SkyWheel is a fully enclosed observation wheel that looms over the beaches, and you can find fairground attractions and the Family Kingdom Amusement Park. Craving big name entertainment? There are also numerous theaters to find family-friendly acts and touring Broadway musicals.

The local dining scene benefits from decadent Southern and low country traditions such as barbecue, as well as the incredibly fresh seafood that comes with an oceanside location. Crabs and oysters, peaches and watermelons are all in abundance and there’s no shortage of great casual spots as well as more esoteric places that foodies will love. Consider, too, a day out exploring nearby towns such as the artistic enclave of Conway with its cute studios, galleries and boutiques.

When is the best time for your trip to Myrtle Beach?

If sun and sand is what you’re after — likely, given the area’s reputation as a beach destination — you’ll want to plan your trip so that you can enjoy the sunniest weather. The high season would be June to August, though be aware that this is also hurricane season across the region (which lasts from June to November). August sees temperatures slowly cooling and hotel rates lowering (toward the end of the month) as the crowds thin.

Winter can see temperatures down in the 40s and there’s much less foot traffic. The area retains an atmospheric ambiance, though, and has a wealth of holiday festivals and special live shows and light displays. You’ll definitely need to bring along some of your winter wardrobe, though.

Getting to and around Myrtle Beach

If you’re flying into Myrtle Beach, you have a couple of airport options. Charleston International Airport and Wilmington International Airport are both fairly close (100 and 80 miles away, respectively). Airline routes are more limited into Myrtle Beach International Airport, 3 miles south of downtown Myrtle Beach, but it’s obviously a more convenient option if it’s available to you.

If you’re driving to Myrtle Beach, then incoming routes are via Interstates 95 and 40. The main thoroughfares in the Grand Strand are U.S. Route 17 and Kings Highway also known as Business Highway 17, both of which run parallel to the ocean. In downtown Myrtle Beach, the streets are numbered and labelled north or south. You might want to consider renting a car during your stay, and a vehicle can be especially handy for exploring the beaches slightly farther along the coast or for regional day trips.

You can explore a lot of the city on foot, though. The main beachfront is very accessible and there’s a lot to see within walking distance. You also have some public transport options, with bus routes running along the Grand Strand and stopping along Ocean Boulevard and Kings Highway. See the Coast RTA website for schedules and fare information. Taxis and the ride share apps operate around town. If you are driving, it’s worth considering a seven-day visitor's parking pass, available at the Lanier Parking Office.

Paul Oswell is an award-winning travel writer, and has been reporting from all seven continents for over twenty years. He is based in New Orleans and is the author of “The Bucket List North America: 1,000 Adventures Big and Small.”

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