Myrtle Beach: Beyond the Links

By Leah Rumack

When one considers the typical charms of Myrtle Beach—an ocean-front city located in the centre of South Carolina’s Grand Strand coast—award-winning golf courses, beaches crammed with giggling toddlers and a boardwalk packed with tchotchke-laden kiosks spring to mind. But there’s another side to this sunny destination if you venture off the beaten path—around the famous 187-foot-tall Ferris wheel. Take a short drive to Georgetown, Pawleys Island, Murrells Inlet and the Carolina Forest area for surprising excursions, delightful local eats and genteel doses of Southern charm. 

620 PRINCE

620 Prince St., Georgetown; (843) 485-4899; 620prince.com

Under an hour’s drive from the bustle of Myrtle Beach’s main drag sits this intimate, charming and private little inn with only six guest rooms. This quietly luxe spot in historic Georgetown makes you feel like you’re visiting your very elegant Southern aunt (think stately furniture and opulent fabrics). The house dates back to the 1800s, and its modern B&B incarnation offers old-time-style comforts, like a library and three porches replete with rocking chairs—perfect for the daily sunset cocktail hour of 5 to 6 p.m.— alongside 21st-century amenities such as an outdoor pool and Wi-Fi.

RUSTIC TABLE

10683 Ocean Hwy., Pawleys Island; (843) 314-0164; rustictable.com

This unpretentious restaurant in Pawleys Island is helmed by award-winning chef—and former South Carolina chef ambassador—Adam Kirby.  It serves up dishes that are both upscale and down-home. Requisite-try items include the fried pickles dipped in homemade buttermilk ranch dressing, the enormous plate of shrimp ’n’ grits and the divine peach cobbler topped with freshly-made vanilla-bean ice cream.

MARKET COMMON

4017 Deville St., Myrtle Beach; (843) 839-3500; marketcommonmb.com

This planned, pedestrian-friendly district was built on the grounds of a former Air Force Base. Made to resemble a small town, it comes complete with restaurants, a local theatre company, cinema and man-made lake and retail shops. Stores include mega chains like Pottery Barn, Anthropologie and Barnes & Noble, along with small, cooler spots like Francesca’s, a boho boutique with flowy dresses, beaded clutches and hipster hostess gifts.

MYRTLE BEACH SPEEDWAY

455 Hospitality Ln., Myrtle Beach; (843) 236-0500; myrtlebeachspeedway.com

Adrenaline junkies can get their fix by driving an actual race car in the NASCAR Racing Experience at Myrtle Beach Speedway. Those feeling supremely confident can sign up for the popular Rookie Experience, where you take the car for a solo eight-minute spin after a couple hours of instruction from a crew chief. If that’s too daring, opt for the NASCAR Ride Along where you ride shotgun (which is still terrifying) while a pro driver hurtles you around the track at 100+ miles an hour. Or just watch the fast and furious action from the sidelines.

BROOKGREEN GARDENS

1931 Brookgreen Garden Dr., Murrells Inlet; (843) 235-6000; brookgreen.org

The brainchild of famed sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington and her husband, scholar and philanthropist Archer Milton Huntington, Brookgreen Gardens is home to the world’s largest collection of figurative sculpture in the United States. The Huntingtons were New Yorkers, but started spending winters in Myrtle Beach in the 1930s and ended up being a major local philanthropic force. The lush 9,000+ acres of flowers, fountains and moss-covered oak trees provide the backdrop to some 2,000 sculptures by more than 425 artists, including many pieces by Anna herself.

ATALAYA CASTLE

Huntington Beach State Park, Pawleys Island; (843) 237-4440; atalayacastle.com

A designated National Historic Landmark, locally known simply as Atalaya, this castle in Huntington Beach State Park was the winter home of Anna and Archer Huntington. In the off-season, you can tour the eerie, now-empty Moorish-inspired property built in the 1930s on your own or with a guide during the summer. The fascinating 30-room mansion features a tower and courtyards, as well as pens for the live animals (horses and even bears) that Anna kept as models for her sculptures.