For an affordable and guaranteed good time in the sunshine, set your sights on the Grand Strand of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. From gators to golf, these eight Myrtle Beach family activities and attractions will keep kids entertained, happy, and ready to drop from exhaustion at the end of the day. It's the perfect recipe for a successful family vacation at the beach!
1. Grand Strand
The pride and joy of Myrtle Beach is its Grand Strand – 60 miles of soft white sand that stretch nearly from the North Carolina border to Georgetown, South Carolina. The natural coastal beauty of the Strand, particularly in its Beach State Parks, is breathtaking. Here you can enjoy a variety of traditional beach-going pleasures – sand-castle building, swimming, surfing, fishing, jogging, and just old-fashioned sunbathing.
2. Go Ape Ziplining & Treetop Adventure
Up for a challenge? Monkey around in the trees at Go Ape Zip Line and Treetop Adventure, just a short drive north of the Grand Strand. This adventure course includes five zip-lines and a wide variety of Tarzan swings and ropes courses, in moderate and extreme levels. You climb quite high into the treetops, secure at all times with your safety ropes and Conan the safety instructor’s mantra running through your head – “Always Stay Attached.” I followed his wise advise as I whizzed across the 900-foot zip-line over a small blue lake, the final stage of the Go Ape course. This exhiliarating adventure is perfect for adventurous tweens, teens and adults.
3. Miniature Golf
Myrtle Beach is known as the seaside golf capital of the world with over 100 golf courses. From a kid's point of view, though, the 50 mini-golf courses in the Myrtle Beach area are more impressive. The mini-golf courses are lushly landscaped and themed with everything from pirates to spewing volcanos to Jurassic dinosaurs. There’s a miniature golf course and theme to please every member of the family.
4. Family Kingdom Amusement Park
Amusement park lovers will find themselves at home at Family Kingdom. Within easy walking distance of the main Myrtle Beach Boardwalk area, this seaside theme park boasts 35 attractions, from sweet kiddie rides to thrilling roller coasters. When the weather is warm, cool off with the flumes, waterslides, lazy river and children's splash areas at the Family Kingdom Splashes oceanfront water park.
5. Arcades at Beach Boardwalk
No self-respecting beach boardwalk can be without its game arcades, and Myrtle Beach has several large prize-doling galleries along the Strand. Particular favorites are the old-school games of chance and skill – think ball pitching or whacking moles.
The Myrtle Beach SkyWheel offers the best views of the beach and boardwalk areas. If you’re like me and a have a wee fear of heights, close your eyes or focus on one point as you go up on the 10 minute ride. The views are worth it, especially at sunset!
7. Broadway at the Beach
This massive entertainment complex spans across 300+ acres and is touted as the number one attraction in Myrtle Beach. With entertainment, restaurants and shopping galore, it reminded me a bit of Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) in Orlando. Two of the most popular attractions at Broadway at the Beach are the most kid-friendly – Wonderworks and Ripley’s Aquarium.
Wonderworks bills itself as an “amusement park for the mind” and offers scientific education and information through entertainment. While it may be tough to measure how much knowledge may sink in, kids will certainly enjoy riding in a virtual roller coaster, feeling hurricane-force winds, or trying their ropes course.
Ripley’s Aquarium offers the chance to walk through the Dangerous Reef, a 750,000 gallon shark tunnel with a moving carpet. There’s also a jellyfish gallery, slime area, hourly dive shows and marine education sessions.
8. Alligator Adventure
In addition to showcasing over 400 alligators, Alligator Adventure is home to many other animals, like lemurs, kangaroos, frogs, birds, bobcats and wolves during your visit. It’s a bit of an eclectic mix, but the real draw is the live animal shows offered throughout the day. Park staff lecture about snakes, alligators and other reptiles. Audience members get a chance to touch the animals (gently), if they dare.
Where to Stay
Hampton Inn & Suites Myrtle Beach/Oceanfront
Hampton Inn & Suites Myrtle Beach/Oceanfront has a deserved reputation for friendly service. I was charmed by the hotel's warm, southern hospitality that I had hoped to find in South Carolina. The generously sized rooms at the Hampton Inn are decorated in an appropriate nautical theme.
The hotel is located on a golden section of the Grand Strand, close to the Boardwalk and other regional attractions. Full kitchens at Hampton Inn & Suites Myrtle Beach allow for food preparation, a real money-saver for families. Each suite has lovely Atlantic ocean views from spacious balconies outfitted with comfy chairs. Your stay includes a free hot breakfast, with such offerings as cereals, yogurt, fruit, waffles, eggs, ham and sausages. The hotel pools include a lazy river, but the beach is so inviting, it's the bigger draw for most.
Sea Watch Resort – North Myrtle Beach
North Myrtle Beach offers even more affordable accommodation choices, yet it is still within a 10-minute drive of the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk. Like many of the hotels along the beach, the Sea Watch Resort is large, with a variety of suite choices meant to accommodate families for weeks at a time. Rooms have full kitchens, and the Captain's Cove offers delicious buffet breakfasts complete with a custom omelette bar. The pool deck is extensive, with six pools, two lazy rivers, and 10 hot tubs, with kid-friendly dance parties during peak season weekend evenings.
Of special note to Canadians: Visit Myrtle Beach is launching a Dollar for Dollar Deals promotion from January to April 2016 to help offset the declining Canadian dollar for visitors. This is great news for northern family travellers in search of a warm-weather holiday at an affordable price. Available to Canadians who show valid ID.
Which of these Myrtle Beach family activities and attractions appeal to you most? Let us know in the comments below!
A Note from The Curious Travel Mama: Thank you to Visit Myrtle Beach for supporting my discovery of Myrtle Beach and region. All opinions are mine, as always.