Last weekend we drove the five hours down to the East Coast of South Carolina to Myrtle Beach. I’ve always wanted to visit a real beach after growing up near the “beaches” on the Texas gulf coast. It was also an excuse to get away from the cold and snow at our cabin here in the mountains of Boone, North Carolina.

But was it all that it’s cracked up to be with it’s bustling tourist district and a never ending barrage of people trying to sell you things?

Location, location, location!

We’ve never been the type of family that likes to be in the thick of things. In fact, large groups of people just make me claustrophobic. So instead of staying directly on Myrtle Beach, we opted to go a few miles south down to Surfside beach.

This area is pretty laid back, and not near as busy as the area in and around Myrtle beach. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a shortage of things to do, and places to eat! We stayed at the Surfside Beach Resort, and overall we were really happy with the accommodations.

surfside beach resort

The tough thing about traveling is bringing your pet. Our dog is 4lbs soaking wet, and she goes with us everywhere (she’s a daddy’s girl). Surfside Beach Resort does not allow pets, but we just snuck her in (shh don’t tell). Having a dog as small as her makes these things possible.

The weather

We visited the area at the end of February. And while average temperates at this time of year are in the upper 60’s, it was colder than normal during our visit. Temperatures in the morning were in the upper 30’s to lower 40’s, and in the afternoon temperatures would warm into the 50’s.

Being from the mountains, that’s practically summer! But I neglected to take into account the wind. And with the wind, it was pretty chilly. In fact we were in sweaters the entire time.The next time we take a beach vacation in February, it’ll be further south into Florida.

Places to eat with pets in Myrtle Beach

We love to eat out when we can, and we were excited to check out some of the local flavors. However as I mentioned above, it can be hard to find restaurants that allow pets outside. There seem to be quite a few though! We used the information on this website to find restaurants, and ate at a few of them during our stay.

Bandito’s on the Boardwalk is a Mexican restaurant with outdoor seating right on the beach. They were very accommodating and welcoming of our little furry friend.

Another great place to check out is Busters Real Ice Cream. They don’t have indoor seating, instead just a window that you’re served at. The best thing about this place? They give away free doggie Sunday’s! I kid you not, a scoop of icecream with a bone at the bottom. Stella was in heaven!

busters real ice cream

We also tried out Bubba’s Fish Shack (it’s across the street from Surfside Beach Resort), and the food there was really good too. However, this place is not pet friendly, so on this occasion we opted for food to go. Their crab cakes are just amazing!

Broadway at the Beach

There’s an area around Myrtle Beach that’s called Broadway at the Beach. It’s like walking through Universal Studios or Disney world. The 350+ acre area is lined with shops all over, with tons of things to see and do.

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of things to do if you have a pet with you. Technically no pets are allowed here at all. The kids were really bummed out because they really wanted to go into Ripley’s Museum and Ripleys Aquarium. But since we had Stella it just wasn’t possible. We’ll absolutely be going back here again when it gets warmer (only without Stella).

coastal carolina winery

Before we left the Broadway at the Beach we visited the two wineries Boardwalk Winery, and Coastal Carolina Winery. Both places offer tastings, but after visiting we prefer the Coastal Carolina Winery. The place was clean, the server was dressed very nicely, the wine was better, and it was all very professional. Now mind you, we’re not the “pinky’s up” type of family, but we really did feel comfortable here. We left with 6 bottles and can’t wait to go back (our favorite was the Blackberry).

Downtown Myrtle Beach

The area in downtown was full of things to do. The kids had a blast at a few of the arcades in the area. There are plenty of souvenir shops, but the prices here are just ridiculous. If you are wanting some Myrtle Beach souvenirs, skip this area and opt for the shops outside of Myrtle Beach. They are everywhere, and the prices are a lot more reasonable not being in the heart of things.

myrtle beach

One thing to be aware of is the amount of people trying to sell you something. It’s honestly a complete turn-off. Every 100ft there was someone trying to sell you a time-share, or get you to signup for something.

Overall, I don’t think we’ll revisit this area. It was on the verge of dirty, and the vibe wasn’t all that comfortable at all.

Visiting Myrtle Beach State Park

myrtle beach state parkWith our bellies full and plenty of wine to go home with, we decided to visit the two state parks in the area. We started with Myrtle Beach State Park. They have a couple of short trails (less than 1 mile in length), and a pier that you could walk out on. Pets are not allowed on the pier (the number of places that restrict pets is just ridiculous these days), but we took Stella anyways. Again with how small she is, she’s pretty easy to just hide.

It’s $5 per adult to get in, with kids over 5 being $3. It wasn’t worth it to us at all. In fact we really didn’t stay long. The park is directly on the beach, and you could have just parked nearby and walked right into the park for free along the beach.

I totally get that the funds go to take care of the beach, but then again that’s what a state budget is for.

Visiting Huntington Beach State Park

huntington beach state park20 minutes away further south is Huntington Beach State Park. Now this park was really nice. The cost to enter the park is the same as Myrtle Beach State Park. The one cool thing is that, if you save your receipt from Myrtle Beach State Park and visit Huntington State Park on the same day, you can enter for free.

When we went, there wasn’t anyone manning the station though. And the cars that were in front of us, just drove right through. So maybe we got lucky but we were able to enter without paying anything at all.

Out of the two parks we recommend skipping Myrtle Beach State Park and opting for Huntington State Park instead. There’s just more to do here. There’s an old building that was actually someones home long ago. Again with the pet restrictions though, we were unable to head inside.

huntington beach state parkThere’s also a huge marsh here with alligators, and several long boardwalks to walk out on. Huntington State Park is also directly on the beach, and overall is just a nicer park to be in. This park also features a Nature Center that was actually open (the nature center is Myrtle Beach State Park is seasonal and was closed). Inside the Nature Center there’s quite a few tanks including a large “touch tank” with a stingray. The kids wouldn’t put their hands in their, but I did! It was really cool to be able to “pet” the stingray.

Again with the pet restrictions though, pets are not allowed in here. But with Stella being so small, nobody even noticed her. We must have gotten here at a good time, because the park ranger was about to feed the stingray along with the small fish that were in here. It was really cool because the kids were able to feed the small fishes.

Summary

We really did enjoy our time here, despite the fact that it was a bit chilly. We’ll definitely be coming back, only when it gets warmer, and we’ll be skipping downtown Myrtle Beach completely. We also won’t be going back to Myrtle Beach State Park, but we’ll absolutely re-visit Huntington Beach State Park.

And with the few places that were accommodating of our small dog, I think we’ll likely re-visit with her again in the future.

So if you’re in the Carolina’s in need a weekend getaway, head to the East Coast and visit the areas around Myrtle Beach. You won’t be disappointed!