Boasting miles of beaches, amusement parks and live nightlife performances, Myrtle Beach is one of the best family vacation destinations on the East Coast. In fact, this coastal city nestled on the northern edge of South Carolina is ranked the No. 3 "Best Family Beach Vacations in the USA" and No. 7 "Best Alternative Spring Break Destination" by U.S. Travel News. Each year, travelers flood the shores - Myrtle Beach attracts more than 14 million visitors each year, making it the most popular tourist destination in South Carolina.
You better believe that at Ripley's Aquarium youngsters are going to be blown away by the giant octupi and sea dragons. This 85,000-square-foot complex located in Broadway-at-the-Beach has eight main sections where the whole family can soak in marine life from around the world. In the shallow lagoon, kids can touch stingrays as they glide by. Rainbow Rock shimmers with all of the bright colors found in the Indo-Pacific coral Reef. But the aquarium climaxes with the Dangerous Reef, the largest and most popular exhibit, housing several types of sharks, green sea turtles and eels.
The two water parks in Myrtle Beach are a great way to cool off during a hot summer day. Myrtle Waves, situated in the heart of Myrtle Beach, packs 24 slides and over 1 million gallons of water, featuring humongous slides like the turbo twists and raft rides. Roughly 8 miles away in Surfside Beach, Wild Water & Wheels is a massive water park mixed with 18 holes of mini golf, bumper boats, go karts and kiddie rides. The parks are open through the summer season.
The Family Kingdom is a leading attraction at the beach. This seaside amusement park has over 35 exhilarating rides for adults and kids. Adrenaline buffs should head to the Swamp Fox Roller Coaster, a wooden coaster that stretches 2,400 feet of wooden tracks. To add some aquatic action to your day, Family Kingdom also has a water park called Splashes. Family Kingdom Amusement Park and Water Park is open through Labor Day weekend.
Dominating the Myrtle Beach skyline, this X-foot Ferris wheel located on the oceanfront boardwalk offers supreme views of downtown, the Atlantic Ocean and beyond. You and your kids can nuzzle up in the climate-controlled glass gondola, no matter the season. The attraction is open year-round. Each night 1 million lights illuminate the entire ride, presenting a gorgeous look inside and out.
Pirates Voyage is a Dolly Parton dinner and show. Get comfortable for the four-course pirate feast - including half of a roasted chicken, barbecue pork, soup and more - while you enjoy the swashbuckling experience. The show features a mesmerizing acrobatic competition and a new music score by Dolly Parton herself. If that wasn't enough, kids will go giddy over the live animals involved in the production.
Enjoy a night of laughs at the Carolina Comedy Club. The venue brings in famous comedians as seen on The Tonight Show, Comedy Central, HBO and Showtime. Hungry guests can grub out at Back Stage Bar and Grill before a show. Seating is limited, so call for reservations.
Voted the "No. 1 Live Theatre Attraction featuring the Best in Family Entertainment" by Myrtle Beach Visitors, Alabama Theatre has a variety of performances throughout the year. The 2,000-seat venue has attracted artists like Smokey Robinson and Loretta Lynn. The Christmas Show, which runs from early November to late December, is the most popular event.
Shopaholics, whether you're seeking the latest fashion or souvenir gifts, your wait is over. Located on Celebrity Circle, Broadway at the Beach is the premier shopping destinations in Myrtle Beach. Check out Bijuju, which offers women's jewelry and high-quality accessories that don't sacrifice affordability. Shoes Boutique has a variety of footwear and handbags suitable for any budget. Keep kids entertained for days at Magnet Madness, Myrtle Beach's largest collection of magnets to decorate your fridge.
Take a relaxed, romantic night out at Toscana Italian Bistro. Despite the white tablecloth and origami folded napkins resting on the plates, the dress code is casual. Dig in to tasty mussels in scampi, escargot, or fried calamari. If you're looking for something lighter, the insalata alla Gorgonzola is made with crispy romaine, Italian herbs, walnuts and gorgonzola to help you keep your beach body. Dinner reservations recommended.
Meat lovers, look no further. At Rioz Brazilian Steakhouse, waiters continuously tend to your table holding skewers of more than 15 different cuts of beef, pork, lamb and poultry. Guests can also opt for the extensive salad bar as well as seafood and sushi. Among others, the grilled pineapple is a crowd favorite.