Everyone knows about Myrtle Beach's most popular attractions. After all, the big-name entertainment venues and shopping centers are more visible, and thereby more heavily attended than some of the more laid-back areas of the Grand Strand.
Finding a low-key environment during the peak summer months can be tough with so many tourists in town, but most tend to follow the neon lights like moths to a flame at popular hot spots like Barefoot Landing, Broadway at the Beach, Market Common and the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk – all great places when crowds and traffic are light. Otherwise, a night out needs to be close and not crowded and relaxed.
The good news for North Beach guests is you don't have to go anywhere to get the ultimate laid-back experience. Book a late afternoon couples massage at The Cinzia Spa, get things started with drinks on the oceanfront veranda, and enjoy an upscale dinner for two (or four, or more) at 21 Main, featuring in-house aged prime cuts of beef, an innovative sushi bar and an extensive wine list.
But for those looking to go exploring while avoiding the Grand Strand's wilder side, here are five great places for a low-key night out in North Myrtle Beach:
Apache Pier: Located just south of North Beach off Kings Road, this is the longest wooden pier on the East Coast. Take a stroll along the wooden walkway around sunset and check out the colors over the ocean and land. Enjoy a seafood dinner at Croaker’s Restaurant and catch some live music at the outdoor band shell and bar, where you can feel the ocean breeze while dancing the night away.
Barefoot Princess: Located at Barefoot Landing, this steamboat tour of the Intracoastal Waterway may seem like a bit of a tourist attraction. But once you set sail and the crowds are out of sight, you are in for a relaxing ride. The dinner cruise can be a bit crowded on busier nights, but eat light and excuse yourself to the top deck for scenic views along the river.
Flynn's Irish Tavern: Checking out unfamiliar bars can be hit or miss; sometimes you stumble into a hidden gem, and other times you are ready to leave before you finish your first drink. That's not an issue at Flynn's, a friendly Irish pub that is as authentic as you will find in the US. This Main Street bar is owned and operated by a first-generation Irish family that treats strangers like regulars. The food is outstanding and the outdoor deck is a nice hangout.
Fat Harold's on the Beach: The crowds may be shagging elbow to elbow at the original Fat Harold's in downtown Ocean Drive, but this sister bar in the Cherry Grove neighborhood is about as laid back as it gets. Listen to beach music on the radio and shag dance on the oceanfront deck until well after the sun goes down. Enjoy a frozen drink and a late stroll down the beach.
Joe's Bar & Grill: Located so close to the North Beach entrance that you can avoid Highway 17 all together, this tucked-away restaurant may have a generic-sounding name but the cuisine is anything but. Great steaks and fresh local seafood are the mainstays of the menu, but the daily fresh catch specials are usually something truly special. The best seat in the house (and yes, this long-running restaurant is situated in an old home) isn’t actually “in” the house. The back patio deck is covered and casual, overlooking a beautiful salt marsh.