Vacation hot spot Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, welcomes more than 17 million visitors annually to its 60 miles of gorgeous coastline. July is the peak month for these visitors, and yet even now there are wonderful gems to be found where crowds are thin but entertainment is not. Here are some of my favorites:

Myrtle Beach Art Museum

Home to impressive artwork from living Southern artists including Myrtle Beach natives, as well as rotating special exhibits from the likes of Ansel Adams and Normal Rockwell, the Franklin G. Burroughs - Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum is located just steps from the ocean and is always free for visitors. If you have a budding artist in tow, the Museum also offers Summer KidsArt classes, which run just a couple hours a day for three days during select dates.

Brookgreen Gardens

Named one of the top 5 favorite gardens by Southern Living readers, the largest outdoor sculpture garden in North America is located just south of Myrtle Beach proper in lush Murrells Inlet. Featuring more than 1,400 works from 300 artists across 9,100 acres of expertly maintained grounds, Brookgreen Gardens is truly a wonder for the eyes, as well as a crash course in art and history. Stroll the 100-year-old Live Oak Allee, pack a lunch to enjoy in the garden’s many green spaces and even learn about life on a rice plantation in antebellum South Carolina (the land was once home to four of them!). Admission is good for up to seven consecutive days with one ticket, so you can come back again and again.

Myrtle Beach State Park

A natural maritime forest opens to a mile-long, undisturbed, wide sandy beach at this state park. Known for its impressive display of flora and fauna which can be seen from intricate winding nature and biking paths, Myrtle Beach State Park is one of the best places in the state to bird watch, including bald eagles, as well as offering some of the best surf fishing in South Carolina. Visitors can also hunt for seashells and shark teeth along the beach, keep an eye out for nesting loggerhead sea turtles, crab from the park’s pier, or participate in a one-of-a-kind education program for children.

Downtown Conway

Just 15 miles from Myrtle Beach sits the small, historic town of Conway. You’ll be treated to quaint shopping, engaging art and theatre, and delicious restaurants along the city’s Main Street, or a peaceful walk along the water of the Waccamaw River. The first Saturday of each month the city comes alive as working artists open their galleries and studios to visitors to discuss their crafts, including glass-blowing and quilting demonstrations, wine receptions, and live music.

On the Water

What better place to experience the tranquility of beach life than on the big, beautiful ocean? Myrtle Beach has no shortage of water sports and activities to entice all ages and adventurers. Some favorites include dolphin watch jet ski tours, banana boating or parasailing with friends, and ecological boat tours. And let’s not forget our serene marshlands and waterways, which can also be enjoyed from the comfort of a boat, or on a paddleboard or kayak tour.

For more information on these and other attractions, visit