Our answer to this question as well as a few other things to know when planning a Myrtle Beach vacation, including the best places to eat, how to get there, and more.
For the earlier part of my life, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina was the family vacation spot. We went almost every year to this East Coast gem, and it seemed to get better each year. After not having been able to go for a decade, I was finally able to join my family down the coast once again this past summer. Now, ten years later, is Myrtle Beach worth the hype? Is it worth going on a trip to Myrtle Beach? Keep reading to find out.
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Is it Worth Going on a Trip to Myrtle Beach?
Over the past several decades, Myrtle Beach has really been getting popular. What used to be just a small beach town has turned into one of the biggest beach destinations on the East Coast of the United States. I remember my dad telling me one time that he visited as a kid and it was a village compared to what it is today. Endless resorts have sprung up, and the city has become one of the biggest economic centers of the Carolinas. We visited just before the 4th of July, and locals told us that this small town of 33,000 people was hosting over a million visitors at that very moment. That’s just a little bit crazy.
So, is it worth going on a trip to Myrtle Beach? Is Myrtle Beach worth the hype? Apparently, millions of people would say yes. While I don’t think the actual beach is anything special, the city and all that the area offers are incredible, and I would say yes, it absolutely is worth going on a trip to Myrtle Beach. Keep reading to see some reasons why!
How to Get to Myrtle Beach
Myrtle Beach is located in the northeast corner of South Carolina, which is about a third of the way up the East Coast from the tip of Florida. For many East Coast residents, driving to Myrtle Beach is definitely possible. As a kid, this is what my family always did. For us it was about a 10-hour drive, but it was easily the best option. Being a small airport, flights to Myrtle Beach were always exorbitantly expensive and driving enabled us to bring all of the beach essentials, like boogie boards, chairs, and a cooler.
If you’re not an East Coast resident, don’t worry! Over the past decade, as Myrtle Beach has become increasingly popular, several airlines have opened up flight routes into Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR). If you’ve read some of my other posts, you probably know that I’m a budget airline fiend, and I fly on them every opportunity that I get. Many budget airlines have opened flight routes into Myrtle Beach, making flying a very affordable option. Two airlines with a lot of routes into Myrtle Beach International Airport are Spirit and Allegiant, and honestly I love them both. If you’ve heard bad things about budget airlines, or are scared to fly on them, or are generally curious about why I love them so much, be sure to check out my Budget Airline Guide. It’s filled with all kinds of tips and tricks to help you save money when flying with budget airlines.
Best Things to Do in Myrtle Beach
1. Go to a Myrtle Beach Pelicans Game
The Myrtle Beach Pelicans are the local minor league baseball team, and going to the games is always a blast. Being a single-A team, tickets are always dirt cheap; in fact, they’re sold at flat rates. Depending where you want to sit, you’ll pay anywhere from $11 to $15. $15 for seats behind home plate is a pretty good deal! The team is always fun to watch, as it really seeks to make games a fun experience for tourists. Instead of a batboy they have a bat-dog, they offer awesome promotions throughout the season, and the prices of food and drinks inside the stadium are low compared to a major league game. Spending a night at the ballpark is definitely one of the best things to do in Myrtle Beach! For tickets, check out their website here.
2. Walk Around Broadway at the Beach
Broadway at the Beach is a sprawling outdoor complex filled with stores, restaurants, and activities. From popular chains like Señor Frog’s and Margaritaville to local favorites like the Grumpy Monk, you’ll never run out of dining options here. There are carnival rides here, cool spots like Ripley’s Aquarium, and even a Dave & Buster’s arcade. In my opinion, the best time to visit Broadway at the Beach is right after dinner, when you can indulge on a sweet treat while you explore the area. Be prepared to walk, because Broadway at the Beach is definitely expansive, but the wide range of things on offer definitely puts Broadway at the Beach on the list of the best things to do in Myrtle Beach. For a full list of restaurants and stores at Broadway at the Beach, check out their website here. If you’re wondering “Is Myrtle Beach worth the hype?” an evening in Broadway at the Beach should remove any doubt.
3. Go Shopping at Barefoot Landing
Barefoot Landing is very similar to Broadway at the Beach, except it is a bit more relaxed and upscale. There are no carnival rides here, and the stores tend to be a bit more on the expensive side. While this area is certainly kid-friendly, I’d call Barefoot Landing the Broadway at the Beach for adults and definitely put it on the list of the best things to do in Myrtle Beach. There are some fantastic restaurants here, some really nice boutique stores, and a stage that often has live music playing. For a fun afternoon, grab some beers and play some cornhole at Crooked Hammock Brewery! For a full list of stores and restaurants in Barefoot Landing, check out their website here.
4. Relax on the Beach
I mentioned earlier that I don’t think the actual beach at Myrtle Beach is anything special. I’d say it’s pretty comparable to the Jersey Shore, for reference. Whether you agree with this judgement or not, it doesn’t mean that you should avoid the beach on your Myrtle Beach vacation! The beach here is still very enjoyable. In my opinion, one of the best things to do in Myrtle Beach is lay out and read a book or throw some football along the Myrtle Beach coastline. The Myrtle Beach area covers 60 miles of coastline, meaning there is plenty of space for you to find a spot to hang out for the day! I personally love catching sunrises and sunsets on the beach, and at Myrtle Beach the sunrise certainly doesn’t disappoint. Depending where you’re staying, there may be a free shuttle offered to take you back and forth to the beach, too.
5. Enjoy a Nice Calabash Buffet (or Several)
One of the best things to do in Myrtle Beach is eat. When I say eat, I mean eat A LOT. The food in Myrtle Beach is incredible, and the best way to enjoy the local Calabash food is by grabbing a table at one of the many seafood buffets throughout the area. For a few good ideas, check out the section on the best places to eat in Myrtle Beach below. Being by the beach, seafood is definitely the best and most available kind of food you’ll find here. Now, what is Calabash and why is it famous? I’ll break that down for you in the next section.
What is Calabash and Why is it Famous?
Calabash is the extremely popular local style of seafood. This local style of cooking is named after the town of Calabash, which is a bit under an hour north of Myrtle Beach. Basically, Calabash style seafood is lightly breaded, deep fried, very fresh seafood. It might not sound too special, but if you like seafood, it really is some of the best fried food you’ll ever have.
The offerings range from shellfish like scallops and clams, to fresh fish like cod and flounder, to hush puppies! What are hush puppies? Hush puppies are basically the batter that is used to bread the seafood, deep fried without actually being on any kind of seafood. They’re basically just fried batter, and with a little bit of honey butter they may be one of the best Calabash foods. Calabash food is traditionally found in giant Calabash buffets where you can try as much of everything that you want!
Just like I mentioned with Broadway at the Beach, if you’re finding yourself wondering “Is Myrtle Beach worth the hype?” a little bit of Calabash should convince you!
Best Places to Eat in Myrtle Beach
1. Crabby Mike’s Calabash Seafood Buffet
Crabby Mike’s is easily one of our favorites and without a doubt belongs on any list of the best places to eat in Myrtle Beach. Like I said before, there’s no better way to eat Calabash food than at a buffet, and Crabby Mike’s is one of the best ones you’ll find. One of the best parts about Crabby Mike’s is that they offer things that aren’t seafood in their buffet as well. Not everyone is a seafood fan, and they recognize that. This is a great place to go to suit the whole family!
2. The Original Benjamin’s Calabash Seafood
It’s a tough call between Crabby Mike’s and the Original Benjamin’s when deciding which one tops this list. While Crabby Mike’s won out in our opinion, The Original Benjamin’s is still world-class. You can’t go wrong with either of these places! The Original Benjamin’s feels a touch fancier than Crabby Mike’s does, which is a nice thing if that’s what you’re looking for. The food is incredible, the prices are extremely similar, and the range of Calabash dishes they offer is pretty expansive. I’m pretty sure that The Original Benjamin’s shows up on just about every list of the best places to eat in Myrtle Beach, and for good reasons.
3. Captain Benjamin’s Calabash Seafood Buffet
Captain Benjamin’s is another classic Calabash seafood buffet in the Myrtle Beach area. We’ve always enjoyed it, but it is probably the least-worthy of a spot on this list out of all the Calabash buffets we’ve listed. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with it - in fact, its really, really good! It’s just that the other two are so good that this one doesn’t quite match up. Still, it absolutely belongs on this list of the best places to eat in Myrtle Beach.
4. The Grumpy Monk
The Grumpy Monk is a local organization with a few different locations throughout the Myrtle Beach area. This place is one of my favorites and as a result earned its spot on my list of the best places to eat in Myrtle Beach. It is much more of a bar-style restaurant, and is probably best known for its expansive list of beers - especially local brews. Even if you’re not a beer person, you’ll probably still love the Grumpy Monk! The food is really tasty and their menu is pretty diverse. This is a spot that you shouldn’t miss on your Myrtle Beach vacation.
5. Carolina Roadhouse
If you’re looking for a break from the seafood and don’t feel like checking out the Grumpy Monk, make a reservation at Carolina Roadhouse. As one of the best places to eat in Myrtle Beach, this place is always very busy…but once you taste your food you’ll understand why. While it is predominantly a steakhouse, Carolina Roadhouse has options that appeal to anyone and everyone. It’s not an especially fancy place, either, so you don’t need to worry about dressing up before dinner. If you want to make a reservation, just head to Opentable.com.
6. The Dead Dog Saloon
Okay, first and foremost I think the name merits a little explanation. I’m not sure who came up with the slightly charming, fairly morbid idea of The Dead Dog Saloon, but essentially the restaurant’s defining quality is that its walls are lined with happy pictures of people’s dogs that have since passed away. It’s a weird concept, but at the end of the day it’s a clever idea. Anyway, the food here is really good and they have a pretty extensive beer list, too. The food skews toward pub food, and is pretty fairly priced. After dinner you can step outside and enjoy a great view of the inlet. The uniqueness of the idea is the main factor putting The Dead Dog Saloon on my list of the best places to eat in Myrtle Beach.
How To Get Around Myrtle Beach
Myrtle Beach is very spread out. I mentioned before that the area stretches over 60 miles from north to south. As a result, don’t bank on being able to walk from place to place. Don’t bank on biking, either. Public transportation is definitely a solid option if you’re willing to wait on busses, as the Coast RTA bus network is pretty well connected. However, I personally would only recommend this as a budget option. If you don’t want to shell out for a rental car or pay for several Ubers per day, this is your best bet.
If you’re looking for convenience, I definitely recommend renting a car or sticking to Uber. Uber is one of my favorite ways to get around when I travel, but if you’re staying on a resort it may just be more convenient to rent a car. Being able to go where you want, when you want is definitely important when it comes to making your Myrtle Beach vacation relaxing. Like anywhere, you can rent a car directly from the airport. I’d make a reservation in advance, as there are sometimes not enough cars available!
Is Myrtle Beach a Safe Place to Vacation?
“Is Myrtle Beach a Safe Place to Vacation?” is a question that you might ask yourself before you plan your vacation, but simply put, Myrtle Beach is a very safe place to plan a vacation. There are very few issues at all in Myrtle Beach, and in all of our visits we’ve never experienced any reason to worry. Like anywhere, take general precautions. If you don’t go looking for trouble, you have very little to worry about. In fact, even if you go looking for trouble, you probably won’t even find any! Myrtle Beach is a very safe, family friendly place to vacation, and this is another reason that I’d answer yes to the question “Is Myrtle Beach worth the hype?”
Our Final Tips for Visiting Myrtle Beach
After reading this guide, I hope you’ve learned that Myrtle Beach really is an awesome place. Before you go, I want to leave you with a few tips to make your Myrtle Beach vacation even better. Firstly, book things in advance. This is a tip that pops up in many of my guides, like my guide for finding cheap flights, simply because it’s so important in every phase of trip planning. When it comes to Myrtle Beach, planning ahead will save you money on accommodation while also opening up many more options. As a small town that plays host to millions of people every year, things do tend to fill up.
Secondly, if you want to save money, consider staying in an Airbnb. There are many really good ones in Myrtle Beach, and by forgoing the expensive resorts and hotels you can save hundreds of dollars. If you haven’t used Airbnb before or would like some tips for booking your next Airbnb, be sure to check out my guide on finding cheap, high-quality Airbnb’s here.
That’s all we have for you about Myrtle Beach! Hopefully this travel guide helps you to plan a relaxing Myrtle Beach vacation. After reading this post, is Myrtle Beach worth the hype? I hope you think so!
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If you’re planning a trip to Myrtle Beach, let us know! We’d love to chat ahead of time and answer any questions you have. Otherwise, have a wonderful day and stay present!
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