Content Produced in Partnership with Explore North Myrtle Beach

Like any good Southerner, I know my beach towns. Over the years, I’ve visited dozens of them within driving distance of our home in Nashville. While each has its merits and drawbacks, but I have to admit there’s a special place in my heart for the beaches of South Carolina.

While most Southern beach communities sprang up over the last five or so decades from sandy expanses of scrub and bramble, South Carolina’s coast is drenched in centuries-old history and culture. It’s a fact you can’t ignore while you’re there, even if you’re spending your vacation in the most modern of highrises. You’ll find yourself feasting on the state’s signature Lowcountry cuisine, shag dancing in a pavilion by the ocean, buying woven baskets handmade by the local Gullah community, or spending a day touring a 200-year-old town that’s just a short drive away from your beach house. A visit to South Carolina is a full-on immersive experience, which is precisely what keeps us coming back time and again.

North Myrtle Beach is a perfect place to feel that South Carolina difference. Its proximity to Myrtle Beach means a wealth of attractions are all just a short drive away, but it retains a relaxing small-town feel and never lets you forget South Carolina’s many cultural charms. Here are seven reasons to make North Myrtle Beach your next beach destination.

Photo Credit: Lindsay Ferrier

1. North Myrtle Beach has a history

Like any good South Carolina town, North Myrtle Beach has a history, and it’s proud to celebrate its past with visitors. The Shag dance originated on its shores back in the 1930s and it’s still going strong here today. With lessons offered several times a week, Fat Harold’s Beach Club is a popular spot to learn to shag.

The Cherry Grove Fishing Pier was built in North Myrtle Beach in the 1950s and has remained a landmark to the folks who call this place home every since. Back in 1964, a world record was set here when Walter Maxwell caught a tiger shark that weighed nearly 2,000 pounds. Today, you can rent rods, reels and bait at the pier and try your own luck. You probably won’t catch a tiger shark, but pier employees are happy to give you tips on catching your dinner for that night.

La Belle Amie Vineyard has given new life to a beautiful, generations-old tobacco farm near North Myrtle Beach. Visitors can sample the vineyard’s private label wines made from 100-year-old grapevines and enjoy bonfires, live music, and other special seasonal events. If you can swing getting a babysitter, it's perfect for a fun date night for the adults. I mean, where else can you experience such beautiful grounds and vineyards so close to the ocean!

Photo Credit: Lindsay Ferrier

2. There's a perfect place for everyone

We opted to spend our vacation at North Beach Plantation, a stunning luxury resort with spacious oceanfront condominiums and a nearly three-acre Caribbean pool complex that included multiple swimming pools, fountains, jacuzzis, and a lazy river. Although the weather was cool, the pools were heated to 80 degrees, so the kids got to swim all week long. They were thrilled!

North Myrtle Beach has plenty of beach condos and resorts to choose from as well. The low rise (meaning no high rises along the coast) makes North Myrtle Beach really special - less crowds, more wide open views of the city. No matter the size of your family or your budget, you're sure to find an option to fit your needs.

Photo Credit: Lindsay Ferrier

3. You’ll eat like kings

If there was one thing we heard from friends who’d visited North Myrtle Beach before, it was this: “The restaurants there are great!” I’m happy to say our friends were correct. At Flying Fish Public Market & Grill, we feasted on delicious shrimp po boys and fresh tilefish at a table overlooking the inland waterway. Meanwhile, Hamburger Joe’s is the place to go for old-fashioned cheeseburgers and onion rings (just be sure to bring cash as the restaurant doesn’t take checks or credit cards).

We enjoyed a hearty and very affordable breakfast at local favorite Hoskins Restaurant, which opened its doors on North Myrtle Beach’s Main Street back in 1948. The crumb buns at Crumb Buns Bakery are to die for, but so was everything else we tried there. The sophisticated Sea Blue consistently wins honors as one of South Carolina’s top restaurants, while Joe’s Bar & Grill had one of the best dinners we’ve ever eaten in any beach town. The seafood chowder was rich and complex and the shrimp and grits were truly out of this world.

Photo Credit: Lindsay Ferrier

4. You’ll find a wide variety of unique outdoor recreational opportunities

Like most families, we’re always on the hunt for outdoor activities on our vacations. Fortunately, North Myrtle Beach has a wide range of options to choose from on — and off — the beach.

We opted for a guided kayak tour through a protected wildlife refuge on the Waccamaw River. In addition to gorgeous scenery, we spotted herons, osprey, turtles, and even a large herd of wild boar running alongside the bank! Great Escapes Kayak Expeditions also offers tours of the Cherry Grove Marsh and Waites Island.

Inlet Pointe Plantation on Waites Island includes the unique experience of horseback riding on the beach throughout the year. Although riders must be at least 10 years old, there is no experience required. Be sure to make a reservations in advance as these tours book up quickly even in the off season.

For a look at South Carolina’s peaceful marshland in its natural state, be sure to walk through the Heritage Shores Nature Preserve. Here you’ll find seven acres of walking paths on elevated boardwalk over the Cherry Marsh as well as 40 interpretive stations highlighting some of the marsh’s natural features. This is a great spot for a photo opp, so don't forget your camera.

If your family is anything like mine, you judge your beaches by its shells. We're happy to report we found more at North Myrtle Beach than at any other beach we've visited together. Plenty of shells washed up on the beach at low tide. Serious shellseekers will want to head to Myrtle Beach State Park for beachcombing, where plenty of shells wash up along the beach at low tide (and the park even has aseashell guide to help you identify what you find.)

Photo Credit: Lindsay Ferrier

5. It's a hit with everyone

I can guarantee that your kids will love North Myrtle Beach! There are so many fun things here designed especially for kids that ours are already begging to come back!

Alligator Adventure was a major highlight of our vacation. Here you’ll find hundreds of alligators, crocodiles, and other rare reptiles, including albino alligators and the largest crocodile in the United States. Walk through the park-like grounds to see the reptiles in their natural habitat and don’t miss the live shows, where you’ll get the opportunity to hold an alligator yourself and pose for photos. We were also fans of the park’s spider monkeys and hyenas. Altogether, it’s a fascinating way to spend a few hours and well worth the price of admission.

Another must-do on any family trip to North Myrtle Beach? Pirate’s Voyage. Pirate’s Voyage is way more elaborate and immersive than your average beach town dinner theater. We signed up the kids to join the crew before the show, which meant that they were both transformed into pirates (they can also opt to be a mermaid) with full stage makeup and matching accessories. Both set the tone so that my 12 year old and 9 year old were in the mood for the rip-roaring show, which included high diving, aerial feats, animals, and more.

Older kids will love Go Ape Zipline, a thrilling two to three-hour journey through forest canopy with ziplines, Tarzan swings, and rail track. Visitors rave about this zipline course and say it provides a major adrenaline rush.

The same can be said for Shark Wake Park, a cable watersports park that lets visitors learn and practice their wakeboarding skills without a boat. Wakeboarders hold onto a cable that runs at slow speeds for beginners and faster speeds for the intermediate and advanced.

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, North Myrtle Beach’s OD Pavilion offers carnival games and amusement park rides, right on the beach. And if miniature golf is your thing, you are definitely in the right place. North Myrtle Beach is filled with mini golf attractions, each with over-the-top features like volcanoes and mine train rides designed to entice families to stop in for a game.

Photo Credit: Lindsay Ferrier

6. Fascinating day trip options are just a short drive away

I love a beach town with lots of nearby day trip options, and North Myrtle Beach definitely fits the bill in this department. We spent quite a bit of time in Little River, a picturesque fishing village where you can often buy fresh seafood right off the boat if you time it right. Little River was once home to Spanish and English colonists, followed by pirates including Blackbeard and Captain Kidd. Today, it’s filled with some of the best restaurants in the area. We absolutely loved Capt. Juel's Hurricane Restaurant on the Intracoastal Waterway. Everything we tried, from the sushi and burgers to the crispy fish sandwich to the oversized desserts, was topnotch.

The Parson’s Table was another hit with our family. Located in a Methodist church originally built in the 1880s, the restaurant today serves thoughtfully sourced American fare and is a perfect spot for a big night out. We particularly enjoyed the Baked Brie en Brioche, fresh, cake-like cornbread, and pan-glazed Brooklyn Brown Ale Braised Beef Short Rib.

Historic Georgetown is a little over an hour’s drive from North Myrtle Beach. This quaint little town is the third oldest city in South Carolina and will definitely remind you of a smaller, quieter Charleston. You’ll find plenty of historic homes here as well as walking tours, locally-owned shops, and well-regarded restaurants featuring Lowcountry cuisine. Georgetown is also the departure point for the Carolina Rover, a popular pontoon boat tour that takes you past South Carolina’s oldest lighthouse to a barrier island with some of the coast’s best seashells.

Photo Credit: Lindsay Ferrier

7. This beach town is quirky, y’all.

I don’t know about you, but I like my beach towns to be a little… salty. North Myrtle Beach definitely has that quirky, small-town appeal. A prime example is Boulineau's IGA. At Boulineau's the slogan, “It’s where everyone goes!” definitely rings true. Originally established in 1948 and located just steps away from the beach, Boulineau’s is the Grand Strand’s largest grocery store — and a whole lot more. You’ll find pretty much anything you can think of here, including a fish market, Italian-style bakery, a ready-to-eat hot bar (which had a steady stream of customers the entire time we were there), beach supplies, hunting and fishing licenses, toys, hardware, a dining room, books, magazines, and more. A LOT MORE. You just have to see this place to believe it.

We had so much fun experiencing just a taste of what North Myrtle Beach has to offer. We can’t wait to come back to this beach, where history, culture, and a laid-back atmosphere combine to make conditions just right for a relaxing, fun-filled beach vacation.