As you’d expect, Myrtle Beach is always going to be about the ocean and the beach, but our beach town has much more to offer than just sand between your toes (and hair, shoes, and beach towels). If you're visiting Myrtle Beach with kids, and looking for things to do, I recommend taking a few afternoons to venture away from the beach and check out some unique spots in the Grand Strand.
Having lived in Myrtle Beach for most of my life, I’ve found a mix of attractions, restaurants, shopping, and culture that appeals to everyone from a foodie looking for a fabulous wine list to a family with 3 kids on a tight budget. So, I now proudly present you with my top 10 things to do in Myrtle Beach!
The brand-new Myrtle Beach Boardwalk is anchored by the giant Skywheel, a Ferris wheel that lifts you into the sky in an enclosed gondola to see Myrtle Beach and the boardwalk from above. Take a stroll along the new boardwalk for a variety of casual oceanfront restaurants, an arcade, a humongous candy store, putt putt, and beautiful beach views. This is THE thing to do in Myrtle Beach. in fact you might do it every day if your resort or hotel is close by.
No Myrtle Beach vacation is complete without visiting the gigantic entertainment complex, Broadway at the Beach. Featuring over 100 unique shops and humungous restaurants like the most popular restaurant in Myrtle Beach, Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, Broadway has something every child will love – a playground, Dragon's Lair Mini Golf, carnival rides, jumpy things, boat rides, and even dinosaurs. Broadway is also home to many attractions like MagiQuest and Ripley's Aquarium. This attraction will surely make any top ten list of things to do on a family vacation to Myrtle Beach.
For aquatic “edutainment,” Ripley's Aquarium is easily one of the top things to do in Myrtle Beach and one of many great animal attractions. You’ll find huge tanks filled with Nemo (clownfish), jellyfish, and sharks. The aquarium is very well-done and fun for kids of all ages. And depending on when you take your Myrtle Beach vaction, you may need to find something indoors to do if it rains.
Photo: Alligator Adventure
See you later, alligator! Alligators are everywhere at Alligator Adventure, an outdoor family attraction at . This reptilian sanctuary boasts enormous crocodiles and plenty of alligators, which are no doubt to wow most kids. This might just be the thing your kids won't stop talking about with their friends at home.
While you're down on the south end of the Grand Strand, head a little further south and try Pawley's Raw Bar, which has fabulous seafood and a playground outside, allowing parents to sit and enjoy a meal while the kids are busy climbing around on the playground.
If you're looking for something to do on your way back, stop by Myrtle Beach's Huntington Beach State Park, which is across the highway from Brookgreen Gardens. You could even save this excursion for another day. Huntington Beach State Park offers miles of trails and wildlife in a natural environment. Don't be surprised if you encounter alligators, spiders and snakes along the trails. Keep your camera out – every step offers an amazing photo opportunity. This may turn out to be the highlight of your Myrtle Beach vacation. It's a great introduction into the natural world of the coastal South Carolina.
Photo: Carolina Children's Museum
If you're faced with a rainy day, there’s no need to stay in your room all day: Myrtle Beach has plenty of fun, indoor things to do. My first recommendation is to visit the South Carolina Children's Museum. This place is the ultimate play zone for kids – and every exhibit promotes creative play. Kids can play shopper in the Farmer's Market, selecting the produce and ringing it up at the cash register. Head to the back of the museum for the Big Blue Foam Blocks, a gigantic set of blocks for kids to construct whatever their little imagination dreams up: my 4 year usually constructs towers to jump off.
Kids can spend hours making pizza, performing a puppet show, playing faux ice hockey, drawing, pretending to be the weatherman, and even banking (big futures!). As locals, we visit the children's museum regularly and always have a great time.
Sometimes the best thing to do in Myrtle Beach is to try another type of beach experience. Head over to Myrtle Beach State Park, which offers a respite from the activity of Myrtle Beach. This serene state park has plenty of nature trails, picnic tables, playgrounds, secluded beaches far from hotels, and a fishing pier. This is also a great spot to go to the beach if you're not staying in an oceanfront hotel. There’s ample parking, which is always a huge plus!
Photo: Ultimate California Game Zone
For dining and entertainment, Ultimate California Game Zone offers great pizza and plenty of games to keep children entertained. This is one of the best kid-friendly restaurants in Myrtle Beach. But it's great for ages 2-82, as I typically join my son and catch my husband having a blast playing games too. If you don't want to dine out, Ultimate California Pizza is a local restaurant chain that delivers the best pizza in town, and chances are, they’ll also deliver to your resort.
What you need to know
Address: 959 Lake Arrowhead Road, Myrtle Beach, SC 29582
(Located in the Galleria / Kroger shopping center)
Phone: (843) 449-1160
Hours: 11 am - 12 am, Sunday to Thursday ; 11 am - 1 am, Friday and Saturday
For a taste of local culture, Brookgreen Gardens has the largest outdoor sculpture collection in the world, set amid some pretty breathtaking gardens. It’s also walking distance from the Lowcountry Zoo, so you can head there later in the afternoon.
If you want a little history lesson, hop aboard Brookgreen’s 148-foot pontoon boat and take a 50-minute boat cruise among the old rice plantations to learn about the history of the area – and see a few alligators. The Storybook Forest is a new addition to Brookgreen, and features playhouses from childhood stories, including Cinderella's Castle, a Pirate Ship, a Seuss themed playhouse, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Cottage to name a few. Kids will love it, and it’s a fun thing to do in Myrtle Beach if you're looking for a way to burn off excess energy.
After, head across the street and take a stroll through the Lowcountry Zoo, which is home to foxes, bald eagles, owls, and other local animals. The stars of the zoo are the playful otters who love to swim and show off for an audience.
What you need to know
Address: 1931 Brookgreen Garden Dr, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576
Phone: (843) 235-6000
Hours: 9:30 am - 5 pm, Monday to Friday; 9 am - 7 pm, Weekends
Photo: Grand 14 Cinema
For the latest movie, Grand 14 Cinema at The Market Common is the best movie theater in town. It’s very clean, has comfortable seats, and offers great popcorn (very important, in my opinion!). During the summer, Grand 14 Cinema shows free kids movies in the mornings during the week. After the movie, head over to Cold Stone Creamery or browse books (or play on the train set) at Barnes & Noble. You can also do some damage shopping at stores like Anthropologie, and dine in one of the many restaurants, including P.F. Chang's and Nacho Hippo.
Enjoy gaming in a completely different way. 710bowling features 14 standard lanes, 6 boutique lanes, billiards, bocce courts, table tennis, shuffleboard tables, and air hockey – all available for hourly rental. They also have a full food menu with kid-friendly options, a stocked bar and free dart boards. This is a great addition for anyone in the North Myrtle Beach area.
Photo: Westgate Myrtle Beach