This summer’s hottest places for golf, water and family fun

The Dunes Golf & Beach Club

9000 N. Ocean Blvd., Myrtle Beach. www.thedunesclub.net.

It’s hard to argue with the accolades of a course ranked as the top golf course in Myrtle Beach by Golf Digest, Golf Magazine, Golfweek and other national and international publications. Built by legendary designer Robert Trent Jones and opened in 1949, this course and its famous “Waterloo” Par 5 have been wowing golfers for more than 60 years.

Caledonia Golf & Fish Club

369 Caledonia Drive, Pawleys Island, S.C.; www.fishclub.com/caledonia-golf-vacations.

One look at the centuries-old live oaks draped with Spanish moss and rolling fairways covering land that was once a rice plantation, and golfers know they're in for a treat playing Caledonia.

Built on the former site of a working rice plantation, Caledonia Golf & Fish Club offers a picturesque setting in a stern mental test of golf in the Myrtle Beach area.

With a plantation-style clubhouse with a large porch for taking in nature’s sights or fellow golfers on the finishing hole, Caledonia Golf & Fish Club in Pawleys Island rises above the rest.

Perhaps that’s why the golf course was recently ranked No. 27 in GOLF Magazine‘s “Top 100 You Can Play” list and No.  97 on “America’s 100 Greatest Public courses” list by Golf Digest.

Tupelo Bay Golf Center

1800 U.S. 17 Business South, Garden City Beach, S.C.; www.tupelobay.com.

Though not as prestigious as the many championship courses in Myrtle Beach, this Garden City golf center has the full package when it comes to golfing fun for the whole family. There’s an executive course, a Par 3 “pitch and putt” course, driving range, Runaway Bay mini golf, disc golf and even the brand-new Glo Golf, played at night with a glow-in-the-dark ball.

The jewel of this golf lovers’ haven is the 18-hole Executive Course, with enough distance, sand and water to challenge even the most experienced golfer without being intimidating the beginner.

Myrtle Beach National Golf Club

4900 National Drive, Myrtle Beach; www.myrtlebeachnational.com.

The flagship course of the area’s largest golf management company deserves recognition for its variety as much as for its quality of play. It offers 54 holes across the West Course, South Creek Course and King’s North Course. All three Arnold Palmer-designed championship courses in Myrtle Beach have racked up numerous honors.

King’s North was redesigned by Arnold Palmer in 1996 and has become one of the must-plays on the Myrtle Beach golf scene.

The par-5 sixth hole, called “The Gambler,” features an island fairway for a risk-reward shortcut to the green. The island green 12th features an S.C.-shaped bunker and the eighth hole has an array of 40 bunkers on the way to the green.

Tidewater Plantation & Golf Club

1400 Tidewater Drive, North Myrtle Beach; www.tidewatergolf.com.

Named as Golf Digest’s “Best New Public Golf Course” when it was built in 1990 and on the “America’s Top 100 Greatest Public Courses” list as recently as 2012, Tidewater has been recognized as one of the area’s best.

The Ken Tomlinson design offers the combination of fun, challenge and beauty and has several memorable holes.

Legends Golf & Resort

1500 Legends Drive, Myrtle Beach. www.legendsgolf.com

With three Scottish-inspired courses grouped together right off the main drag of U.S. 501, Legends offers great variety with its Heathland, Moorland and Parkland courses. If you add its excellent Heritage Club course in Murrells Inlet, S.C., and Oyster Bay course in Ocean Isle Beach, you’ve got a stunning array of Myrtle Beach golf options.

Azalea Sands Golf Club

2100 U.S. 17 South, North Myrtle Beach; www.azaleasandsgc.com

Featuring a home-free layout, Azalea Sands Golf Club offers Myrtle Beach golf lovers a good chance of playing a three- to four-hour round, leaving plenty of time to take in the beautiful surrounding scenery.

The course, designed by Gene Hamm, was built in 1972 and over the years since has gained plenty of character, making it both challenging and accessible, with four sets of tees for golfers of all skill levels.

Crazy Sister Marina

4123 U.S. 17 Business, Murrells Inlet, S.C.; www.crazysister.com

If nautical fun is something you seek, it doesn’t get better than this. Crazy Sister offers an unbelievable array of activities: deep sea fishing, parasailing, dolphin cruises, jet ski rentals, boat rentals, paddleboard rentals, a replica pirate ship tour, banana boat and saltwater marsh tours are all on the menu.

Speaking of menu, Crazy Sister Marina is in the heart of Murrells Inlet, where dining is king and the Marshwalk makes a perfect place for a romantic evening stroll.

Wild Water & Wheels

910 U.S. 17 S., Surfside Beach, S.C.; www.wild-water.com.

Since 1990, this attraction has been providing visitors with wild fun across a 16-acre water park filled with rides both wet and dry.

Visit one of the best Myrtle Beach water parks to experience the excitement of 33 rides with amazing water slides, a Wipe Out Wave pool, Lazy River, waterfalls and much more.

Awesome slides as well as go-karts, mini golf and bumper boats mean there’s plenty to do here. While all the slides provide fast and enjoyable rides, The Dark Hole holds a special place in the park as a favorite of many visitors year after year. This ride features an enclosed trip through twisty tunnels, giving the illusion of nearly colliding with riders in the opposite tube as you weave in and out of tight quarters. A great, affordable way to enjoy the water park is the Live After Five series, which features live music for $9.95 admission 5-9 p.m. every Friday all summer.

Myrtle Waves

3000 10th Ave. N. Extension, Myrtle Beach; www.myrtlewaves.com.

While the ocean is surely the best way to get wet in Myrtle Beach, the million gallons of water flowing through this 20-acre water park might be a close second.

Enjoy a day full of wet and wild fun with your family and friends as you experience amazing rides and famous slides including the Turbo Twisters, Arooba Tooba, Riptide Rockets, Snake Mountain, Night Flight, Thunderbolts and Super Chute.

There’s also an enormous wave pool, a fun and relaxing lazy river, kiddie pools and a playground area for the children, cabanas for cooling off and great snack bars and food areas for grabbing a bite after you’ve worked up a big appetite playing in the waves.

North Myrtle Beach Jetpack Adventures

North Myrtle Beach Park and Sports Complex, 150 Citizens Circle, Little River, S.C.; www.myrtlebeachjetpackadventures.com

Experience one of the area’s newest attractions as you strap a jetpack to your back that pumps out more than 1,000 gallons of water per minute and propels you up to 30 feet above the water. Enjoy the one-of-a-kind thrills of walking on water, diving or just gliding and hovering over the lake at the new North Myrtle Beach Sports & Recreation Complex.

Downwind Sails Watersports

2915 S. Ocean Blvd., Myrtle Beach; www.downwindsailsmyrtlebeach.com.

This Myrtle Beach water sports company has long been a visitors’ favorite, offering both the thrilling (jet skis, banana boats, parasailing) – and the relaxing (kayaks, sailboats and catamaran tours).

Families can soar through the air parasailing at Downwind Sails Watersports, but can also rent jet skis, Hobie Cats (sailboats) and kayaks. Families can choose to brave the banana boat or perhaps take a catamaran tour or go kiteboarding.

The opportunity for a vacation memory that will never be forgotten is right at the southern end of Myrtle Beach, near the oceanfront Damon’s Grill and Springmaid Pier.

HydroFly Myrtle Beach & Island Adventure Watersports

4736 U.S. 17, North Myrtle Beach; www.hydroflynow.com.

Island Adventure Watersports, located along the Intracoastal Waterway in Socastee, S.C., not only offers visitors a chance to try jet skiing and paddleboarding, but it also features flyboarding from HydroFly Myrtle Beach. For this experience, riders strap themselves onto a board with two large nozzles that pump hundreds of gallons of water out to propel you up to 20 feet in the air for a one-of-a-kind ride.

The North Myrtle Beach business straps the pack onto the back of riders, who propel above the water. Reservations are required and instruction will be given to first-time riders; a safety instructor will always be nearby on a jet ski.

Carolina Paddle Company

3937 Mega Drive, Unit 78, Myrtle Beach; www.carolinapaddlecompany.com.

If surfing sounds a bit too adventurous for you, perhaps an afternoon of serene stand-up paddleboarding is more your speed. Carolina Paddle Company, based in the Socastee area, offers guided tours of the area’s beautiful waterways via these more stable boards.

Jack’s Surf Lessons

3400 S. Ocean Blvd., Myrtle Beach; www.jackssurflessons.com.

Consistently one of the top-rated Grand Strand attractions on TripAdvisor, this surf school offers lessons for all ages from a friendly and experienced staff of instructors. Jack’s, on the south end of Myrtle Beach near Springmaid Pier, is perfect for first-timers and also offers board rentals for experienced surfers.

Ripley’s Aquarium

1110 Celebrity Circle, Myrtle Beach; www.ripleyaquariums.com/myrtlebeach.

This aquarium features more than 10,000 exotic underwater animals – 350 species. The aquarium offers the perfect respite for a rainy day in Myrtle Beach, with an amazing 1.4 million-gallon aquarium.

Families can glide along the 33-foot moving path under the shark tank, soaking up educational fun in comfortable air conditioning for an underwater experience unlike any other. The Rio Amazon display has colorful fish species sure to amaze children and adults alike, and families will ooh and ah at the sight of piranhas as these fish glide through the water with their sharp teeth exposed. You can also check out one of the largest freshwater fish in the world, the pirarucu.

Family Kingdom

300 S. Ocean Blvd., Myrtle Beach; www.familykingdomfun.com.

They just keep packing more family fun into the only seaside amusement park in Myrtle Beach. In all, there are more than 35 thrilling rides at Family Kingdom.

In 2013 the park added four exciting new rides, including the Twist ’n Shout steel roller coaster, and in 2014, it also added interactive bouncing on the Jump Around Dune Buggies and flying fun with the Magic Bikes.

Spend the day exploring acre after acre of the coolest amusements, games and tasty treats – a place where the lights, sounds and aromas of nonstop entertainment create special moments every night of the week.

The facility also plays home to Splashes Waterpark, which offers a variety of slides and great views of the beach.

Medieval Times

2904 Fantasy Way, Myrtle Beach; www.medievaltimes.com.

This exciting, family-friendly dinner-show attraction, inspired by 11th century feasts and tournaments, is filled with live jousting, awe-inspiring horsemanship and falconry and a four-course meal fit for a king.

Be swept away as you enjoy the live shows, cheering along one of six knights who compete in tests of skill.

It’s an all-new show, complete with a new villain, larger battles, and new lighting, choreography, costumes and horse dressage.


1313 Celebrity Circle, Myrtle Beach; www.wonderworksonline.com/myrtle-beach

Since opening in 2011, Wonderworks – aka “The Upside Down House” – has become one of the top things to do at Broadway at the Beach and one of the most popular attractions for kids and families in Myrtle Beach.

The museum features more than 100 hands-on displays ranging from scientific studies and educational exhibits to sporty games and thrilling rides.

Inside you’ll be able to experience hurricane-force winds, maneuver a NASA spacecraft, lie on a bed of nails, pilot a fighter jet, design and ride your own virtual roller coaster, climb three stories of ropes, compete in a game of laser tag and much more.

Pirate’s Voyage

8901 N. Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach; www.piratesvoyage.com.

One the fiercest pirates to ever sail off the coast of the Carolinas, Captain Blackbeard, joins the cast of this dinner show for 2014. Enjoy the four-course meal as Blackbeard and his quartermaster, Calico Jack, lead the Crimson and Sapphire crews in battle with high-flying aerials and aquatic excitement.

This live-action performance is filled with amazing aerial acrobatic competition, swashbuckling action, mesmerizing mermaids, live animals, dramatic lighting effects, an amazing sound system and powerful pyrotechnics.

Alligator Adventure

4604 U.S. 17, North Myrtle Beach; www.alligatoradventure.com.

Though it’s billed as the “Reptile Capital of the World” it’s not just gators and crocs here. From monkeys and tigers to bats and birds, there’s plenty for your family to enjoy at this mini-zoo at Barefoot Landing.

At this awesome wildlife facility you’ll find yourself face to face with nature’s fiercest and most beautiful animals, including more than 700 alligators and crocodiles, rare exotic snakes, lizards, tropical birds, tortoises, albino alligators and Komodo dragons.

Check out live shows, alligator feedings and demonstrations throughout the summer season, and enjoy tons of interactive, educational and exciting exhibits and activities.

Karma Teen Nightlife

1101 N. Ocean Blvd., Myrtle Beach; www.karmamb.com.

It can be scary for many parents to let their teens “run wild” in Myrtle Beach. Luckily, this fun and friendly oceanfront club – one of the top teen clubs on the East Coast – gives them a taste of Myrtle Beach nightlife in a safe environment where they can dance and socialize without worry.

Since 2006, when the legendary Attic Teen Club at the Myrtle Beach Pavilion closed after 50 years, Karma has stepped up to fill the void with an unforgettable experience for ages 13-19.

Dance the night away as top-notch DJs spin the latest in pop, hip-hop, Top 40 and other dance tunes. Karma’s staff works hard to provide a fun, safe environment for hanging with friends and making new ones on your Myrtle Beach vacation.

Waccatee Zoo

8500 Enterprise Road, Myrtle Beach; www.waccateezoo.com.

Waccatee Zoo sits on 500 acres of private, carefully preserved, wooded property where the Waccamaw River, Intracoastal Waterway and Socastee Creek join.

This animal sanctuary features more than 100 species of exotic and domestic animals housed along winding, scenic trails and beneath shady trees.

Take in the natural setting and engaging wildlife with your family, enjoy fun food from the snack shop and see creatures up close, including herds of buffalo and zebra, leopards, lions, cougars, tigers and the zoo’s mascot: Chico the chimp.

Pavilion Nostalgia Park

1171 Celebrity Circle, Myrtle Beach; http://bit.ly/1sj9ZRv.

Nostalgic about Myrtle Beach’s past? You can revel in it at Broadway at the Beach, whose mini-park features restored rides from the former Pavilion Amusement Park, and even new rides like the 180-foot-tall spinning Rocket ride.

This smaller version of the classic Myrtle Beach pavilion features many of the original rides and attractions from the original, including the Pirate Ship, Frog Hopper, the Herschel-Spillman carousel and Baden Band German pipe organ.

There’s also a number of great rides for kids, including miniature cars, motorcycles, trucks and teacups, as well as an area with carnival games, an arcade and gift shop.

Ocean Drive Pavilion Amusement Park

90 S. Ocean Blvd., North Myrtle Beach; www.odpavilion.com.

This revitalized oceanfront amusement park in North Myrtle Beach is more nostalgic than thrilling, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had on its six-story roller coaster, restored antique Ferris wheel and kiddie rides.

Spanning both sides of Ocean Drive, this North Myrtle Beach amusement park offers 25 rides and attractions. This nostalgic oceanfront amusement park with amazing views of the beach also features carnival games, an arcade, an ice cream shop and food from around the world.

Children’s Museum of South Carolina

2204 N. Oak St, Myrtle Beach; www.cmsckids.org.

The Children’s Museum, one of the most fun and educational attractions for kids in Myrtle Beach, allows little ones to dig for fossils, learn about weather, explore electricity and much more. At $8 per person (kids under 2 admitted free), it’s one of the more affordable things to do with the family and is great for rainy days.

Gem mining, chromatography T-shirt creation & Little Michelangelo’s ceiling tiles are add-on features you don’t want to miss. Daily programs and special events are always happening.

Original Painter’s Homemade Ice Cream

2408 U.S. 17 S., North Myrtle Beach; http://bit.ly/1lsX7yL.

Serving up ice cream in North Myrtle Beach since the 1950s, this local landmark is proof that things don’t have to change to stay hot. Painter’s serves up soft-serve so well it’s become a family tradition for many.

Mt. Atlanticus Minotaur Golf

707 N. Kings Hwy., Myrtle Beach; http://www.facebook.com/mountatlanticus/.

There are tons of spectacular miniature golf courses in Myrtle Beach, but none more over the top than Mt. Atlanticus. With a great location, awesome views in its tall tree house structures, and an interesting, challenging layout, you can’t top this mini-golf spot.

Part of Mt. Atlanticus is inside, offering a retreat from the heat in the summer, while the outside features tall structures that give a birds-eye view of the Grand Strand.

Jungle Lagoon

404 5th Ave. S., Myrtle Beach; www.junglelagoon.com.

Wild animals, waterfalls, caves and lagoons highlight this 36-hole course along Kings Highway. Fun and challenging holes make this long-running favorite worth visiting time and time again.

Elevation changes allow an ocean view at some parts of the miniature golf adventure, but the course is easily navigable for children and adults alike.

Dragon’s Lair Fantasy Golf

1197 Celebrity Circle, Myrtle Beach; www.dragonslairfantasygolf.com.

Beyond the flash of its most noticeable resident – an animatronic dragon that talks to visitors and blows fireballs – this “medieval” course also features some interesting and challenging holes that make for a fun round.

It winds through a castle and onto a boat; the fire-breathing dragon makes occasional appearances. Several holes run around the lake at Broadway at the Beach.

Its sister courses, Jurassic Golf, Capt. Hook’s Adventure Golf and Jungle Safari Mini Golf are also worth a try.

Shark Attack Adventure Golf

700 N. Ocean Blvd., Myrtle Beach; http://bit.ly/1ltdZp3.

Located just steps from the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk, the area’s only oceanfront mini-golf course relies on great views and a fun animatronic shark show to overcome an average course layout. The attached Hammerhead Grill makes a nice place to hang out after a round, grab a bite and enjoy some live music near the beach.

Cancun Lagoon

101 S. Kings Hwy., Myrtle Beach; http://bit.ly/1pa9DHx.

Cancun Lagoon provides 27 holes of challenging layouts both inside and outside the huge Mayan temple that serves as the centerpiece of this course. This mix of indoor/outdoor play is perfect for getting out of the hot summer sun or playing through a drizzle when the weather is less than desirable.

Cancun Lagoon is also near a Dairy Queen, so the family can enjoy ice cream treats after a round on the links.

Myrtle Beach Pelicans

1251 21st Ave. N., Myrtle Beach; http://atmilb.com/1iRXZOC.

Enjoy America’s pastime with great on-field action and tons for the kids to do at the park and great promotions like Thirsty Thursdays, on-field catch and post-game fireworks. For $7-8 a ticket, this is affordable, family-friendly fun at its finest.

The Pelicans are the Class A Advanced farm team of the Texas Rangers, playing home games at TicketReturn.com Field (Pelicans Ballpark), which opened in 1999, seats up to 6,600 fans. Events include Tuesday Brewsday with $2 craft beers until 8 p.m., Weiner Wednesday with $1 hot dogs and Thirsty Thursday with $1 draft beers until 8 p.m.

Broadway Grand Prix

1820 21st Ave. N., Myrtle Beach; www.broadwaygrandprix.com/

This recently reinvented racing attraction (formerly NASCAR Speedpark) features excellent go-kart racing action across seven tracks, mini-golf, a huge arcade, the thrilling Skycoaster ride and more. It’s directly across from Broadway at the Beach.

Myrtle Beach Speedway

455 Hospitality Lane, Myrtle Beach; www.myrtlebeachspeedway.com.

If you’re into fast fun, there’s tons to like about what the speedway has to offer. You can catch some great racing action, and there are also the Wheels of Destruction stunt show, the NASCAR Racing Experience – where you can drive a real stock car – and concerts on the new live-music stage.

Myrtle Beach Speedway is a little more than a half-mile paved oval with racing action most weeks throughout the summer.

Frank Theatres CineBowl & Grille

10125 Frontage Road, Murrells Inlet, S.C.; http://bit.ly/1lD0ZTV.

The best reason to visit Inlet Square Mall is this entertainment complex with a bowling alley, 11 movie screens, pool tables and a game arcade. There’s also a sports-bar area where you can catch a game or grab a bite to eat.