11 Must-Do Day Trips from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Preparing to embark on a journey to Myrtle Beach? You could spend your entire holiday in this seaside city and have a fabulous time. But why not be bold and add one of the best day trips from Myrtle Beach to your itinerary? From bumbling little beach towns to some of the Carolinas’ greatest historic cities, a jaunt to some of these incredible destinations will surely make your holiday unforgettable.

Myrtle Beach will offer you an endless stream of family-friendly fun, sandy shorelines, and sun-filled days. You could easily continue your beachy adventures with a road trip destination like Pawley’s Island, or you can complement them with a land-locked excursion to go microbrewery-hopping in Wilmington, NC, or antiquing in Conway, SC.

Ready to take the next step towards making your South Carolina getaway memorable? Whether you’re just passing through and looking for the next stop along your journey or want to add a fun excursion to your itinerary, this list of exciting Myrtle Beach side trips is all the inspiration you’ll need!

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Murrells Inlet

Running short on time? Murrells Inlet is a quaint, historic fishing village and one of the most popular destinations nearby. With just 27 minutes required to get there from Myrtle Beach, this road trip should fit even the busiest itineraries. Especially if you want to keep the maritime vibes alive, this little town is the ideal place to spend a sleepy day by the seaside.

The heartbeat of the town is the Murrells Inlet Marshwalk. This estuary-bound boardwalk is the place to be, both for a leisurely stroll and for all things entertainment. Grab a happy-hour drink and hang around for the nightly live music at the water’s edge. Depending on when you visit, you may even stumble upon one of the Marshwalk’s many pop-up events and festivals.

Murrells Inlet

Of course, dotted along the pier are a handful of renowned restaurants serving up fresh seafood. For a beach-bar atmosphere and some low-fuss fusion, head down to the Wicked Tuna Grill and Sushi Bar. They’ll happily plate up Southern classics like po’ boys and shrimp & grits for you, a wide array of sushi, or any combination of the two you can dream up.

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Want to take things up a notch? The Claw House Oyster Bar and Beer Garden has a slightly more sophisticated vibe and serves a whole lot of fish straight from the sea to your plate. Travelers rave that their steam pots are to die for!

Brookgreen Gardens

Looking for multiple top attractions packed into one easy road trip? Brookgreen Gardens is a hub for the region’s greatest things to see & do, with three major sites drawing in the crowds. All that, and it’s only 35 minutes away from Myrtle Beach. You can’t go wrong with a journey over here!

Art lovers and home gardeners alike will adore Brookgreen Gardens. Titled the “Floral Jewel of South Carolina’s Coast,” these botanical gardens cover 9,000 acres, with ancient live oaks, rose terraces, and unkempt beauty. Throughout the grounds, you’ll also find extensive sculpture gardens, home to over 2,000 works, and three indoor galleries featuring paintings, textiles, and more.

Brookgreen Gardens

Did you know Brookgreen Gardens is also home to the Lowcountry Zoo? The zoo exclusively showcases native species that cannot survive on their own in the wild. You can explore exhibits of alligators, river otters, and white-tailed deer—oh my!

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Perhaps the most popular exhibit at the Lowcountry Zoo is the Whispering Wings Butterfly Experience, where hundreds of these beauties take flight. One might even land on your shoulder; be sure to have your camera ready for a photo!

Pawleys Island

With grassy sand dunes and white-sand beaches, Pawleys Island is every ocean lover’s favorite day trip from Myrtle Beach. With the route clocking in at 45 minutes each way, you can easily pack up and head to this destination on a whim in the middle of the day; it’s maybe best to keep it on reserve for when you don’t know what to do next.

Despite its name, Pawleys Island is located on the mainland, not an island. But you can certainly go barefoot and swing on a hammock as if you’re on one!

Pawleys Island

Outdoor recreation on Pawleys Island is all about water sports. If you’re feeling brave, you can learn to surf with Surf the Earth, but there are also plenty of more leisurely aquatic activities to consider. For example, you could rent a kayak or canoe and spend a leisurely afternoon exploring the local estuaries at your own pace.

Foodies rejoice! Pawleys Island is also a bit of a hotspot for foodies, with innovative international fusion restaurants, fresh seafood bistros, and Southern homestyle establishments at the heart of its tourism scene.

Wilmington, NC

If you’re willing to venture a little further afield, why not cross over to one of the premier destinations in North Carolina? Wilmington, NC, about an hour and a half from Myrtle Beach, is a hip and historic city with plenty of things to do.

Good news for beer lovers! Wilmington is home to many craft breweries, making grabbing an innovative pint super easy. From extra-hoppy IPAs to easy-sipping lagers, you’re sure to find a brew that seems like it was crafted just for you at Mad Mole Brewing, Fly Trap Brewing, and more.

Cape Fear River Wilmington

After you’ve celebrated happy hour, you should plan to take in a show at one of Wilmington’s many live theatres. A fan-favorite is the Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts.

Pro Tip: If you’d like to see the local landmarks and top Wilmington, NC, points of interest all in one go, take a horse-drawn trolley tour through the Historic District. Afterward, you can make a stop at Bellamy Mansion, and—voila!—just like that, you’ve done a deep dive into Wilmington’s past in a single afternoon.

Folly Beach

Bonafide beach bums hoping to go beach-hopping on their South Carolina vacation should consider making the trek out to Folly Beach. It’ll take you two and a half hours to get there from Myrtle Beach, but it’s totally worth it—and there are plenty of pretty coastal stops along the way if you want to get out and stretch your legs! Since it’s a bit of a time investment, many travelers add this on as a full weekend excursion or even split their time with Myrtle Beach evenly.

Whether you want the perfect photo opportunity or just to get close to some of Folly Beach’s historic landmarks, be sure to make your way to the Morris Island Lighthouse. Overlooking Charleston Harbour, this point of interest can only be accessed by boat or kayak unless you’re willing to wade in up to your knees at low tide. Otherwise, you can just hang back on the beach and check it out from afar, where you may just see dolphins swim by and collect driftwood to bring home a little memento.

Folly Beach

Once you’re ready to put the exploring on pause and mellow out in the sand, Folly Beach County Park is the place to be. With a vast expanse of powdered shoreline, the infamous Folly Beach Pier, and the perfect-sized waves for playing in the water, this stretch of sand is one of the best beaches in the Charleston area.

Does your beach day deserve an upgrade? Rent a lounge setup from the Folly Beach Chair Company and laze in luxury.

Huntington Beach State Park

Looking for one more beautiful South Carolina beach to add to your itinerary? Add Huntington Beach State Park to your must-see list. Only a quick 30-minute drive from your Myrtle Beach base, this reserve is full of sandy expanses and lush estuaries—and has a few surprises up its sleeve.

Did you know that Huntington Beach State Park is also a National Historic Landmark? That’s right: The ruins of Atalaya Castle lay near these shores, and now you can explore this magical spot as part of a good old-fashioned beach day!

Huntington Beach State Park

After stepping back into the past, stroll down the boardwalk trails through the salt marshes and freshwater lagoons. It’s one of the best bird-watching sites around, too!

Ever tried geocaching? Bring a few trinkets along and join in on this take something/leave something scavenger hunt; several cache sites are sprinkled throughout the park.

Of course, you could just sit in the sand all day, reading a good book, and nobody would blame you: Huntington Beach State Park is a prime spot for relaxation. Plus, the south end of the beach is dog-friendly, so no one in your travel crew has to hang back at the hotel.

Charleston

Want to head somewhere a little more built up? Give Charleston a try. This city is both the oldest and largest in South Carolina; you won’t find any shortage of things to see & do here. It’ll take you two hours and fifteen minutes to travel to Charleston by car, but you can catch a bus from the visitor center if you want to save money on a rental or take the pressure off the drive. (And play road trip games along the way with the whole family!)

The first thing you should do after arriving in Charleston in one day is hit up some of the city’s top attractions. For an aquatic adventure, you could hop on a harbor cruise or immerse yourself in an underwater world at the South Carolina Aquarium.

Ashley River Charleston

Tourists who prefer to have fun on dry land should take a look at the Charleston Tea Garden, where you can take a trolly plantation tour and then sip some specialty concoctions.

Looking for a great photo op? Head to one of Charleston’s most photographed locations. The iconic Rainbow Row, a string of colorful historic houses lining East Bay Street, will add a mega dose of personality to your #wanderlust social media feed.

On the other hand, Angel Oak Tree will provide you with a fairytale backdrop for your family photos. It may not sound exciting, but this massive, gnarled oak and its luscious canopy are utterly enchanting.

Carolina Beach

Whether you’re traveling with kids or you just want to embrace your inner child, Carolina Beach is a destination that’s packed full of fun. It’ll take a while to get there, just shy of two hours, but once you get there, you’ll remain on the go until the sun goes down.

The Carolina Beach Boardwalk gives off Summer vacation vibes all year long. Here, you’ll stay and play all day with a ride on the iconic Giant Ferris Wheel, old-school arcade games awaiting you in a venue of bright lights, and several live musical performances.

Carolina Beach Pier Sunrise

What’s the perfect way to end your excursion? With ice cream piled high in a waffle cone- a boardwalk special. Grabbing a drink from the tiki bar on Carolina Beach Pier has also become a right of passage.

When choosing the best beach in the area for a sunny day by the seaside, you’ll find a lot of stiff competition. Among the top trenches of sand are the Freeman Park Recreations Area, where you can go beach camping and shelling, or the First Fisher State Recreation Area, home of a Historic WWII bunker, surf fishing, and superb wildlife watching. If you’re lucky and stay just a little after dusk, you might even see loggerhead turtles come ashore, as this is a popular nesting site for these gentle giants.

Georgetown

For a laid-back day of slow tourism activities, a road trip to Georgetown is a great choice. It’ll take you just under an hour to get there, and then you’ll be free to walk the downtown streets, browse local museums and cafes, and maybe even have an afternoon picnic.

Are you a cat or a dog person? If you answered “cat,” then, boy, do we have a treat for you. The Purr and Pour Cat Cafe is one of Georgetown’s most underrated attractions. Here, you can start your morning with a cup of locally roasted coffee, tea, or even a beer while you play with a handful of kitties looking for homes. (Just a word of caution, though: you’re likely to fall in love with these cute little kittens!)

Shell Island in Georgetown, SC

Along the coast, you’re never too far from the water, and Georgetown is no exception. Stopping at Winyah Bay before you leave is a must. Whether you want to join the slew of fishermen and cast a line for the afternoon, make a pitstop at the beach for a quick swim, or walk along the pier at sunset, this is not a map point you’ll want to skip over.

Are you a museum lover at heart? You’ll be happy to hear that Georgetown is full of them, from small niche galleries to large, nationally recognized collections.

Two of the most highly recommended museums here are the Kaminski House Museum, which will take you back to life in the south in the 18th century, and the South Carolina Maritime Museum, with nautical relics and captain’s memorabilia galore.

Calabash, NC

The self-proclaimed “fishing capital of the world,” Calabash, NC, is a quaint little fishing town with lots of oceanic activities and restaurants serving fresh seafood. It’ll take about 35 to 40 minutes to drive to Calabash from Myrtle Beach, and you can easily explore the whole town in a single day.

For one of the coast’s best pours, head to the Silver Coast Winery. Depending on how much time you have to spare, you can either take a grand tour of their facilities or just pop in for a quick tasting. Are you a bookworm? This Calabash winery hosts monthly meet and greets and private events with top authors; be sure to check their events calendar before you go and bring a copy to get signed.

Calabash

Set sail with a Hurricane Fleet Tour, ranging from deep sea fishing to dolphin watching. This operational shrimping boat will take you out on their usual run, where dolphin pods surround the catch looking for a snack and riding the bow.

The crew will also pull up some ocean creatures for you to explore from time to time, like crabs and lobsters, before butting them back where they belong. Educational and hands-on, these tours are an excellent option for tourists who want to get close to these majestic creatures while respecting their space.

Conway

What if we told you that there was a pretty great destination near Myrtle Beach that wasn’t oceanside? Conway may not have that salty breeze or beachcombing opportunities, but it does have plenty of country charm and is a worthwhile endeavor for a change of pace. At 35 minutes in length, this road trip can easily be undertaken in a half-day or extended once you arrive and fall in love with this little city.

Take a step back in time and discover Conway’s agriculture industry at L.W. Paul Living History Farm. Here, you’ll help with the harvest, learn to milk a cow, and chat with the resident blacksmith as he makes a brand-new horseshoe.

Waccamaw River Riverwalk Conway

If you’d rather get out and explore some of Conway’s great outdoors, the Waccamaw River Park is a great place to start. With so many beautiful beaches around, the forested trail network makes for a nice change of scenery.

Take a trip down memory lane and participate in one of Conway’s most popular pastimes: Antiquing! This modern form of treasure hunting is popular amongst the locals, and a huge tourist draw to the area.

Thanks to the demand, you’ll find oodles of shops brimming with one-of-a-kind pieces. Fan favorites include the Southern Pickers Antiques and the Carolina Marketplace Antique Mall, among at least a dozen others.

Treksplorer

Ryan O'Rourke is a seasoned traveler and the founder & editor of Treksplorer, a fiercely independent guide to mid-range luxury travel for busy people. With over 20 years of extensive travel experience, Ryan has journeyed through over 50 countries, uncovering hidden gems and sharing firsthand, unsponsored insights on what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay. Backed by his travel experience and in-depth research, Ryan’s travel advice and writing has been featured in publications like the Huffington Post and Matador Network. You can connect with Ryan on Twitter/X at @rtorourke.

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