Relax. Rejuvenate. Reinvigorate. If the longing to do any or all of these launched your visit to the Grand Strand, you did your homework well. The Myrtle Beach area is rich with recreational activities that can relieve the stresses of daily life, awaken the spirit of adventure and restore a sense of well-being. While lounging in a beach chair with a good book and a beverage is the recreational pastime of choice for many vacationers, those seeking a bit more stimulation can indulge their need in a variety of ways.
The Grand Strand is an athlete’s paradise with several sports complexes, indoor and outdoor sports centers, multiple ballparks and more. The City of Myrtle Beach alone boasts a host of recreation centers, tennis courts, indoor gymnasiums, adult and youth ball fields, playgrounds and parks with basketball courts and more. There’s also a roller hockey rink and skating park and even a Miracle League field for special needs children. Add to all that a minor league baseball stadium and a football stadium. Whew! There’s no doubt about it – the Grand Strand's got game!
Most notably, Myrtle Beach is proud to be home to the Pelicans, a minor league baseball team and Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. Pelicans Ballpark seats 5,200 spectators and fans, many of whom cheered their home team all the way to the minor league title in 2015. Visitors are welcome to join in the fun and experience this great American pastime. And bring the kids – there are always special activities for the young’uns.
Look alive, sports tourists! Grand Park Athletic Complex in Myrtle Beach and the North Myrtle Beach Park and Sports Complex are among the many venues offering a year-round line-up of tournaments and championships for Frisbee, soccer, baseball, lacrosse, wheelchair games and even the increasingly popular pickleball. These adult and youth competitions are sure to satisfy your “sweet tooth” for spectator sports.
The Myrtle Beach Sports Center is the new kid on the recreational block, having opened in March 2015. The 100,000-square-foot, state of the art facility plays host to a variety of tournaments, including gymnastics and MMA, and has 16 volleyball and eight basketball courts. On specified days, you can purchase a day pass to shoot hoops in the basketball gymnasium. Call for details.
Tennis buffs are invited to grab their racquets and hit the courts at Myrtle Beach Tennis Center. Reserve one of the 10 lighted courts for a modest hourly rate. Hours change somewhat during the winter months, so call ahead.
You’re at the beach, so getting wet is a given. If dipping your toes in the surf isn’t quenching your thirst for water fun, plan to spend an exhilarating day at a Grand Strand water park.
You can’t miss the towering maze of loops and chutes that rise from Myrtle Waves, South Carolina’s biggest, wettest water park. Say goodbye to the sand while still enjoying the “sea” at the Ocean in Motion Wave Pool. Super slides are aptly christened with names like Turbo Twister and Riptide Rocket – a not so subtle hint that thrills and adventure await. Pools, rides and slides come kiddie-size, too, for family fun.
In Surfside Beach, Wild Water & Wheels will cool you down while raising some goose bumps on speed slides and more. Grab a tube and whiz through a tube slide or take on the mighty Wipe Out wave pool. A full day of recreational activities might include play 18-wholes of mini-golf, racing go carts, battling it out in a bumper boat and lunching in the designated picnic area outside the park.
Directly on the ocean, Family Kingdom’s Splashes is the place for water slide fun with a beach view. Speed slides and a water flume with a hair-raising 100-foot drop will get your adrenaline pumping. Relax afterward with a calming trip down the 425-foot lazy river.
If you’re not an ocean swimmer or you’re facing a rainy day, try out one of the area’s aquatic centers. A modest daily rate gets you access to the North Myrtle Beach Aquatic and Fitness Center and its 8-lane, 25-yard lap pool, sauna, hot tub and 20-foot indoor water slide. Or check out the aquatics programs and facilities offered by the City of Myrtle Beach, which includes a line-up of classes for adults and children, as well as public access to indoor pools located throughout the city.
Running, Walking and Biking
There are plenty of races, fundraisers and other events in the Myrtle Beach area that invite you to lace up those athletic shoes and hit the ground running, walking or biking. For the serious runner, there’s the Myrtle Beach Marathon as well as a half marathon in the fall. If you don’t mind a little dirt, navigate the Dirty Myrtle Mud Run, which typically takes place twice a year.
While the 60-miles of beach along the Grand Strand are, hands-down, the most popular walking trail, there are less-traveled paths that make for memorable walks and runs. The most challenging of these would be found at Horry County Bike and Run Park, located between S.C. 31, Grissom Parkway and the Intracoastal Waterway. Nicknamed “The Hulk” for an up-and-down, twist-and-turn terrain that’s been compared to the Incredible Hulk coaster at Universal Orlando Resort, this 7-mile trail is open to individuals and families for running, walking or biking. Mountain biking, in particular, is a popular pastime here, so if you’re looking to let loose on two wheels, head to The Hulk.
Not nearly as challenging but equally appealing are the trails at Vereen Memorial Gardens in Little River. This is your spot if you prefer a gentler, kinder hiking experience. Trails are short and manageable, with some leading to water views of the Intracoastal Waterway. Both of the area’s state parks, Huntington Beach and Myrtle Beach, offer similar hiking opportunities with interpretive trails where you can stretch your legs and experience the lush natural beauty.
Additionally, equestrian trails are open at Myrtle Beach State Park from November through February. Call for guidelines as restrictions apply. If you’re looking to do something a bit out of the box, explore Huntington Beach by participating in a "Segway Glide" through the wetland and life preserve. Helmets and training are included in your rental rate; reservations are strongly recommended.
Delivering smiles is a specialty of the house at Myrtle Beach, where amusements beckon visitors to take time out for fun just for fun’s sake. You’ll do just that at Family Kingdom, an admission-free, 13-acre seaside amusement park where you can ride a classic wooden coaster and view the breathtaking panoramic seascape from the top of a 100-foot Ferris wheel. Get a different birds-eye view of Myrtle Beach on the SkyWheel. Ride one of the gondolas that rise 200 feet above the boardwalk for the best views in all the Grand Strand.
Get a taste of local nostalgia at the Pavilion at Broadway at the Beach, where you’ll find park rides that were relocated from the former downtown landmark, Pavilion Amusement Park. Taking center stage is a 1912 Herschell-Spillman carousel and a 1900s hand-carved German Baden Band Organ, both of which have been delighting Myrtle Beach visitors for decades.
Speed things up a bit at Broadway Grand Prix Family Race Park. Seven go-kart tracks designed for all skill levels lure confident daredevils as well as those still dreaming of a driver’s license. An arcade, climbing wall, sky coaster bungee and mini golf round out this park, where you can satisfy your need for speed and so much more.
Myrtle Beach is a golfer’s paradise, but take note: Mini-golf is just as serious a sport in these parts. If that elicits giggles, respect this: North Myrtle Beach is home to the U.S. ProMiniGolf Tour Masters and one of the nation’s most highly regarded mini golf courses, Hawaiian Rumble. Hone your skills at any of the area’s 50 courses, settle a score with a family member or challenge the kids to a tournament for fun and laughs. You never know – you might just have a future "Masters" champ in your midst.
Zip Lines and Ropes Courses
Sometimes you just gotta get your feet off the ground. In times of such extreme need, take off on an aerial runway with a zip lining adventure. The aptly named Soar and Explore at Broadway at the Beach features a 1,000-foot zip line that sends you gliding 50-feet above the ground. You can also test your navigational skills on the tri-level ropes course. Conquer 33 challenges 40 feet in the air for a sky-high sense of accomplishment.
It’s easy to spot Myrtle Beach Zipline Adventures in the heart of downtown Myrtle Beach. The cables strung between the towering structures create an aerial freeway with thrill-seekers speeding across the sky. Up the excitement by competing side-by-side with friends or family on 600-foot parallel cables. Brace yourself, though, as there’s an added element of drama on this course. Not only will you zip along at speeds up to 40 mph, but you’ll experience a free-fall at the end from a 60-foot tower. Definitely not for the faint of heart.
Take a flight on the wild side at Go Ape Zip Line and Treetop Adventure in Little River. Five zip lines strung over a 2,400-foot aerial space promise an epic sky adventure. Test your balance on the crossings and bridges of the ropes course, and take a turn on the Tarzan swing. Brush up on your Tarzan yell first if you want to really impress.