Visit Myrtle Beach! Tips and Tricks For Your Beach Vacation!
Myrtle Beach is one of South Carolina's primary beach destinations! Located on the northern coast of the state, it's a popular vacation spot for people in the northeast. The fairly easy drive from places like Ohio and western PA also make it a great choice for those locations.
As many of you know, I've spent the last 4 months living in North Myrtle Beach as a snowbird. Living here in the off-season (and during a global pandemic) has limited some of the things we've been able to do, but we've tried to explore the area as much as possible.
Today I'm sharing some info about the area, as well as some tips and tricks I've discovered along the way. So, keep reading to find out if Myrtle Beach should be your next beach getaway!
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Tell Me About The Area
Myrtle Beach is just a short drive south of the North Carolina border on the South Carolina coast. It's the primary beach city that makes up what is called the "Grand Strand" - a little over 60 miles worth of coast from Little River to Winyah Bay.
Myrtle Beach is about a 2 hour drive north of Charleston, SC and about a 1 1/2 hour drive south of Wilmington, NC. While the city of Myrtle Beach has just under 40,000 permanent residents, it sees about 14 million visitors each year.
Myrtle Beach vs. North Myrtle Beach
I didn't know this before we came down here this winter, but North Myrtle Beach is actually its own separate city that has some definite differences from Myrtle Beach. We've been living in North Myrtle Beach, which is about a 15 or 20 minute drive from Myrtle Beach.
North Myrtle Beach is definitely a more residential area. While there are some high rise condos in North Myrtle, the majority of the buildings - both along the beach and beyond - are houses. In Myrtle Beach, you'll find mostly high rise buildings along the main stretch of beach.
Myrtle Beach is definitely more of a "party" area, with lots of shops, bars and restaurants along the coastline.
Tip #1: Whether you decide to stay in North Myrtle Beach or Myrtle Beach really depends what you are looking for. Do you want things a little more quiet knowing you will likely have to drive to get to bars and restaurants? Then North Myrtle Beach is for you. Are you looking to be in the "heart of it all" and within walking distance to everything? Then you probably want to be in Myrtle Beach. Just know you are trading a little serenity and less traffic for more to do.
Where Else Can I Visit?
If you want to take some short road trips, there are a number of other places just a short drive away. Here are a couple of suggestions:
Calabash, NC - This little town is just over the North Carolina border and about 20 minutes from North Myrtle Beach. The town is famous for its Calabash-style seafood. While you will see a number of buffets in Myrtle advertising Calabash-style, I recommend going right to the source! Try Captain Nance's Seafood and ask to sit outside on the back deck. Great food and reasonable prices, plus a nice view of the water and fishing boats.
Murrells Inlet, SC - This little town is about 15 or 20 minutes south of Myrtle Beach. A great place to go for lunch or dinner is the Murrells Inlet Marsh Walk. There are several restaurants to choose from and lots of great views of the marsh. And if you want to experience nature and a great beach, check out Huntington Beach State Park. We were there last weekend and saw all sorts of birds and other wildlife. We even saw some baby gators!
Charleston, SC - Charleston is about 2 hours away from Myrtle Beach. While the drive makes it easy to do as a day trip, the city has enough to see that you may want to consider spending two days. You can get some great food in Charleston. Two of my favorite spots are Rodney Scott's Whole Hog BBQ and the Swig & Swine.
When Should I Visit Myrtle Beach?
The best time to visit Myrtle Beach really depends on what you are looking for. Are you looking for fewer crowds or warm weather on the beach? Here are some things to consider.
How Is The Weather?
While Myrtle Beach is a beach destination and can get very warm in the summer, they still experience a winter. We've been here since December 1st and there haven't been too many days that it has been warm enough to sit on the beach in a t-shirt and shorts. Generally, the high temperatures have been in the 40s and 50s.
Tip #2: During the winter months that we've been here, even when it gets warm during the day, it gets pretty chilly when the sun goes down. Expect to need at least a sweatshirt, if not something warmer for the evenings and early mornings. While it is very unlikely to snow here because of being on the coast, we've had frost and icy patches some mornings.
What About The Crowds?
If you aren't a fan of crowds, I would re-consider a trip here during the summer. Being here during the off-season has meant that restaurants aren't too busy. For the most part, we are able to walk right in without a reservation and have our choice of seats - especially on the patio when most people prefer to eat inside. In talking to the wait staff, it's a much different story during peak season. The places that we are walking right into now will be on a 2-3 hour wait at times during the summer.
Tip #3: While the advantage of being here in the off-season is that restaurants aren't crowded, the disadvantage is that some businesses shut down during the off-season. We noticed it particularly in January, although some businesses are still not open. We are staying right at the Cherry Grove Pier, and the fishing pier and beach bar & grill closed at the end of December. The pier just opened up today and the grill is still not open.
What About My Hotel/Condo/House Options?
Again, staying in Myrtle Beach for the off-season will give you some advantages when looking for a place to stay. Most hotels/resorts offer low off-season rates. You can also usually find good deals to rent from private owners as well. Plus, you'll have a lot bigger selection to choose from.
Tip #4: If you plan to rent during the off-season for a month or longer, contact the owner directly and ask if they would be willing to give you a discounted rate on a long term rental. Owners love long term renters because they save the cost and hassle of constantly turning their unit over. We were able to get a great deal on our condo for our 4 month stay.
Tip #5: There are a number of FB pages out there for the Myrtle Beach area, and you will often see private owners willing to give you a deal on their condo if you book directly with them instead of through VRBO or Air BnB. While it might be good to save a little money, you need to weigh that against the risks of booking directly. Do your research and don't get scammed. We booked our condo directly because the owner is a friend of a good friend of ours. I'm not sure I would have felt comfortable otherwise.
So What Should I Check Out While I'm There?
Even though we've been limited by being here in the off-season and during a global pandemic, we've managed to find some great places. Here are some of my favorites:
Where To Drink
Our favorite brewery is New South Brewing in Myrtle Beach. The beers are great and the taproom is quirky and fun. The owner's love music - and jam bands specifically - so be sure to check out their posters inside. We also love this place because it is a little off the beaten path and never very busy.
A new addition to the Myrtle Beach beer scene is Grand Strand Brewing Company. They are located right near the heart of downtown Myrtle Beach. Because of the location, it's normally pretty crowded, so plan accordingly.
For wine drinkers, I'd recommend driving a little further and visit Silver Coast Winery, just over the border in North Carolina. While Duplin Winery in North Myrtle Beach seems to be everyone's favorite, their wines are just too sweet for me. You'll find higher quality wine at Silver Coast Winery, and less crowds.
Where To Eat
We've found some great spots that we really enjoy. Some of our favorites have been:
- Taco Mundo at Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach: Great food and a nice outdoor patio. Plus the indoor seating is very open and spread out.
- LuLu's at Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach: The bartenders are great and they have live music almost every night. They also have a great outdoor area and the inside is very open and spread out.
- Old South BBQ Company in North Myrtle Beach: The best bbq we've found in the area. You can get takeout, or they have some picnic tables outside you can sit and eat on.
- Sunday Best Jamaican Cuisine in North Myrtle Beach: I wasn't expecting to find Jamaican cuisine in Myrtle Beach, but we found this place and love it! Takeout or limited indoor seating available.
- Cafe' Old Vienna in Myrtle Beach: Great German food and beer. They have a little outside deck. The inside is quite small and cramped, so beware.
- Snooky's Oceanfront in North Myrtle Beach: The restaurant is located right on the beach. Ask for outdoor seating outside, or eat up on the upper deck for great sunset views!
Where To Visit
There are three main areas that are full of shops and restaurants:
Barefoot Landing: This area is located in North Myrtle Beach. We actually like it a lot better than Broadway at the Beach. It's not as big and not as crowded. In addition to the restaurants that I mentioned above, check out Crooked Hammock for beer and Greg Norman's Steakhouse for a nicer meal.
Broadway at the Beach: This area is located in Myrtle Beach. I don't like the restaurants as much here and I find it to be too crowded and touristy. But there is more to do there like the ferris wheel and speed boat rides.
The Market Common: We actually just discovered this area last weekend. It's more of a "lifestyle center" focusing on restaurants and shopping. It's built to look like a downtown area and meant to be walkable. It's not as popular with tourists, so if you are looking for something a little quieter, this is for you!
Of course, one of the big attractions in the Myrtle Beach area is golf. My husband has been playing a lot. I've only played a few times. His favorite courses are actually just over the border in North Carolina, so be sure to check those areas out. Tee times fill up fast when the weather is nice, so plan ahead!
So, there you have it! I hope this helped you learn more about the North Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Beach area. After living here for 4 months, I could have written a book about it, but hopefully these highlights give you some good tips if you come visit. If you have more questions, feel free to comment below or send me an e-mail.
Have you been to Myrtle Beach? What are some of your favorite places to go that I missed? Let us know! Comment below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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