There’s more to the Myrtle Beach area than golf. More to it than the beach, too.
“Myrtle Beach,’’ one guide book declares, “is all about pleasure, pleasure, pleasure, now, now, now.’’
Pleasure, of course, takes different forms. What enthralls Mom and Dad might drive their kids nuts. Might? Make that “will.’’
Fortunately, this is a family-friendly destination.
For one-stop pleasure shopping, start with Broadway at the Beach. Covering more than 140 hectares, it’s South Carolina’s biggest entertainment complex.
You’ll find restaurants, specialty shops, two movie theatres, a nightclub district, and live shows. The newest attractions are a 152-metre-long zip line ride across Lake Broadway and a three-storey ropes course.
Family Kingdom gets high marks, too. Its water park features speed slides, a lazy river, and three flumes, one with a 56-metre drop. A perennial favourite in its amusement park is the Swamp Fox, an all-wooden roller coaster. More on Family Kingdom later.
By now, the youngsters should be sufficiently worn out that Mom and Dad can relax in Brookgreen Gardens, a National Historic Landmark housing the world’s largest outdoor sculpture garden.
TIGERS Preservation Station, a free attraction at Barefoot Landing, is the only place in North America where you can pet and handle tiger cubs, apes and other endangered species. For a more comprehensive experience, check out the interactive tours at the company’s compound.
Barefoot Landing is also home to Alligator Adventure, one of the largest exotic reptile parks in the world. It features live shows, nature exhibits, zoological gardens and a serpentarium. Other highlights include albino alligators, river otters, bears and Utan, the largest crocodile ever to come to the United States. Find more animal adventure at The Lowcountry Zoo at Brookgreen Gardens with its collection of animals native to the woods, swamps and waters of the Lowcountry; Ripley’s Aquarium At Broadway At The Beach, home to sharks, jellyfish, stingrays and exotic fish; and Waccatee Zoo, a natural wildlife sanctuary and breeding ground for many migratory birds.
A World Of Discovery
Have you ever stood inside a bubble? Or taken a ride in a magic school bus? The Children’s Museum of South Carolina is a great place for children – and their adults – to touch, explore and play. Discover more at: Myrtle Beach’s IMAX 3D Theatre where you can go places you would never imagine via an enormous screen with crystal clear, 3D images and unparalleled sound quality.
For The Fun Of It
Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum features more than 500 unusual and macabre exhibits ranging from a roller coaster made of matchsticks to vampire skulls; Ripley’s Haunted Adventure takes visitors on a tour of the old Grimsby & Streaper Casket Company, where many entered but never returned; Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze puts a new spin on the traditional house of mirrors; and Ripley’s 4D Moving Theatre combines a high-impact 70 mm film experience with computer controlled hydraulic seats that move in sync with the action taking place on the screen. Find more fun at: MagiQuest at Broadway at the Beach, where you choose a magic wand and train as a Magi; The Garden City Pavilion with more than 200 arcade games; and Pavilion Nostalgia Park’s classic collection of amusement rides, including the famous Herschell-Spillman Carousel – dating back to 1912.
Myrtle Beach Area CVBThrills & Chills
At NASCAR SpeedPark you can experience the excitement of NASCAR on seven challenging racetracks, a state-of-the-art interactive arcade, two 18-hole themed miniature golf courses, kiddy rides, a souvenir shop and a snack bar. For more thrills and chills check out: Family Kingdom Amusement Park & Water Park for an interactive laser dark ride called The Pistolero, and the 33-kilometre Slingshot; Myrtle Waves Water Park, South Carolina’s largest water park; and Wild Water and Wheels Theme Park for 33 rides, including high-speed flumes, waterfalls, a wave pool and Adventure River Ride, kiddy slides and many other high-energy attractions. There’s also miniature golf.
At least that’s what the folks at Sports Illustrated magazine and the National Recreation and Park Association think. Here’s why:
On the Water: The fun begins at the beach, the Myrtle Beach area’s No. 1 attraction. With 100 kilometres of coastline, it’s no wonder that the Myrtle Beach area has been named the “World’s Best Beach” by Yahoo! Travel or “Favorite Beach Town” by Southern Living magazine.
But there is more. Sailboat, jet ski, canoe and kayak rentals are offered up and down the Grand Strand. Other above-water activities include parasailing, surfing, boogie-boarding, windsurfing and kite surfing. Divers can explore several historical shipwrecks including the Hebe, a Dutch merchant ship, St. Cathan, a British submarine chaser, and the Richmond, a passenger ship.
A stroll along one of the local piers is a gentle way to enjoy the waters. Dangle your feet at the end of the dock, board a boat tour, or a dolphin watching cruise or just enjoy the ocean scenery.
Myrtle Beach Area CVBBatter Up: The Myrtle Beach Pelicans, a Texas Rangers Carolina League Class-A affiliate, plays April through September, and, along with baseball action, fans are treated to between-inning entertainment. The Ripken Experience is one of the top youth sports facilities in the US, boasting six youth- and three regulation-size baseball fields, each modeled after one of the game’s historic ballparks: Polo Grounds, New York; Comiskey Park, Chicago and Forbes Field, Pittsburgh.
Start Your Engines: Myrtle Beach Speedway offers up professional and amateur racing on a half-mile, tri-oval asphalt track sanctioned by NASCAR, every Saturday from April through September.
Putt, Putt: Golf fans of all ages can choose from a huge collection of miniature golf themes, from man-eating dinosaurs and lava-spewing volcanoes, to high-seas adventures aboard pirate ships. With 50 miniature golf courses, the Grand Strand is considered the miniature golf capital of the world.
Green Myrtle Beach
The Myrtle Beach area is home to some of the most bountiful natural beauty in the United States. And its temperate climate and easy access make it that much more inviting. Here’s where to go:
Huntington Beach State Park: boasts a lagoon, maritime forest, salt marshes and 4.8 kilometres of the most well-preserved beach on the Grand Strand that are home to alligators and more than 300 recorded species of birds.
Myrtle Beach State Park: Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, the state park was the first to open to the public and houses a nature centre inhabited by snakes, turtles and marine animals, as well as a backyard wildlife habitat. Both the Myrtle Beach State Park and Huntington Beach State Park are among the best bird-watching locations on the East Coast.
Murrells Inlet Marshwalk: is a beautiful way to enjoy the beauty, wildlife and spectacular scenery of the “Seafood Capital of South Carolina”, Murells Inlet.
Vereen Memorial Gardens: is a collection of trails, paths and boardwalks extending across several beautiful salt marshes and small islands along the Intracoastal Waterway.
Waccamaw Riverwalk: winds along the beautiful banks of the Waccamaw River in Conway – once called “the boldest river in South Carolina”. Guided expeditions and walks are available.
Rover Tours: offers a multitude of ways to experience South Carolina nature, from sailing the scenic waters of Winyah Bay aboard the Jolly Rover, to gliding through fragile wetlands on the River Rover.
Myrtle Beach Area CVBWhat’s New
Scheduled to open May 2011, the giant SkyWheel, on the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk and Promenade, will feature 42 glass-enclosed, temperature-controlled gondolas that can hold six to eight people for a bird’s-eye view of the Myrtle Beach area. (There’s a similar one at Niagara Falls). Plans include a small restaurant and gift shop. Wonderworks Science Center, at Broadway at the Beach, is a hands-on science attraction that will include an upside-down building, a volcano, a lighthouse and an Egyptian pyramid, and will allow you to feel what it’s like to be in an earthquake, a hurricane or fly a NASA space shuttle or fighter jet. Opens spring 2011.
For more information on family fun, visit www.VisitMyrtleBeach.ca.