Locals in Myrtle Beach know a great secret: that their town is still beautiful—and gets ultra-affordable—in September and October. Here’s how to enjoy your second summer.
Bliss Out on the Beach
Love the beach? You’ll love Myrtle Beach even more in September and October, when temperatures on the sand and in the water are still bathing-suit friendly and the crowds have gone back home and back to school. Even better, relaxed beach rules mean that kayaks can be launched directly from the beach, leashed dogs are welcome, and you can create a shady oasis with a beach tent after Labor Day.
Hit the Trail—Or the Beach—On Two Wheels
After Labor Day, it’s easy to cycle along the flat, hard-packed, empty expanses of sunny shoreline along the Grand Strand. You can even take a ride to a castle: Atalaya, the Moorish structure that once served as sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington’s art studio, is just steps from the sand at Huntington Beach State Park. If you’d like to truly elevate your ride, consider the seven-mile mountain bike trail that winds up, over, and through the 72-acre Horry County Bike and Run Park, or, as locals call it, the HULK.
More Eating, Less Waiting
In peak season, waiting in line for specialties like crunchy fried shrimp and tender steamed oysters at some of Myrtle Beach’s most popular restaurants is part of the experience. Come September, though, guests can usually breeze in and grab a seat at the bar or at a table. Prefer to eat outside? You’ll find some of the freshest South Carolina seafood at the restaurants that line MarshWalk, the waterfront boardwalk that meanders along the creek in Murrells Inlet. There’s live music most nights, too.
Kayak & Explore The Natural Side
Nature abounds in Myrtle Beach, and the best way to experience it is to hop in a kayak. Paddle through the region’s network of tidal creeks to discover shy turtles, drowsing alligators, and all manner of birds, including herons, egrets, and bald eagles. Head out alone, or take one of the naturalist-guided tours that will take you deep into the marine forest, where veils of Spanish moss hang from decades-old cypress trees and giant ospreys live in nests the size of bathtubs. If you’d rather stand than sit, tour the coast aboard a stand up paddleboard—it’s easier than it looks—or take an SUP yoga class on the glassy bay.
Learn to Surf
If you’ve always dreamed of learning to surf, head to Myrtle Beach, where manageable waves and shallow water make it a great destination for beginners, especially in the fall, when surfboard restrictions are relaxed. Private, group, and couples lessons are all available.
Play Lots of Golf
With more than 100 golf courses around the Grand Strand, you could play two rounds a day for a month and barely scratch the surface of what’s available. History buffs will want to play Caledonia and Heritage, where plantation ruins lie partially hidden among trees and marshes; at TPC Myrtle Beach, pro golfer—and local—Dustin Johnson has put many of his trophies and other memorabilia on display. Prefer putt-putt? There are dozens of miniature golf courses in the area. In fact, several U.S. Pro Minigolf Association championships are held in Myrtle Beach each year. Hawaiian Rumble, with its erupting volcano, is the site of the annual Master’s Tournament as well as the group’s training facility.
Get Here on Your Schedule
Through October, Myrtle Beach Airport has dozens of incoming nonstop flights every day from cities like Philadelphia, New York, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Charlotte, Newark, Detroit, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Boston, just to name a few. That’s more than any other airport in South Carolina.
Here’s another reason why fall is the locals’ favorite time of year—it’s festival season on the Grand Strand. There’s something going on almost every weekend; highlights include the Atalaya Arts and Crafts Festival, which attracts artisans from all over the country; Brookgreen Gardens’ Brew at the Zoo, with 30 craft beers and music; small-town Aynor’s Harvest Hoe-Down; the Little River ShrimpFest; Myrtle Beach Seafood Festival; and Myrtle Beach’s 35th annual Taste of the Town.
Hang out with the Birds
Grab your binoculars and your birding notebook: you’ll need them to spot the more than 300 species of birds that flit, fly, and feed within Huntington Beach State Park’s 2,500 acres. Besides osprey and eagles—who perform wild acrobatic tricks as they fight over fish—you’ll likely catch a glimpse of bright painted buntings, blue-winged and green-winged teal ducks, wood storks, and piping plover as well as giant undulating flocks of migrating tree swallows. Record your discoveries at the Visitor Center—and check out what species have been spotted by other birders.