Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach

10 Money-Saving Ways to Enjoy Myrtle Beach By Katie McElveen

The epicenter of South Carolina’s 60-mile-long Grand Strand, Myrtle Beach proves that beach-y bliss doesn’t have to come with a sky-high price tag. Here’s how to enjoy it.

Stroll the Boards

Lined with palmetto trees and offering stunning views of the ocean, Myrtle Beach’s boardwalk is easy to find -- just look for the 180-foot-tall SkyWheel Ferris Wheel that towers over the landscape. Meandering along the beach for more than a mile, the boardwalk is lined with old-school arcades, kitschy beach shops, and casual outdoor eateries.

Hit the Beach

From North Myrtle Beach south to Pawleys Island, hitting the shore won’t cost a thing. There are no beach tags to buy, day-use fees, or picnic limitations. Don’t forget your bikes -- the hard-packed sand is perfect for riding.

Take In a Museum

At Brookgreen Gardens, the country’s oldest and largest sculpture garden, 1,200 works are set within a natural gallery of trees, ponds, and flowers. There are also plantation house ruins to explore -- the 9,000-acre park was the site of four antebellum rice plantations -- a wildlife center, and many other programs and activities. A single entry fee gets you access to these for a full week. The free Horry County Museum in Conway is small but easy to navigate, and the exhibits -- military uniforms, creepy medical instruments from the turn of the century, vintage photos of Myrtle Beach, a gigantic freshwater aquarium that was featured on Animal Planet’s “Tanked” -- are well done. Antique maps and works from Southern artists like Jonathan Green fill the galleries of the Myrtle Beach Museum of Art, which is also free.

Stay on the Cheap

An eclectic mix of high-rise resorts; small, family-owned hotels; and beach cottages offer loads of lodging options. Book a room off the beach and watch your savings soar. Campgrounds at the region’s two state parks accept RV’s, but you can also just pitch a tent and let the sound of the surf lull you to sleep. 

Hit the Fairways

More than 100 golf courses are carved into the landscape; at some, you can play for as little as $25. Scour the  Visit Myrtle Beach web site for coupons, discounts and packages to make your day on the links even more affordable.  

Dance Under the Stars

When the weather warms up, live bands offer free concerts almost every night at the pier in Garden City Pier and Plyler Park, near the SkyWheel. There are also weekly free concerts in North Myrtle Beach, waterfront at the Boathouse, on green at Market Common and at Broadway at the Beach, where the evening ends with a fireworks display. 

Party Like a Local

When you’re ready to taste -- and experience -- the real Myrtle Beach, stop into one of the many festivals and special events that make their way to the Grand Strand every month. For a full schedule, check out  Visit Myrtle Beach.

Wander Through Town

The funky riverside village of  Conway has everything from a glassblowing gallery to an old-fashioned bakery complete with café tables and pastry-filled glass cases. Stop for lunch at Rivertown Bistro; afterwards, look for egrets nesting near the Waccamaw River from the city’s Riverwalk. Settled in 1729, Georgetown overflows with colonial charm. Explore the shops and cafes that line Front Street, or stroll along Harborwalk, which runs along the Waccamaw River. There’s also a Rice Museum, where artifacts and photos illustrate the region’s plantation history.

Explore a Castle, or Spy a Baby Alligator

The beach is just the beginning at  Huntington Beach State Park -- there’s also a real castle where bears and lions used to live, a nature center with baby alligators, paths through the woods (keep your eyes peeled for live minks!) and more than 300 bird species. Beyond its undeveloped stretch of sand,  Myrtle Beach State Park is best known for an ancient maritime forest that’s laced with trails and dotted with ponds. Kids can finish the free scavenger hunts with ice cream cones from the general store.

Eat Well and Often

Families on a budget can eat well in Myrtle Beach, where early-bird specials offer deep discounts on everything from fried shrimp to steak. Visit Murrells Inlet, the “Seafood Capital of South Carolina” and enjoy dinner with a view along the  Murrells Inlet Marsh Walk. And most barbecue restaurants let you fill up again and again at their all-you-can-eat buffets.

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