With its wide, white beaches, challenging golf links, delicious seafood restaurants, and outlet shopping galore, it’s no wonder that Myrtle Beach is a major tourist destination along South Carolina’s South Atlantic coast, drawing over 14 million visitors a year.
The area itself is referred to as “The Grand Strand,” a term that includes Myrtle Beach and the surrounding smaller towns. A major area attraction is, of course, the beach. Part of the beach area includes Broadway at the Beach, a large cluster of nightlife, shops, a movie theatre and an aquarium, Ripley’s Aquarium, which has a Touch-a-Ray Bay, a stingray bay, and sharks. At 350 acres, it is by far the largest entertainment complex in all of South Carolina, with theaters, 20 restaurants, over 100 specialty retailers, 15 attractions, 11 night clubs, and three hotels. Eateries include the Hard Rock Cafe, Planet Hollywood, Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, Joe’s Crab Shack, and Liberty Steakhouse and Brewery. For children, there is Dragon’s Lair Fantasy Golf, Pavilion Nostalgia Park, which has a multitude of nostalgic rides and attractions; the Walking Waterball and MagiQuest, a walk-through virtual reality game. For adults, there are pubs and bars in addition to the clubs, such as the popular Senor Frog’s. There is also an IMAX 3D Theater, the Myrtle Waves Water Park, and Nascar SpeedPark.
In addition, Broadway on the Beach is home to Legends In Concert, which features tributes to the stars of yesterday and today, such as Elvis Presley, Madonna, Rod Stewart, Michael Jackson, The Temptations, and Britney Spears, as well as a live band and dancers that perform with all of the legendary stars.
Next up on the must-see list is Barefoot Landing, located near the Intracoastal Waterway. Built around a lovely 27-acre lake, Barefoot Landing focuses more on Myrtle Beach’s natural beauty. It is the area’s first major tourist center, with over 100 shops, eateries, steakhouses and a brewery, the Alabama Theatre and House of Blues, both of which offer live entertainment nightly. Area eateries include Johnny Rocket’s, Joe’s Crab Shack, and Fire Island Grille. Area shops include Ron Jon’s surf shop and Del Sol. This center is also home to one of the largest reptile parks in the world. For children, there is a carousel, fish feeding, and weekly fireworks. Visitors can also enjoy Alligator Adventure, the Barefoot Princess, a riverboat dinner cruise; the Ghosts and Legends Theater, Old Tyme Portraits, T.I.G.E.R.S Preservation Station, and a MirrorMaze.
For those who enjoy the arts, there is the Carolina Opry, an award-winning show that blends two hours of high-energy music, comedy and dance. Other available shows include Good Vibrations, featuring music from the 60s, 70s, and 80s; LIGHT – Laser Extravaganza, a music and laser show, and the Carolina Opry Christmas Special. Myrtle Beach is also home to a number of popular variety shows, and its numerous theaters allow visitors to experience a wide variety of entertainment. Speaking of which, one of the most popular venues in Myrtle Beach is the Palace Theater, with its staple show of Le Grand Cirque: Adrenaline, which features dozens of acrobats, contortionists, tumblers, and aerial performers from around the world. Furthermore, Myrtle Beach offers lots of festivals and events throughout the year, such as the the Beach Boogie & BBQ Festival, Sun Fun Festival, and the Canadian-American Days Festival.
As far as outdoor activities go, water sports such as wakeboarding are big. Next is Mount Atlanticus, a 36-hole miniature golf course that offers two courses and unique wall art and décor. Then there is Myrtle Beach State Park, a 312-acre park that offers a mile of beachfront, a large campground, a fishing pier, nature trails leading through a maritime forest, and a nature center that offers visitors the opportunity to learn more about dolphins, sea turtles, and the area’s abundant bird and plant life. Furthermore, there are educational tours and programs for visitors. Myrtle Beach State Park is a “Discover Carolina Site,” meaning it provides educational science programs for school-age children.
Besides all of the above aforementioned activities, one of the main reasons visitors choose to travel to Myrtle Beach are all the beautiful golf courses available, known for being some of the best in the world. Myrtle Beach is home to over 120 of these golf courses, with over four million rounds of golf having been played there, a world record. Among the most popular courses are the Barefoot Resort, the Dunes Golf and Beach Club, the Ocean Ridge Plantation, the Caledonia Golf and Fish Club, and the Tidewater Golf Course and Plantation. Of these, in 2010 the Barefoot Resort was ranked as the number one golf course in Myrtle Beach by golfdigest.com. It features four famous courses: the Fazio, the Love, the Dye and the Norman, as well as shopping, dining, and lodging. The Dunes Golf and Beach Club was ranked number 48 on the “Top 100 Courses You Can Play” list in GOLF Magazine, and was also voted the eighth best golf course in all of South Carolina. Ocean Ridge Plantation offers five different courses named after big cats: Jaguar’s Lair, Leopard’s Chase, Panther’s Run, Lion’s Paw, and Tiger’s Eye. The Caledonia Golf and Fish Club is ranked number 66 on Golf Digest’s “Top 100 Courses You Can Play,” and number three in the entire state of South Carolina. Last but not least, while the Tidewater Golf Course and Plantation is a nine hole course, it is known as one of Myrtle Beach’s more scenic courses.