Planning a vacation along the Grand Strand? Today I’m sharing Myrtle Beach, Beyond the Boardwalk, a guide to finding hidden gems in the MB!
Ever been to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina?
If so, you probably visualize expansive lengths of soft sand, carnival rides, massive shopping centers geared towards tourists, and of course, the boardwalk.
These are all fun things you expect to find in any hoppin’ beach town.
However on my recent trip to Myrtle Beach, my eyes were opened to experiences that many beach goers might not have discovered.
Whether you are returning to Myrtle Beach and looking for new things to do, or heading to Myrtle for the first time, this list of alternative activities will give your trip extra wow-factor.
Myrtle Beach, Beyond the Boardwalk
Myrtle Beach is known for classic beach dining such as pancake houses and seafood buffets… And some of them are really good!
However, the culinary scene in Myrtle has matured over the last few decades. Chefs are funneling their creative energy into all sorts of delectable dishes including artful seafood, low country inspirations, and fusion food.
We had the opportunity to experience a lot, and I do mean a lot, of different restaurants and meals. Here are the highlights…
Wicked Tuna – Just south of town in Murrells Inlet sits a waterfront restaurant serving sushi, and classic seafood dishes with a twist! The seafood is brought in fresh from Wicked Tuna’s own fishing boats, and processed right below the restaurant. You can’t get any fresher than that!
There’s an indoor dining area, a large outdoor seating area overlooking the water, and a separate open-air tiki bar. Make sure to order the fried pickles!
Waterscapes Restaurant – Tucked in the lower level of the Marina Inn at Grande Dunes is a true hidden treasure. Whether you are staying at the hotel, docking at the marina, or driving through town, skip the well-known chain steakhouse just outside the hotel and head inside to Waterscapes.
Chef Corbett prepared a lavish dinner with low country appeal including: lobster fritters, oyster stew, shrimp and grits cakes, tender filets, and key lime cheesecake mousse. Waterscapes was the best fine-dining experience of our trip. We were in heaven!
The Chemist – This hip bar is right in the heart of Myrtle Beach. Serving killer cocktails and intriguing entrees, The Chemist is a fun place for lunch, dinner, or after dinner drinks!
Art Burger Sushi – Another great place to stop just off the boardwalk, with a menu ranging from award-winning burgers to modern sushi rolls. It’s perfect for couples or families that can’t make up their mind!
Gordo’s Tacos & Tequila – Who doesn’t love a good taco? Especially on vacation. Walk off the boardwalk and enjoy an amazing array of tacos. Plus, their tortilla chips are spectacular!
Croissant’s Bistro & Bakery – Possibly the best breakfast in Myrtle Beach! We dug into divine puffy dutch style pancakes, fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, and crab cake benedict. If I lived in MB, I’d become a regular at Croissants. (And don’t miss the dessert case!)
2 Kayak Fishing
Combining two of our favorite outdoor sports, fishing and kayaking, Black River Outdoors Center offers daily tours to catch fresh and saltwater fish including: red fish, flounder, grouper, speckled trout, largemouth bass and more!
On our excursion, I actually caught 5 fish, but only 2 that were edible, a red fish and a flounder. However, my most exciting catch was a puffer fish I threw back before any harm was done.
Isn’t it cool?
Black River Outdoors Center works with local restaurants that will clean and cook your fish for you as a rewarding lunch.
This is the trout Lori caught. It was delicious!
3 Myrtle Beach State Park
Just south of the boardwalk sits pristine Myrtle Beach State Park. Supported by a mass of local volunteers, it was the first state park to open under Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal Program in the 1930s.
The park includes a large spans of beach, an ocean front forest, playgrounds and picnic areas, turtle nesting grounds, a nature center, and an enormous pier.
Stop by the nature center to participate in daily activities including bird watching, fishing, and crabbing. We went crabbing out on the pier and ended up with beautiful blue crab. Don’t worry, we threw it back!
The beaches seemed less crowded at the state park, than those by the hotels. I’ll have to remember that when we return.
4 Wine Tasting & Brewery Tours
If wine and beer tasting is your priority on vacation, Myrtle Beach has got you covered!
We visited stunning La Belle Amie Vineyard, home of Twisted Sisters Wines. South Carolina is known for its muscadine wines, yet owner Vikki, imports in a variety of grapes in order to make traditional dry reds and whites, as well as dry, semisweet, and sweet muscadine wines.
The vineyard is gorgeous and there are plenty of places to relax and sip under the trees.
Another fun place to stop and order a hometown beverage is New South Brewery. This local favorite sells beer all over the region. You can stop by the brewery from 4:30 to 7 pm and taste-test all the on-tap brews you can handle.
The Oktoberfest was my personal favorite.
5 Brookgreen Gardens
Home of more than 1,400 works of art, Brookgreen Gardens is known for having the largest outdoor American sculpture collection in the world. The grounds were once home of the well-known Huntington family (think Huntington Beach… on the east and west coast.) The Huntington’s home unfortunately burnt to the ground in 1901, but the grounds have been preserved, and now includes a Lowcountry History Center, ecological park, restaurants, boat tours, a regional wildlife zoo and preserve, a storybook forest and more.
It was such a pleasure to walk through the sculpture garden, stopping under the live oak trees to rest in the shade. The gardens are awe-inspiring.
We also took a boat tour through the old rice fields, where Carolina Gold Rice was once the largest crop in the nation. Plus we saw an alligator!
6 Cooking Classes
One of our very best meals was at HGTC International Culinary Institute where several chefs and instructors prepared lunch for us. We had the opportunity to tour the brand new culinary school facility, and I must say, it made me want to go back to school!
If you love to take cooking classes on vacation, the culinary school offers some amazing class options that are open to the public, from chocolate making to lowcountry specialties!
7 Farm Tours
Looking for something fun and educational for the kids?
L.W. Paul Living History Farm is a working farm open to the public, that focuses on preserving the history of the farm life-style from the years 1900-1955. Daily demonstrations in plowing, soap making, meat curing, and milking are available in season.
The day we arrived, we learned about grinding corn into cornmeal and grits. Then we tasted made from scratch corn recipes cooked in an old fashioned kitchen. My kids would have loved this!
But Don’t Forget the Boardwalk
Yes, we were focusing on things to do off the boardwalk. Yet, Myrtle Beach is known for it’s wide bustling boardwalk, and truth be told, it shouldn’t be missed!
Walk through that arcades, order a hot dog, and make sure the ride the Sky Wheel!
Whether you love the hustle and bustle of a busy beach town, or would rather find quiet activities away from the crowd, Myrtle Beach has something for everyone.
Where to Stay
I’ve stayed at the Marriott Resort & Spa at Grande Dunes twice and have been extremely impressed both time. The rooms are spacious, many with ocean views. The grounds and amenities are absolutely stunning, and the beach is just beyond the pool.
Get up early one morning to catch the sunrise on the beach…
Then head to The Marriott Grand Dunes’ Ocean’s on 82nd restaurant for an amazing breakfast. Make sure to order the Crunchy French Toast!
Marriott Grand Dunes is the perfect getaway to relax and replenish.
Need Help Planning Your Vacation in Myrtle Beach?
Check out Visit Myrtle Beach for event schedules, planning tips, and seasonal specials!
Also find Visit Myrtle Beach on…
Disclosure: I was hosted by Visit Myrtle Beach. All opinions are my own.