Long Weekend In Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Guide
Growing up in the Charlotte area we had been to Myrtle Beach at least once a year, every year growing up. From family vacations to summer camp to trips with friends, needless to say, we had been to Myrtle Beach a LOT. However, after we got married, we never had been back except for really quick trips for weddings.
The thing about Myrtle Beach, if you live around the area, is it’s the place everyone wants to make fun of. We definitely were one of those people too. You always heard us saying to drive the extra few hours to Florida. However, COVID changed a lot of our travel and it gave us the perfect opportunity to travel to Myrtle Beach, SC again.
If you told us we would spend our 10th anniversary in Myrtle Beach before 2020, we would have thought you were crazy. It was the perfect trip with limited time off work for our first trip in 15 months though. We also had been talking for years about giving it a fresh chance now that we weren’t kids anymore and had a lot of travel experience under our belt… so this was the perfect opportunity!
Is it going to be the most luxurious vacation? Probably not, but the cheap drinks, food, and places to stay definitely make up for that. Is it touristy? Sure! But sometimes it’s fun to be silly and touristy, we sure had fun. Is it going to be the most exotic place you’ve ever visited? No, definitely not. But it’s kind of like Vegas… it’s not going to educational, you aren’t going to experience a culture, but you sure are going to have a good time! Is it actually Dirty Myrtle? No, the beaches were clean, the water was clean, and honestly, it’s one of the few beaches you can escape the Sargassum seaweed this summer (and that stuff definitely smells dirty!). The final verdict? We had a BLAST and really enjoyed the long weekend trip. We definitely will be going on many more long weekend trips to Myrtle Beach, SC.
If we haven’t persuaded you yet… hopefully, this blog post will show you all the fun you can have in Myrtle Beach. If you are already sold, we hope this guide helps you find some fun to do on your trip!
Day 1: Arrival Day After Work
We actually were just going to do a Thursday – Monday trip, but we ended up getting off work early enough to head down on Wednesday evening. This day is definitely not necessary, we just prefer to drive in the evening v. leaving in the morning. If you are just doing a long weekend, go ahead & skip this day!
Since we booked this last minute, we didn’t stay at the resort we were staying at for the rest of the trip, they were already booked. We started hunting Tuesday evening for last-minute deals and found the Carolinian Beach Resort for under $100/night.
The Carolinian Beach Resort was less than a mile from the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk and right on the ocean. We were able to snag an oceanfront room for the night, so it was a great bargain deal. The rooms were a simple motel room, nothing fancy, but they were clean. The resort did have a pool, but it wasn’t terribly large. However, being right on the ocean and within walking distance to the Boardwalk definitely made up for it. It wasn’t as fancy or nice as our second resort, however, if you want to be within walking distance to all the bars and nightlife at the Boardwalk, it might perfect for you.
Dinner & Drinks
After we checked in and explored the room we headed out to dinner. River City Cafe had been highly recommended as the best burger around when we were looking for yummy food. The original location was right near the hotel so we headed in. Unfortunately, they were out of a lot of food, very understaffed, and the burgers weren’t that great. We aren’t sure if it was this location or a bad night. However, we did go back later in the trip to a different location and really loved it.
Definitely give it a try, but maybe skip the 21st Ave if there is one closer to you. The decor was super cute though at this location and the dinner was reasonable (less than $30 for 2) which did make up a bit for the not-so-great dinner.
We headed down to Tin Roof for drinks since they had a great Happy Hour special. From 4-7 pm every day it’s $5 Select Quesadillas, 50% off Appetizers, $1 off domestic drafts, wines, TR FAVORITES cocktails, and $4 wells. Tin Roof is right on the beach and has a rooftop patio, so it’s a great first-night bar stop to enjoy the ocean views. They even had live music while we were there which was really nice & the bartenders were great.
We continued down to explore the Boardwalk after drinks & to grab a few more drinks. What is the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk? It’s a 1.2-mile boardwalk along the oceanfront in downtown Myrtle Beach. After the Myrtle Beach Pavilion closed in 2006, area merchants wanted an attraction to replace the amusement park. The Boardwalk was built in 2010 as this attraction.
Pier 14, a restaurant and bar, sits right at the front of the boardwalk and the Myrtle Beach Skywheel, the 2nd tallest Ferris Wheel in North America, sits right in the middle. There are tons of historic bars and restaurants and shops scattered throughout the boardwalk, the most famous of these is the Gay Dolphin. It was built in 1946 and is a 3 story trinket shop. You will also find Ripley’s Believe It Or Not and Ripley’s Haunted Adventure on the boardwalk.
The Boardwalk is definitely one of the most touristy areas of Myrtle Beach and wasn’t our favorite stop, however, it’s a lot of fun for one night. We grabbed some drinks at Duffy’s which is where the band Alabama got their start as the house band and walked around enjoying the views. The Skywheel is especially beautiful at night lit up in different lights.
Of course, before or after you visit the boardwalk make sure to enjoy the beach for a minute at sunset. That’s always our favorite time at Myrtle Beach since it’s so much less crowded. Unfortunately being on the East Coast, the sun sets on the opposite side so you have to do sunrise to see it over the water. However, it’s still a nice time to enjoy the cooler temperatures and beautiful scenes at sunset.
Day 2: South Myrtle Beach
One of the most surprising things to us about Myrtle Beach was that there were a lot of freebies or discounts without any catches. Of course, there was your normal “tour this timeshare and we will give you lots of tickets or coupons”, but there were also many discounts with no catch.
When we checked into the Carolinian Beach Resort they gave us a card for a free buffet breakfast at Magnolia’s at 26th across the street. The breakfast buffet at Magnolia’s on the 26th surprised us. We figured it would just be your normal motel breakfast, you would have to pay for a coffee or soda, or just wouldn’t be good. It was actually a full restaurant with an all-you-can-eat hot breakfast. Plus the soda & coffee was included! We were so surprised and kind of sad we didn’t have it for the rest of the trip.
(photo from Magnolia’s At 26th)
The hotel also gave us a coupon book with various discounts at the Ripley’s Aquarium, Simpsons 4D ride, Wonderworks, the Grand Prix, Medieval Times, and the Brookgreen Garden. They change seasonally and you can see them here. We already had most of the trip planned but not this day since we went down early. We decided to call and use the free adult ticket to Brookgreen Gardens. We just had to call, give the code, and purchase our second ticket through them, then they emailed us our tickets. Super easy and we got 2 tickets for $18 total, which was a great deal. So if you stay at the Carolinian or another hotel, look through your coupon books and see what there is. We normally would have overlooked it all, but Myrtle Beach has a lot of freebies.
Brookgreen Gardens is located about 30 minutes south of downtown Myrtle Beach. It’s a perfect stop if you are heading down to see Murrell’s Inlet, Garden City Beach, or Surfside Beach. It was founded in 1931 by Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington, who was a sculptor. They purchased a closed rice plantation as a summer retreat. It’s HUGE, 9,100 acres to be exact with over 2,000 sculptures throughout the property. Make sure if you want to see it all to leave plenty of time. We were expecting a small botanical garden that would take just a little bit of time, but it’s quite magnificent and a lot to see.
Brookgreen Gardens, as we said before, is between $18-$20/adult depending on the season. Of course, see if you can get a discount from your hotel as well. However, it’s definitely worth the full price. Your tickets are good for 7 days once you enter as well, which is great if you can’t finish in a day. There are 3 main sections of the property the Sculpture Garden, the Lowcountry Center and Trail, and the Native Wildlife Zoo. So there really is a lot to see! We did the Sculpture Garden and the Zoo but didn’t leave enough time to explore the Lowcountry trails (the old rice plantation), which looked beautiful.
The gardens truly are the South Carolina Lowcountry in all of its splendor. With century-old Spanish moss trees lining the property, longleaf pine, river, marshland, and 2000 species of plant life throughout the gardens, there is so much to see. The gardens themselves would have been enough to see, but the sculptures mixed in made it one of the prettiest gardens we have seen.
Originally the gardens were planned to display Anna Hyatt Huntington & her sister, Harriett Hyatt Mayor’s sculptures but now there are over 430 artist’s work on display in the gardens. There are also multiple sculpture galleries and a sculpture court with smaller works for you to enjoy. Looking to see what specific artists are on display? You can check on their website here.
The gardens and sculptures aren’t all, as we mentioned. There is the Lowcountry section that has a boat ride to see the rice fields, historical tours of the plantation remnants, and a ZOO! We didn’t expect to see a zoo on property. This would be especially great if you are traveling with kids. There were native birds, eagles, otters, and even an alligator you can see on the property. It was a lot of fun and a really well-done zoo to keep all the animals in their natural habitats. We especially loved the bald eagle, which was born in 1986, and lost her right-wing due to a gunshot. She came to Brookgreen after being rehabilitated.
Want to see everything Brookgreen has to offer? Check out their map to see just how enormous and impressive the property is!
Garden City Beach
After leaving Brookgreen Gardens, we decided to go to a very nostalgic place for us, Garden City Beach. We used to go to summer camp every year from middle school to high school here together. It’s definitely a must-see in Myrtle Beach if you love a retro & chill beach vibe.
The tall hotels aren’t present down in Garden City, mostly small hotels and rental homes. It definitely gives a different vibe because of this. However, the highlight of Garden City Beach is the pier! It’s the only pier that is completely free to walk down in the Myrtle Beach area. It’s a perfect spot to pay to fish, grab a drink or bite to eat at the bar on the pier, or just take a stroll down and enjoy the views. We love watching everyone fish and see what they have caught down at the end. There also is a great arcade at the entrance for kids (or adults ?) to enjoy!
After you enjoy the pier, make sure to check out the rest of Garden City. Painter’s Ice Cream is always a must-have, they have delicious homemade ice cream. Though, be warned it can get very busy in the evenings! The Garden City Pavilion and Arcade is from 1969 and always a fun bit of old-school nostalgia. Then after you finish up grab a hot dog and a beer from Sam’s Corner, from 1976, for some yummy food.
Ocean Reef Resort
After we left Garden City, we headed to check-in at Ocean Reef Resort, our home for the next few nights. Ocean Reef Resort is in North Myrtle Beach, which is typically the more “chill” area of Myrtle Beach. It’s not walkable to the boardwalk like our first hotel, but it had a lot more space & amenities.
Ocean Reef has a full waterpark, a lazy river, a splash pad, and a great pool area. So it was perfect if you are bringing along kids. The lazy river and splash pad are under coverings so you can even enjoy those in the rain. The pool has a window into the bar as well so you can enjoy all your favorite drinks while enjoying a swim.
The bar was one of our favorite areas, they had great margaritas, bucket drinks, and a good mix of bottle and draft beer. They also have a good selection of bar snacks if you didn’t want to leave the hotel. We ate there a few times and grabbed some mozzarella sticks and chicken fingers. It definitely wasn’t award-winning food, but it’s more than yummy if you want to spend a whole day at the hotel.
The best part of the bar area was the gorgeous patio & the grassy area with lounge chairs. It was a great spot to relax every evening overlooking the ocean. We didn’t see many other properties that had a great area like this and it definitely gave a more luxurious, resort vibe than many other hotels around.
Ocean Reef had a great lobby, breakfast room (though this did cost extra), volleyball courts, arcade, and of course, it was oceanfront. We loved all the amenities it had to offer, especially with how reasonable it was. It was just under $800 (after taxes and fees) for the 4 nights and all the amenities.
We booked the King Ocean View Junior Suite and got one on the 7th floor. It was very spacious and had a kitchen, living room, bedroom, and two balconies. Do note when booking here, Ocean Front rooms will be the ones facing the ocean with a large balcony, Ocean View will be the side rooms that you can see the ocean but isn’t truly oceanfront. We did wish we had booked an Ocean Front room but still really enjoyed our room and it was a bit cheaper. We ended up sitting at the bar patio most evenings anyway. The rooms were very clean, nice, and spacious and we really enjoyed them!
After we checked in and got settled, it was already dinnertime, so we headed down to Barefoot Landing. This is a retail and entertainment boardwalk set on the intercoastal waterway. There are 40+ shops, restaurants, and attractions at Barefoot Landing.
We ate at one of our favorites, Wild Wing Cafe, but there is an option for almost any taste at Barefoot Landing from Flying Fish Cafe to Landshark Bar & Grille to the House of Blues. You can see all the restaurants here to pick a favorite or two. After dinner, we browsed around the shops and headed to T.I.G.E.R.S Preservation Station and were sad to see it closed before dinner. If you loved Tiger King on Netflix you have to see Doc Antle’s space, but make sure to go in the afternoon or you will miss it too.
We saw they were doing live music beside a brewery called the Crooked Hammock and headed in to try a beer. We love a good craft beer… but this one wasn’t for us. We aren’t sure if it’s because every beer we wanted the bartender kept telling us they were out of it or because it was mostly crowded with people eating and not much “drinking only” space. It’s definitely a cute spot to check out, but the beers were pretty pricey (we spent $17 on 2 beers we didn’t drink all of). So if you aren’t sure, I would skip it. We were pretty sad to realize it wasn’t even local too and should have browsed a Myrtle Beach brewery at the Boardwalk the first day.
Our suggestion if you want something good to drink is to try Duplin Winery beside Barefoot Landing. This was our original plan before we stopped in the brewery and we definitely plan to do it next trip. Make sure you get there early though, they do close at 6 pm. It’s only $10/person for wine tasting, cheese & crackers, and a glass of your favorite wine you tried. So it’s a much better deal and we have loved their wine for years. It’s definitely very sweet wine, but it’s delicious to try.
Day 3: Mexican Food & Mini-Golf
This day was our 10th anniversary so we spent most of the day out on the beach enjoy the sun! We cooked in our room for lunch most of the trip just so we didn’t have to waste much of the day trying to hunt down food. There was a full kitchen with an oven, stove, and fridge in our room which made it really easy. We could just load up a cooler and head down to the beach then.
North Myrtle Beach isn’t too crowded, especially if you head out in the morning. However, there still will be a lot of people. It is just a LOT less than the Ocean Lakes area down further south!
After a fun day in the sun, we headed in, showered, and got ready for dinner! We both love Mexican food, so when we saw a place called Fiesta Mexicana just a couple blocks up, we knew we had to try it. It was absolutely delicious! They had large, cold beers and delicious-looking margaritas. Heather got the chimichangas and Walter got the quesadillas and they were both fantastic. Highly would recommend stopping in on your trip.
After dinner, we headed in to play mini-golf. You can’t come to Myrtle Beach and not play mini-golf at least once. It’s considered the best mini-golf in the world! It’s pretty overwhelming to pick a mini-golf course… they range from your basic putt-putt to playing in a Mayan ruin.
We originally were going to go to one of the more famous courses like Captain Hooks or Mount Atlanticus or Cancun Lagoon but decided to just head across the street from our hotel to Jungle Safari. It was a Friday night already and we knew this one wasn’t crowded. Definitely pay the extra to play mini-golf in the evenings in Myrtle Beach, it’s far too hot during the day without shade. Most courses are $11/adult in the daytime and $12/adult in the evenings, so it’s not much different. Also many courses you can find discounts throughout town, so definitely check that out! Since it’s more popular to play in the evenings though, be warned that they can get VERY crowded. We were lucky and there were just a few families playing with us though. We had a lot of fun and it was a good course. Walter ended up winning by one point!
Day 4 & 5: Beach Days
The biggest tip we have for Myrtle Beach… is to plan beach days! If you are like us and love an adventure, it’s easy to try and over plan the trip. However, you came to the beach… it’s silly to not enjoy it a little bit.
Some tips for the beach:
- Bring chairs! You have to pay to rent chairs on Myrtle Beach, so if you don’t want to just lay on the sand, bring your own chairs or grab some cheap ones from Walmart.
- Bring an umbrella! The sun is brutally hot and if you want to last more than 1 day without turning into a lobster (of course use your sunscreen too), grab a cheap umbrella. Also, grab an umbrella spike… it makes putting the umbrella in much easier every day. We found ours at Walmart & it was only $20 for the umbrella + spike. Well worth not being sunburnt on day 1.
- Put your drinks in a Yeti. Alcohol isn’t allowed on the beach in Myrtle Beach, however, no one cares if you have them in a Yeti or other cup. So just bring a cooler and toss it in your Yeti… it will keep your drink colder anyways in the hot sun.
- Don’t wear a thong bikini. They are illegal in Myrtle Beach… as crazy as it is, it’s true. So all your cute Shein Thong Bikinis will have to wait for Miami. Sure some people get away with it, but it’s not worth a crazy scene like this.
- Make sure you stay close to your hotel if you need a bathroom, there aren’t public bathrooms down the beach. However, if you want to find a less crowded location, sometimes strolling down the beach is worth it for sure! Plus you get to see a lot of funny things… like sand beer pong or even sometimes a shark swimming offshore.
How do I eat on beach days?
Make sure if you like to drink on the beach or at the pool, you are staying somewhere convenient to grab dinner too. That’s the hardest thing to plan with beach days. You don’t want to be stuck with no food and not be able to drive. Ocean Reef was great because they had a snack bar at the bar which we ate at one night and we could also walk to River City Cafe. As we mentioned earlier, we didn’t like the original location, however, their location on Shore Drive was much better. It had a great tiki bar outdoor we went to grab $5 margaritas at multiple nights. The burgers & staff were much better too. Like we said before, it’s not super fancy food but it’s a good burger, fries, onion rings, and cheap eats!
Sunset on the Beach
Of course on beach days, after a day in the sun, make sure you check out sunset too. The beach is always less crowded and sometimes empty. The weather is cooler and it’s the perfect time to take a stroll down the sand. The beauty of Myrtle Beach always seems to shine at sunset. You can see just how beautiful the water is, how nice the sand is, and how beautiful an east coast sunset shines.
Day 6: Broadway at the Beach
Remember how we said plan beach days? We almost forgot in the beginning too and had to save Broadway at the Beach for our last day when we left. Broadway at the Beach is a must-do on any Myrtle Beach trip. It’s similar to Barefoot Landing but it has SO much more to offer. It’s definitely the most popular tourist destination at Myrtle Beach, but don’t skip it… it’s so much fun too!
There are shops, shows, bars, restaurants… it’s pretty overwhelming. We ended up doing it during the daytime, but would usually suggest heading in the evening if you have time. It’s cooler and much livelier with all the nightlife. From Senor Frogs to Hard Rock Cafe to Fat Tuesday. There is a lot to see and drink at Broadway at the Beach.
However, if nightlife isn’t your thing, there is so much to do in the day or with kids too. Ripley’s Aquarium is a great stop, especially with their new penguin exhibit. Wonderworks (the upside-down house) is a great science museum. There is an amusement park, waterpark, helicopter rides, boat rides, and lots of great shows. Broadway at the Beach really does have something for almost anyone. There are dozens of wonderful restaurants as well and the shops are on every corner. Plus don’t forget to get some fish food & feed the fish in the lake, it’s always a fun time.
One of the newest attractions is Simpson’s 4D adventure. We didn’t do the ride itself, but we had to stop in the replica Kwik-E-Mart. It’s free to go in, just the ride costs. We were a little sad the Duff beer wasn’t really beer, but definitely a fun & quirky stop at Broadway.
After we finished up our souvenir shopping & exploring we headed on our 3.5-hour journey back to Charlotte to end our vacation. It might be nostalgic from childhood or it might just be that fun, Broadway at the Beach is always a fun dinner and drink stop after a long day at the beach. Also if you haven’t been before… it’s not actually at the beach, it’s about 2 miles away.
The final verdict?
We loved our adventure to Myrtle Beach and already are talking about going back. Is there white sand like Turks and Caicos? No… there aren’t Jurassic Park mountains like Hawaii either. However, for a fun relaxing time on the beach, cheap drinks, good food, and a lot of fun tourist attractions to keep us entertained… Myrtle Beach is hard to beat. If you have ever thought of going… GO! If you haven’t been in a while or as an adult… GO BACK!
There is so much to do, we couldn’t even start to do it all. From all the attractions at Broadway at the Beach to all the dinner shows like Pirates Voyage or Medieval Times to the world-class talent at the Carolina Opry… you won’t get bored in Myrtle Beach.
We hope this guide gets you started on your fun vacation to Myrtle Beach. Do you have a favorite spot we missed? Comment and let us know so we can visit it next trip.
Are you looking for some of my clothes I wore on this trip? They are all linked on my LIKEtoKNOW.it here: http://liketoknow.it/TheBurksAndBeyond
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