10 Things To Do With Kids in Myrtle Beach

We love Myrtle Beach, and not just because of the warm ocean water and gorgeous beaches. But because there is a ton of great things to do in the area. If the weather’s good we spend most of our time at the beach. And while I always have a back up plan of things to do with kids in Myrtle Beach, I’m always a bit hesitant to make attractions the focus of our trip. Because kids catch on to that whole “Let’s do stuff” and “This is boring” thing way too quick for my liking.

We mostly avoid theme parks and attractions because I feel like the purpose of travel, even a family vacation mecca like Myrtle Beach, is to spend time together, be outside, and learn new things. It’s hard to do that when you’re hanging around the mini-golf sites or in a water park. You can do that at home, am I right? Plus I always have this worry that my kids will become jaded or spoiled and come to expect that our travels are geared to keeping them amused rather than learning about the world. Sorry, kids. That’s not happening. #sorrynotsorry

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Having said all that, sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate and/or you need a break from the sun and sand. On our last trip to Myrtle Beach this past spring, we had the opportunity to explore a few attractions and learn some new things. In no particular order are our top 10 favorite places in the Myrtle Beach area for kids and parents.

Waccamaw River Tour

My kids are easily led into anything involving a boat ride. I’m not sure, at 3 and 4, that they were terribly interested in the educational and historical aspect of the river systems and wildlife of South Carolina (that’s more my kind of thing) but they had a great time on the pontoon boat. Narrated by Kim, who knows her stuff and loves the waterways as much as I do, there’s a lot to be seen for kids who have an interest in nature and history. On our trip we saw alligators, turtles, snakes, ospreys and their nests along with gorgeous scenery. The boys must have paid some attention because they can remember what a yellow bellied slider is! Captain Rick’s additions to the narrative are hilarious and we loved when he invited the boys back to “drive” the boat for a few minutes. Kim is also a very talented photography. You can see her gorgeous photos on their Facebook page.

river tour

 

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Tickets are limited and you’ll want to purchase them in advance.  I initially thought this was a pricey outing and hesitated a few times before committing to the tour. Clearly, I’m a ding dong. I’m so glad we went on this trip. It was the highlight of our visit and a great way to see the rivers and creeks through the eyes of a local person. We learned tons, had a lot of fun, and enjoyed the scenery and stories.

ADMISSION PRICES:

Adults-  $22.95

Children 12 and under-   $14.95

Waccatee Zoo

We almost skipped this zoo based on some very negative reviews on TripAdivsor but I’m so happy we didn’t. This is a great, privately run zoo off the beaten path. You actually go through the zoo to get to the river tour so we stuck around after the boat trip to visit the animals. This zoo was lovely, reasonably priced and the enclosures were mostly open and natural with some exceptions. The boys had a great time. To get to the Waccama River Tour, you actually drive through part of the zoo which is pretty handy. Take the river trip and spend a few hours at the zoo. It was a great way to spend what turned out to be a chilly spring day.

Top 10 Attractions for Kids in the Myrtle Beach area.

ADMISSION RATES:

Ages 13 and older-  $12.00

12 Months to 12 years- $5.00

Infants under 1- free

Alligator Adventure

I have a weird fondness for alligators. Maybe they remind me of the south, maybe it’s their prehistoricness (if that’s a word) or the way they like the sun as much as I do. I wish I could look half as cool laying on a rock. Regardless, I find them fascinating so any chance to see these creatures close up (and safely) and I’m on it. Alligator Adventure is one of the largest outdoor facilities for reptile life in the entire world. Not just alligators, although they’re everywhere and you can see them being fed at 3 pm daily, but all sorts of reptiles, birds, and mammals. Recently they inherited some lovely flamingos (my other favorite animal!) and we had an all round terrific time exploring this park. Not once, but twice. Because if  you show your ID on the way out and save your ticket, you can visit a second time within 7 days for free. Challenge accepted.

Top 10 Attractions in Myrtle Beach for Kids

ADMISSION PRICES:

Adults (Ages 13 – 61)                    $22.99

Senior Citizens (Ages 62 & up)    $20.99

Military                                           $19.99

Children (Ages 4 – 12)                   $16.99

Children (Ages 3 – Under)              FREE

Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach

You’re on the Atlantic Ocean so why not learn about what actually lives in the water right outside your window? Can you ever really go wrong with Ripley’s? Sharks, sting rays, sea turtles and so much more. We love Ripley’s! Families can sleep with the sharks (in a good way) every Thursday night in the summer and kids ages 6-14 can sleep over without parents on Friday nights. A fun break for everyone.

Top 10 Things to do With Kids in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
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ADMISSION PRICES:

Adults:                                 $24.99

Children  6 to 11                 $16.99

Children 2 to 5 years         $7.99


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Broadway At The Beach

Broadway at the Beach, including the shopping at Barefoot Landing, really has something for everyone. Shopping, zip lining, attractions, boat rides, theaters and nightlife. Spend some time browsing the shops, take a boat ride, feed the fish, and stay for dinner. There are fireworks on Friday nights and tons to do for families and kids of all ages all day long. We had a great time just strolling the paths and watching for fish and turtles.

Top 10 Things To Do With Kids in Myrtle Beach that Don't Include Water Parks or Amusement Parks
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Admission is free if you’re just planning to wander. Expect the kids to want you to spend some money, though.

Myrtle Beach Boardwalk

Ride the SkyWheel (it’s enclosed for the faint of heart…like me) and see the entire area from the air. Walk the boardwalk, visit the tourist shops, and see the shows. With a candy shop, rides, and music there’s something to see and do for all ages. It was so hot the day we visited, that we took a dip in the ocean and wandered back for ice cream. That’s my idea of a good attraction right there.

sky wheel
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ADMISSION- Free to wander around.

SkyWheel Prices

Adults –                  $14.00

Children 3 to 11  –  $9.00

Wonderworks

Located at Broadway on the Beach, this upside down building will catch your kids’ eyes for sure. After entering the “inversion tunnel” (because the building is upside down and all) you’ll have six fun areas to explore including a natural disasters learning center, space discovery, an imagination lab and a whole lot more. Older kids will love the laser tag area, the rope course and zip line over the open waters.

Top 10 Things To Do With Kids in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
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ALL ACCESS PASS:

Adults-                              $27.99

Children 4 to 12 years  – $17.99

The cost is lower if you’re just looking for the outdoor adventures.

The Market Common

The Market Common is a shopping and lifestyle center in Myrtle Beach and, aside from the terrific stores, is host to a lot of free events during the summer. Kids movies are shown every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday until mid-August at Grand 14 Cinemas in the Market Common area. Admission is free and the movie starts at the very kid friendly hour of 10 am. Drinks and popcorn are $1 each. On Fridays during summer months  you can enjoy the live music in the gazebos on Howard and Reed Avenues and take a complimentary carriage ride through the streets. Valor Park hosts free movies for the older crowd on Wednesdays starting at 9 p.m.

Top 10 attractions for kids in Myrtle Beach. No waterparks or amusement parks in the bunch.
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Admission is free.

Helicopter Adventures

Ranging from a 3 minute trip to 30 minutes or longer, there’s a tour for every age and stage if you’re up for seeing Myrtle Beach from the air. Prices start at just $20 for the quickie tour which is perfect if you’re not sure how the kids will handle the heights and motion. Helicopters hold a maximum of three passengers however, several choppers can run at the same time so you’re not waiting around while the rest of the family takes a trip if you’ve got a crowd with you.

Top 10 attractions for kids in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. And not one water park or amusement park in the bunch.
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Prices start at $20 and go up to $180 for a 40 mile round trip.

Brookgreen Gardens

Brookgreen Gardens offers different eco-tours, programs, and adventures for families with kids of all ages. Tickets are good for an entire week so you can return as often as you like. Visit the enchanted forest, a collection of story book houses, for special programs, classes, and activities that occur throughout the season and include storytelling under the trees, book sharing, arts and crafts and lessons on nature. There’s a children’s nature and sensory trail for kids over 6 and younger children will enjoy the discovery room which has seven interactive stations. Grab a detective’s booklet at the welcome center and let the kids follow clues, investigate and explore on the trip. When they’re finished they can turn the booklet in and receive a sticker and prize. There are daily animal programs where kids can watch the animals being fed and meet snakes, turtles, and more.  Adults can enjoy the live oaks and gorgeous sculpture gardens along the way.

10 Myrtle Beach Activities for Families that Don't Involve Water or Amusement Parks.- travelingsinglemom.com
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ADMISSION PRICES-  (Tickets are good for 7 days and you can return as often as you like) –

Adults-                  $15.00

Children (4-12)   $8.00

There you go! 10 fun activities to do in Myrtle Beach and not an amusement park in the bunch! Happy travels!

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10 Things to do in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina that don't involve water parks or amusement parks. - travelingsinglemom.com

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Road Trip- Ontario to South Carolina and Back Again

How fun are road trips? Seriously. I’m not even kidding. As much as I love the fairly instant gratification of grabbing a plane and arriving somewhere a few hours later, I love me some road tripping. I heart the idea of going at our own pace, stopping when and where we want, and actually seeing the country. Also, the boys acted like wild animals at the last airport we flew out of so there was that. And, I had just bought a new car that was supposed to be amazing on mileage and I wanted to give it a run. So one fine April morning, we loaded up the new car and took off from Ontario to South Carolina.

Road trip from Ontario to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina- travelingsinglemom.com

I’ve done the trip to South Carolina twice before, once by car and once by plane, but this trip was special because it was during the spring. Because I live in “cold Canada” as my boys call it, it was like traveling through the seasons. The trees were bare in Ontario and it was still freezing cold when we left but once we got to Southern Ohio the trees were starting to show signs of buds. By the time we hit South Carolina, it was full blown summer. Love that.

Road trip tips and tricks for traveling with kids from Ontario to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina- travelingsinglemom.com

We tend to start early on road trips because I like to get as much driving in as possible on the first day when we’re still fresh and enthusiastic. On that Wednesday morning, however, we didn’t get on the road until well after 11 AM. I had this half wit idea that if Aiden went to his OT (Occupational Therapy) appointment in the morning, he would be tired enough to nap in the car. I was wrong. Neither kid napped and both talked or shouted non-stop until we stopped at 10 PM in West Virginia.

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About that. I had intended to stop around 7 PM at a hotel with a pool and let the boys swim and burn off steam and maybe I could sip a glass of wine while they had at it. No idea what I did wrong but it probably had something to do with I-77 and the fact that there are very few hotels out there in West Virginia.

Road tripping through I77 West Virginia- travelingsinglemom.com
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Y’all…West Virginia is something else. Beautiful, breathtaking, and scary as all hell if you’re driving in the dark and it happens to be raining. The highway is carved out of the Appalachians and you can’t see anything but black on either side and there’s all these sharp curves and corners. And also, the transport trucks drive really fast, honk their horns, and scare the crap out of you on route. From the time we got on the toll highway ($8 from one end to the other) we had nowhere to stop until we got off in Beckley, WV. Which meant we stopped too late to do much of anything but crash. Thankfully, not literally.

I took the first hotel I found. Which happened to be completely by accident since I got off one exit too soon and was completely lost. In the dark. In the mountains. When the Country Inn and Suites loomed up in front of me, I ran in and grabbed a room. To the tune of $90 a night (which turned into $125 CAD. Ouch.) Regardless, I was so super happy to find a hotel, I didn’t much care. Take our chances on the interstate or take the readily available room? No brainer. Exhausted and freaked out by the scary interstate in the rain at night, I took the room.

Road trip from Ontario to South Carolina- Stopping in West Virginia
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Which actually turned out to be really lovely with a complimentary breakfast. And not just stale bagels and a banana, either. Hot food, loads of kid friendly choices, and a really pretty view of the indoor pool. I wish I was the kind of person who could lollygag and poke around because both the indoor and outdoor pools looked lovely and West Virginia is really gorgeous. But when I’m on route to a destination, particularly a beach destination, I’m determined to get there. And with two mostly potty trained boys that’s never as quick as I’m hoping it will be.

When I stepped outside and looked around in the daylight, I could see why I was so freaked out the night before. Beckley is gorgeous but hell to drive through during the night.

Gorgeous Beckley, West Virginia. Beautiful during the day, scary as hell to drive through at night. - travelingsinglemom.com
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From Beckley, it took us another 6 1/2 hours until we arrived in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Once we got there however, it took almost 2 hours to make it a couple of miles down the road to Surfside Beach to pick up our keys. The traffic in Myrtle Beach is insane regardless of the time of day but on Thursday at rush hour, it pretty much sent me over the edge. I don’t think it helped that Toopy and Binoo was playing on the portable DVD player (we have and love this one!) right behind my head. I have no idea who gave the boys that video but if I ever remember we will no longer be friends.

Our condo was technically in Myrtle Beach but in actual fact was located in Surfside Beach which is on the south end of the whole Myrtle Beach area. We had a (mostly) terrific time and you can read about the entire adventure in the next couple of weeks when I share more in upcoming posts. We spent a couple of days in Charleston and on the Isle of Palms as well so check back in for all the details!

Our drive home was a little more leisurely since I knew we’d be heading back to the cold again. We took our time and stopped early in Marietta, Ohio.

Road trip from Ontario to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina- Stopping in Marietta, Ohio.- travelingsinglemom.com
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The boys weren’t at their best (Caution-understatement alert) so we grabbed a pizza and ate in our room before hitting the pool. This was one of the nicer indoor pools I’ve been to on the road and the boys paddled about in their “floaties” while I soaked in the hot tub. And, yes, I brought some wine to sip this time.  Liam tried to join me but I scared him off with tales of how hot the water was. #parentingwin

Road trip from Ontario to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina- Stopping in Marietta Ohio. Great pool and hot tub!- travelingsinglemom.com
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Nice, right?

Road trip adventures. Driving from Ontario to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina- Where to stay and how we managed.- travelingsinglemom.com
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We took our time getting on the road in the morning, stopping for the free breakfast (loved the waffles!) at the hotel before doing some shopping. Once the boys started licking each other, I figured it was time to get back on the road. The trip from Ohio to Ontario was uneventful except for the part where the boys screamed and yelled for the last 3 hours of the journey. Nothing I said or threatened seemed to settle them and it was so bad that by the time crossed the boarder, I was pretty distressed. Aiden, in particular, took great delight in sending out a series of high pitched screams. For an hour. It was so loud that the boarder crossing officer took pity on me and when I declared the moonshine in my trunk, she said “Good for you, honey. Best get home and open that tonight.” and waved us on through. Bless her.

Is a road trip as a single parent with two little kids doable? You bet. Was it all rainbows and unicorns? Hell, no. It’s been a few weeks since we got home and promptly announced to the boys I’d never take them anywhere again. Lies, all lies. if you ask the boys, they have nothing but happy memories, even of the long road trip. I’ve burned the Toopy and Binoo DVD. And, because South Carolina is so incredibly gorgeous, we’ll probably do it again. 🙂

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Details and resources from our latest road trip. Ontario to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina- travelingsinglemom.com

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Traveling With Kids? Why You Should Go For It

As someone who’s had the blessing of two sets of children in two distinct phases in my life, I wanted to share a few thoughts about why traveling with kids is a pretty great idea. In fact, if travel is in your soul then you’re going to want to find a way to make it happen, even if you think that having children means your travel plans have been shelved. Here’s why.

I had my first set of children fairly young, during my early to mid twenties, when time and money were in short supply. I was building my career and raising a young family. Who had time to travel? Not this girl. And I sure as heck didn’t have the money. When the girls got a bit older, I made it a point to start taking a vacation each year because travel had always been on my bucket list. We started small by renting a cottage a few hours from home for a week each summer. When that worked well, I added a second week. And then we started camping because we couldn’t afford much more and I still wanted us to get away on the weekends. When the girls were a bit older, I made time and saved the cash to take road trips to Florida, South Carolina, and other southern destinations that took us out of the suburban Canadian world we lived in. We even flew to an all inclusive Jamaican resort one year where I had the opportunity to learn that I don’t like all inclusive resorts. Not as adventurous as I wanted to be but at least we got out there. And those trips were amazing even when the girls drove me nuts. Because they were teens by then and they drove everyone nuts.

Thinking about traveling with kids. Here's why you should.

Once they grew up and didn’t want to go anywhere with me anymore I continued to travel by myself. And then I suddenly became a parent again in my mid-forties to two tiny little boys born 12 months apart. I cried a lot because I was afraid life was going to go back to the same mind-numbing way I had been living when my first set of kids were younger. Until one day I decided that I wouldn’t let that happen.

So we traveled. Always by car for the first couple of years so I could feel somewhat in control (ha!) and always around my work schedule. By the time the boys were 3 and 4 they had been to Florida 4 times, hung out in downtown Nashville on a Friday night, been on a pirate ship in the Gulf of Mexico (twice), and spent every weekend one summer camping in a glamper on the shoreline of Lake Erie. Still pretty safe and predictable but I liked the fact that we were getting out there. There were meltdowns and tantrums and all sorts of chaos. One kid forgot to get off the elevator after the doors closed. The same kid cut his face and blackened an eye in Alabama. The youngest fell asleep standing up in an elevator after a particularly late dinner one evening. By late, I mean dinner ended at 9:30 pm. He’s a good sleeper and enjoys going to bed. Bless him.

Aiden at 19 months, eating alligator sausage
Aiden at 19 months, eating alligator sausage

But we mostly laughed, spent time together on purpose (as opposed to just existing in the house at the same time), and enjoyed ourselves tremendously. On our last trip to Florida, I had the luxury of three weeks which means there’s a whole lot less pressure to do everything in a week before rushing back home so I let the rule book fade away. One day we hit up a beach bar right on the Gulf coast where I ordered a daiquiri at lunch, we ate whatever we wanted without worrying about nutrition, and I let the boys dance to eighties rock music out on the dance floor. I use the term “dance” kind of loosely here. Best day ever. We made friends everywhere we went, not just because the boys were cute, but because people love kids. Even wait staff in the most obvious tourist places who were exhausted with people loved to hang out and chat because of those little boys.

Then there was the time in Panama City Beach last year, where Liam told all the young ladies his name was Ricky Bobby and became the most popular guy at spring break. Even Aiden, who had some serious shyness issues back then, waltzed off into the deep end with his date that day without looking back. Best half hour of free babysitting of my life. I actually closed my eyes for a few minutes that March afternoon and just relaxed.

Why you should travel with kids.

I learned something on those trips. Kids are the ultimate people connector. Even the hotel/condo staff or most aloof server, cracked wide open when the boys showed up. They wanted to chat about their own kids, or their relatives kids, and I got to know people in a very different way than when I traveled with adults. Kids, I realized, are your ticket into the local culture and for someone who’s kind of shy and introverted, they’re a ticket to conversation and immediate camaraderie. Which is pretty cool when you’re socially awkward and introverted like I am.

Before Liam was born, I went to Hawaii on a solo vacation. I think I spent that entire week in Oahu with my head buried in a book and not speaking to anyone because of that whole shy/introvert thing. And in doing so, I lost a huge opportunity to connect with local people. Assuming they would have me since that tourist thing is huge in Hawaii and all. But kids are never going to allow you to bury your head in a book and ignore what’s going on around you. Everyone wants to chat to the boys, and by extension, to their mom. Sweet. Mostly. Because, shyness, and all.

Everyone has choices and there a lot of them to be made once you have kids. Should I take that job even though it’s farther from home? What car should we buy? Do we need a minivan now? Breast or bottle? (Although that’s thankfully off the table when you’re not the bio-mom!)  Soccer or baseball? Girl scouts or ballet? If you’re at all interested in travel and worried that it can’t be done with kids, stop freaking out and go do it! The older they get, the harder it gets. Do it before the kids lose interest because they will and that’s going to suck. Or before they need to be entertained all the time and don’t know how to just enjoy being somewhere different. Because kids do that.

Why you should travel with young children

Have you successfully traveled with young children? If so, I’d love to hear about it. Leave me a comment below or email me at Jenna@travelingsinglemom.com and share your story.