Myrtle Beach nightlife: Laid-back on the Murrells Inlet Marsh Walk
Key West has the Duval Crawl, but Murrells Inlet has a lower-key version of the lowest Key's most famous street and stroll – the Marsh Walk Meander.
It's a more scenic (if not slower and soberer) walkway along the waterfront of the self-proclaimed “Seafood Capital of South Carolina” and the Marsh Walk makes a strong case for that title.
The half-mile boardwalk features the best of both worlds on both sides of your body – the natural beauty of the inlet, islands and saltmarshes (where the seafood comes from) to your right, the creekside-casual restaurants and bars (where the seafood is served) to your left, depending upon which direction you start your Tour de Marsh.
It doesn't really matter because every stop features finger-licking food and mouth-watering drinks so come hungry and thirsty so you can get sample from all eight of the restaurants along the route. But remember to pace yourself. This is not a race; it's Murrells Inlet, which is as laid back as it gets.
Take it slow, stop and check out the scenery, chat with folks who are doing the same. You just might hear some tall fishing tales from longtime locals unloading their boats right on the deck.
The Marsh Walk offers lovely views of the inlet, the mouth to Atlantic Ocean, the point of Garden City Beach and the tidal creeks and marshes in between. You'll also see wildlife – heron, egrits, crabs and the occasional alligator – and some more domesticated critters – goats and peacocks on an island.
Goat Island was named for goats that are brought in during the warmer months to keep the vegetation clear (see, humans aren't the only ones chowing down at the Marsh Walk). The peacocks are there just to strut their tailfeathers and confuse tourists who hear their baffling crows.
There's also Drunken Jack's Island, named for a local legend about Blackbeard's crew burying pirated bottles of rum on the island and chugging a few in the process, accidently deserting a crew member named Jack. When the ship returned two years later to dig up the booty, they found nothing but empty rum bottles and Jack's bleached bones. Too baaaaad the goats weren't there back then.
But all this sightseeing can make you hungry and thirsty, and there's no shortage of options to cure those temporary ailments. The Dead Dog Saloon, Creek Ratz, Bubba's Love Shack, Captain Dave's Dockside, Spudz, Drunken Jack's, Wahoo's, Bovine's and Divine's Fish House offer fresh seafood and other fare as well as frozen drinks and other concoctions to keep you going.
Some are on the fine-dining side but every place along the Marsh Walk is casual-friendly and have back porches where you can kick back and enjoy the scenery and peacefulness. But at night the silence is shattered by the sound of music in the air, especially around sundown.
Find a shady spot under a giant live oak tree and watch the sun paint a colorful picture in the sky as it approaches the horizon. It's not the same carnival atmosphere you'll find at Key West's Malory Square, thank God. It's a lot more laid-back, just the way Murrells Inlet likes it.