Chances are if you live in South Carolina, you’ve been to Myrtle Beach at least once, but this popular coastal destination is always adding attractions and reasons to return. If your family is looking for an easy weekend getaway this summer, Myrtle Beach offers something for all ages, earning its nickname, The Grand Strand.

Hit the beach

Myrtle Beach itself has several public beach access points, especially near the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk and Promenade, which stretches nearly 5 miles along the coastline and features a ferris wheel, parks and playgrounds, and access to a variety of shopping, dining and entertainment. You and your kids can build sand castles, look for shells or go swimming without having to pay an access fee. Of course, prepare for some of the biggest crowds on the beach and highest hotel rates if you visit between June and August. The least busy times to visit, according to, are in September through October or March through April, when hotel rates are also significantly lower and temperatures are generally still warm. If you’re looking for less crowds, head toward North Myrtle Beach instead, where Windy Hill, Crescent Beach and Cherry Grove offer more quiet public access as well as fewer bars and attractions.

Fun attractions

There is no shortage of something to do in Myrtle Beach year round, which offers pros and cons — mainly the difficulty of choosing between attractions. For must-dos, I recommend Ripley’s Aquarium at Broadway at the Beach, which features the Dangerous Reef exhibit, a 340-foot long gliding path that pulls you through an underwater tunnel and allows you to get an up-close view of fish, sea turtles, eels, giant stingrays and some large sharks. Also be sure to stop by the Hollywood Wax Museum, a fairly new two-story museum where celebrity wax figures live. It’s a fun way to get out of the sun for a few hours and offers plenty of photo opportunities for parents and kids alike. WonderWorks Science Center also offers hands-on science exhibits, and allows visitors to feel what it’s like to be in an earthquake or hurricane, fly a NASA space shuttle and ride a virtual rollercoaster. Finally, be sure to stop by The Market Common, which offers a village-like setting for shopping and dining.

Unique dining experiences

You shouldn’t visit Myrtle Beach with kids without buying tickets to Pirate’s Voyage, a live-action dinner show that features swashbuckling pirates battling each other for Davey Jones’ sunken treasure while you enjoy a feast of soup, chicken and barbecue, potatoes and apple turnovers. Be sure to get there an hour early so you can enjoy a pre-show, and if you’re lucky, your kids could be picked to participate in the show. While there are other dinner show options, such as Medieval Times, there are also great oceanfront and family-friendly restaurants that serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, such as Sea Captain’s House. Its Mini Mateys menu features hamburgers, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and applesauce alongside shrimp, flounder and she crab soup.

Cool places to stay

If your family enjoys accommodations that cater to all ages, there are plenty in Myrtle Beach from which to choose. For example, Caribbean Resort & Villas, Holiday Sands South Properties, Long Bay Resort and Breakers Resort all lean toward being all-inclusive family getaways and include such amenities as oceanfront lodging, their own oceanfront water parks, pools, lazy rivers, and on-site restaurants, such as Ben & Jerrys.

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