It’s obvious how you’ll spend most of your time with your family in Myrtle Beach
On the beach.
But most kids (and parents) need a break from the sun and sand at some point.
The good news: There’s plenty to do off the beach, too.
Here is a sampling of things to do day or night during a trip to the beach, with activities located around the central part of Myrtle Beach.
Pancake time. Myrtle Beach is home to many pancake houses -- places that stay open all night for late-night eaters and early morning golfers. Families, too, love to stop in for a breakfast of pancakes or eggs and grits. One of our favorite spots has always been Akel’s, on US 17 business (also known as Kings Highway) near 64th Avenue North.
Beach time. Myrtle Beach has landscaped public access points at nearly every block. Most have parking areas, too. The beaches in South Carolina are all free; some areas will rent beach chairs and umbrellas if you didn’t bring yours.
Hit the links. It’s hard to believe any place offers as many outrageous miniature golf courses as Myrtle Beach. You’ll find courses with themes from dinosaurs to jungles all up and down U.S. 17 on the Grand Strand. The courses, with caves and waterfalls and giant mammals, are hits with kids of all ages.
Miniature golf is most popular in the evenings, but you can beat the crowds (and save a little money) playing during the day. Most courses offer lower rates or a one-price play-all-day rates until 6 p.m.
One of our family’s favorites is Jungle Safari Golf
at 71st Avenue North and U.S. 17. It features waterfalls and streams along with life-sized elephants and giraffes.
A meal fit for a king. Kids -- particularly those who are drawn to knights and castles -- will love dinner at Medieval Times
Come hungry, and prepare to be entertained and engaged through the whole evening. My children each went as part of middle school class trips several years ago, and they still talk about Medieval Times as the highlight.
It’s inspired by an 11th century feast and tournament. Guests are served a four-course banquet and cheer for one of six knights who compete in jousting, swordsmanship, hand-to-hand combat, horseback riding and falconry.
The show runs two hours, and the castle opens 90 minutes before showtime. Go early to get the best seats and explore the castle.
The feast features garlic bread, tomato soup, roasted chicken, spare ribs, potatoes, pastry and drinks
Oh, and here’s a big appeal for kids -- you eat with your hands. (Eating utensils were not used in the 11th century.)
Tickets are $50.95 for adults and $30.95 for children 12 and under. Children under the age of 3 are admitted free as long as they sit on adults' laps and eat from their plate.
Hit the slides. It might seem odd to go to a water park when you’re so close to the ocean. But watch any kid’s face as he emerges from a shoot and splashes down into a pool of water and you’ll know it was worth the trip. The Myrtle Beach area has several great ones to choose from.
on U.S. 17 bypass at 10th Avenue North, is South Carolina’s largest waterpark. It has 30 slides and attractions that appeal to everyone from toddlers through teens. Myrtle Waves opens for the season May 21.
Wild Water and Wheels in Surfside Beach
offers 24 slides, a wave pool, lazy river and children’s area along with bumper boats, miniature golf and other rides.
Family Kingdom Amusement and Water Park
has the Grand Strand’s only oceanfront park, and it’s part of the amusement park complex across the street.
Beach time. Time to ride some waves and build some sandcastles.
Burgers and peanuts. Kids love the burgers and the atmosphere at River City Café
There are several locations along the Grand Strand. The location at 21st Avenue North, between U.S. 17 business and Ocean Boulevard, features an outside deck with picnic tables. Inside, kids occupy the time checking out the license plates the cover the walls. Another highlight? Free peanuts -- and you are welcome to throw the shells on the floor.
Stroll the boardwalk. One of the newest attractions in Myrtle Beach is the 1.2 mile-long boardwalk and promenade
that runs along the beach from the 14th Avenue North to 2nd Avenue North piers. Kids especially will love the large park near the 2nd Avenue North pier.
Along with the shops, restaurants and ocean views, the boardwalk is home to all sorts of evening activities in the summer. Kids will enjoy the "Kids Carnival" on Monday nights featuring inflatables, bounce houses, face painters, jugglers, balloon artists, stilt walkers and other entertainment; fireworks off the 2nd Avenue pier on Wednesday nights; and jugglers, acrobats and a fire show on Sundays.
The newest attraction is Skywheel
, a giant ferris wheel that towers 200 feet above sea level and is the only observation wheel of its kind in the US. Skywheel has 42 climate controlled enclosed gondolas and a lightshow to be held nightly. It opens May 20.
Beach time. Try a game of bocce or toss the Frisbee around.
Rock out. Yes, it’s a chain, but the Myrtle Beach Hard Rock Cafe
is a hit -- particularly with older kids who love music.
The restaurant at Broadway at the Beach
is housed in a 70-foot tall pyramid with an Egyptian-themed motif. Inside it’s filled with rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia. The Myrtle Beach location features guitars from legends like Carlos Santana, Eric Clapton and BB King. There's a cape that belonged to Elvis and black leather boots worn by Johnny Cash.
The menu features classic American food (burgers, nachos, salads, wings, barbecue ribs and chicken ). The kids menu features standard fare including cheeseburgers, pasta, chicken tenders and hotdogs. And kids won’t want to leave before checking out the gift shop and bringing home a Hard Rock Café T-shirt.
Afternoon and evening
A trip to Broadway. When you finish lunch at Hard Rock, step right into Broadway at the Beach
, a 350-acre, festival entertainment complex that’s home to restaurants, entertainment, nightclubs and shopping. There are more than 100 specialty shops, along with amusement park rides and an IMAX theater. Kids love to wander around, try their luck at an arcade game and pick up a souvenir of their trip to the Grand Strand.
If you haven’t had enough sea life already, step into Ripley’s Aquarium
. A new shark exhibit opened this spring, making for the perfect after-dinner entertainment. You can even arrange to swim with the string rays, a very cool adventure for kids age six and older. The aquarium is open until 10 p.m. on weekends.
If there are baseball fans in the family you can walk across the street to BB&T Coastal Field, home of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans
. The Pelicans are the Class A affiliate of the Texas Rangers, and play in one of the nicest minor league parks around. Here’s a chance to see future major league ballplayers at a much lower price than you’ll find at the big league parks.
One last foot-long. A trip to Myrtle Beach isn’t complete without a visit to Peaches Corner
. This hot-dog stand across the street from the old Pavilion has been serving its famous chili dogs and cheeseburger baskets since 1937. It’s right on Ocean Boulevard at 9th Avenue North, with counter stools and a few booths offering a great people watching spot.