Ever dreamt of planning an activity-filled vacation only to be reminded of how quickly expenses can add up? From airfare and lodging to dining and shopping, spending a week in Myrtle Beach can cost an arm and a leg if you don’t plan ahead. We want you to be able to enjoy your trip, without pinching pennies, so we’ve put together a list of the top 11 free things to do in Myrtle Beach.
Book a spacious, fully-equipped Myrtle Beach vacation rental (choose from more than 2,100 on FlipKey!) and you’ll save even more. Staying in a rental eliminates the need to book multiple hotel rooms in order to accommodate everyone, and you can split the cost among your group. Plus, you’ll save even more money by avoiding expensive dinners out and cooking some of your meals in the comfort of your rental. Stick to our list of free things to do in Myrtle Beach, too, and you’ll surely leave with some extra money in your pocket. You (and your wallet) can thank us later!
Make time during your stay to explore Barefoot Landing, North Myrtle Beach’s premier destination for shopping, dining and entertainment along the Intracoastal Waterway. The complex features over 100 businesses that are divided into sections around a small lake. Specialty shops like Crabby Jack’s General Store and Sand and Sun are ideal places for tourists to pick up Myrtle Beach souvenirs and affordable beachwear, while local eateries feature everything from pretzels and fudge to seafood and burgers. Sign up for a Preferred Member card before you go and you’ll gain access to discounts and savings at many of Barefoot Landing’s shops, restaurants and attractions.
Broadway at the Beach is a one-stop shop for all things fun and entertaining. Centered around a 23-acre lake, the massive complex is South Carolina’s most visited attraction. It features everything from one-of-a-kind live entertainment during Legends in Concert performances to spectacular attractions like WonderWorks that will leave you wide-eyed. The best part, though? It is one of the many free things to do in Myrtle Beach that offers something for everyone in your family. Stroll along the walkways of Broadway at the Beach and window shop (or treat yourself!) at the unique boutiques full of treasures. Snack on some salt water taffy from Wee R Sweetz to tide yourself over until dinner or simply sit alongside the lake and take it all in.
Cherry Grove Pier
More than 65 years after being erected, Cherry Grove Pier continues to draw tourists from all over the country. Since the early 1950s, it’s weathered hurricanes, welcomed countless visitors and provided a special place for families to make memories. Walk the length of the 985-foot pier and climb the two-story observation deck at the end for spectacular views of the coastline. In addition to being known for its sightseeing, Cherry Grove Pier also has a reputation for its stellar fishing scene and the potential for record catches. Cast your line from the pier and let it drift with the tide for your best chance at reeling in a fish. The pier has a tackle shop with rod rentals and bait and tackle for sale so there’s no reason not to give it a try!
With a little extra planning, you can time your trip so that you can attend a seasonal festival during your stay. The Grand Strand area is full of festivals all year-long and they are considered by visitors and locals alike to be some of the best free things to do in Myrtle Beach. In May, kick off the summer just north of Myrtle Beach at the World Famous Blue Crab Festival. The annual event takes place along the waterfront and boasts a variety of specialty food vendors and lots of fresh, local seafood. Plan your trip during September to experience the lively entertainment, mouthwatering barbeque and family-friendly fun at the Beach, Boogie & BBQ Festival. Other festivals with free things to do in Myrtle Beach include Art in the Park and A Grand Strand Holiday.
If you’re sifting through the countless free things to do in Myrtle Beach, make sure to put the Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum at the top of your list. Housed in a charming cottage just steps from the beach, the museum serves as a beacon of culture for visitors and Myrtle Beach residents alike and has been proudly offering free admission since 2003. It’s also considered by many to be one of the premier visual arts museums in the Carolinas as it features an impressive 11 galleries that frequently change throughout the year. Visit the museum to see unique exhibitions of paintings, sculptures, photography, ceramics, textiles, video and more, all of which offer visitors delightful surprises around every corner.
Open daily from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. (10 p.m. on Saturdays!), there is no shortage of amusement at the Fun Plaza. It’s the largest family fun center in Myrtle Beach, and it’s conveniently located between the new boardwalk and the famous boulevard at 9th Ave. North. Follow gleeful cheers, arcade game alarms and lots of laughter to the Fun Plaza and watch on as gamers try to set new high scores. It’s free to visit the arcade, but each game costs a small fee to play. Put the spare dollar bills in your pocket toward a rowdy game of air hockey so a couple of you can play, or challenge someone to a game of Skee Ball. Before you leave, commemorate your trip to Fun Plaza with some silly shots in the photo booth.
Situated across the street from the bustling Market Common is Grand Park, an idyllic spot for families to enjoy some fresh air away from the beach crowds. It is one of the more popular free things to do in Myrtle Beach because its possibilities for family fun are endless. Several ponds throughout the park provide a calming place to sit and soak in the scenery, while nearby picnic shelters are the perfect place to reapply sunscreen and refuel before hitting the playground. Even your dog can roam Grand Park by your side as you explore this recreation hub.
You can’t go wrong with a day at Myrtle Beach, one of the many beaches that makes up a portion of South Carolina’s 60-mile Grand Strand. Wake up early, lather on the sunscreen, grab a spot on the beach and drift back to sleep as your toes sink into the sand here. If you arrive later in the day, no need to worry. The wide, sandy beach has plenty of room for visitors and the warm Atlantic waters are always inviting. Whether you visit on a warm, sunny morning for a dip in the ocean or a brisk fall afternoon to walk along the shore, this beach is without a doubt one of the most popular free things to do in Myrtle Beach.
It would be impossible to make a list of the best free things to do in Myrtle Beach and not mention Myrtle Beach State Park. While there is a $5 admission charge for adults, it’s free for children. Head here to experience the area’s natural beauty, which includes a surprisingly green landscape and breathtaking ocean views along the Grand Strand. During the day, follow the nature trail through the park or cast your line from the fishing pier. In the evening, the park is lit by twinkling stars overhead rather than the glow of neon bulbs downtown and the peaceful sound of the waves offers visitors a nice change of pace from the city’s sounds.
Balance out a pricey evening experiencing the city’s vibrant nightlife with an expense-free day trip to the Official South Carolina Hall of Fame. Through several historical exhibits and a long list of inductees, the South Carolina Hall of Fame recognizes and honors citizens who have left a lasting impact on the state’s rich heritage. One contemporary and one deceased citizen are inducted into the prestigious South Carolina Hall of Fame, so there’s always something new to see. It’s located within the Myrtle Beach Convention Center and if you’re interested in learning all there is to know about South Carolina’s past and present, this attraction will surely satisfy your curiosity.
Vereen Memorial Historical Gardens
Drive just 30 minutes north of Myrtle Beach and you’ll feel like you’ve entered another world that offers an up-close-and-personal look at nature. The Vereen Memorial Historical Gardens are spread out over 100 acres of gorgeous vegetation and wildlife. It’s the perfect tranquil retreat for those looking to escape the bright lights and high energy of downtown Myrtle Beach. The gardens are open during daylight hours and the beautiful South Carolina attraction is free for the public to enjoy year-round. The park has numerous hiking trails that wind through a landscape composed of picturesque salt marshes, tiny islands and a spectacular coastline, as well as a small playground for your children’s amusement. Pose for a photo along one of the wooden boardwalks or pause during your walk to spot some of the wildlife that inhabits the park. You’ll feel rejuvenated once you leave this hidden gem near Myrtle Beach.