Family Vacations to Myrtle Beach
Every few years, we are able to get together for a beach week with our East Coast family.
While we’ve gone to different locations over the year, Myrtle Beach has been the destination more than once.
Not only do they have tons of beach homes available – and great beaches – but it’s a pretty central location for most of our family back there (nothing is really central for people in Colorado, haha).
This year, my sister-in-law and mother-in-law found a great beach house in North Myrtle Beach – specifically Cherry Grove – and it’s a trip we were all anticipating for several months.
One of my good friends went to Myrtle Beach last year with her husband, and I thought it seemed like such a fun place to explore.
Although much of our time there was spent visiting, going to the beach, and letting the kiddos play, we were able to participate in some fun activities and eat some delicious food throughout our week there.
The CVB at Myrtle Beach was generous in agreeing to partner with us while we were visiting, so I’m excited to share some of our adventures. Because the weather was kind of crummy about half the time we were there, it was nice to be able to check out some of the “inside” activities. Though the weather did get into the 60s for a few days, and the sun did come out here and there. For late December, there were moments where the weather was enjoyable.
Myrtle Beach attracts all kinds of people, but this travel guide is specifically geared toward those visiting who have children. There’s no way we could have done all the fun things this great city has to offer, but hopefully, this will be helpful to anyone looking to make a trip there with their family.
Below I’ve divided this into different categories, and under each category, I will first share about the places we attended, and I will also mention some others that are available that I thought sounded fun.
How to Save at Myrtle Beach
I was actually pleasantly surprised to see that Myrtle Beach wasn’t as expensive as I was hoping. I mean, it is a beach town, so I wouldn’t say things are *cheap*, but they are within reason.
There are definitely ways to save even more though:
- Priceline: I know there are a lot of discount retailers, but I always like using Priceline. This is a great way to find a good deal on hotels. VacationRenter.com is another one I’ve found recently that lets you compare rental properties AND hotels!
- Groupon: When we went to Myrtle Beach several years ago, we were able to get an awesome discount on the Children’s Museum. You never know what deals you will find there, so make sure you take a look.
- Coupons: My philosophy is to always look for a coupon before you do something – just a quick Google search before you go to an activity or restaurant might save you a lot. Right before we bought our tickets for Medieval Times, I found a 30% off coupon that made it much more affordable for us to take our group. You can sometimes find coupon books as well – before you visit, you could consider buying an Entertainment Book for South Carolina.
- Group Rates: If you are with a group of your family or friends, and there are more than about 10 people, you might be able to secure a group rate for a hotel, activities, etc.
- Look on websites: Always look on websites for special deals and promotions.
- Go During Off Season: If you can swing it, it’s always going to be cheaper to go during off season. We went the week after Christmas, and I know it made it more affordable for the beach house we were in.
Things to Do with Family in Myrtle Beach.
Fun Activities in Myrtle Beach
Below you will find a variety of fun activities (both paid and free) for families visiting Myrtle Beach.
Walking on the beach. When the weather was good it was easy to leave the kids with someone and take a nice, relaxing walk on the beach.
Watching the kiddos play in the sand and hop around in the shallow water. Forrest and his niece and nephews aren’t afraid to hop into the water for a bit, but it helps to have a wetsuit if you’re staying in for very long.
Forrest and his family played tag football and Ultimate on the beach.
Watch the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean. For the early risers, this beautiful offering of nature is always free.
Forrest kayaked with Oliver and my father-in-law on the intercoastal waterway (it was free for us!). The intercoastal waterway doesn’t have waves, so it makes for calm kayaking.
Because we were there on New Year’s Eve, there were some great Fireworks displays going on. During the summer, if you go to Broadway at the Beach, they have shows at 10 PM on Tuesdays, at Barefood Landing on Mondays at 10:15 PM, and Second Avenue Pier at 10 PM.
WonderWorks is probably the best activity we did at Myrtle Beach.
It is kind of like the coolest children’s museum you can imagine.
Initially, Wonderworks gives off a very unique first impression with its upside down look.
The first room you enter, where you buy your tickets, is designed to look upside down as well. I just realized that the first thing you go through is a hallway that seems to spin, and I wonder if that is supposed to transition you to being right side up again?
Wonderworks seems to be designed more for older kids, teenagers, and even adults. We had fun!
Initially, I would say that it was kind of loud.
We took our three year old and he had a bit of a hard time with the initial noise and a few other things.
However, there were a lot of things for him to enjoy, including laser tag (with help). I would imagine if you go more than once, then you can really focus on the things you and your kids enjoy most.
There is an educational purpose of a lot of the different activities and stations, but, to me, mostly it was just fun. If you wanted to focus on the educational aspects you certainly could.
There are six Wonder Zones. They are:
- Natural Disasters
- Physical Challenge
- Light and Sound
- Space Discovery
- Imagination Lab
- Far Out Art Gallery.
Most activities are included in your original ticket price outside of the arcade section. Members of our group experienced a storm wind room, hand plunge into arctic temperature water, astronaut spin simulator, basketball shooting competition, soccer penalty kick simulator, giant piano, a bed of nails, roller coaster simulator, 6D Theater, laser tag game, and an alien stomper game.
Unfortunately, we didn’t budget enough time for the indoor ropes courses.
It does cost money, so plan accordingly. They do have cheaper prices in the evenings (I believe after 5), so definitely look into that, especially if you have large groups.
Ripley’s Attractions at Myrtle Beach
Ripley’s has a number of attractions in Myrtle Beach.
I am told that the Ripley’s Aquarium is very impressive. It is located at Broadway at the Beach, which also has a lot of fun shops, restaurants, and even rides.
Also, Ripley’s has some other attractions just off of the Myrtle Beach boardwalk that includes the Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Odditorium (like a museum), Mirror Maze, and a 5D Moving Theater.
I would suggest buying tickets for everything at once as a package deal, it is a much better buy that way. The aquarium is only about a 5-10 minute drive from everything else.
We only experienced the Mirror Maze and the Moving Theater.
The Mirror Maze was fun. If you don’t look down towards the lower parts of the glass, you really do have a hard time knowing where there is a mirror and where there is a walkway. It is a fun illusion. However, the illusion creates these long hallways, and the actual maze is not nearly that large.
We did get turned around a few times at first, so it is a bit tricky to find the exit. It didn’t take too long though, so there is no need to worry about getting lost for a long time.
The Moving Theater was interesting. It is a 3D movie theater with bucket-like seats that move. There are extra lights and puffs of air throughout the two roughly ten-minute movies to add to the experience. It is a bit loud and jerky, so they have a few non-moving seats in the front for younger children.
I believe the two three-year-olds in our group enjoyed the movies. Personally, I can’t say the movies were extremely high-quality productions.
For one, in the space movie the audience is supposed to feel like they are in a spaceship, but somehow explosions and other things cause cool puffs of air to be blown towards the audience. There is no wind or sound in space, so that really didn’t make a lot of sense. Plus, the timing seemed to be a little off sometimes. Though, our oldest son said that he really enjoyed it.
The SkyWheel is a 187 ft tall Ferris wheel located at the boardwalk in Myrtle Beach. It has temperature controlled cabins, and you get to go around 4 times.
You’re able to see along the beach, the boardwalk, the business district around the area, and you can even see over to Broadway at the Beach. I’ve heard there can be long lines, but it seems that you should be able to ride longer if it is busy since it has to make more stops.
There was almost no one there the day we went, and our four times around went relatively quickly.
A tip, bring a selfie stick if you want a group photo. You can’t ask a stranger to take a picture once your up in the air. Forrest has a hard time looking normal in the selfies he takes of our family.
The Myrtle Beach area is famous for having a lot of golf courses (over 100!) and claims to be the miniature golf capital of the world with its 50 mini golf courses.
Plus, the Myrtle Beach area is called the seaside golf capital of the world. With the weather and our schedule as it was, we weren’t able to play a mini-golf course.
However, we drove past a lot of interesting looking courses. Forrest did kayak past a nice look course very close to the beach. Forrest also played half of a disc golf course. Forrest likes how affordable it can be, and our oldest likes to go with him to play with his grandpa and uncle.
You can check out the most popular Mini Golf courses in Myrtle Beach here. Here are two very popular and highly recommended courses:
Broadway at the Beach is the #1 tourist attraction in South Carolina. Here is a map to the whole group of things categorized as Broadway at the Beach. It is where WonderWorks and the Ripley’s Aquarium is located.
I didn’t realize, until after my vacation, how many of the activities across the street and near the main water area were part of Broadway at the Beach.
You might be wondering why it is called Broadway at the Beach. There are a few reasons, as best as I can guess.
One is the theater Legends in Concert, that has a cast paying tribute to different musicians past and present. Plus, there is a regular movie theater with lots of screens. There are a number of restaurants inspired by performers and celebrities, including Hard Rock Cafe, Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen, and Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville.
There are about 20 other restaurants there too, that should cover almost whatever type of food you’re looking to eat.
Beyond that, it is mostly a fun place with speedboats, helicopters, zip lines, a waterpark, a racing park, a baseball park, a Ferris wheel, a mirror maze, an escape room, and a bunch of other fun stuff. If you wanted to spend a lot of your time there without driving, there are even three hotels.
When we were there, they were advertising for $20 helicopter rides, which sounds amazing! I’ve watched a few videos on YouTube, and sometimes it seems like there is fun stuff going on all over the place.
We were there on a rainy, weekday morning in the winter, and there wasn’t anything going on outdoors.
Other Activities You May Enjoy:
We obviously weren’t able to do everything while we were in Myrtle Beach, but there are SO many family-friendly activities. Here are a few others to consider:
- Children’s Museum of South Carolina – we went here a few years ago, and it was so fun. I believe it’s changed locations, but I would imagine it’s just as engaging.
- Cherry Grove Beach Pier
- The Lowcountry Zoo
- Myrtle Beach Pelicans (baseball)
- Broadway Grand Prix
- Myrtle Waves Water Park
- Myrtle Beach State Park
- Go Ape Zipline and Treetop Adventure
- Brookgreen Gardens
- Pawley’s Island Hammock Shop Village
Live Shows and Entertainment
We had never been to Medieval Times before our trip to Myrtle Beach. They have about ten different locations around the country.
My brother and sister had been, and they seemed to enjoy it. We budgeted some of our money to take about 11 of my family to a show together.
We were hoping that it would be okay for a wide age group, and I think things turned out pretty well. Most of the younger kids we either occupied watching the show or eating the food.
The show does last a few hours, so some of the babies had to be held or walked around for a little bit.
The show includes some Renaissance style dramatic storytelling, horsemanship skills, horse dancing/prancing skills (whatever it is called!?), and a dramatic faux tournament of knights competing and fighting.
Different sections are assigned different knights to cheer for. I did a lot of cheering. It turns out that our guy was the bad guy, but it was still fun cheering for him until he was eliminated!
Sometimes the knights would throw flowers out to different ladies, girls. My niece next to me was excited to get a flower!
The food is the same for everyone, though they did make an effort to provide some substitutions according to different dietary needs. A drink is included….but it’s only water or pepsi.
True to the era of knights, I’m assuming, there aren’t any utensils. The chicken they give you is huge. I think it was half a chicken. They did give us a foil-lined pouch for our leftovers, so you don’t have to worry about food waste.
The food was filling, but I wouldn’t say people go there for the food.
We wish we’d been able to check out some other shows while we were in Myrtle Beach. Here are a couple we definitely don’t want to miss next time:
- Pirate’s Voyage
- The Carolina Opry
- Alabama Theater
First, I’ll mention a couple of the places we ate at.
I love Mexican food – especially nachos – so when I saw this on our list of recommended restaurants, I knew we had to try this one out.
There are a couple of locations – and we went to the one in North Myrtle Beach.
We were seated pretty quickly, which was nice. They had a good sized menu – though it wasn’t too large (large menus are always so overwhelming to me!).
We ordered an appetizer and a plate of nachos to share, and we loved them both.
I think that fried corn bites (can’t remember what they were called!) are amongst the best things I’ve ever eaten. They were SO good.
We got shrimp nachos (without the jalapenos), and we thought they were yummy. I do think there could have been a little bit more shrimp on them. Oliver thought they were too spicy.
Forrest and I were really looking forward to coming here. My friend had raved about it, so I couldn’t wait to come in.
The Wicked Tuna is a really unique restaurant at Murrells Inlet. It sits right on the inlet, and they have their own boats that catch the seafood.
Apparently, they are one of the only places on the East Coast that do this, so I thought that was pretty cool. Apparently, some coastal restaurants use seafood from other countries.
We sat underneath a covered patio, so we were able to enjoy the views on a colder day.
The Wicked Tuna has a huge menu of seafood, as well as sushi. It was hard to decide what to get, but in the end, I got shrimp and grits, and Forrest got the “catch of the day” with grits.
We both loved these dishes. Lots of flavor, the seafood was cooked well, and they were just very delicious.
We also got a couple of appetizers – white corn guacamole and crab wontons.
Jack said the wontons were his favorite thing!
We finished off the meal with a couple of desserts.
The creme brulee was the best I have ever had – and possibly the best dessert I’ve ever had. It was creamy with a nice crunch on top, and the addition of the strawberries was the perfect touch. I couldn’t get enough of it!
The boys had chocolate pudding with gummy bears – it was very thick and rich. It wasn’t our favorite, because it tasted like there was a touch too much cocoa powder. But the boys enjoyed it.
We ate at Simply Southern Smokehouse on the last day of our trip, because Forrest wanted to make sure he enjoyed some good Southern BBQ and sides before he went back to Colorado. Also, it was close to Broadway at the Beach, and we weren’t really feeling their options at the time.
Simply Southern Smokehouse is buffet style, where you pay beforehand, and you leave your tip on the table when you’re done. There were a lot of traditional Southern items, including entrees, sides, salads, and desserts. Drinks are included. Our lunch price was $10.99 for adults, and $8.61 for kids 5-11 (I believe kids under 5 were free).
I think we all enjoyed the food and ate way too much. Forrest especially enjoyed the classic Southern sides and desserts. Because it would take me too long to describe, here is their menu.
It has excellent reviews online – be sure to check them out here.
I Love Sugar provides quite the candy experience near the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk. It is bright, colorful, beautifully decorated, and just smells great. I was impressed by the chandelier ball of gummy bears.
There are all sorts of different candy options. There are large candies, small candies, retro candies, Harry Potter Candies, and just lots of different colors and flavors.
Plus, they sell gelato and sorbets. There are useful little tables by the store windows to eat either your candy or gelato. The sour gummy worms were extra delicious.
Peaches Corner is an old school diner establishment that has been around over 75 years. It is located right next to the boardwalk and beach volleyball courts. They primarily sell, hamburgers, hot dogs, and ice cream.
Overall, our experience wasn’t the most amazing. They were a little slow at the time, our waiter was a little loud for our tastes. Forrest decided to risk ordering the very large Beach Party, which, reportedly, was delicious. Though, it looked very unhealthy. It has a beer battered, deep fried hamburger patty, so delicious and unhealthy is about what you would expect!
Myrtle Beach Family Friendly Restaurants:
All of the places we went to above were family friendly – but there are many more. Here are a few more options to consider while you are at Myrtle Beach:
- Drunken Jacks
- Tupelo Honey Cafe (We LOVE Tupelo Honey here in Denver!)
- Ultimate California Pizza
- Le Cupcake Cafe
- 2nd Avenue Pier
- Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen
- Senor Frogs
- Carolina Ale House
- Sea Captain’s House
- Croissant’s Bistro and Bakery
- Loco Gecko
- Johnny D’s Waffles and Bakery
- Lulu’s Cafe
- Z’s Amazing Kitchen
- Flying Fish Public Market and Grill
- Bonfire Tacqueria
Where to Stay
There are tons of places to stay in Myrtle Beach – beach homes, condos, hotels…there’s really something for everyone, and I from my brief searching, many of the options are pretty budget friendly.
Deciding where to stay will just depend on your needs. We enjoy staying at a beach house when we come here, because we are usually with a large group of family. The rates can be pretty affordable, especially if you going during offseason.
We checked out the prices for some of the hotels in the area, and they were also very affordable. Priceline is always a good place to book, especially last minute trips.
We would suggest going on Trip Advisor to check out reviews of different places to stay.
Forrest lives in Colorado with the wonderful Katie Clark and their two sons. Forrest was raised in North Carolina, graduated from BYU with a degree in political science, and loves to dabble in lots different things. Plus, he is a big MLS fan.