Offering fun and adventure in an ideal family beach getaway, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is a friendly, sought-after vacation haven all year-round.
Step right up for outdoor adventures that run the gamut from wet'n'wild to easy and laid back. And, don't forget to bring pails and shovels to build sandcastles along the 60 miles of ocean-splashed golden beaches at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. This summer you can celebrate Myrtle Beach's new baby — a great boardwalk that just enhances the fun on land. There's a bounty of amusements offshore, including waterskiing, wind surfing, parasailing, kayaking, canoeing, boating, fishing, sailing and a variety of beaches offering an old-fashioned good time for all ages. All in all, an ideal family beach getaway.
Cyclists can spend hours exploring the area along extensive bike trails, while nature lovers will find a wide range of options to fill their days. If golf is your passion, test your game on the area's many miniature golf courses, or on the lush green fairways of more than 100 championship golf courses.
For those drawn more to culture, there's a flourishing range of performing arts and a wonderfully diverse scene of visual arts and music, including live jazz, to chill out with. For shoppers there's a treasure trove of shops and boutiques that cater to all ages.
All the Trimmings for Myrtle Beach Family Fun
Join in the festivities at Broadway at the Beach, a premier entertainment complex with an array of family attractions. Right here, Ripley's Aquarium (800/734-8888) offers oceans of fun and adventure for kids and kids at heart. The 85,000-square-foot, 1.2 million-gallon saltwater aquarium displays thousands of fish from around the world. The most popular exhibit is "Dangerous Reef," a 340-foot underwater tunnel that allows visitors the incredible experience of seeing sharks swim right over them. Kids can also touch a live ray at "Touch a Ray Bay."
Then it's time for giggles at Pavilion Nostalgia Park (843/918-8725) which offers a collection of classic rides including the Herschell-Spillman Carousel, dating from 1912, The Wave Swinger, The Caterpillar Ride and The Pirate Ship. For the younger crowd, there are the Dune Buggie Ride, the Kiddie Motorcycle and Kiddie Tea Cup rides. There's also a blast-from-the-past retail shop, midway skill games and the Pavilion Museum.
Take in an adventurous film at the I-Max 3D Theatre (843/448-IMAX) that will transport you to the most exciting places in the world in stunning, crystal clear 3D images. A fantastic virtual journey, where everyone receives their own magic wand, begins at MagiQuest (843/916-1800) with a compelling interactive adventure that kids, teens and grownups alike will find irresistible.
Catch the excitement at NASCAR SpeedPark (843/918-8725) featuring thrills galore for an adventurous family. Mini-golf courses, speed bumper boats and an arcade will keep everyone entertained. Getting hungry? There's plenty of fun dining at the NASCAR Sports Grille. Elsewhere in the area you can eat one of the several themed restaurants including Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville, Hard Rock Café, and Planet Hollywood.
Old or Young, Myrtle Beach is Much More than Golf
Families can enjoy the spirit of the game at their choice at any of the 50 uniquely themed mini golf courses along the Grand Strand. Tee off at Dragon's Lair Fantasy Golf, Jungle Safari Golf, Shipwreck Island Adventure Golf, Jurassic Golf and Captain Hook's Adventure Golf, and many more.
Dedicated golf enthusiasts can connect with Myrtle Beach's past with a visit to the Pine Lakes Country Club, which recently underwent an extensive renovation project. It has been the epitome of the traditional golf resort since opening in 1927 when it was a favorite stomping ground of the Vanderbilts and the Rockefellers. Pine Lakes is also known for its role in the formation of Sports Illustrated magazine.
The Myrtle Beach Golf Hall of Fame is situated in Pine Lake's new Hall of Fame Garden adjacent to the newly renovated Club.
Nearby Myrtle Beach – Options for a Natural Outing
An incredible treat for the whole family, Brookgreen Gardens (800/849-1931) is a National Historic Landmark that showcases plant life and sculpture. Located 20 minutes south of Myrtle Beach in Murrells Inlet, a walk through the Sculpture Garden displaying the work of over 250 American artists will keep the older folks in awe. For the children there's a special area where they can interact among many of the sculptures relating to childhood play.
Also in Murrells Inlet, south of the hustle and bustle of Myrtle Beach is Huntington Beach State Park where, a little more off the beaten path, you will find the best-preserved beach on the Grand Strand. The surf here is gentle, and it's a good place to collect seashells — making it a perfect beach for tiny travelers. The park also features its Coastal Exploration program, where from March to November, "field trips" allow visitors to join staff educators for alligator viewing, marsh and nature trail exploration and more. Another highlight of the park is the "Atalaya" castle, a National Historic Landmark and former winter home of American sculptress Anna Hyatt Huntington (open to the public, tours available Tuesday and Thursday afternoons).
The Lowcountry Zoo is home to a variety of animals, including alligators, bald eagles, great horned owls, grey foxes, red foxes, red-tail hawks, white tailed deer and wild turkeys, all in their natural habitats. The latest permanent exhibit, the River Basin Retreat, incorporates an 8,000-gallon above-ground tank that allows visitors to view otters up close in their natural underwater habitat. In-park free shuttles are available to transport you to every area.
Let Them Entertain You
The Palace Theatre (800/905-4228) presents "Le Grand Cirque," the next generation of Cirque du Soleil and the best family show ever to appear on the Grand Strand. This spellbinding production features 50 world-class acrobats, jugglers, and performers from China, Russia and throughout Europe, in an electrifying show that will take your breath away. Also currently at the theater is "Man in the Mirror," a Michael Jackson tribute show.
Medieval Times (866/543-9637) offers a wild, family-friendly adventure that serves up dinner and a live tournament with jousting knights on horses. The stadium-style arena is divided into sections and everyone will have their own knight to cheer to their heart's content.
Dixie Stampede (800/433-4401) is an adventure dinner theater/show that will keep everyone energized. This history lesson is a fun-filled extravaganza packed with live animals, music, dancing, special effects, and pageantry.
Myrtle Beach Hotels & Restaurants
There are thousands of hotel rooms in the region. In the heart of Myrtle Beach, the luxurious master-planned resort community of Grande Dunes (843/692-2323) is set amidst 2,200 naturally beautiful acres. At the helm, The Ocean Club is Grande Dunes' magnificent social and recreational focal point.
Also set inside this exclusive enclave is the Marina Inn at Grande Dunes (866/437-4113), the perfect hub for the entire family's Myrtle Beach adventure. There's a wonderful choice of luxurious, affordable accommodations for every size family. Grand guest rooms and suites with double beds boast lavish spa-like bathrooms and exceptional views of the Intracoastal Waterway or marina from private balconies. Studio rooms also include a mini-refrigerator and microwave.
If you're traveling with a few generations, the two-bedroom suites are ideal and offer a spacious living room area with a fireplace, dining room, two full baths and a washer/dryer. The three-bedroom suites are perfect for larger families, and offer three full baths and equipped kitchens. Cribs are available and baby-sitting can be easily arranged through the concierge.
Resort amenities include an outdoor pool, soothing outdoor hot tubs, and an indoor pool with two swim-in-place stations, as well as badminton, ping-pong, and bicycles. Bicycling and jogging maps are yours for the asking. For the adults, the state-of-the-art Fitness Center is fully equipped with the latest in cardiovascular and weight-training equipment, and also features a sauna for post workout relaxation. The Tennis Club is perfectly suited for teens and adults and offers private lessons. For golfers, the Resort Golf Club offers a dramatic design featuring more than 34 acres of freshwater lakes and seven holes that play along the Intracoastal Waterway. Guests of the Inn may also golf at the exclusive Members Club, a magnificent 28-hole layout that weaves throughout the area's natural pine preserves, also along the Intracoastal.
Waterscapes, under the guidance of Executive Chef James Clark, serves local and regional American specialties for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Service is warm and friendly, and kid's menus are available.
Interested in the view or a nice outdoor setting? Anchor Café (seasonal) is a lively waterfront bistro and the Oceanfront Beach Club (seasonal) is a short shuttle ride from the Inn at a quiet part of the beach. Beach chairs, umbrellas and towels are provided at no additional charge and a complimentary shuttle service is available throughout the day from the Marina Inn.
Families dealing with mobility impairments will be pleased to know that Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach each provide free beach wheelchair rentals at their lifeguard stands. A complete listing of rental locations can be found at Visit Myrtle Beach Online. Additionally, we learned the Westgate Myrtle Beach Oceanfront Resort, a moderately priced resort, has a wheelchair accessible zero entry pool.
Photos by Mel Greenberg
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