Myrtle Beach: 4 Affordable Alternatives Off the Sand

by  Christine Dayao | Nov 30, 2018
Marina Inn Grand Dunes
Marina Inn Grand Dunes / Courtesy of the hotel

With a 60-mile-long coastline, there’s plenty to do on the water in Myrtle Beach, but you can have just as much fun off the sand. Here’s our guide to affordable things to do — other than go to the beach — in this classic American seaside destination.  

What to Do

For shopping, dining, and entertainment, most Myrtle Beach visitors head to the 350-acre Broadway at the Beach complex, home to Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, the Hard Rock Café, and Legends in Concert. However, for something low key, we prefer Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach on the intracoastal waterway. There are nearly five dozen boutiques and specialty shops, 20-plus places to eat, and attractions like the House of Blues and Alabama Theatre.

Duck into Taco Mundo for quesadillas ($10) and complimentary tortilla chips with house-made salsa, followed by a cup of rainbow-fudge-cake ice cream at the family-owned Sweet Molly’s Creamery ($6). Throughout the year, Barefoot Landing plays host to special events like New Year’s Eve fireworks and live music in the summer.

History buffs should take the 15-minute drive to Conway, one of the oldest towns in South Carolina. Though it experienced significant flooding from Hurricane Florence, much of the area has bounced back. Its charming downtown looks like it’s straight from a movie and is an ideal spot for an afternoon stroll. Begin at the visitor center on Main Street and Fifth Avenue, where you can pick up a map and a guide to the city’s historical trail. From there, it’s easy to navigate to the dozens of cafes and shops like River City Christmas and Papa’s General Store. Hungry? Grab a seat at Rivertown Bistro, where its $10 blue plate specials range from barbeque chicken breast with vegetables and macaroni and cheese, to meatloaf with mashed potatoes and squash. Work all of that off with a jaunt on the Riverwalk, lining the Waccamaw River.

Art lovers will want to make a trip to the Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum, which overlooks the ocean. Its 11 galleries are free to enter and house rotating exhibitions of paintings, photography, sculptures, collages, and more. Currently on view (through May 2019) is a collection of works related to Southern history by artists from the South.

Where to Stay

Minutes away from the bustling main strip is the 4-star Marina Inn at Grande Dunes, a 200-room property along the intracoastal waterway. Like many of the hotels and resorts dotting the coast, Marina Inn offers accommodations ranging from oversized guestrooms to multi-bedroom suites — all of which tout balconies with water views.

One of our favorite features of Marina Inn is WaterScapes, a sit-down, all-day restaurant with marina and pool views. We recommend the cream-cheese-stuffed French toast with berry compote ($10) for a sweet start to your day. There’s also the outdoor Anchor Café offering salads, pastas, and sandwiches. Right off the lobby, Reflections serves coffee and quick breakfast items in the morning, and cocktails and small plates later in the day.

Guests have access to the hotel’s infinity-edge pool, two hot tubs, indoor pool, and sauna. Craving some sand and shoreline? Marina Inn offers seasonal shuttle service to its private beach with complimentary chairs, towels, and umbrellas. Rates start from $160 per night.

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