Oceanside Retreat near Downtown Myrtle Beach
From 20 stories above the Atlantic Ocean, more than a million LED lights twinkle as glass-floored gondolas revolve atop a futuristic ferris wheel—the Myrtle Beach SkyWheel. Below, the 1-mile wooden boardwalk bustles with street musicians and festivals creating a carnival-like setting year-round. Family attractions dot the coast along the 8-mile drive south from the boardwalk to the Holiday Inn Oceanfront at Surfside Beach, which serves as a convenient outpost for exploring downtown Myrtle Beach's theme parks or relaxing on the beach.
The hotel’s spacious guest rooms are decorated with textured walls and gold-and-white clapboard headboards, lending a countryside charm to the otherwise contemporary quarters. A room balcony offers views of downtown Surfside Beach or the ocean. Though the swimming pool and hot tub may be out of commission or have restricted hours during the winter months, the ocean remains open 24/7, despite objections from porpoise unions.
At Shoreline Restaurant, a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows overlooks the beach and an extensive menu features local seafood, such as she-crab soup ($4.50–$5.50) and coconut fried shrimp ($19.50). Pool tables and tropical drinks create a carefree atmosphere in the Tiki Bar, which also boasts flat-screen TVs and arcade games.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: Sandy Beaches, Seaside Golf Courses, and Classic Amusement-Park Rides
Myrtle Beach is the crown jewel of South Carolina's Grand Strand, a 60-mile stretch of white, sandy beaches along the Atlantic seaboard that draws surfers, fishers, and kayakers. The city was named one of the best vacation spots in the United States for a family by USA Today, in part because of its wooden boardwalk, which stretches for more than a mile and buzzes with carnival games and amusement-park rides. Hop into the SkyWheel ferris wheel’s glass-floored gondolas, surrounded by more than a million LED lights, for a panoramic view of the city below.
Less than 20 miles south of Myrtle Beach, the tiny fishing village of Murrells Inlet provides a tranquil contrast to the boardwalk's hustle and bustle. At Brookgreen Gardens, more than 1,400 original sculptures stand amid sprawling floral gardens and massive, moss-covered oak trees that have been around for centuries. Murrells Inlet is also home to the Tom Fazio–designed TPC Myrtle Beach golf course, one of more than 100 courses in the area that helped Myrtle Beach earn its title as the seaside golf capital of the world.