The fall is a wonderful time of year to visit Myrtle Beach, but the clock is ticking if you want to enjoy all the great things the Grand Strand has to offer. Sometime between the peak of the tourism season in the summer, when there are more than a half million people on the 60-mile stretch of white sand beaches, and the offseason, when only locals and snowbirds are in town, many of the area's top attractions shut down for the winter.
Myrtle Beach used to turn into a total ghost town in the offseason but now there are plenty of year-round alternatives for shopping, dining and entertainment. But it's the outdoor activities that grind to a halt as cooler temperatures and dwindling crowds continue through the autumn. That means it's getting close to last call for Myrtle Beach vacationers this fall. Here's a list of attractions that close down for the offseason:
Amusement Parks: Although all the waterparks and many of the amusement parks shut down after Labor Day, there are still a couple of places where you can catch thrill rides before the plug is pulled for the offseason. Although sister attraction Splashes Waterpark is closed, Family Kingdom in downtown Myrtle Beach is open daily through Sept. 13, then goes to weekends only until the final full week, Oct. 1-6. Guests can ride the Swamp Fox and Twist N Shout roller coasters, the go-karts and other attractions to get one last taste of summer in the fall. Pavilion Nostalgia Park at Broadway at the Beach stays open on the weekends, weather permitting, throughout the year although certain rides may be shut down until spring.
Beach Bars: Once the sun sets on summer and early autumn, the doors and windows are boarded up at many of the beach bars in town. While major bars and restaurants like Bummz Beach Cafe and Bandito's have enough year-round business to remain open, smaller venues like St. Clement's Beach Bar & Grill and many hotel pool bars call it a year sometime in the fall or winter. Many restaurants also take advantage of the offseason to close for renovations or for a brief winter break, such as Mammy's Kitchen in downtown Myrtle Beach and other eateries geared toward the tourist crowds.
Golf courses: Unlike the rest of Myrtle Beach, the local golf industry actually gets busier in the fall than it is in the summer. The fall golf season continues through November, but the winter season sees several courses close for offseason repairs and renovations. Others choose to roll their greens when the weather gets too cold to play, so don't be surprised to find a limited number of tee times in the winter. Miniature golf courses also call it a season in late fall and early winter.
Markets: Myrtle Beach has lots of open-air shopping venues, like farmers' markets and flea markets, where shoppers can stock up on fresh local produce or antiques. But as the thermometer drops, so do the crowds, and many eventually shut down for the year. Myrtle's Market in downtown Myrtle Beach simply runs out of produce by local providers and shut down operations in November, while Hudson's Flea Market in Surfside Beach and other open-air markets cut back to weekends only, weather permitting, in the offseason.
Watersports: This one may seem obvious, but there are a lot of thrill-seekers who don body suits to go surfing, paddle boarding and kite surfing in the offseason. But the ocean water temperature gets too cold for many activities, like parasailing and deep-sea fishing. So if you feel the need for some excitement on the high seas, you’d better get it this fall before local outfitters pull the plug.