Need a quiet escape this winter? Read on for ways to plan a romantic winter weekend in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
After a long year of illness-related stress, my husband and I needed some romantic time away. We decided on a romantic winter weekend in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, also known as “The Grand Strand,” as it is an easy 3.5-hour drive from Charlotte, North Carolina. It was winter, so we didn’t plan on a warm, beach-activity-filled weekend. What we discovered instead surprised us.
As retired empty-nesters, we enjoy traveling together—alone. We had been to Myrtle Beach once before when our niece was looking for an inexpensive vacation spot for their family of six. We decided to meet them and their four girls, ages 5 to 13, for an extended weekend. As you can guess, the trip was kid-activity driven. Don’t get me wrong. We had a great time, but romantic—it was not. It was just the two of us on this trip, and we prioritized romance. Here is what you need to know to create your own romantic winter weekend in Myrtle Beach.
Myrtle Beach History in Conway
On the way to Myrtle Beach, we stopped for a couple of hours in the charming town of Conway, the county seat of Horry (pronounced OH-REE) County and part of the Myrtle Beach metropolitan area. We visited the Horry County Museum and L.W. Paul Living History Farm, and since it was chilly outside, we enjoyed visiting the history museum for a couple of hours. We learned of the area’s history and culture—rice fields, farmland, and the timber industry—long before modern-day Myrtle Beach.
The Living History Farm gave us an insight into early 20th-century farm life in Horry County. The sun shone as we strolled the grounds looking through outbuildings containing a blacksmith shop, farm implements, and a tobacco smokehouse. In the recreated farmhouse, we met Cheryl, dressed in a period costume and mending torn potholders on a vintage sewing machine. We warmed up in the gift shop while browsing vintage toys, yummy canned goods, books about the local area, and more.
Dinner and a Show Date Night During a Winter Weekend in Myrtle Beach
It was a short drive from Conway to North Myrtle Beach. After checking into our fabulous ocean-front room at the Island Vista Resort, we freshened up for our long-overdue “date night.” Tearing ourselves away from the view from our private balcony, we headed out for dinner and a show.
We had heard about Hook & Barrel Restaurant and The Carolina Opry Theater from a friend, so we were excited to get going. Full disclosure, my husband was not as excited about a musical stage show as I was but had agreed to the entire date. Both the dinner and show exceeded our expectations.
Hook & Barrel
At Hook & Barrel, we were greeted with a friendly smile and seated quickly. Walking through the restaurant, my husband noticed an interesting item at a few tables as we passed. Our waitress greeted us and told us about the specials. My husband asked about what he thought looked like hanging bacon. “Oh yes,” exclaimed Rhonda, “that’s our most popular appetizer. It is hanging bacon!” He ordered it. I started with She Crab Soup and a Bloody Mary oyster shooter. I figured if we were going to have a romantic weekend, why not?
Dinner was mouthwatering. My entree was fresh-caught swordfish with citrus-herb butter, tri-colored cauliflower, and potatoes and cauliflower root puree. My husband thoroughly enjoyed his butterfish with rice and veggies in a miso-soy broth. For dessert, we shared a warm dish of creme brûlée.
The Carolina Opry Theater
After dinner, we drove a short distance to The Carolina Opry Theater. It was dark outside by then, and the theater shone brightly as we drove up. The inside of the theater was opulent. The grand staircase and magnificent chandelier immediately caught my eye. We pursued the gift shop for a few minutes before finding our seats. The aisles were wide and very roomy. Our seats in the front section, and center stage, were perfect.
The show was like an old-fashioned variety show—lots of singing, dancing, and even a little comedy. We laughed and sang along to some of our favorite oldies. Okay, I sang along, but I did catch my husband tapping his fingers to the beat. There may have even been a little hand-holding going on, as well. It was a very enjoyable and romantic evening. A date that was a bit overdue and very much needed.
The Sound of Crashing Waves
The next morning we woke with the sun to the pleasant sound of waves crashing on the shore outside our balcony window. I couldn’t resist a walk on the beach, so with a cup of coffee in hand, we wandered out through the sugar-white sand to the water’s edge. Not only am I an avid seashell hunter from way back, but the grandkids now expect I send them shells every time Grandpa and I take a trip to the beach. It was a quick walk as we had to grab a bite of breakfast and head north to Little River for the surprise my husband had arranged.
Fishing on the Intracoastal Waterway on Our Winter Weekend in Myrtle Beach
When we arrived at Cricket Cove Marina, I thought we were going on a boat cruise. To my surprise, even better, we were going fishing. I know many people might not think fishing is romantic, but I can think of nothing better.
I must digress here and tell you that my husband and I grew up fishing in California. We met at work but got to know each other on a deep-sea fishing trip organized by our co-workers. He caught the most fish that day, but I caught the biggest, a 21-pound yellowtail tuna. Ever since then, it’s been game on.
We met our fishing guide, Captain Buddy, at Captain Smiley Fishing Charters and hopped aboard the 24-foot Pathfinder—just the two of us. We must have drawn the lucky straw that day as Buddy is a four-time world-record holder who has been fishing the coastal Myrtle Beach waters all his life. It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining. The sky was blue. The water was clear. Perfect for a romantic winter’s day fishing trip.
Fishing and an Eco-tour
We sailed through gorgeous scenery for miles without fishing and passed through marshlands teeming with wildlife, small quaint fishing villages where folks waved from the shore, down Little River, and up Bonaparte Creek. We crossed into North Carolina at Sunset Beach Bridge and up the Calabash River and stopped all along the way at several of Buddy’s “secret” fishing holes. It was a more-than-perfect romantic day.
Fresh Catch for Dinner
In case you’re wondering, together we caught and released nearly 20 fish keeping only two, which, once back at the marina, Buddy cleaned and filleted for us. We then took our fish to Snooky’s On the Water, a restaurant next door, where they graciously grilled our fresh catch and paired them with some southern sides for our dinner.
Huntington Beach State Park and Atalaya Castle
What could be more romantic than visiting a real castle? On our previous trip, we spent time at Huntington Beach State Park (beach and pier) but did not make it to historic Atalaya Castle. This weekend, it was on my must-see list.
Sunday morning was chilly but sunny, so we set out with light jackets in hand. Atalaya Castle was built in 1931 by Archer Huntington as a winter home for his wife, Anna Hyatt Huntington, an American artist and sculptor.
The 30-room, Moorish-style castle originally sat on 9,000 coastal acres, most of which were donated to become the state park and the botanical gardens. Atalaya Castle is on the National Register of Historic Places.
A Visit to Brookgreen Gardens on Our Winter Weekend in Myrtle Beach
Originally part of the Archer’s estate and a place to showcase Anna’s work, Brookgreen Gardens became the first public sculpture garden in South Carolina. It is now home to more than 2000 sculptures created by 430 artists. Even in the winter, it is beautiful and well worth the visit. Along with the many sculptures, it is filled with mighty 250-year-old oak trees draped in Southern moss, small ponds with wooden footbridges, flowing water fountains, and even fragrant winter blooms such as daffodils, camellias, and winter Jasmine.
Dinner, Drinks, and an Evening Stroll
After a day of immersing ourselves in culture, we drove to nearby Murrels Inlet MarshWalk for dinner and drinks. With many restaurants to choose from, we decided upon Drunken Jack’s, a South Carolina low-country legend for 40 years.
We ate a scrumptious seafood dinner and drank signature craft cocktails while overlooking the waterfront. Afterward, with drinks in hand, we took a stroll along the boardwalk and watched the golden sun as it set on our romantic winter weekend in Myrtle Beach.
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Searching for a Winter Getaway
If you are looking for a winter getaway, Myrtle Beach is a magical place with abundant activities. Take the whole family for an unforgettable vacation or escape for a romantic weekend in South Carolina, and experience all the romance that the “Strand” has waiting for just the two of you. Consult Wander With Wonder for your travel inspiration.