With nine miles of beautiful beach, you could spend your entire time in North Myrtle Beach lounging, walking and swimming on the beach. But beyond the beach there’s so much more to do.
I hiked in nature preserves and gardens, relaxed at a wine bar and enjoyed a flight of cocktails at an upscale distillery. I indulged in South Carolina’s best ice cream, took a shag dance lesson and went on a dolphin cruise. And ate loads of delicious fried seafood.
A highlight of the trip was a sunset kayak trip through the marshes with solar lanterns lighting the way.
Here are seven amazing things to do in North Myrtle Beach, plus where to eat.
Take a sunset kayak tour through the marshes
One of my happy places is seated in a kayak, paddle in hand. Taking a sunset kayak tour with J&L Kayaks was a highlight of my trip to North Myrtle Beach. It’s a perfect way to wind down the day and watch the sun set.
We launched from Cherry Grove boat ramp and followed our guide through the marshes. I enjoyed getting to see some of the homes that bordered the marsh and one woman shouted out a friendly greeting as we glided by the back of her home.
As the sun began to set, our guide had us stop our kayaks and he came to each of us, setting a solar-powered lantern at the front of our kayaks, lending a magical feel to the trip as we slowly headed back to the dock.
J&L has a variety of kayak tours including sunrise and crabbing tours as well as one on Waites Island.
Stroll through nature preserves and gardens
I love walking on the beach and got out every morning for a stroll. For more shade and views of marsh grasses, head to the gardens and nature preserves.
There’s a three-mile partly shaded bike and walking path at Vereen Memorial Gardens with wooden swings and a gazebo with views of the salty marshes and the Intracoastal Waterway.
The Russell Burgess Coastal Preserve is small, easily accessible and a popular place for fishing, crabbing and birding.
We walked the 1.2 mile-long loop at Heritage Shores Nature Preserve one morning, a path that took us through the woods and out on boardwalks with marsh views.
Take a Dolphin Cruise
Our first attempt at taking the Dolphin Cruise ended with us hunkering down under a tent while a raging storm threatened to drench us. The cruise was cancelled but we came back the next day and had perfect weather.
We set out on a 79-foot-long speed boat that holds 141 people. We saw several dolphins and could also see Sunset Beach and Bird Island in North Carolina.
Eat, shop, be entertained at Barefoot Landing and on Main Street
With over 20 restaurants, dozens of shops, games and a pretty setting on the Intracoastal Waterway, Barefoot Landing is a great place to hang out. It’s also home to the Alabama Theatre and House of Blues.
To entertain the younger set, there’s a small train and a carousel. You can enjoy weekly fireworks on Monday nights in the summer.
The mile-long Main Street has dozens of shops and is home to some of the best local restaurants. Be sure to stop by Melt, where the ice cream was named best in South Carolina by Food & Wine magazine. The long lines in the summer attest to its popularity.
We stopped in and I indulged in delicious homemade peach ice cream in a waffle cone. Yum.
Thursday night we settled into chairs to enjoy one of the free weekly concerts of the Music on Main Concert Series. Concerts are held May through September.
For gift items and local souvenirs, be sure to visit the top floor of the local grocery store Boulineau’s, fronted by a lighthouse. Walk up the stairs of the lighthouse for a nice view then check out the huge selection of merchandise.
Relax with an adult beverage
The chance to taste four different cocktails? I’m in! I’d never seen a flight of cocktails before and had so much fun making my selection from those offered at the elegant Twelve33 Distillery. I enjoyed every one of them although the Bless Your Heart with gin, cucumber, mint and lemon juice was my favorite.
Founded in 2019 and owned by Kevin and Rebecca Osborn, Twelve33 is named for the year Prohibition was repealed.
Kevin gave us a brief tour of the distillery, introduced us to his stills named Bonnie and Clyde and told us that he sources all his ingredients for his spirits in South Carolina. We also got a peek at the hidden speakeasy that’s available for private events.
The distillery offers regular and VIP tours every day.
For wine lovers, Wine Therapy is the place for you. Megan and Richard Paolino opened the wine bar in 2021 after moving to North Myrtle Beach from Philadelphia. Megan is a former social worker and said, “I wanted to have a place of healing. And I wanted to have a place where I could pour wine all day and talk to people.”
Once again, I enjoyed a flight, this time a selection of healthy pours of wine that included a white, rose and red.
In addition to wine, they also serve bourbon, martinis and cocktails as well as small bites and charcuterie boards.
I was surprised by the crowds on the porch, in the store and in the tasting room at Duplin Winery when we arrived around 4:00 on a Wednesday afternoon. If your taste runs more to the sweet side of wine, the muscadine-based wines here are for you.
The 15,000-square-foot winery includes retail space, a tasting room and plenty of room to relax and enjoy their wines.
Beer lovers should make a beeline to Crooked Hammock Brewery at Barefoot Landing to try the Year Rounders, Seasonals and Limited beers. Check out the restaurant and the huge outdoor seating area with plenty of games.
Take a dance lessons at Fat Harold’s
Much to the amusement of British visitors, for whom the word shag has an entirely different and more intimate meaning, here shag is a beloved form of dance.
Think of it as a slowed-down version of the jitterbug, a dance that has been popular for close to 100 years. While lots of shag clubs used to be found in Virginia and the Carolinas, Fat Harold’s Beach Club is one of the last left.
This wildly popular venue is open every night welcoming hundreds of enthusiastic dancers of all ages. Free dance lessons for beginners are offered every Tuesday night. On Monday nights beginners, intermediate and advanced dancers can take lessons for a small fee; no partner required.
At the end of Main Street you can see Ocean Drive Pavilion, home to the Shaggers Hall of Fame and host to shag events from April to November.
Explore Calabash, North Carolina
A small fishing village about 20 minutes from North Myrtle Beach, Calabash is worth a visit for its amazing seafood, tour opportunities and a stop at Callahan’s of Calabash, a 35,000-square-foot store with everything from a huge Christmas area to fudge to clothing to jewelry. You can find brand names like Vera Bradley, Yankee Candles and Tervis tumblers.
Calabash is famous for its style of seafood, which is basically battered and deep fried. A few popular places to eat are Oyster Rock and The Boundary House.
We met Bob Taylor, who started an outdoor eatery 20 years ago. At Calabash Waterfront Seafood Shack, the seafood comes directly from the boats to his kitchen. We grabbed seats facing the water and ordered a basket of fried shrimp – so yummy.
Bob also owns rental properties and a fresh seafood market and operates adventure tours and fishing charters.
Where to Eat in North Myrtle Beach
I ate well in North Myrtle Beach, from delicious fluffy pancakes to steak au poivre.
Where to eat breakfast in North Myrtle Beach
The Golden Griddle Pancake House has been serving up fluffy pancakes for 50 years. A family-owned restaurant, three brothers are running it now. I loved that they had an urn of warm maple syrup to scoop onto your pancakes.
Main Street Bakery and Eatery is a great place to grab a quick breakfast sandwich or pick up lunch.
For breakfast at Souffles I enjoyed the garden patched omelet with spinach, grilled tomatoes and avocado but was also tempted by the waffles and stuffed French toast.
The Shack was a fun place for a southern-style breakfast and yummy biscuits.
Where to eat lunch in North Myrtle Beach
Snooky’s Oceanfront has inside seating and tables with a view of the ocean and a varied menu with salads, tacos, burgers and a raw bar. They are especially known for their crab cakes.
We took our place in a long like at Hoskins Restaurant, but it moved fast at this long-time favorite that has been serving breakfast and lunch since 1948. Look for the daily lunch specials and don’t miss the fresh cream pies.
Where to eat dinner in North Myrtle Beach
Joe’s Bar and Grill is housed in what looks like an old hunting cabin with a deck overlooking the marsh. Our indoor table had a marsh view as well and after the sun went down, we had a surprise visitor to the wooden pallet outside our window – a racoon showed up to chow down on the scraps set there for him. This is the place to enjoy meat and fresh seafood in a comfortable atmosphere.
For a more beach-like atmosphere try Boardwalk Billy’s on the Doc Holidays Marina overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway. Try the sushi, peel and eat shrimp, crab legs or fried lobster basket.
We enjoyed a catered dinner of Low Country Boil at a lovely rental home. The food came from Platt’s Seafood, North Myrtle Beach’s oldest and largest seafood, where you can get fresh and prepared seafood.
Where to Stay in North Myrtle Beach
Elliott Realty Beach Rentals has a range of options from oceanfront condos to luxury rental homes.
For more information visit Explore North Myrtle Beach.
– Story and photos by Jan Schroder, Editor-in-chief