Most visitors to South Carolina's famed Grand Strand come for the surf, sand and sunshine. But there's plenty to do in Myrtle Beach after the sun goes down, too. For decades, beach lovers have flocked to the area's wide assortment of musical venues, ranging from old-fashioned honky-tonks to the big-stage productions of musical theaters.
Whatever your taste in music, the Strand has one or more destinations where you can enjoy a drink with friends while taking in some cool tunes. Here's a lineup of the best places to soothe your soul or rock out.
4750 Highway 17 South, North Myrtle Beach; 843.272.1111
Located in Barefoot Landing's shopping complex, the theater opened in 1993 and features the variety-music program, The One Show, and the popular South's Grandest Christmas Show. Legendary groups, such as The Coasters, The Drifters, The Platters and Three Dog Night, also make appearances.
5307 North Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach; 843.712.1083
A smaller venue, Bourbon Street features acts of all genres, from open-mic and acoustic guitar nights to larger rock, country and alternative acts, four to six nights a week. Next door is Pine Lakes Tavern, another neighborhood pub with live music, allowing patrons to flow between the two.
1325 Celebrity Circle, Myrtle Beach; 843.444.3200
This sprawling outdoor entertainment center features restaurants, shops and a fantastic selection of music venues, offering both live bands and musical shows. The offerings include Hard Rock Cafe, Oz and Crocodile Rocks.
8901 North Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach; 800.843.6779
This large venue offers its Carolina Opry Show, blending live music with comedy and dance, along with The Time Warp Show, featuring music from the '60s, '70s and '80s. Open Monday-Saturday.
4025 Highway 17 Business, Murrells Inlet; 843.651.0664
With its views of the inlet and open-air deck, Dead Dog Saloon is a popular spot to listen to live rock and soul. But isn't the only place in this area. Another half-dozen venues also offer live music seven nights a week, from country to funk to old-school rock ‘n' roll - all within easy walking distance. Among the offerings are Bubba's Love Shack, Creek Ratz and Wahoo's Fish House.
229/231 Main Street, North Myrtle Beach; 843.663.3858
Duck's combines beach music favorites like the Fantastic Shakers and a selection of DJs with a wide array of up-and-coming musical acts. This is the place for lovers of South Carolina's traditional beach dance, The Shag. Live music is offered on the outside deck, sidewalk or indoors seven nights a week during warmer months starting around 9:30 p.m.
110 South Waccamaw Drive, Murrells Inlet; 843.651.9700
Best known for karaoke and live entertainment, this locale is known as Myrtle Beach's "party pier." The Bar on the Cafe Deck is open daily, weather permitting, starting at noon with the karaoke cranking up at 2 p.m. followed by live music at 8:30. Also offers great views of the Atlantic Ocean and a kids' arcade.
4911 Highway 17 Business, Murrells Inlet; 843.357.9175
While primarily a seafood restaurant, the waterfront gazebo out back regularly offers live music, including rock, country, alternative and funk bands from across the Southeast. A Murrells Inlet go-to spot since the 1990s, it's a great food-and-fun combination.
4640 Highway 17 South, North Myrtle Beach; 843.272.3000
An internationally known venue since 1997, its large music hall is adorned with a collection of American folk art and showcases every genre of music either in the concert hall or the outdoor stage and bar, "The Deck." The Hootie & the Blowfish Monday After The Masters concert is held here annually to raise money for junior golf.
2925 Hollywood Drive, Myrtle Beach; 843.238.7827;
As the name suggests, this live tribute show offers "musical memories" by impersonators of such top artists as Taylor Swift, Elvis and Michael Jackson. With backup dancers and full stage lighting, you'll feel like you're seeing a show in Las Vegas.
9550 Shore Drive, Myrtle Beach; 843.449.6461
Another institution since the 1980s, Annie's features area cover bands, including Dark 30 Boogie Band, Southside Band and Tara and Michael Coe Band, performing day and night on the patio. Also offers views of the beach from the Sandals Lounge.
10635 Ocean Highway, Pawleys Island; 843.237.8465
The bar's nickname, "The Pit," comes from its initials. This locals' spot has indoor and outdoor live music year-round, focusing on variety and college-friendly bands with an occasional blues performance. The pub grub includes pizza.
205 Main Street, North Myrtle Beach; 803.249.8942
This is where the "hip" rockers of the Grand Strand's North End go for live music. Local, regional and some national acts perform, with the Cove specializing in reggae and alternative rock. Soloists also perform on the outdoor rooftop deck.
1309 North Ocean Boulevard, Myrtle Beach; 843.455.7437
This is the place to go in the heart of Myrtle Beach for spring, summer and fall concerts on the Boardwalk at Plyler Park. There's plenty of green space adjacent to the Skywheel, the oceanfront Ferris wheel, to sit and enjoy the music.
201 Fantasy Harbour Boulevard, Myrtle Beach; 843.903.2628
Overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway, The Boathouse has built a national reputation for its outdoor concert series offered spring through fall. Along with "Nashville Nights" country music specials, the line up includes top country, rock and hip-hop groups. An optional indoor stage is available in case of bad weather.
110 Ninth Avenue North, Myrtle Beach; 843.626.3445
This is the oldest continually operating music bar (since 1944) on the Grand Strand and the birthplace of the country-rock super group, Alabama. The "old-fashioned honky-tonk" has live country and Southern rock six or seven nights a week depending on the season, and the house band, The Bounty Hunters, takes audience requests six nights a week. Some big names from the past are known to pop in, too.