As travelers prepare for what experts predict to be the busiest season since the COVID-19 pandemic, the beloved vacation spot of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is highlighting ways to minimize long lines, crowds and wait times during summer getaways.
Summer is peak season for visitors, and yet there are wonderful gems to be found where crowds are thin but entertainment is not!
“Visit Myrtle Beach recognizes that this summer will be a busy one, but there are plenty of offerings for those who want to relax and rejuvenate on and off the beach along our 60 miles of pristine Atlantic coastline.” said Karen Riordan, President and CEO of Visit Myrtle Beach. “We encourage visitors to plan ahead, pack their patience and check out some of the lesser-known hidden gem attractions at The Beach!”
Here are some of our favorite attractions to add to your summer travel itinerary:
As a stop on the Grand Strand Art Trail, the Franklin G. Burroughs – Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum is home to impressive artwork from living Southern artists including Myrtle Beach natives, as well as rotating special exhibits from the likes of Ansel Adams and Norman Rockwell. The museum is located just steps from the ocean and admission is free to all visitors. If you have a budding artist traveling with you, the museum offers pottery and other art classes each month that are available to ages 16 and up, as well as kid’s art programs and activities that inspire creativity in children of all levels.
Pro tip: Plan to visit the Art Museum on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday during their 10 a.m.-4 p.m. business hours to avoid peak times that often accompanies weekend travel.
A must-see outdoor spot in the southern area of the region is Brookgreen Gardens. The gardens were created in the early 1930s by sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington and her husband Archer and feature breathtaking botanical gardens, rich southern history and a Lowcountry Zoo. Stroll the 100-year-old Live Oak Allee, pack a lunch to enjoy in the garden’s many green spaces and even learn about Lowcountry history through a tour of the property. Brookgreen Gardens is celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2022. If you’re in town between May 11, and August 13, 2022, be sure to reserve tickets for Summer Light: Art by Night, an after-hours event series that combines live music and evening admission to the botanical gardens.
Pro tip: Tickets to the gardens are valid for seven days, so you can visit more than once to maximize your time at different sections of Brookgreen Gardens, such as the Botanical Gardens, Lowcountry Zoo, and Lowcountry History and Wildlife Preserve.
Along the far-reaching stretch of Grand Strand coastline, Myrtle Beach State Park sits nestled among the oceanfront maritime forest. A quiet and surprisingly green escape from the usual hustle and bustle of The Beach, the park provides educational opportunities, nature and bike paths and some of the best surf fishing in South Carolina. Visitors can also hunt for seashells and shark teeth along the beach, keep an eye out for nesting loggerhead sea turtles, crab from the park’s pier, or participate in one-of-a-kind educational programs for children.
Pro tip: Head to the park early, as many visitors are eager to explore the wildlife and terrain of South Carolina’s first-opened state park.
With 3 miles of pristine beach for swimming, running, fishing or just relaxing, Huntington Beach State Park makes for a perfect summer outdoors attraction to escape the crowds. Visit the new Nature Center to learn more about the unique animals who call the park home. Huntington Beach State Park is well-known for birding, with over 360 species of birds spotted within the park throughout the year!
Pro tip: Summer is peak time for outdoors travel and camping, so head to Huntington Beach State Park early for some tranquil morning fishing or a morning sunrise hike to beat the rush!
Founded in 1732, Conway is one of the oldest towns in South Carolina, with all the charm and grace of a historic southern community. Oak tree-lined streets run through the picturesque historic district, inviting visitors to stay and explore. You’ll be treated to quaint shopping, engaging art and theatre, and unique local restaurants along the city’s Main Street, or a peaceful walk along the Waccamaw River. A visit to the Horry County Museum, which includes a beautiful aquarium, is a perfect way to spend a day trip away from the beach.
Pro tip: Be sure to make reservations at restaurants in advance to secure your spot at fantastic eateries in town such as Rivertown Bistro and Bonfire Taqueria!
What better place to experience the tranquility of beach life than on the beautiful, Atlantic Ocean? Myrtle Beach has no shortage of activities to entice all ages and adventurers. Some favorites include dolphin watch jet ski tours, banana boating or parasailing, and ecological boat tours. And let’s not forget the serene marshlands, rivers and the Intracoastal Waterway, which can also be enjoyed from the comfort of a boat, or on a paddleboard or kayak tour.
Pro tip: Make reservations for boat, paddleboard and Kayak tours well in advance and be open to weekday bookings as they are usually less crowded!
For more information and ways to save on summer travel at The Beach, visit the Myrtle Beach Summer Vacation Guide.