by VICTORIA HENLEY
Looking for things to do when you go resorting at Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. Here are some Backstage Pass recommendations.
Located just south of Murrells Inlet in South Carolina, this 9,100-acre property features a breathtaking collection of American Figurative sculptures by renowned artists, a LowCountry Zoo, a vast array of exotic and familiar plants and flowers, and numerous hiking trails through the several picturesque ecosystems and nature reserves on property.
A unique melding of art, nature, and history, Brookgreen gardens has been a cultural center for the community since its founding in 1937 by Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington, not to mention one of the most sought after vacation destinations by millions of annual tourists.
Nearly impossible to fully cover in merely a few hours, we recommend setting aside at least a full day (and perhaps visiting numerous days in a row, should your schedule permit) to fully experience the magic and splendor offered by the gardens.
Although the natural beauty of the expansive gardens alone would surely be enough to attract even the most ardent of nature enthusiasts, Brookgreen Gardens has much more to offer guests than just the gardens, including displays by local and multi-cultural artists, an indoor art and sculpture gallery (an air conditioned alternative to the plethora of beautifully designed sculptures you will see lining the massive gardens) , a zoo with varieties of cattle, donkeys, horses, and much more.
Guests are permitted and encouraged to bring bicycles to pedal through the main roads of the attraction and release some endorphins while taking in the gorgeous views. After you have worked up an appetite roaming the expansive grounds, be sure to check out the various dining options offered onsite: The Harvest Restaurant, The Old Kitchen and The Courtyard Café are sure to satisfy all your cravings.
PHONE: (843) 235-6000
JURASSIC MINI GOLF:
This challenging, fun, and easy to navigate course is a perfect fit for golf enthusiasts of all ages. The decor and theme of Jurassic Mini Golf pays homage to a time when large, ferocious creatures roamed a Jurassic World, very different from the earth we know today. This exciting course is sure to thrill the dinosaur enthusiasts in your family with looming, life-like replicas of the horn faced ceratopsian, the spitting dilophosaurus, the carnivorous T-Rex, and of course, the most feared dinosaur of the prehistoric times, the raptor.
The dinosaurs “come to life” on a timer at select points during your game for the feeling of an up close and personal experience with some of the most fearsome creatures that once roamed the nearly tropical earth.
There are 36 holes available, with strategically placed obstacles, impressive decor, relaxing scenery, and realistic sound effects to ensure that you have an exciting and unique experience with each hole you play.
PHONE: (843) 913-5333
BAREFOOT QUEEN RIVERBOAT TOUR
Myrtle Beach’s premiere boat venue for sight-seeing, scenic cruises, and live music, The Barefoot Riverboat Queen is the most fun and relaxing way to experience the picturesque Intracoastal Waterway. Take in the views as you sail past some of Myrtle Beach’s most exciting restaurants, attractions, and show venues into more secluded natural territory, where you will see lush greenery, tranquil waters. You also may just spot some of the marine life that calls the area home.
Make your way up the stairs to the top level to enjoy your beautiful surroundings from a whole new perspective, then enjoy the lower deck for some great social media photo ops with various floats and artwork that brandish the Barefoot Riverboat Queen logo. A fully stocked bar is available (not included in boat admission), serving beer, wine, liquor, and signature cocktails on all cruises. Onboard narration and live musical entertainment by a rotating line up of wonderful musicians is included with boat admission, and dinner cruise options are also available.
PHONE: (843) 390-2017
The Track is your premier destination for family fun and adventure in Myrtle Beach, featuring a full arcade (with traditional and new games including Skee Ball, Mini-Bowling, “Toy Claw” games-including games where you can exchange any plush you win for a Michael Kors purse or a pair of Oakley sunglasses, air hockey, and much more), outdoor water blaster boats, and two go cart tracks: one with many twists and turns, and one with multiple levels.
Featuring a wide variety of gaming and activity options, The Track is designed for hours of non-stop, action-packed fun for everyone, offering varieties of packages, including a 500-point mega card, 300-point super card, and gift cards available in increments ranging from $25 to $100 so you can share all the good times with your friends and family. The staff is friendly, accommodating, and always on standby to lend a helping hand for any needs you may have on site. Chris Hennigan (one of The Track’s managers) can also be seen starring in GTS Theatre’s Mo Town Show.
The Fun Warehouse , an indoor amusement center with laser tag, inflatables, a full arcade, party rooms, and more, offers a large and exciting variety of activities: ranging from the nostalgic roller rink (certainly a rarity to find in most fun centers these days) and virtual reality games.
Fun Warehouse associate, Tyler, guided us through some of the most unique and original games we have seen in an arcade including Typhoon, a miniature baseball game, Chameleon Paradise, Connect the Dots, a digitized version of Skee Ball, Cold Clash, and many more. After our tour of the arcade, we made our way to the Go Cart Tracks, which offered a fast paced and smooth experience, as the Fun Warehouse employees stringently ensure that riders do not bump one another. Next, we headed to laser tag for a fast-paced game complete with glow in the dark decor, suspenseful music and numerous obstacles to make the game even more challenging.
Inflatables with climbing options and jump zones are available for little thrill seekers (ages 10 and under only), and VIP passes are available for unlimited access to all the fun and games.
PHONE: (843) 748-0302
BLACK RIVER KAYAK TOURS
Experience the vast beauty of nature in an up close and personal way with Black River Outdoors’ wide variety of packages, which allow guests to paddle through the Murrells Inlet Salt Marsh and experience the wonders of this amazing ecosystem, while seeing varieties of wildlife along the way.
During our two-hour expedition, which was at once relaxing and strenuous, we saw beautiful flora and fauna, including many types of wildflowers we had not seen before, herons and egrets, as well as a shipwrecked boat on display, which now serves as a home for the many fish that inhabit the waters.
Several guests who had previously experienced The Salt Marsh Tour (which is ideal for any visitor hoping to catch a glimpse of the area’s ample wildlife) reported seeing alligators (from a safe distance) in the past, resting alongside the banks.
Additional tours are available, created to accommodate the individual needs of each guest, including kayak fishing trips (where you can visit the absolute best saltwater fishing spots in the area), Cypress Swamp Tour (which allows you to paddle along the Waccamaw River, surrounded by stunning Spanish Moss- draped Cypress Trees), Four-Hour Salt Marsh Tour (which is just like the Salt Marsh Tour, but longer, complete with a nice walk and an even better chance at seeing different types of birds and marine life), and the Huntington Beach State Park Salt Marsh Tour (including a two-hour paddle around the salt marsh, while learning educational facts about the ecosystem and the many amazing forms of wildlife that inhabit the area.)
PHONE: ( 843) 546-4840
SIMPSON’S 4-D THEATER
Based on the wildly popular and often headline-making “The Simpsons” cartoon, The Simpson’s 4D Theater is sure to delight both super fans of the sitcom as well as younger guests who will experience an introduction to the series. Open at 10 am and closing at 11 pm, the conveniently placed Broadway at the Beach location allows you to visit the fully themed Aztec Theater to join Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie for a special effects experience with 4-D Motion.
Upon entering the grand lobby area, decorated as an Academy Awards show and featuring lifelike statues of all the original Simpson’s characters we all know and love, you step into a world of all things Simpsons, with an opportunity to be entertained by video clips and red carpet photo opportunities before you enter into the main show (professional images are taken by an employee in a designated area, but guests are permitted to take photos of their own as well.)
The theater is attractive and spacious, featuring a lively and hilarious film starring Baby Maggie on an adventuresome and tumultuous trip to her very first day care. (Several other films are available at the theater, playing every 15 minutes.) All senses are delighted, as cool water spritzes splash at the audience, fiery heat waves appear, the smell of the signature Kwik E Mart Squishee fills the air, and the sensation of bugs and spiders can be felt dancing at your feet at this original and multi-sensory experience.
After the show, make your way to the Kwik- E – Mart to enjoy an ice cold Squishee, and a Lard Lad Donut (available in standard and supersize) as well as a plethora of Simpson’s merchandise you will not want to miss.
Conveniently located beside Lulu Buffet’s restaurant, get out of the heat, come ashore and play on an exciting variety of games at an attraction that offers big ticket prizes and is certified “Excellent” by Trip Advisor.
All the games you know and love, including Pac-Man, Skee Ball, and air hockey are available with options to play on numerous computerized games as well, including the arcade’s newest addition, Virtual Rabbids, an engaging, suspenseful interactive snow-themed experience that is one of the best of the many virtual rides I have experienced.
Located directly beside Lulu Buffet’s arcade is a ropes course, where you can test your stamina and coordination, while taking in one of the most lovely and serene River views that you will find in the city.
PHONE: (843) 427-0060
FRANKLIN G. BURROUGHS/ SIMEON B. CHAPIN ART MUSEUM (ALSO KNOWN AS THE MYRTLE BEACH ART MUSEUM)
Exceptionally curated, the Franklin G. Burroughs /Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum features visual arts exhibits, including a collection of works from fine Southern artists, a classroom space for artists -in the making, and a gift shop with extremely unique pieces, made by independent brands and local artists.
Upon arriving to the museum and witnessing the building’s charming architecture and large octopus shaped sculpture, made entirely from plastic bottles and other recyclable materials, one gets the idea that they are in for special treat. It is known and often visited on repeat for its constantly changing displays and exhibits. (For the latest exhibitions, visit the museum’s website.)
Although donations are accepted and appreciated, museum admission is always free.
PHONE: (843) 238-2510
THE FUN PLEX
Myrtle Beach’s newest destination for high thrill rides, great food and family rides is none other than the FunPlex.
Seven total rides, offering exciting and adrenaline pumping action, are available including:
UP AND OVERBOARD (which allows guests to fly high and swing through the air while gravity adds it own agenda to this high flying, pendulum-like, ride experience.)
SKY VELOCITY (Experience weightlessness as you twist, turn up, and back down 65 feet. Take a moment to soak in the 360 degree beachfront and ocean views before you drop back to reality, at incredible speeds.)
HOOK AND SLICE *A Backstage Pass favorite* (look no further than the hook and slice for your next adrenaline fix, and don’t let the demure looks of this ride fool you: it is sure to thrill).
FUN IN THE SUN: *A Backstage Pass favorite* (Extremely original and offering somewhat of a hybrid experience between a coaster ride and a Tilt- O-Whirl, each rider has an opportunity to enjoy a completely different experience on one of 2021’s hottest new coasters. You can choose whether to twist and turn or roll along, turning upside down at the coaster’s peaks and valleys.)
HANG 10 SILLY CUPS: (You control your speed with a maneuverable disc positioned in the center of this traditional family tea cup ride. Enjoy leisurely turns, or spin yourself silly, on this quintessential theme park classic that is sure to delight kids of all ages.)
SUNNY DAY SWING: (Designed exclusively for the little ones, this laid back swing will remind you of a bright, sunny day as you leisurely spin around.)
Bright festive lights that can be spotted at night from miles away, convenient late night hours, and several food, snack and beverage options all make the Fun Plex a can’t – miss attraction on your next trip to Myrtle Beach.
Be sure to visit the various New Jersey locations as well, where the Fun Plex first began.
PHONE: (843) 286-5934
CANCUN LAGOON MINI GOLF
Established in 2003, the Cancun Lagoon Miniature Golf Course takes you back in time to ancient Mayan civilization, without even having to leave Myrtle Beach. The attention-grabbing 50-foot Mayan pyramid is sure to catch your eye as you drive in, and upon entering the lobby, you’ll get a choice to play one of two exciting and challenging courses (or play them both: Pakal’s Adventure and Chak’s Revenge). The indoor/outdoor course offers 27 total holes of mini golf for you and your family to enjoy, and Mayan-themed decor, lush greenery and relaxing surroundings that make this golf experience just as peaceful as it is fun. Be sure to check out the Magnificent Koi pond while you cool off indoors, and enjoy the timed “Thunderstorm”, which goes off every 15 minutes. Ask a friendly associate (Corey Walters, the manager, was extremely helpful and hospitable throughout our visit) how you can get special deals for groups of 15 or more and take advantage of the great variety of adult beverages that are available for purchase at the ticket counter, while kids can relax and cool off with a soda.
Be sure to check out the company’s two additional themed miniature golf locations.
Where can you go to see a volcano in Myrtle Beach? Why, Molten Mountain, of course. Featuring a grand 50-foot volcano that can surely stop traffic, Molten Mountain Miniature Golf Course has been home to the only active volcano along the Grand Strand since 2006. The towering volcano erupts every 15 minutes, spewing fire and steam, while inciting lots of wonder and excitement from onlookers.
Enjoy 18 holes, or if you are feeling ambitious, play all 36 holes Molten Mountain has to offer. You’ll definitely want to take advantage of the beautifully decorated 18 holes of indoor mini golf on those hot Southern days.
Established in 2001, Mutiny Bay is known and loved by tourists and locals alike for its enormous and stunningly designed pirates ship that can be seen along Highway 17 in North Myrtle Beach, a battle of the most fearsome pirates of the Caribbean (which takes place every 30 mins), and for decor so accurately and intricately designed, that you’ll truly believe you are on board a pirate ship. The course is designed so that the entirety of the game is played onboard a pirate ship, and interesting facts about some of the most seaworthy and vicious pirates, captains and their crews are posted throughout the course at each hole.
CANCUN LAGOON: (843) 444-1098
MOLTEN MOUNTAIN (843) 280-5095
MUTINY BAY: (843) 249-7844
HOLLYWOOD WAX MUSEUM:
You’ve already taken in the sunset beach views, and now it’s time to see the stars at the Hollywood Wax Museum, the only place where you can get up close and personal with your favorite actors, singers, film directors, models, and other personalities.
Photos are not only allowed, they are highly encouraged and a huge part of what makes Hollywood Wax Museum such a fun attraction. The only thing better than taking selfies with your favorite celebrities is posting all the pictures to be the envy of all your family and friends. Choose from an assortment of props to really make your photos “pop” and meander through the labyrinth of “Classics,” where you will see the likes of Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Elvis and Audrey Hepburn, “Action” stars, where you’ll meet Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jackie Chan, and “Horror” flick personalities, where you can encounter Michael Myers, “The Queen of Darkness” herself, Elvira. Other realistic and standout figures include Dolly Parton, Michael Jackson and Bob Marley in the “Singers” section of the museum.
(Note: The wax figure “Celebrities” featured at any given time may be subject to change solely at company’s discretion.)
HANNAH: MAZE OF MIRRORS
Find out if you’re “The Chosen One” and embark on a fairytale quest that is full of imagination and surprise twists and turns at every corner. Deep in the castle of Savannah, you will be immersed in a mirrored world, on the search for Princess Hannah. Delight in hundreds of reflections, dazzling lighting and sound effects, and encouragement from the royal couple as you set off on your journey through the winding maze of mirrors.
OUTBREAK: DREAD THE UNDEAD
Feel your pulse elevating as you make your way into Chemacorp Lab, where a medical experiment has gone awry and the facility has been overtaken by flesh hungry, blood thirsty zombies. Smoke machines, black outs, gory visuals, and horrifying sound effects all come together to make Outbreak: Dread the Undead frighteningly good fun, and live actors are all utilized for extra palpable fear factor. Navigate through the rotting basement, glowing blue eyes, and the grotesque morgue as you try to prevent the zombie outbreak from infesting the rest of the world.
(Note: This attraction may not be suitable for some smaller guests.)
PHONE: (843) 444-0091
DAVE AND BUSTER’S ARCADE
Once you have enjoyed some delectable chef-prepared food and cocktails, get busy gaming at arguably one of the most famous and buzz-worthy arcades in the U.S. Conveniently placed at Broadway at the Beach, the Dave and Buster’s Arcade boasts seven brand new games-including Million Dollar Midway and a jumbo-sized version of the kids’ classic, Hungry, Hungry Hippos, where a total of up to four players can sit on massive hippos to collect as many balls as possible before time runs out. Watch out for special colored balls to obtain more tickets. Classic games are available, as always, including the beloved Pac-Man, Skee Ball and Pop-A-Shot, as well as the option to add on an exciting and engaging virtual reality game of your choice.
PHONE: (843) 945-3500
Victoria Henley is host of Backstage Pass on IHeart Radio/FCB Radio and a former contestant on “America’s Next Top Model.”