Millions of travelers visit the sunny shores of Myrtle Beach every summer. Since the 1950s when Myrtle Beach was a sleepy resort town, the Grand Strand has grown into the tourism magnet it is today. Visitors come from all over the southeast, the country, and even the world to enjoy their vacation in one of our hundreds of hotels and entertain their family at one of our countless attractions. With so much to do and see it is easy to get overwhelmed and feel like you’re not getting the most out of your valuable vacation time. So, I’m here to share with you some tips and tricks about the Grand Strand area, from a local. These are some things you need to know before planning your Myrtle Beach vacation!
Middle of Summer Vs Off Season
Myrtle Beach is one of the biggest summer destinations on the East Coast. But that doesn’t mean that this city has nothing to offer after the kids go back to school. In general, the “season” in Myrtle Beach is from Memorial Day to Labor Day. This is when we see the largest influx of tourist and travelers visiting the area. And with a large amount of people comes two things: more crowds and higher prices. Most families that have school age children become restricted by their schedule but if you are able to break away in the shoulder seasons (October-November, March-April minus spring breaks) you can find less crowds and more reasonable hotel rates. During the off season, it’s not unusual for hotel prices to be half or even a quarter of what they are in the summer.
During the winter months, most of the attractions are closed for the season. But if you can catch it at the perfect time, you can enjoy the excitement of Myrtle Beach without the price. My suggestion is mid-October. Visiting in the spring is another option, but the ocean is still too cold to enjoy.
Where to Set up Your Beach Chair
The Myrtle Beach area is commonly referred to as the Grand Strand because there are 60 miles of unbroken beach stretching from Georgetown County up into North Carolina. With so many places to be, it can be difficult to book your hotel in the right part of town. The kind of traveler you are will dictate which area of the beach is right for you.
For those travelers that want to be right in the center of the action, you will want to stay as close to downtown Myrtle Beach as you can. This area is home to the boardwalk with loads of attractions and shops. And this area is just a short drive away from most other Myrtle Beach attractions such as Broadway at the Beach, Ziplines, boat rentals and more.
If you’re looking for a more quiet vacation, consider going further north or south. North Myrtle Beach is known as the “nicer” part of town with bigger hotels and more trees. It definitely has a more upscale feel and is still not a far drive from the attractions. If you’re looking for the quiet and laid back beach town feel, try to find a hotel or rental in Surfside Beach or Garden City. These small towns south of Myrtle Beach offer a more exclusive, calmer beach to enjoy for those who crave that experience, such as retirees or couples.
How much does fun cost?
Myrtle Beach is certainly a city where you can have a lot of fun. A lot of that fun comes in the form of excursions or attractions that you may not have planned or budgeted for. Especially for those travelling with children or families, you are going to come across things that you (or your kids) will want to do that you didn’t know existed. For example, most shopping centers have some sort of amusement park ride. Remember to always budget extra money for these unforeseen expenses.
Check Out the Local Scene
It will be very easy to get swept up in the lights and the sounds of “tourist” Myrtle Beach. But some of the greatest memories you will have will be experiencing some of the local culture. After years of bowing to the tourism industry, locals in Myrtle are starting to regain a sense of identity in terms of their local culture and art. So if you can, try and branch out and see some of the local haunts and events.
Trust me, you will never forget driving down to Murrells Inlet and eating local seafood while listening to one of our amazing local bands. Attending one of our many festivals or seeing a show at one of the local community theatres (like Stage Left Theatre Company in the Market Common where I am Assistant Director).
Ask a Local
Of course, the best tips come from the locals themselves. In the video above, you’ll see some tips from the TAPtv Facebook community.
The Biggest Secret
The best advice I can give you before you go to Myrtle Beach is this: be willing to have a good time. Myrtle Beach still maintains its laid back sleepy roots. So be prepared to get on our schedule. We are not Vegas. We are not Disney. But if you are open to having a good time and going with the flow, you will have an amazing time! Enjoy the beach!