Don’t let the calendar or the thermometer keep you indoors during the winter months. Myrtle Beach has plenty to do and see during the winter time, including many days when it’s warm enough for outdoor fun as well as indoor entertainment. Here’s a list of five great ways to spend the day with the family during the cooler months in Myrtle Beach:
* Beach Ball Classic: Six solid days of high school hoops are held each year at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center in a tournament that attracts some of the top basketball teams and talent in the nation. Entering its 34th year, the Beach Ball Classic is the highlight of the local sports and social calendar. The action tips off Dec. 26 and runs through New Year's Eve, when the champions are crowned and the all-tournament team is announced, yielding a list of who's who in high school hoops that you will see at the college and NBA level in the near future. Past participants include Kobe Bryant, Baron Davis, Raymond Felton, Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O'Neal and more. See the hoops stars of tomorrow in Myrtle Beach this winter.
* Brookgreen Gardens: This botanical sculpture garden in Murrells Inlet is most popular in the spring when the flowers are in full bloom, but this former rice plantation is teeming with beauty year-round. In fact, the mild temperatures and climate of South Carolina provide plenty of scenery and greenery in the winter time. Warmer days allow for strolling through the mazes of gardens and sculptures while taking in the beautiful blend of art and nature. In addition to daily tours of the 9,000-acre estate, Brookgreen also opens at late on certain evenings for its “Nights of a Thousand Candles” festival. Held Thursdays through Sundays on Dec. 4-20, the gardens are adorned with more than 5,000 candles and lights and hosts live entertainment throughout the park. Brookgreen is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily and from 3 to 10 p.m.
* Polar Bear Plunge: Want to end the old year with a bang, like the sound of your teeth chattering uncontrollably? Join in the frosty fun at the 14th Annual Polar Bear Plunge at Ocean Lakes Campground on the south end of Myrtle Beach by taking a quick dip in the Atlantic Ocean. If it sounds crazy, well, that's because it is. But since New Year's Eve 1999, when three polar-bear pioneers went for a swim on a whim, the tradition has grown in numbers and has seen hundreds take the challenge on sunnier days. It's not so much the ocean temperature as the air temperature when you get out, but loved ones are on hand to offer a warm beach towel and a hot cup of coffee. Registration, which ends at noon on the day of the event, is $6 and includes annual club membership.
* Ripley's Aquarium: The fish don't hibernate or migrate south for the winter at this year-round attraction, so even when it's cold outside the whole family can still have fun without the sun at Ripley's Aquarium. Featuring more than a million gallons of water filling glass tanks, Ripley's Aquarium gives guests the rare chance to come face to face with some of the most incredible sea creatures, including a wide range of shark and stingray species. Catch the mermaid shows and other exhibits, grab a bite to eat in the on-site grill and take home a souvenir from the Cargo Hold shop. The holiday season sees the annual Festival of Trees display, which features 50 trees – one for each US state – decorated in each state's theme.
* UCP Game Zone: Put the fun in a night out for dinner at the Ultimate California Pizza Game Zone. Part arcade and part pizza parlor, this family friendly eatery offers good times to go with great pizza. Located just off Restaurant Row on Lake Arrowhead Road, this spacious building features a full arcade with the latest video games as well as old-school carnival-style machines. Have a family free throw contest and earn tickets to buy items from the prize counter. After working up an appetite, enjoy some of the best pizza in town at UCP, which offers the widest selection of toppings in town. Patrons can purchase passes that include food, drink and games for extra savings.