Weekend Getaway Planner: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

  Ffishing pier in Myrtle Beach State Park where you can try your luck at catching dinner! 

Ffishing pier in Myrtle Beach State Park where you can try your luck at catching dinner! 

About Myrtle Beach

A long stretch of beach from north to south interrupted by patches of salt marsh, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is a mecca for golfers, beach lovers, and families. With a dizzying array of amusements, golf courses, family activities, and wide sandy beaches it seems the perfect playground for vacations. And, if you are looking for seafood, you won't have to go far. Along with the restaurants in Myrtle Beach, nearby Murrells inlet has some of the best seafood restaurants and fresh seafood markets on the Grand Strand.

This is not a rustic destination, and you will find heavy development of shops, hotels, amusements, RV Resorts, and beach house rentals lining the shore, from Surf City and Garden City to North Myrtle Beach (in fact, it is hard to distinguish where one ends and the next begins!) But if your taste runs a bit more relaxed, you will find a green and well maintained State Park in the middle of it all. With all the bustle of Myrtle Beach on the highway, entering Myrtle Beach State Park is like taking a portal to another dimension. A green canopy of trees surrounded us as we drove to the ranger station to register. Continuing on to the campground we watched the beach loom large on our right. Oh, this is gonna be good. The campground was less than a five-minute walk to the sand. Surrounded by maritime forest, it does not feel like you are in the middle of a city. It is quiet - almost serene. There is no development on the Park property, no high rises to block the view, no souvenir shops to clutter the landscape. Just green trees, sand dunes, and a wide-open beach. 

  Myrtle Beach State Park is the only non-developed area on the Grand Strand.

Myrtle Beach State Park is the only non-developed area on the Grand Strand.

Where to Stay Around Myrtle beach

Myrtle Beach State Park - Budget-friendly and close to the beach, the Park offers a handful of cabins for rent and over 300 campsites, some with full hook-ups. Sites are close together, but there are a lot of trees so it engenders that "camp" feeling. There are fire rings and picnic tables at each site (though some are in rough shape). The bathhouse is clean and well maintained, a playground is set off is a little clearing, there is a laundry, and gift shop. Unlike the nearby RV Resorts, the campground landscaping is naturalized rather than groomed but you cannot beat its proximity to the beach. A quick five-minute walk from the registration area and you are on the sand.

Ocean Lakes Family Campground - The largest RV resort on the East Coast with over 800 campsites on 310 acres. Amenities are remarkable and include multiple pools, family recreation center, mini golf, a lazy river and splash zone for the kids and one mile of beachfront. Rates are remarkably reasonable, especially during the Winter, Spring and Fall months. Named the 2017 Mega Campground of the year for excellent customer service and amenities. Family owned and operated since its opening 30 years ago.

There are many RV parks in the area as well as thousands of beach house rentals, condos, and hotels. You'll find a place to stay that fits the budget among all of the options.

Activities in myrtle beach state Park

Fishing - Surf fishing from the beach is permitted but check with the Ranger station on restrictions and licensing. Fishing from the Pier does not require a fishing license but there is a small fee for each fisherman with discounts for youngsters and seniors. You can pay your fee, rent a couple of poles, and purchase bait and tackle at the gift shop on the pier. The type of fish you can catch depends on the time of year, but you may see King Mackerel, Spanish Mackerel, Flounder, Bluefish, Drum, Whiting, Spot, Sea Trout, Redfish, or Amberjack.

Beach - A broad swath of beach beginning at the dune line and gradually dropping to the Atlantic. The sandy beach stretches from North Myrtle Beach to Garden City. The State Park beach is the only part of this coastline unmarred by high-rise or beachfront development. Though popular, the State Park beach offers a less crowded experience than the rest of Myrtle Beach. Keep in mind there are no canopies allowed on the beach, but umbrellas are OK. The sand is soft near the dunes, has a fragile crust above the tide line, and is a hard surface near the water - perfect for running or walking. (Biking is restricted to off-season)

Birding - We saw quite a few Bald Eagles, Striped Beak Gulls, Brown Pelicans, Sanderlings and Sand Pipers, Blue Jays, Re-Headed Woodpeckers, Cardinals, and Chickadees

Hiking-  Though the area around Myrtle Beach is heavily developed, the State Park offers a maritime forest for hiking. Two trails are available, both flat and easy to walk. The Yaupon Nature Trail runs 4/10 of a mile, one way, ending in the parking lot by the beach south of the fishing pier. The Sculptured Oak Nature Trail runs 1/2 mile, one way and empties onto the park road near the Nature Center.

take the Family to myrtle beach!

So many things to do in Myrtle Beach! Amusement parks, beaches, mini golf, go-carts, beaches, shopping, and championship golf. Did I mention the beautiful beaches? This is a popular area for good reason so be prepared for lots of crowds at shops, eateries, and amusements.

As for Myrtle Beach State Park, the fishing pier is wide and long. Perfect for catching anything that swims along. At the end of the pier, groups of small sharks wait for the fishermen to toss in their leftover bait. It is a feeding frenzy you'll want to capture on camera.

The Park campground has a playground for the kids and there is another in the picnic area near the beach. The beach walkover is right across from the campground so it is easy to get to the beach. Watch out for rip currents. The park flies colored flags at the entrance to the beach to warn of dangerous swimming conditions.

  Shrimp Tacos at the Dead Dog Saloon in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Shrimp Tacos at the Dead Dog Saloon in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

what's to Eat around myrtle beach?

Some of the best places to eat seafood are in Murrells Inlet just ten minutes south of Myrtle Beach. This small fishing town is "restaurant central" and offers excellent seafood markets as well. Enjoy several on Highway 17 that border the Marsh Walk.

  An island made of oyster shells in Murell's Inlet near Myrtle Beach.

An island made of oyster shells in Murell's Inlet near Myrtle Beach.

We liked Dead Dog Saloon with its casual atmosphere, great view of the harbor and Chipotle Shrimp Tacos. Quite good, with a cilantro slaw, fresh salsa, and lime rice. Make sure to sample the shrimp and crab dip... a pretty tasty appetizer. We had a table on the deck overlooking the salt marsh and harbor, a lovely breeze blowing and the sun shining. We walked along the marsh dock after lunch and noticed that the strip of land near the harbor and at the end of the dock seemed to be made entirely of oyster shells. I guess they eat a lot of oysters here!

For breakfast, we tried Prosser's on highway 17. It is a place where locals go and the food is very good, the service is excellent, and the price can't be beat. Try the corned beef hash - nice and crispy around the edges!

If you want to cook your own seafood in camp, stop by Murrells Inlet Seafood. You can get everything from local shrimp, oysters, blue crabs, lobster, scallops and, of course, fish. They will pack it for travel or steam it for you there. Give their key lime pie a taste - just sayin'.

Don't forget to bring:

- a camera for capturing the moment AND all the amazing birds!

- all your beach gear (but no canopies on the beach!)

- fishing pole and license (The State Park fishing pier is a mecca for fishermen)

- sunscreen and bug spray

Budget-Friendly Tips:

The State Park is budget-friendly for accommodations.

Plan on lunch instead of dinner to get your seafood fix.

Look for coupons for all the amusements. Check online with the visitors' bureau or Chamber of Commerce.

To Reserve Your Weekend at a cottage or a campsite:

The South Carolina State Parks use Reserve America for their campground and cabin reservations. You will find campground maps and links to the reservations page on the State Park site .

See the photo gallery for Myrtle Beach State Park 


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