Thank God It's Summer - Summer Guide 2023

June 2023
Written By: 
Paul Grimshaw
Photographs by: 
Image credits below

As we are all able to finally shed the sweaters, say goodbye to soup season and embrace warmer weather as we enter the summer of 2023, we can once again look forward to the much-needed enjoyment that the season brings. 

The Grand Strand is tailor-made for summer, whether you’re a visitor or a local, and here are a few of the ways you can enjoy the abundance and richness the region has to offer. From our many parks, museums, beaches, piers, watersports activities, nightlife and more, there are plenty of ways to relax, or rev-up your motors as you see fit. Enjoy!

Make a Splash!

The first regular vacationers to the Grand Strand started making annual summer pilgrimages to the beach in the late 1800s, though they were few in number. Now, with some 20-million annual visitors, nearly all say “the beach” is their number one reason for visiting. Sixty miles of beautiful shoreline along the Grand Strand beckons visitors and locals alike. With plenty of wide, soft, and sandy beaches, interesting inlets, swashes teaming with seabirds and sea life, our beaches offer a clean, fascinating and safe space to experience coastal living and recreation at its best. There are hundreds of beach access points between Georgetown and Little River, even in residential areas, and free parking options are available for those who come early. Pay-to-park options are plentiful for those who come later and who are willing to shell out a few bucks and feed the meter. Rent chairs and umbrellas, use the freshwater showers, and take advantage of the many restaurants just off the beach when you need a break.

Jet Skis
For those seeking adventure on the water, jet skiing on PWCs (personal watercrafts) can be an exhilarating option. You can choose from guided trips on the Intracoastal Waterway to enjoy up-close the flora and fauna of the area or go full-speed and ride the waves in the ocean and inlets. Be sure to exercise caution and follow safety guidelines, but most of all, have fun!

For a day of family-friendly fun, there are plenty of waterparks to choose from. Myrtle Waves, located on U.S. 17 Bypass in Myrtle Beach, is a popular option with its ten-story-tall Turbo Twisters. Family Kingdom’s Splashes Water Park is the only oceanfront waterpark in the area. Sadly, Wild Water and Wheels in Surfside Beach has closed after serving the community for more than 30 years. For adrenaline junkies, the Shark Wake Park in the North Myrtle Beach Sports Complex offers cable-driven kneeboards, wakeboards, water skis, and more on its own freshwater lake. Many hotels also offer smaller waterparks perfect for families with little ones.

Kayaking & Stand-Up Paddleboarding
Kayaking and paddleboarding are popular ways to enjoy the water while also getting some exercise and relaxation. These simple to use flotation crafts are easy to learn to use and maneuver, and most watersports operators offer instruction, rentals and both guided trips and solo exploration options. 

Boating, Fishing & Cruising
For those who prefer the water to the land, boating and fishing can be perfect activities to explore. Boat rentals are available at many marinas, making it easy and affordable for anyone to enjoy an afternoon or weekend on the water. In addition, two boat clubs offer memberships for those who want to enjoy boating on a regular basis without owning a boat.
Our Intracoastal Waterway, area rivers, and inlets provide a safe environment for boating, even for novices. 

The calm waters are protected from the harsh currents and waves of the ocean. And, while you’re out there, why not try your luck with a bit of tackle and bait? With a SC fishing license, you can cast a line in search of saltwater or freshwater fish. Fishing is popular among amateurs and seasoned pros alike along the Grand Strand’s numerous piers. For those who want to take their fishing experience to the next level, fishing charters are available that can take you all the way to the Gulf Stream in search of that trophy game fish, or a haul of fresh Mahi-Mahi, Wahoo, Tuna, Grouper and more, destined for the dinner table. Whatever your preference, boating and fishing are among the best ways to enjoy the water and all the beauty it has to offer.

Sunset Cruises, Happy Hour cruises and dolphin cruises allow for relaxed fun on the water (without getting wet), often with a full bar. Check out the Pie-Eyed Parrot in Murrells Inlet. The Barefoot Queen riverboat (North Myrtle Beach) offers all-ages sightseeing and dinner cruises (with live entertainment) throughout the day and early evening, offering excellent views of the Intracoastal Waterway.


Hiking, Picnicing, Camping and more

Myrtle Beach State Park, the first state park in South Carolina, established in 1936, provides a sanctuary for outdoor enthusiasts. Here, visitors can engage in camping, hiking, picnicking, fishing, beachcombing, and exploring a nature center, playground, pier, and much more. An admission fee is required for all-day entry.

Huntington Beach State Park in Murrells Inlet offers unspoiled beaches with windswept trees and towering dunes, reminiscent of the entire Grand Strand coastline from years gone by. Bird-watching enthusiasts will revel in the diverse species that inhabit the area, while trails offer a glimpse into their natural habitats. Brackish and freshwater lagoons near the causeway provide a home for large alligators who love to bask in the sun. An interactive nature center aids in the interpretation of the surrounding flora and fauna, and naturalists offer expert insights during guided tours of the park’s unique features. The vacant Atalaya structure was once the winter home and art studio of famed American sculptress Anna Huntington, and is now open to the public. An admission fee is required for all-day entry.

Dozens of smaller municipal parks are scattered throughout the Grand Strand and offer even more nearby options for relaxation and rejuvenation.

Warbird Park at The Market Common.

Educational Enrichment

Who says learning can’t be enjoyable?
South Carolina is steeped in history, ranging from prehistoric times to the colonial period, revolutionary and antebellum eras, and beyond the mid-20th century, including World War II. Get an overview at the Horry County Museum in Conway, a city of significant historical importance, founded in 1732. There you’ll learn that German P.O.W.s were housed in Myrtle Beach during WWII.

Georgetown is another must-visit for history buffs. Its charming historic district boasts shops, restaurants, grand antebellum homes, sailing excursions, museums, and antique stores, all just a few blocks off of U.S. 17. Here, you’ll find several museums that offer fascinating insights into the Lowcountry’s past. The Kaminski House Museum, the Rice Museum, and the South Carolina Maritime Museum are all located on Front St. and within walking distance of each other. Nearby, the Gullah Museum and the Georgetown County Museum also provide rare glimpses of the region’s people and past.

Myrtle Beach, too has it’s museums, including the fun and unusual, such as the Hollywood Wax Museum, the Myrtle Beach Pinball Museum, the Wheels of Yesteryear (a car museum), Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, the Children’s Museum of South Carolina, EdVenture Children’s Museum (Market Common), Wonderworks, and the Grand Strand Model Railroad Club, to name a few.

For a more refined museum and gallery experience in Myrtle Beach, don’t miss the Franklin G. Burroughs - Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum near Springmaid Pier, and Warbird Park (Market Common). Warbird Park, undergoing expansion, is an outdoor display of the military jets that once flew in and out of the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base between 1940 and 1993 and is also home to a memorial beam from the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

Carolina Country Music Festival hosts a variety of country music stars each year.

Music to our Ears!

The Grand Strand boasts an incredible amount of live music, from solo artists to larger bands.

The Grand Strand boasts an incredible amount of live music per capita, and it’s hard to argue that there are many places anywhere in the world that can match it. From solo artists to larger bands with brass sections, there’s representation of every genre, from beach music and trop rock, to rock ‘n’ roll, reggae, R&B, country, yacht rock, bluegrass, and jazz. The local music scene is alive and thriving, with musicians strumming their guitars and belting out both cover tunes and original music at tiki bars and restaurants throughout the region.

The unofficial home of live music along the Grand Strand might be the Murrells Inlet Marsh Walk, where nearly all of the eight restaurants host live music, some nightly, such as The Dead Dog Saloon, and all located along a picturesque creekside boardwalk. But every community from Georgetown to Little River, and west to Conway, have numerous establishments catering to the live music lover.

La Belle Amie Vineyard in North Myrtle Beach hosts multi-band outdoor live music festivals year-round, along with live daytime music from solo artists on Wednesdays. An admission fee is required, and online ticketing is available at a discounted price. Also in North Myrtle Beach, the Music on Main Concert Series takes place every Thursday night from June through October, with special concert nights at area parks. The stage is located on the waterfront at the end of Main St.

Since its inception in 2015, the Carolina Country Music Festival has become the largest annual music festival of the region, drawing an estimated 35,000 guests. Located in downtown Myrtle Beach, at the site of the former Myrtle Beach Pavilion Amusement Park, this year’s festival is packed with the biggest names in Country Music, and is scheduled for June 8-11.

Visit Myrtle Beach has launched its Arts Gallery Trail, offering guests an all-new way to explore the destination’s 14 unique communities and 60 miles of coastline, including this mural in Conway. 

High Art in the Lowcountry

For those who prefer classical and orchestral pop, the Long Bay Symphony presents a diverse program of music year-round at various venues, both indoor and outdoor. Muzika! will return in June and July througout the Grand Strand, offering fully staged and costumed opera, oratorio, chamber music, and chorale ensembles featuring Metropolitan Opera stars; a Met cover conductor, Gregory Buchalter; Long Bay’s Charles Evans; and up-and-coming opera stars of tomorrow. 

All That Jazz!
Jazz fans can find live jazz at Travinia Italian Kitchen in The Market Common, Aspen Grille, 88 Keys Piano Bar and Carolina Seafood & Steakhouse in Myrtle Beach, as well as The Star Tavern in North Myrtle Beach, The Soundhouse in nearby Shalotte, N.C., and other area venues.

Broadway at the Beach and Barefoot Landing
If you’re looking for live music while shopping or dining, head to Broadway at the Beach or Barefoot Landing, both of which offer numerous restaurants and bars that feature live music. Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach is home to the Hard Rock Café, Bar Louie and The Hangout, all of which offer live music all summer long. Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach has even more live music at several locations, including the House Of Blues and at a lakeside amphitheater.

Music Everywhere!
Coastal communities throughout the Grand Strand offer live music at countless bars and eateries year-round, and even more during peak season. Head inland to Carolina Forest or Conway to discover additional places for live music to suit every taste. There are too many places to name, but know that you’re invited to come out and sing along, or become the star of the show at numerous Karaoke-friendly bars.

Let’s play ball!
As sports tourism grows, the Grand Strand continues to offer a plethora of recreational activities for visitors and locals, including children. Whether it’s softball, baseball, basketball, lacrosse, soccer, or even Pickleball, you can find it all at the massive sports complexes such as Grand Park Athletic Complex in The Market Common, Pepper Geddings Recreation Center in Myrtle Beach, the Ripkin Experience in Myrtle Beach, the North Myrtle Beach Aquatic and Fitness Center, the North Myrtle Beach Park & Sports Complex, and various other locations throughout the region.

Broadway at the Beach.

Endless Entertainment

From mild to wild, the Grand Strand’s amusement parks, standalone rides, pirate adventures and more, provide endless entertainment for the thrillseeker, or the just-brave-enough crowd. The SkyWheel in downtown Myrtle Beach is thrilling without being too scary, while the nearby Sling Shot is only for the bravest. The thrill ride park, Funplex on Ocean Blvd. at 14th Ave N., offers rides for all, from younger first-timers to thrill-seekers.

The Family Kingdom has been entertaining guests of all ages since 1966, with dozens of thrill rides and kiddie rides. The park is free to enter, and ride tickets are sold separately. Although the beloved Pavilion Amusement Park in downtown Myrtle Beach has been closed since 2006, many of its rides were moved to Broadway at the Beach and rechristened Pavilion Park. The impossible-to-miss Broadway 360 observation wheel stands just over 150-feet tall, offering a spectacular light show and equally stunning views of Broadway at the Beach.

Smaller oceanfront communities like Garden City Beach and Surfside Beach also host small amusement parks with some impressive rides. North Myrtle Beach also hosts a seasonal park. For racing fun, Go-Kart tracks may be found all along the Grand Strand, such as The Track in Myrtle Beach, the Broadway Grand Prix in Myrtle Beach, and the Fun Warehouse on the south end of Myrtle Beach.

Dino Park at Broadway at the Beach thrills visitors (especially the younger ones), inviting all to step back in time to the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. This bit of family fun comes complete with plenty of photo-ops, educatiuonal opportunities, and, of course, a gift shop.

Curtain Calls
Theaters of all sizes dot the Grand Strand, including the iconic 2,000-plus-seat Carolina Opry and Alabama Theatres with their long-running variety stage shows. Catch some real laughs at the Comedy Cabana, illusionist Charles Bach at Brodway at the Beach, or the best in tribute shows at Legends in Concert. The Historic Winyah Auditorium in Georgetown hosts a variety of musical performances, as do smaller, intimate theaters such as GTS (check out their Motown review and illusionist Michael Bairefoot), The Asher Theatre (Murder at the Cotton Club dinner theater, The Man of a Thousand Voices) is located off Highway 501, and the Broadway Theater (formerly the IMAX Theater) in June presents  Zero Gravity, a Cirque du Soleil– style show, expected to run all summer long.

In Myrtle Beach, some venues, like Riga Tony’s Murder Mystery Dinner Show, provide immersive theater experience along with dinner. The two largest dinner theaters, Medieval Times and Pirate’s Voyage, round out the dinner-and-a-show offerings, combining full dinners with adventurous, family-friendly shows filled with live animals and spectacular athleticism.

Area churches get in on the act, too, hosting touring Gospel acts and the high art presented by Muzika! from Varna International Music Academy.

Known as the “seaside golf capital of the world,” the Grand Strand continues to attract millions of golfers each year to its dozens of courses, more than half of them rated 4 to 5 Star (according to Golf Digest magazine). Golfers from around the globe and across the U.S. descend en mass each Spring and Fall, but also enjoy cheaper summertime rounds, too. Myrtle Beach is also known as the Mini Golf Capital of the World, with more than 50 creative and fun courses.

“Fun” doesn’t have to be expensive, time consuming or complicated. Embrace the spirit of adventure, the calm of the ocean and its sea breezes, exciting nightlife, or any glorious combination of the three. Staying open to new experiences is the key to fulfillment along the Grand Strand, so make the most of your summer!


Photographs by shutterstock/Felix Mizioznikov; courtesy of Shark Wake Park & shutterstock/Stacie Stauff Smith Photography; courtesy of Broadway at the Beach; courtesy of shuttershock/MarynaG & Joseph Creamer; courtesy of Horry County Muserum; shttershock/Grand Brothers; Michael Herrick & shuttershock/Jiujiuer; courtesy of shutterstock/Margaret Wiktor; Courtesy of Visit Myrtle Beach; Varna International; courtesy of Carolina Opry; James Cook & shutterstock/Ryan Hoel