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
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.
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.
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.
Children 12 and under- $14.95
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.
Ages 13 and older- $12.00
12 Months to 12 years- $5.00
Infants under 1- free
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.
Adults (Ages 13 – 61) $22.99
Senior Citizens (Ages 62 & up) $20.99
Children (Ages 4 – 12) $16.99
Children (Ages 3 – Under) FREE
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.
Children 6 to 11 $16.99
Children 2 to 5 years $7.99
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.
Admission is free if you’re just planning to wander. Expect the kids to want you to spend some money, though.
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.
ADMISSION- Free to wander around.
Adults – $14.00
Children 3 to 11 – $9.00
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.
ALL ACCESS PASS:
Children 4 to 12 years – $17.99
The cost is lower if you’re just looking for the outdoor adventures.
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.
Admission is free.
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.
Prices start at $20 and go up to $180 for a 40 mile round trip.
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.
ADMISSION PRICES- (Tickets are good for 7 days and you can return as often as you like) –
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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