Myrtle Beach vs. Charleston

Two of the best of South Carolina, Myrtle Beach and Charleston are perhaps some of the most unique places you’ll visit in the US. Complete with their unique set of draws, Myrtle Beach and Charleston offers different kinds of experiences. Yet, they both offer the same South Carolina charm.
Myrtle Beach vs. Charleston

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Myrtle Beach is best for the fun-loving crowd, even travelers with small kids. It is fun and exciting, not to mention cheaper. Charleston is niched. It is upscaled and has quite the backstory. Depending on what you’re looking for, these destinations are worth the visit.

Myrtle Beach

Dynamic, pretty, and fun, Myrtle Beach is a holiday destination through and through. It is practically made up of the right ingredients for a jam-packed holiday — the same stuff as Miami, even. You can have parties, wine and dine, and golfing here. If you’re looking for an alternative to big Florida cities, Myrtle Beach’s Grand Strand is a perfect choice.

What Makes Myrtle Beach Unique?

A Golfing Capital

With Florida’s abundance of vast expanses of green grass, you’re bound to travel into yet another golfing capital. Not to mention, the constant sun and less rain, many Florida cities offer the best putt. Myrtle Beach is yet another addition to the state’s long roster of the best golfing cities.

The city boasts around 90 quality golf courses, many of which are designed by legends and have held national competitions. A heap of golf capitals aside, Myrtle Beach is a self-proclaimed destination. The roster of quality expanses it offers has created a golfing paradise in its own right.

In addition to some of the Southeast’s most beautiful coastline courses, taking a quick drive inland shows a different scenery of forested marshes and maritime woods. For golfers on a tight budget, there are also many more reasonably priced courses. Most resorts have special golf packages that include reduced rates on both golf and lodging.

Here are some of the best courses:

Tidewater Golf Club

The 500-acre (202 ha) course overlooks a variety of environments. This includes coastal bluffs, Lowcountry forests, and saltwater marshes. Tidewater is a wonderful blend of historical significance, natural splendor, and Southern charm. It is designed by Ken Tomlinson, a native of the region.

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Caledonia Golf & Fish Club

The sloping course is bordered by pines and hardwoods, centered on a magnificent clubhouse in antebellum style. Even the most skilled professional golfers find it difficult. Previously a rice plantation, it is now a prominent public golf course.

This course was created by the acclaimed architect Mike Strantz. It has made a lot of lists and garnered a ton of recognition for its aesthetic appeal and playability.

Dune Golf & Beach Club

One of the most well-known golf courses in the Myrtle Beach region and the larger Southeast is The Dunes Golf and Beach Club. The Dunes Golf and Beach Club is a traditional golf course in the center of Myrtle Beach.

It was built in 1948 and was created by renowned golf course designer Robert Trent Jones, Sr . It has a prestigious membership and a long history of hosting top-level professional golf.

The Grand Strand

Myrtle Beach boasts perhaps one of the continental US longest coastal fronts. The city’s sandy stretch is so dramatically long that it can encompass the surrounding beaches and cities.

Often called “The Beach”, it is home to 14 distinct villages and 60 miles (97 km) of gorgeous coastline. You can easily explore expansive sandy beaches and lush natural features. You can also watch breathtaking sunrises over the Atlantic Ocean and thrilling new adventures.

The sand stretches from Cherry Grove, North Myrtle Beach, and Atlantic Beach on the north end. It also encompasses Surfside Beach, Garden City Beach, Litchfield Beach, and Pawleys Island in the south. The possibilities for fun and experience are as endless as their expanse.

The Grand Strand is your gold mine if you’re seeking the best that the beach has to offer. No matter where you choose to pause along the 60 miles of sand that make up the Grand Strand, a quick drive gives you access to everything.

You can go on a saltwater deep-sea fishing trip or go parasailing over the waves. The cosmopolitan has access to a day of shopping. You can have neighborhood boutiques, high-end retailers, and a variety of culinary options.

On some of the top courses in the South, you may also play a round of golf in the afternoon. You can enjoy amazing casual and exquisite dining, water park fun, and live entertainment Vegas-style for more fun. Or you can spend a simple morning sipping a cold beverage and watching the tide come in.

The Myrtle Beach SkyWheel

At 187 feet tall (57 m), the Myrtle Beach SkyWheel is a local icon and a marvel in itself. It is in fact the biggest on the East Coast, challenging even many of the city’s skyscrapers. The 1.2-mile (2 km) Boardwalk’s crowning glory and most stunning feature is the Myrtle Beach SkyWheel. It has been a distinguishing building on the Myrtle Beach skyline since it was finished in 2011.

Those who are not afraid of heights will be rewarded with a stunning view of the skyline of the lovely city. The SkyWheel has 42 climate-controlled, enclosed gondolas that can accommodate up to 6 people. A 20-minute ride in one of the gondolas will give you sweeping views of the city and the ocean.

The SkyWheel is the perfect place for selfies and aerial shots of the endless beaches and beyond. It boasts a clever nonreflective glass atop the gondolas. You may travel in comfort year-round, rain or shine, thanks to the gondolas’ climate control and enclosure. Tickets are available at the door, or you can book online in advance to skip the lines.

Wine and Dine Scene

Myrtle Beach, apart from all the fun it offers also has the best dining scene. And to cap it all off, it also boasts its wine scene. You surely won’t go hungry whenever you’re in Myrtle Beach, thanks to quite a selection of restaurants sprawled across the city.

If you ate out at least once a day for five years, it would take you about FIVE years to visit every single restaurant in the Myrtle Beach area. It has more than 1,800 of them. You name it: seafood, spaghetti, sushi, and buffets with unlimited servings. There must be at least one restaurant in the city that serves it.

When it comes to wine, Myrtle Beach also boasts quite a roster. And perhaps one of its most famous spots is the La Belle Amie Vineyard. This former tobacco estate has been a vineyard for 200 years and offers some fine wines for tasting.

You will be given the stories of the Bellamy family and their winemaking methods as you drink and savor the wines — they were passed down from ancestors from the south of France.

Charleston

Charleston is a charming city in Florida that seems to be like a time capsule. It is the perfect representation of the US old-world charm. When you say old southern aesthetic, Charleston is right up there in your mind.

From war history to ghost stories, Charleston is best reserved for the niche traveler. Those who love history and a bit of a slower pace of living. Not to mention the city itself is the stuff of postcards. It is picture-worthy from every angle.

What Makes Charleston Unique?

Old-World Charms

With so much history filled with revolutionary turning points, you can expect to catch glimpses of the old world in Charleston. You can still even see horse-drawn carriages along cobblestone streets, it is definitely one of the oldest cities in the entire US. From the Revolutionary War to the Civil War, to the tourism boom of today, just a plain walkthrough of the city is enough to keep you hooked.

Steeped in history and beauty, you’ll surely have your head turned everywhere you go in Charleston. Luckily, there are several guided tours available for everyone curious enough. And among the popular ones available is the self-guided walking tour.

While you can easily get around touring the city with a horse carriage or a pedicab, a self-guided walking tour offers a slower more intimate look. Anyone visiting Charleston must take this quirky activity, which is slightly under two miles long.

You can start by looking for the ancient Colonial city wall in Waterfront Park, where a pier projects into the water. Make your way to the East Bay so you can possibly witness a regatta in action there. Admire the White Point Gardens’ live oaks while strolling north to south on Legare.

But perhaps the best place to hit if you’re looking for the old-world charms of Charleston is the Historic Downtown. You can travel back in time by exploring the area’s winding, cobbled pathways that lead to the sea. You might be in awe of the numerous structures and monuments that chronicle the victories and tragedies of its past. History cannot be avoided, from the Old Slave Mart to the impressive-looking Colonial houses.

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Other notable places in the city to visit are the plantations, Patriots Point, and the Historic Market. You can also visit popular museums that offer a better glimpse of the city’s history such as the Old Slave Mart Museum and the Charleston Museum.

Battle Sites

This city was important in the early days of America, playing a significant role in both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. The state of South Carolina actually saw more Revolutionary War conflicts than any other region in the nation at the time.

You can visit icons such as Middleton Place, Fort Johnson, or Fort Moultrie. Thanks to its wealth of historic landmarks, the city tends to attract history buffs and patriots by the millions.

The British successfully invaded Charleston in 1970 and prevailed. The city and harbor served as a crucial strategic center for the British. They sought to rally loyalist support and retake the southern states.

Charleston had a significant role in the Civil War less than 100 years later. Charleston became a popular symbolic target for the Union army because it was the first state to split from the Union.

The Union ship that was transporting supplies to Fort Sumter was the target of the first shots fired during the Civil War. It was fired from the peninsula’s tip known as The Battery. Nevertheless, these are the two most significant roles Charleston played in American history.

Ghost Tours

With two world wars, slavery, and many more packed in its entire long history, you can expect to have things that still linger. Or rather, souls that remain. Charleston is often considered one of America’s most haunted cities.

Pre-revolutionary history aside, it also has an abundance of ghost-centric folklore, and there are even ancient tombstones.

There are plenty of eerie and terrifying stories to choose from. Some even include those about ghosts of Civil War troops, haunted pubs, ancient haunted jails, and furious ghosts. Among the many, most recommended tours is the Charleston Ghost & Graveyard Walking tour which lasts up to 90 minutes.

You will be taken around one of the city’s oldest graveyards along with local stories. Especially the one where an urban legend claims many locals were buried alive decades ago.

Another one is the Death and Depravity Ghost Tour, perhaps the darkest tour yet. It shows you the true dark history of the city with sleazy tales involving brothels, true crime, and demons. You’ll explore more of Charleston’s well-known haunted spots and learn about their eerie past. Many even have scandalous stories.

The Beaches

There are a lot of reasons to adore Charleston, South Carolina, but one of the best reasons is that the city is only a short drive from gorgeous beaches. Each of Charleston’s beaches has unique personality traits. But they all have breathtaking views and a beachfront that is generally quiet

Here are some of the best ones 20 to 40 minutes away from the city center:

Folly Beach

Folly Beach is an all-favorite beach close to Charleston. It is frequently referred to as the “Edge of America.” It is located on Folly Island, a barrier island that is 15 miles (24 km) from Charleston’s city center. It used to be a peaceful hippie beach town but now has seen quite a rise in popularity. But it still managed to keep a lot of its original charm.

With so many activities, Folly is unquestionably Charleston’s trendiest beach. You can expect to find quite an abundance of bars and restaurants near the sand. It sits at the edge of the island, and you’ll have the endless stretch of the Atlantic Ocean as your view.

Sullivan’s Island

Sullivan’s Islan is a part of Charleston Harbor and is only a 20-minute drive from the city’s center. It boasts probably the longest miles of breathtaking shoreline in the area. It is packed and dynamic during the season highs of spring and summer and can be relatively quiet off-season. It has a lovely stretch of public land overlooked by an iconic historic lighthouse.

Kiawah Beachwalker Park

If you’re looking for a pristine beach packed with natural beauty, Kiawah Beachwalker Park is a worthy visit. Situated on Kiawah Island, just off the mainland, it is often regarded as one of the most barrier islands in the US. The beach is perfect for families with all its outdoor adventures on offer.

Which Is Better – Myrtle Beach or Charleston?

For more excitement, beaches, and activities, Myrtle Beach is definitely the better option. It has everything any vacationing lot would look for in a coastal city. Charleston on the other hand is more upscaled and beautiful, however, it doesn’t quite match Myrtle Beach’s dynamic. Not to mention, Myrtle Beach is cheaper than Charleston.

FAQ

Is Charleston or Myrtle Beach Safer?

When it comes to overall risk, Myrtle Beach is safer than Charleston. This is mostly due to the latter’s higher crime rate. Charleston fares worse with 435.8 per 100,000, compared to Myrtle Beach’s 398.7 according to the US News & World Report.

Charleston is also reported to have a history of terrorist attacks. But all in all, both destinations are classified as medium-risk cities. They’re both generally safer but proceed with the necessary caution.

Is Myrtle Beach Cheaper Than Charleston?

While both are very touristy destinations, Charleston is one of the most famous places in the US and therefore sees more tourists. Thanks to higher demand, Charleston’s prices and expenses tend to be more expensive than Myrtle Beach’s.

Myrtle Beach on the other hand is cheaper and is more of a party destination than a place to be explored. If you’re looking for the best time without having to worry so much about the expense, Myrtle Beach is your best bet.

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Myrtle Beach vs. Charleston for Family Vacation

When it comes to family vacations, Charleston is the better option. Simply because of its family-oriented draws. The city is best for exploring and learning more about history which is better suited for families with curious kids.

Myrtle Beach on the other hand is more about the dynamics like thrills, fun, and parties. While there are activities perfect for children, the city’s gritty edges may prove to be not safe for kids.

Charleston Aquarium vs. Myrtle Beach Aquarium

Both aquariums are considered to be some of the top-notch in the entire country but they do have their stark differences.

The South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston provides more depth and excitement. It is a more educational and exciting option. It is divided into sections that mimic actual environments found in South Carolina. Touring there can feel like you’re immersed in the natural habitats of their animals.

Ripley’s Aquarium in Myrtle Beach, on the other hand, is better for kids that only want to have fun. While they only have marine animals on display, the aquarium centers on a more active dynamic.

Is It Better to Stay in Charleston or Myrtle Beach?

If you’re looking for a better accommodation scene, Myrtle Beach is the better option. Centered around resorts and rowdy energy, you can expect hotels and resorts in Myrtle Beach to be cheaper and more inclusive.

Charleston on the other hand feels more upscaled and expensive, room rates tend to be more expensive than Myrtle Beach. But the city itself has more substance with its history and outright beauty and value.

How Far Is Charleston From Myrtle Beach?

Charleston is approximately 87 miles or 140 km southwest of Myrtle Beach, directly.

How to Get to Myrtle Beach From Charleston

You can get to Myrtle Beach from Charleston in the following common ways: you can take the bus, a train, or drive a car.

How Long Is the Drive from Myrtle Beach to Charleston?

With a 95-mile distance (152 km), it takes around a couple of hours along the long road.

Is There a Train From Myrtle Beach to Charleston?

Hopping on a train to Charleston from Myrtle Beach is one of the most common modes of transport. You can take the Amtrak, which costs around 39 to 55 USD, one way.

Is There a Ferry From Myrtle Beach to Charleston?

You can only travel between Myrtle Beach and Charleston by road. Ferries, despite the close distance, aren’t available.

How Long Does It Take to Get from Charleston to Myrtle Beach?

Depending on your mode of transport, on average, road travel takes around two to three hours.

Can You Fly From Myrtle Beach to Charleston?

You can fly from Myrtle Beach to Charleston. Though time effective, it isn’t a common option. You can get one-way tickets for 164 to 300 USD.

How Far Is Charleston Airport From Myrtle Beach?

Charleston Airport is approximately 86 miles or 139 km from Myrtle Beach, directly.

Is It Cheaper to Fly Into Charleston or Myrtle Beach?

The cheaper destination to fly to is Myrtle Beach. Charleston’s prices and expenses tend to be more expensive in general, partly due to its higher tourist demand.

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