sunset over myrtle beach

The Best Things to Do in Myrtle Beach, SC: A 5-Day Guide

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Myrtle Beach is South Carolina's premier vacation destination. Here is what to do with five days in this family-friendly Southern gem.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is one of America’s favorite family beaches and vacation destinations. The best things to do in Myrtle Beach, or a guide for spending five days in this fun-filled beach town, includes where to stay, play, eat, and sightsee.

sunset over myrtle beach

This top golfing city in the country has miles and miles of beaches, hundreds of hotels, 1500 restaurants, and loads of attractions for all budgets. Myrtle Beach also offers a wide array of shopping, entertainment complexes, beautiful parks, and all the fun things your kids love—water parks, mini-golf, ice cream, and unique attractions.

Having visited every year for over 50 and having a second residence for 10 years, we feel versed in all things Myrtle Beach and hope your family loves it as much as we do. 

best things to do in Myrtle Beach

Day One: Up and Running

Start your day in Myrtle Beach with the best breakfast in town, at Croissants Bakery & Bistro. Indulge in Chicken & Waffles, Crab Cake Benedict, Shrimp & Grits, or Bananas Foster French Toast, just to name a few of Croissants fabulous breakfast offerings. 

croissants-myrtle-beach

Afterward, spend the afternoon on the beach or laying by the pool. If laying out in the sun is not your thing, the Hollywood Wax Museum Entertainment Center and Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach are a lot of fun. The Entertainment Center has a wax museum, mirror maze, and zombie experience.

Ripley’s Aquarium is home to more than 6000 aquatic animals, including sharks, crabs, jellyfish, sea turtles, poisonous dart frogs, and piranhas. You can even participate in Penguin encounters and Stingray experiences.

Myrtle Beach Aquarium and Hollywood Wax Museum
ripleys aquarium

For lunch, try Melt (hand-crafted grilled sandwiches), King Kong Sushi (voted the best in Myrtle Beach), or have gourmet burgers and fries (or a tot flight!) at Wahlburgers–all found at Broadway at the Beach. 

wahlburgers tots and burgers
Photo from Wahlburger’s IG page.

Spend your evening exploring Broadway at the Beach, Myrtle Beach’s signature shopping, dining, and entertainment complex. With more than 100 shops, the whole family is sure to find something they like here. Broadway at the Beach is excellent for just getting out to enjoy the weather, people-watch, and lapping up the scenery, if nothing else.

fountain with statues and rides at broadway at the beach
skywheel at broadway at the beach
broadway at the beach shops

For dinner, try Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, Landry’s Seafood, or Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen. Margaritaville is always a blast with the busy restaurant serving exotic appetizers, top shelf margaritas, and blaring Jimmy Buffet tunes to rock along to.

Landry’s has excellent crab cakes and oyster bar trash (blackened shrimp, crab, rice, and lemon butter), while Paula Deen’s classic Southern fare is guaranteed to satisfy. If you’ve never tried Paula’s baked Mac and cheese, you don’t know what you are missing! Save room for a slice of Ooey-Gooey butter cake.

paula deen's family kitchen myrtle beach

If you’re looking for a late night activity, play a round of mini golf at Captain Hook Adventure Golf or high-tech golf at TOPGOLF. My family always said that you only pick mini-golf courses with blue water scenery, and this one fits the bill.

myrtle-beach-mini-golf

Day Two: Shopping Bliss

Day 2 of our Myrtle Beach itinerary begins with breakfast from the popular Johnny D’s Waffles and Benedicts (3900 Highway 17 South). Do you like Red Velvet, Funfetti, Cinnaroll, or Banana Split waffles? Johnny D’s has them! Plus, lots of benedicts, omelettes, pancakes, skillets, and more.

johnny d's breakfaast dishes myrtle beach
Photos from Johnny D’s website.

Now, it’s time to shop until you drop. Start at the Tanger Outlets (10835 Kings Road), with stores including Aerie, Columbia Factory Store, Disney Outlet, Greg Norman, H&M, Kate Spade New York, Lululemon Athletica, Simply Southern, The North Face, Tommy Bahama, Tory Burch, Under Armour, Vera Bradley, and Vineyard Vines.  

tanger outlets
Photo from Tanger Outlets Myrtle Beach website.

When you’ve shopped the outlets, head to Barefoot Landing, Myrtle Beach’s other shopping, dining, and entertainment complex. Barefoot Landing was the place to shop, stroll around, and enjoy the scenery 20+ years before Broadway at the Beach hit Myrtle.

You can enjoy the year-round Christmas Mouse, kite shop, Ron Jon Surf Shop, The Mole Hole, Tiki Jim’s, TrickMaster Magic Shop, and the fantastic restaurants before or after spending those quarters for fish food on the Barefoot Landing bridges and walkways.

barefoot landing shops
Photo from Barefoot Landing website.
shopping barefoot landing christmas mouse
Photo from Sandra Chambers of Southern Traveller.

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

For lunch, try River City Cafe or Taco Mundo Kitchen y Cantina. River City Cafe has excellent fries and burgers (the prime short rib burger on a pretzel bun is to die for!) at an affordable price while Taco Mundo serves tasty tacos, rice bowls, and fajitas. Both restaurants offer outdoor seating.

gourmet burgers river city cafe
Photos from River City Cafe IG page.

When you’ve finished shopping at Barefoot Landing, uncork the sweeter side of Myrtle Beach at Duplin Winery and enjoy some of America’s favorite Muscadine wine. Opt for the deluxe wine tasting, where you sample and learn about 10 Duplin wines while enjoying gourmet cheese dip and crackers. This is one of my favorite activities on our Myrtle Beach itinerary!

duplin winery
Photo from Sandra Chambers of Southern Traveller.

Afternoon and Evening Activities

If wine is not your thing, explore the Reptile Capital of the World, Alligator Adventure. Here, you will find more than 800 alligators as well as 230 other types of species, such as lizards, frogs, turtles, flamingos, and lemurs. 

When you’re ready for dinner, Greg Norman Australian Grille at Barefoot Landing is an excellent choice. Greg Norman’s serves innovative creations and bold flavors in an upscale, family-friendly setting. For 16 years, it’s been ranked as Myrtle Beach’s premier steak and seafood restaurant. Don’t miss the perfect Hot Crab Dip and Lamb Lollipops!

greg norman australian grille waterfront view
Photo from Greg Norman Australian Grille’s website.

Check out House of Blues (serving cajun/creole favorites) for late-night live music, memorabilia, and generally a fantastic time. They also have a super cool gift shop.

house of blues Myrtle Beach

Another option is to grab a quick dinner and see a show at the Calvin Gilmore Theater. The Carolina Opry is a Myrtle Beach classic, while the Time Warp gives you a chance to sing along with your favorite 60s, 70s, and 80s music hits. If you visit in November or December, make plans to see the Carolina Opry’s Christmas Special. 

calvin-gilmore-theater-things-for-millennials-to-do-in-myrtle-beach

Day 3: Sightseeing Downtown Myrtle

Back in the day, Downtown Myrtle Beach was the hub of all cool things, including the Magic Attic, Pavilion (which I’m still bitter about it closing), bingo, and Castle Dracula.

Today, downtown Myrtle is having a revitalization and every effort is made to spruce up the nostalgic attractions and breath new life into this area.

myrtle beach hotel skyine breakers

If you feel like sleeping in or spending some more time on the beach, today is a perfect morning to do it. But, if you’re ready to hit the ground running, have breakfast at the Spring Garden Family Restaurant. It’s a traditional pancake house serving all of your breakfast favorites. 

spring garden restaurant myrtle beach

Entertainment to the Max

Today, explore Boardwalk Entertainment District (known as “the heart of Myrtle Beach”). Walk on the 1.2 mile boardwalk, shopping and enjoying the ocean views and mist along the way. Some of the many attractions in this part of town include Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Odditorium, Moving Theater, and Haunted Adventure.

Don’t miss walking through the legendary Gay Dolphin Gift Cove for an eclectic mix of treasures—some 70,000 to be exact. The Gay Dolphin is open from 9:30 AM to midnight seven days a week. As a child, I had a small win by finding a souvenir license plate with my name on it—Melody—not an easy task.

myrtle beach boardwalk
Photo from Sandra Chambers of Southern Traveller.
gay dolphin gift cove

There’s no better way to see Myrtle Beach than from the SkyWheel. Take a ride on a modern observation wheel, towering almost 200 feet in the air. The glass windows and doors allow for optimal views of the Eastern coast.

myrtle beach skywheel
Photo from Sandra Chambers of Southern Traveller.

Feeling Nostalgic

Craving a dose of nostalgia? Head to the Fun Plaza Family Fun Center. The open-air arcade has games like Pac-Man, Skee Ball, and pinball, and you may even find the retro mirror mazes. If you’re a fan of the band Alabama, stop in The Bowery, where they got their start. It is a Myrtle Beach must, featuring country and rock & roll shows!

the bowery myrtle beach
Photo from Sandra Chambers of Southern Traveller.

Fun Fact: The Myrtle Beach Pavilion was an 11-acre amusement park located at the corner of 9th Avenue North and Ocean Boulevard until 2006. It was iconic, and I’m sure any local would love to tell you about.

Downtown Dining

Two of our favorite spots for lunch Downtown are ART Burger Sushi Bar or Landshark Bar and Grill. ART serves sushi with a fresh, new spin and any kind of burger you would want (falafel, black bean, tuna, chicken, turkey, and beef). If you’re looking for the perfect Instagram picture, be sure to order one of ART’s nitrogen infused cocktails. Landshark Bar and Grill is a Jimmy Buffet concept with seafood, sandwiches, and burgers.

art-burger-sushi-bar-myrtle-beach

For dinner, visit TinRoof Music Joint or Sea Captain’s House. TinRoof is located beachfront and has a laid-back vibe and pub grub. Enjoy the awesome rooftop patio, Nashville Hot Chicken, and live music at this fun address. Step back to the 1930s in the cottage known as Sea Captain’s House, serving excellent seafood dishes and voted the best in town by Southern Living Magazine.

tin roof music joint

Day 4: Get Outdoors

Start your morning with a guided kayak ecotour in a beautiful setting with Black River Outdoors. We recommend the 2-hour salt marsh tour, but they also offer fishing trips and swamp tours. Life jackets and kayak equipment are provided; all you need to bring are appropriate clothes, sunscreen, and water shoes.

kayaking in Myrtle Beach

A Hidden Treasure

Spend the afternoon shopping and exploring the The Market Common, a 114-acre “lifestyle center” on the south end of Myrtle Beach. Shops include Pottery Barn, Anthropologie, Chico’s, and Barnes and Noble. See a movie at the Grand 14 Cinema, indulge in a tasty ice cream treat from Cold Stone Creamery, or sip one of the 60 craft beers on tap at The Brass Tap. You can even rent an E-bike from Pedego to see the The Market Common property on an electric bike.

While you’re there, have lunch at the fun and funky Nacho Hippo. Between the tie-dyed clothing, colorful lights, festive decor, and Hip Fries (queso, roasted pork, pico de Gallo, and banana peppers), what’s not to love?

taco assortment from nacho hippo
Photo from Nacho Hippo IG page.

If you need another afternoon activity, go to Backstage Mirror Maze, take a spin on the Beach Rider Jet Boat thrill ride, or soar through the air on the WonderWorks zipline, all at Broadway at the Beach.

If you are visiting during baseball season, see the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Class A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs), play ball.

shops at broadway at the beach sc
beach rider jet boat broadway at the beach
Photo from Broadway at the Beach IG page.

Fan Favorite Eateries

For dinner, dash over to Hook and Barrel, one of the most beautiful and tasty eateries at Myrtle Beach. The swanky setting and nautical theme is one to be admired. I swear by Hook & Barrel’s Smoked Shrimp & Grits or the Fish Bites with jalapeño dressing and remoulade.

Another tasty choice, and one the kids will surely love, is Ultimate California Pizza, with several locations around Myrtle Beach and voted the #1 favorite pizzeria.

hook and barrel restaurant decor

Day 5: A Dose of Nature

A lesser-known spot in Myrtle Beach for a great breakfast is Harry’s Breakfast Pancakes, in the midst of downtown on North King’s Highway. The fluffy pancakes and cooked to perfection omelets have kept us coming back for over 40 years.

harry's breakfast pancakes with banana and pecans
Photo from Harry’s Breakfast Pancakes IG page.

Next, drive down to Huntington Beach State Park, one of South Carolina’s finest parks. Be on the lookout for sea turtles, gators, and awesome birds as you enjoy this rugged and wonderful spot. For a close look at herons and egrets, head over to Sandpiper Pond Nature Trail’s viewing deck.

For lunch, try the The Claw House, an excellent New England-style waterfront dining option in Murrells Inlet, the seafood capital of South Carolina. Everything here is off the hook delicious, especially the Lobster Roll and Low Country Shrimp & Grits, but The Crab Stack (lump crabmeat, avocado, mango salsa) is definitely the way to feed your inner foodie. Pair your meal with one of the nearly 100 craft beers on tap.

the claw house shrimp and grits

After lunch, stroll along the picturesque Murrell’s Inlet MarshWalk, an attractive fishing village area that provides a feast for your eyes and senses with live music and fantastic scenery.

marsh landing murrells inlet

A Top South Carolina Attraction

Since you are already in Murrell’s Inlet, visit one of South Carolina’s premier attractions: Brookgreen Gardens. This lovely 9,100-acre setting, built on former rice plantations, features priceless statues and sculptures by Anna Hyatt Huntington, wildlife preserve, and several themed gardens to admire and photograph. Learn more about Brookgreen Gardens.

brookgreen gardens statue
Brookgreen Gardens was the first public sculpture garden in the world!

If gardens aren’t your speed, play a round of golf at Barefoot Resort, rated the 2013 Myrtle Beach “Golf Course of the Year” and continually on Golf Digest’s America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses. Choose from the Love, Norman, Dye, or Fazio courses at this fantastic golf Mecca.

myrtle beach golf course
Photo from Sandra Chambers of Southern Traveller.

Old-School Dining Out

For dinner, visit a Myrtle Beach classic since 1985, Villa Romana Italian Restaurant. This quaint and slightly romantic dining spot has amazing quality Italian eats, from Veal Parmigiana to baked Manicotti, Shrimp San Marzano to Fettuccine Alfredo, and everything in between.

villa romana italian dishes chicken parm ravioli clam linguine
Photo from Villa Romana FB page.

If you aren’t feeling Italian, Captain George’s Seafood Buffet will please your palate and dispel any myths you have about buffet dining. Eat all you want at this high-end seafood lovers dream eatery, with dozens of items to choose from, which may include:

  • Steamed mussels
  • Fried oysters
  • Fried and steamed shrimp
  • Chicken
  • Steamed clams
  • Blackened Mahi
  • Pork bbq ribs
  • Corn on the Cob
  • Apple Cobbler
  • Hushpuppies
  • Coleslaw
  • Soft-shell crabs
  • Smoked beef brisket
  • Snow crab legs
  • New England clam chowder

The list goes on and on, with items changing due to availability. Captain George’s also has à la carte and kids menus, plus a fantastic gift shop for browsing while waiting on your table.

snow crab legs
Photo from Captain George’s IG page.

After dinner, stroll the iconic 668-ft long Pier at Garden City, complete with live music, plenty of seating options to enjoy the ocean views, retro arcade, and night fishing, should you wish to drop a line. This family-friendly venue is where the locals like to hang out, but also known as the “party pier”.

the pier at garden city at sunset
Photo from The Pier at Garden City’s FB page.

Tips

If you’re looking for a romantic dinner or to celebrate a special occasion while you’re in Myrtle Beach, we recommend The Melting Pot. We have been to Melting Pot locations across the United States and the Myrtle Beach location is the best.

melting pot entrees and sauces

If you’re in Myrtle Beach over the weekend, try to attend one of La Belle Amie Vineyard’s events. You will hear live music while drinking the vineyard’s delicious Twisted Sisters muscadine wine and relaxing outside. It’s one of our favorite things to do in Myrtle Beach!

la-belle-amie-vineyard-grapes

In the event you need a rainy day activity, shop the Coastal Grand Mall (home to a plethora of stores, restaurants, and Cinemark Theater) or visit the Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum (better known as the Myrtle Beach Art Museum). Eleven galleries offer sophisticated Southern artworks and best of all, this visual art museum admission is free, though donations are accepted. The museum also has a library and small gift shop. The MB Art Museum is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

myrtle beach museum of art

Where to Stay in Myrtle Beach

A great option, and one that’s conveniently located for exploring Broadway at the Beach super easily, is the Sheraton Myrtle Beach. Stylish and on the luxury side, this centrally located hotel features comfortable and attractive rooms, floor-to-ceiling windows, and free Wifi. This hotel has an indoor pool, so if the weather is unfavorable, you can still enjoy it. It is also only a few blocks from the beach.

sheraton myrtle beach room

A handful of these meals and attractions were paid for by the Myrtle Beach Tourism office. My hotel was comped for attending the Travel South conference. As always, reviews and opinions are 100% ours and unbiased.

Taylor Pittman Hardy and Melody Pittman wrote this article.

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best things to do in Myrtle Beach South Carolina
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What to do in Myrtle Beach, SC

Check some of our other South Carolina posts:

13 Things for Millennials to Do at Myrtle Beach

South Carolina’s Hammock Coast

Best Restaurants in Myrtle Beach

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