If you’re planning a holiday to the golden sands of South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach, you probably won’t want to leave.
It’s got everything you could possibly desire, from gleaming resorts and top of the range celebrity golf courses, to high-end restaurants – and that’s without mentioning the glorious stretch of coastline that it claims as its own.
It’s thriving and full of entertainment, and one of the busiest resort areas along the Grand Strand.
However, there is so much more to explore in the surrounding areas and the state at large, from national parks to bike trails and beyond.
So, let us tempt you – here are 15 of the best day trips from Myrtle Beach.
1. Murrells Inlet
For a change of scene and an extra dash of tranquillity to your holiday, Murrells Inlet is a conveniently located oasis of calm in the form of a fishing village.
It’s under half an hour’s drive away from the strip, with not a high-rise in sight.
Murrells Inlet is a great place to try your hand at fishing, as this is what it’s best known for.
And if you decide to take out a charter (half or full-day options are available), you might just be able to catch your own dinner for later.
Golfing is another option, and is a popular local pastime.
A foodie hotspot, seafood is an absolute must-try in Calabash.
The self-appointed seafood capital of the world, Calabash’s trademark style is seafood dunked in evaporated milk, seasoned thoroughly, and deep fried to mouth-watering perfection.
As can be expected in the Southern states, expect your portion to be more than generous.
At only a half-hour drive from Myrtle Beach, it’s even worth visiting Calabash just for one meal, to give those taste-buds some pleasure.
A little further afield is charming Charleston, named after King Charles II of England.
It is South Carolina’s oldest city, founded in 1670, with its pre-war houses standing testament to its long history.
The entire area has an air of old-worldliness.
Charleston has several times been voted as the most polite and hospitable American city and it’s worth a visit to find out why.
Head over to Waterfront Park and the Arthur Ravenel Junior Bridge for some great views, and secure a spot to watch the sunset.
4. Pawley’s Island
Pawley’s island is another nearby option from Myrtle Beach and offers a different type of resort feel.
It’s laid back and chilled out, whereas Myrtle is frenetic and buzzing.
The historic district of Pawley makes for interesting viewing – many of the antebellum homes are actually available to rent.
For a more active pursuit, kayaking along the beach is a popular option.
Otherwise, spend the day lazing on a less packed stretch of sand, and if you stay for the stars, it’s definitely worth it.
5. Folly Beach
If there are any surf addicts among you, Folly Beach will certainly deliver.
A couple of hours’ drive away from Myrtle Beach, the break here makes it popular among beginners and experts, and there’s plenty of other water sport options available too.
It is busy, though, so if you feel like taking yourself away from the crowds, you can always head to the jetty for a spot of fishing, where rods and bait are available to buy and rent.
6. Huntington Beach State Park
A little way beyond Murrell’s Inlet is Huntington State Park, the perfect place to find a breath of fresh air away from the crowds while expending some energy in the great outdoors.
Full of winding trails for hiking and biking, you can get lost out there and really stretch your legs.
There are some great, almost deserted stretches of beach to be found – but don’t forget to look out for alligators…
If you feel like a more leisurely afternoon, there’s always Atalaya Castle to take a look at, which the Huntingtons once used as their winter home.
7. Brookgreen Gardens
For a total change of pace, Brookgreen Gardens are a great option.
Spend some time away from Myrtle Beach in this sculpture garden and wildlife preserve, which provides a fascinating diversion with over 9000-acres of outdoors to explore.
Founded by Archer Milton Huntington, and opened in 1932, Brookgreen Gardens has been entertaining visitors for decades, so they’ve really got it down to a fine art.
You can take a boat ride through the plantation areas, or simply wander through the sculpture garden looking at the intricate work of the artists.
The third oldest city in South Carolina has plenty of history to soak up, and is certainly a picturesque place to while away the day.
Head downtown for the historical quarter, and browse some of the varied museums for a bit of brain exercise after all that beach time.
The Rice Museum and South Carolina Maritime Museum are just two of the options available to you.
Front Street boasts all the best shops and restaurants, while the Harborwalk gives you some stunning views of the waterfront.
You can also choose to pursue any of the usual water-side entertainments while you’re here.
If a stress-free, kid-friendly day trip is what you’re looking for, then look no further; Conway is mere minutes away by car and certainly worth a visit.
It’s got history by the bucket load, which you can explore in the Horry County Museum, as well as the old theatre downtown.
Then again, if you don’t want to tax your brain even a little bit, you can take a wander down along the Riverwalk, around the park, and end at the marina.
There are plenty of boutiques dotted around town and some excellent restaurants for the sampling, so take it as a pure treat day if you desire.
Take a bit of a longer trip out for the day and check out Wilmington, which is snugly settled along a river, around an hour and a half from Myrtle Beach.
Its arty, bohemian vibes have easy appeal, and there is so much to do here.
Perhaps a highlight, though, is the intriguing Museum of the Bizarre, with its curious exhibits.
If you’re looking for a more active day out, you can take a guided tour of town, head over to explore the extensive botanic gardens, or even take a trip out for a spot of scuba diving.
If you prefer some chilled afternoon entertainment, stroll along the boardwalk and do some people watching.
11. Little River
If you aren’t tempted to visit Little River based on the name alone, then you should certainly be persuaded by its excellent seafood and boat-based pursuits.
The Blue Crab Festival is a must-visit if you’re there at the right time of year.
If not, you can always take a fishing boat out to try to catch some of your own.
For a fun alternative, why not head aboard one of two casino boats that leave port twice a day, and try your hand, Las Vegas-style, in international waters.
If gambling isn’t your thing, there are party boats on offer, or you can rent jet skis or pontoon boats from the marina.
Plenty of options for a sleepy sounding village.
12. Carolina Beach
If you feel like taking a trip back in time to get a glimpse of what Myrtle Beach used to be like, Carolina Beach is a good stop for you.
Be sure to grab some delicious homemade gelato from the boardwalk, which has recently been refurbished.
There are some interesting Civil War history sites around, such as Fort Fisher, which can be easily reached by boat.
Overall, though, this is simply a great place to relax and spend the day enjoying the more laidback pace of life.
Reminiscent of times gone by, this old-school town was once home to a thriving tobacco industry.
You can visit the old tobacco warehouses or have a wander around the museum on the same theme.
To continue the old-world vibes, pay a visit to Webster’s Manor, where you can enjoy a traditional southern buffet with all things fried – chicken, shrimp and turkey.
The vegetables are fresh, though, so you don’t have to feel too guilty in requesting a slice of buttermilk pie for dessert.
In Marion, you’ll find an absolute haven for antique lovers.
Delve into the past in the Marion Emporium and dig up something special.
This is a great place to go for an insight into small-town South Carolina life.
Its motto is ‘where history and hospitality greets you’ – a fitting summary, for sure.
The historical downtown area is certainly worthy of exploration.
Take some time to soak in the atmosphere and admire the old buildings from a past era.
15. Cherry Grove
Another excellent spot for old-school beach vibes, head down to Cherry Grove for some inlet fishing or the opportunity to taste a good old-fashioned po’boy from Duffy’s Seafood Shack.
Kick back with an ice cream on the beach front, wander down the pier, or take a look in one of the many touristy souvenir shops for a keepsake to bring home.
This is a great place to bring the kids, where they can run around and play on the beach with plenty of space to do so.