Things To Do
16 Best Places To Stop on the Way to Myrtle Beach
It’s a well-known truth that Myrtle Beach is a vacation destination like no other, attracting over 19 million visitors each year. A quick cruise down the boulevard or a walk around Broadway at the Beach reveals countless beloved sights and attractions, from the beautiful shores of the Grand Strand to cleverly themed restaurants, over-the-top hotels with on-site waterparks, more unique mini golf courses than you can shake a stick at, and more.
While the area boasts a beautiful airport with convenient and affordable flights from cities across the country, a large majority of Myrtle Beach visitors still choose to drive. Whether you’re driving to Myrtle Beach to save money, to travel on your own schedule, or to enjoy a scenic drive along the way, there’s no denying that getting there is half the fun. If you’re coming to Myrtle Beach from the North or South, you’ll probably be driving along Highway 17; If you’re coming from the West, Highways 9, 22, and 501 will get you there.
But regardless of which direction you’re driving from, there are plenty of attractions near Myrtle Beach that are worth a visit. These stops range from charming and idyllic towns to unique shops and museums and even some quirky oddities that’ll be sure to give your entire crew something to look forward to.
As you’re planning your next visit, add some of these places to stop on the way to Myrtle Beach to your trip itinerary.
Attractions on the Way to Myrtle Beach From the North
1. "The Seafood Capital of The World"
If you’re heading to Myrtle Beach from the North on U.S. 17, a quick detour down N.C. 179 to the quaint coastal town of Calabash, NC may be in order. This self-ascribed “Seafood Capital of The World” is known for its Calabash-style seafood, which consists of battered fish and shrimp fried to golden brown perfection. Make a stop at the massive Callahan’s of Calabash gift shop, which sells Southern decor and apparel, Christmas collectibles, nautical gifts, homemade fudge and more.
2. Little River, SC Waterfront
If you’re coming down to Myrtle Beach from North Carolina along U.S. 17, don’t simply breeze through this small town. Instead, take a quick jaunt down Mineola Avenue to the Little River waterfront and check out this charming area. You’ll find several restaurants worth trying—including Patios Tiki Bar, Key West Crazy, and Crab Catcher’s—as well as charming gift shops, like Pirate’s Treasure House. And if you’re looking to get a jumpstart on hitting the water, you can also hop onto a fishing charter or hit the Big M Casino Boat for a quick gambling fix … who knows, you might even double your money before you even get to the beach!
3. Oak Island and Bald Head Island Lighthouses
If you’re driving to Myrtle Beach from the North and you have some time to spare, don’t miss the opportunity to check out the historic lighthouses on Oak Island, NC. While they aren’t technically on the way—the detour will likely add an extra hour or two to your total trip time—we guarantee it’ll be worth it. Both the Oak Island Lighthouse in Oak Island, NC, and the Bald Head Island Lighthouse (a.k.a. “Old Baldy”) on Bald Head Island, NC, offer tours, allowing visitors to explore the grounds and climb up inside the lighthouses for breathtaking views—and photos—of the coast.
For the full experience, drive into downtown Southport, NC (a quaint little town that’s worth a visit all on its own), and take the ferry across the Cape Fear River to Bald Head Island. Then take the ferry back across and drive down to Oak Island before getting back on the road to Myrtle Beach.
Attractions on the Way to Myrtle Beach From the South
1. Charleston, SC, AKA “The Holy City”
Were it not already celebrated as one of the state’s top standalone vacation destinations, Charleston would absolutely rank #1 on this list of top places to stop. After all, what’s not to like? From Fort Moultrie and Fort Sumter to The City Market and Rainbow Row, there’s tons of history and historic architecture here, not to mention top-notch Southern cuisine. Located just two hours from Myrtle Beach, Charleston is a little more refined—some might say “uppity” or “highfalutin”—but if you’re coming from the South and have an afternoon to kill, it’s a great place to explore.
2. Historic Southern Plantations
There’s plenty of Southern flair here at the beach, but if you want a real lesson in Southern charm, take a quick trip to one of the area’s many historic Southern plantations. Here you can see what it was like to live in the South hundreds of years ago, learn about farming popular crops like rice and indigo, and tour the grounds, from the palatial plantation houses to the stables and slave quarters. If you’re driving up to Myrtle Beach from the South along U.S. 17 North, you’ll find several plantations to visit, including Boone Hall Plantation in Mt. Pleasant, Hopsewee Plantation in Santee, Hobcaw Barony in Georgetown, and even The Oaks Plantation at Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet.
3. Georgetown, SC Harborwalk
Though many travelers simply pass through on their way to Pawleys Island, Murrells Inlet, or Myrtle Beach, stopping in downtown Georgetown, SC is definitely worth the trip. Located just an hour South of Myrtle Beach along U.S. 17, Georgetown boasts not only great restaurants, shops, and historical attractions along Front Street, but also some of the most gorgeous views on the entire Grand Strand to enjoy during a quick walk down the Harborwalk. Hop over to the Harborwalk Marina for your choice of several great boat tours, dolphin tours, and sightseeing tours.
4. Sweetgrass Basket Stands
For more than 80 years, coil baskets of native sweetgrass and pine needles sewn with Palmetto leaf have been displayed for sale at dozens of stands along U.S. 17 between Mount Pleasant and Georgetown, SC. These iconic South Carolina Lowcountry staples have been handed down from generation to generation since the 1700s and represent one of the oldest forms of West African art in the U.S. Not only do these exquisite local treasures make for great gifts, but buying one from a roadside stand is a sort of “rite of passage” that will make you feel like a real South Carolinian.
5. Awendaw Green & Sewee Outpost
Once you pass Charleston and Mt. Pleasant heading up from the South, the last hour or two to the beach can be a bit bland. With long, deserted stretches through Francis Marion National Park, there’s not much to look at. Luckily, the small town of Awendaw provides a bit of break from the monotony, with attractions including Awendaw Green, Sewee Outpost, and Buck Hall Recreation Area. There, you can check out some great live music during one of the area’s famous “Barn Jams,” grab a bite to eat at Sewee Restaurant, or even stop and play a round of disc golf or two.
Attractions on the Way to Myrtle Beach From the West
1. South of the Border & Pedroland
Thanks to the dozens of colorful, clever signs and a memorable mascot named Pedro, it’s pretty hard to miss this unique roadside attraction. “South of the Border” is located just south of the SC–NC border where U.S. 501 and U.S. 95 meet—about 1.5 hours northwest of Myrtle Beach. For more than 65 years this highway “oasis” has been wowing travelers with its distinctive attractions, including a reptile lagoon, Pedroland kiddie ride park, and the Sombrero Tower, a 200-foot-tall observation deck. It also features multiple eateries and restaurants, an ice cream shop, meeting facilities, tons of shopping, including a fireworks shop, and—of course—public restrooms.
Located about an hour West of Myrtle Beach on U.S. 501, Sparky’s is a one-stop shop that combines a visitor’s center, gas station, and downhome Southern barbeque restaurant with a gift shop and a fireworks store. Here you’ll find everything you could ever need for a beach trip—and plenty of things you never knew you needed. While you’re there, make sure to pick up lots of beachy trinkets, some tasty fudge, a new pair of leather boots, and enough fireworks to light up the entire beach.
3. Traveler’s Chapel
Just outside of Conway, SC near Coastal Carolina University on U.S. 501, you’ll find a tiny chapel so small that if you blink you just might miss it. According to Roadside America, this minuscule facility with six tiny pews—seating just 12 people—was built in 1972 and has survived multiple disasters, including a tree falling on it and vandals setting it on fire. The church’s Deacon, Tommy Jones, says hundreds of marriages have happened here and that the doors are never locked, so whether you’re looking for some quick nuptials on the way into town or just want to admire a wholesome landmark, this is your spot.
4. Buc-ee’s Fuel & Convenience Store in Florence, SC
The three most in-demand items during a road trip are fuel, snacks, and clean restrooms. The Buc-ee’s chain heeds those demands, boasting the “world’s cleanest restrooms” in addition to providing travelers with fuel stations, unique merchandise, and more. The chain opened their Florence, SC location in 2022, conveniently situated along U.S. 95—one of the most popular routes to Myrtle Beach.
Attractions Around Myrtle Beach From Any Direction
1. “Official” Myrtle Beach Visitors Centers
Though these all-inclusive gateways to Myrtle Beach information may not be as exciting as some of the attractions on this list, what is a little quirky about them is their names, which all seem to include “official,” “best,” or “world’s largest” in the title. (We’re all for marketing, but they can’t all be the best, can they?) What they lack in credibility, these info centers make up for in useful advice and an abundance of money-saving coupons. No matter which direction you’re traveling, you’re sure to find one on the way into Myrtle Beach. Locations include Florence, Marion, Little River, and Murrells Inlet.
2. Fireworks Shops
Despite the fact that fireworks aren’t actually allowed to be set off on local beaches or within Myrtle Beach city limits, there sure are PLENTY of places around to get a little bang for your buck. Whether you’re looking for a few sparklers for the kiddos or an Independence Day display that would make the founding fathers proud, you’re sure to find all the best fireworks here at the beach. On the drive in alone, you’re likely to pass at least two to three shops, not to mention the many fireworks stores within the Myrtle Beach city limits. Some spots to check out include Atlas Importers and Sparky’s in Marion; Hugo Fireworks, Great Scott Fireworks, and Cheap Charlie’s in Conway; Williard’s Fireworks, Area 51 Fireworks, and State Line Fireworks in Little River; and Factory Outlet Fireworks on SC 9 near Loris.
3. Local Museums
If you’re up for a little learning, there are several local museums and points of interest on the way to Myrtle Beach worth checking out. You can learn about space and the sea at Ingram Planetarium and the Museum of the Coastal Carolinas in Sunset Beach, NC, bone up on farming and local history at the Horry County Museum and L.W. Paul Living History Museum in Conway, or learn about sailing and rice production at the Kaminski House, Rice Museum, and SC Maritime Museum in Georgetown. Auto buffs may also want to stop by Wheels of Yesteryear, near Tanger Outlets on U.S. 501 on the way into Myrtle Beach.
4. Roadside Produce Markets
If you’re looking for a taste of local flavor, there’s no better place than the many country markets and produce stands on your way into town. Here you’ll find some of the freshest produce around, from corn and tomatoes to sweet potatoes and locally caught shrimp. If you just need a snack to hold you over on the drive into town, there’s a great selection of local treats, like candied pecans and boiled peanuts. Some you’re likely to run across include Green Acres Country Market in Florence, Po Boys Produce in Galivants Ferry, Aynor Produce in Aynor, Lee’s Farmers Market in Murrells Inlet, and Holden Brothers Farm Market in South Brunswick, NC.