Myrtle Beach vs. Outer Banks

Between Myrtle Beach and the Outer Banks, it’s an easy pick. Adventure junkies thrive in Myrtle Beach. The city is full of activities and places to explore, from its entertainment centers down to its shopping malls and major tourist attractions. In the Outer Banks, this is the place for serious beachgoers. Every beach activity you can think of, you’ll find it in Outer Banks (OBX). But mostly, it’s also the best place for a laid-back, peaceful vacation.
Myrtle Beach vs. Outer Banks

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It’s not every day you see wild horses gliding along the beach. Or cozy beach homes lined along the sand ideal for a quiet retreat. In Outer Banks, these are all a part of everyday life. It’s a beach adventure mixed with rest and relaxation experiences.

In Myrtle Beach, it’s almost a rite of passage to feel overwhelmed with all the things you can do. Explore beaches? Check. Nightlife that stays up till dawn? Plenty. Activities to keep you from feeling bored? Myrtle Beach is chock-full of them.

And that doesn’t even include the city’s shopping centers, restaurants, and live theater shows.

From the looks of it, you can easily tell apart the two destinations. One is an active wonderland, while the other is a bubble of relaxation. But if you need additional guidance, you’ll find all the answers to your questions below.

Myrtle Beach

Lively, upbeat, and a vacation destination free from boredom. That’s Myrtle Beach. The city’s nightlife alone is enough to give you what you’re looking for: a fun-filled, action-packed vacation. And by action, meaning… a wealth of entertainment and recreation pursuits. So where can you find this wealth of entertainment?

In none other than Broadway at the Beach. This has to be your first stop when visiting Myrtle Beach, especially if you’re traveling with kids. Because it’s not enough to say that Broadway at the Beach is simply a theme park of fun.

Rather, it’s like an entertainment buffet. Amusement parks, sightseeing, interactive museums, art galleries, a Ferris wheel, and more. Even better, you can shop and dine from over 50+ selections around the area.

Plus, Broadway at the Beach is also situated close to Myrtle Beach’s beaches. Speaking of which, you have a 60-mile (96.6 km) coastline to venture and explore. Whatever definition of the beach comes to mind, you’re bound to find it in Myrtle Beach.

There’s a beach for families, adventure junkies, those in need of seclusion, and even for partying.

While some might say that Myrtle Beach tends to be quite a touristy spot, it’s all part of the experience. The vibes in Myrtle Beach are lively for a reason. And although the city does see a lot of crowds, there are still several places where you can get away from it all.

For instance, Garden City is a popular place for vacationers who want a change of pace. Or simply want a break from the vibrant atmosphere.

In Myrtle Beach, there are places to party, shop, recharge, spend with family, and dine to your heart’s content.

Overall, what makes the city worth visiting is that you’ll never run out of things to do. In addition, Myrtle Beach’s offerings are so diverse you won’t feel like you’re simply repeating similar activities. If you went back a second time, it surely won’t feel like Groundhog Day.

Now, what about the details in between? What exactly can you do around the city? Here’s the complete lowdown on everything you can experience in Myrtle Beach.

What Makes Myrtle Beach Unique?

The City That Never Sleeps

Myrtle Beach may as well be the next Las Vegas for its abundance of day-to-night activities. Think of it as an avalanche of fun. No day is boring here. And here are just a few ideas to convince you why it’s so.

For Those That Love Sports

Whether it’s inland or in the water, Myrtle Beach is home to several places for sports fanatics.

Baseball fan? Don’t miss the Ripken Experience. This is the place to put all your baseball skills to the test. In fact, you’ll get a good feel of what it’s like to play in the professional baseball leagues here.

See yourself as more of an avid golfer? You’re in luck if you visit Myrtle Beach. The city offers over 100 golf courses. There are even minicourses for kids to enjoy. Some of the best golf courses in Myrtle Beach include:

  • True Blue Golf Club
  • Tidewater Golf Club
  • Pine Lakes Country Club
  • Caledonia Golf & Fish Club
  • Dunes Golf and Beach Club
  • Fazio Course at Barefoot Resort
  • King’s North at Myrtle Beach National

Apart from golf and baseball, did you know Myrtle Beach also features 200+ tennis courts? That’s not all. There’s also the John T. Rhodes Myrtle Beach Sports Center. This indoor sports facility has 8 basketball courts, 16 volleyball courts, and can even be used for pickleball. You can even opt for gymnastics, table tennis, and so much more!

Not to mention, there’s still jet skiing, kayaking, canoeing, parasailing, and deep-sea fishing.

Family-Friendly Activities

Mini golf counts as one of the top family-friendly activities in Myrtle Beach. But you aren’t limited to that.

For younger kids, they’ll enjoy places like the Hollywood Wax Museum and WonderWorks. Even better, you can still also visit Ripley’s Aquarium for an exciting afternoon.

Then, make your way to the Brookgreen Gardens for a spectacular wildlife-watching experience. Also ideal for nature lovers, the Brookgreen Gardens features diverse wildlife species and plants. Without a doubt, it’s an activity the whole family can enjoy.

On Broadway at the Beach, you’ll find even more family-oriented activities. One of the most exciting experiences is the Helicopter Ride.

Nightlife Entertainment Bonanza

When nightfall hits Myrtle Beach, the fun is just about to start. Be it for families, solo travelers, or couples, there’s something for everyone to do at night in the city.

Looking to party? That’s hardly going to be a challenge to find. Myrtle Beach has several options. From nightclubs and beach bars to rooftop bars and live-music open-air bars. Some of your best options include:

  • Tin Roof
  • The Bowery
  • Moe Moon’s
  • Wicked Tuna
  • Bourbon Street
  • 8th Avenue Tiki Bar
  • Landshark Bar & Grill
  • Oceanfront Bar & Grill
  • Banditos Mexican Cantina

If you’re looking for a more laid-back nightlife activity, there are plenty of options. Shopping is one of them. But perhaps the best nightlife in the city apart from Myrtle Beach’s bars is its theaters.

Carolina Opry stands at the pinnacle of theater shows. But it’s certainly not the only show that’s electrifyingly good. A few worth mentioning include Legends in Concert and the Charles Bach Wonders Magic & Illusion Show. Steve Falcon’s Comedy Hypnosis Hour and the Original Motown Tribute Show are also fantastic options.

A Place to Splurge and Find Bliss

Is Myrtle Beach a place to shop? You bet. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the best places to splurge and satisfy your retail therapy needs. However, shopping isn’t your only opportunity to splurge. If you want privacy and relaxation, and feel like splurging, you can do so at a world-class spa.

And Myrtle Beach is home to some of the best. Take Cinzia Spa as an example. They specialize in spa treatments catering to all demographics, be it young, old, couples, or even kids. Plus, they’re also well-known for their CBD treatments.

Innovative, right? It gets even better. They also have a Himalayan salt cave, infrared saunas, and even a TechnoGym fitness center.

But if you prefer the classic deep-tissue massage treatment, Hibiscus Spa ranks as one of the top spas. Or, you can check out the Awakening Spa for its soothing unique oils used in their massages.

Other great spas worth trying in Myrtle Beach include Spa33, Kiva Day Spa, and Coastal Spa.

Now, what about shopping? Choose from any of the following districts:

  • Tanger Outlets
  • Inlet Square Mall
  • Barefoot Landing
  • The Market Common
  • Hudson’s Flea Market
  • Broadway at the Beach
  • The Hammock Shops Village

Altogether, you’ll never run out of options when it comes to shopping in Myrtle Beach. Not to mention, the city boasts a wide variety of unique & great finds. From apparel and accessories to specialty items and even outdoor/indoor needs.

A Budget-Friendly Destination With a Wide Variety of Options

One of the best reasons to visit Myrtle Beach? It won’t break the bank. You don’t need to spend a fat amount of dollars to enjoy everything the city offers.

From its attractions and sightseeing tours down to the food and shopping. Not to mention, accommodations at Myrtle Beach are vast and bountiful. You can easily find a resort or hotel under $100 a night.

Plus, lodging options are abundant too. There’s a wealth of hotels spread throughout the area. Whether it’s a beachfront option or a hotel that’s close to the city. Even better, you can choose a hotel that offers peaceful, secluded vibes or a place with direct access to restos, bars, clubs, and more.

Take North Myrtle Beach as an example. Choosing to stay in this area grants you access to just about everything. There’s an amusement park nearby, along with dozens of shops, bars, and restaurants to choose from.

And if you’re looking for a more laid-back experience, North Myrtle Beach has an area for that too. Or preferably, Garden City might be the better choice if you’re truly seeking downtime.

Now, what about food? That’s hardly going to be an issue.

You have more than enough dining selections in Myrtle Beach. The best part? It’s not just seafood and classic American cuisine. There are Mexican, Texas BBQ, Italian & pizza, cheese fondue, Austrian, Japanese, and even vegetarian options.

Granted, you’ll find that some may be priced a little too high. But that’s only if you’re feeling like you want to splurge a bit more on food. Or you’re looking for a romantic date. That being said, many of Myrtle Beach’s restaurants are wallet-friendly.

And on that note, there are tons of restaurants with excellent bang-for-buck deals. Looking for that happy hour kind of price deal? These deals are all over the city.

Overall, what makes Myrtle Beach such an attractive vacation is also that its prices aren’t ridiculously high. There’s no doubt a few places will have upscale pricing. But that only means tourists have more options, from budget-friendly to lavish choices. After all, wouldn’t you be intrigued to try lavish gastronomy at Myrtle Beach? Chef-inspired creations at 42nd Bar Street and Grill surely justify the price.

Not Just for Those Seeking a Lively Vacation

When people think of Myrtle Beach and are visiting for the first time, they often think…

Oh man, it’s going to be crowded. Or it’s mostly just a party place. Or, the city might be better for young adults.

But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Myrtle Beach is just as fantastic of a vacation for young adults as much as it is for families. And beach lovers. Even travelers who simply want a laid-back beach/city experience.

Looking for an astounding nightlife experience without loud music? Choose from any of Myrtle Beach’s theaters and watch their highly-rated live performances. There are even pirate themes, magic shows, and acrobatic pyro performances for kids to enjoy.

Prefer to simply lay back and relax? There are several waterfront landmarks and piers perfect for a relaxing sunset experience. Or better yet, dine alfresco and enjoy the clean, fresh ocean breeze. What’s more, you can even book a sunset cruise for the entire afternoon if you want to get away from all the bustle and noise.

For a true R&R experience, Pawley’s Island and Garden City are excellent places to stay in. And not just when it comes to accommodations. But also if you’re after a quiet retreat to reflect and recharge.

There’s no doubt Myrtle Beach offers a broad range of choices if you’re looking for a party. Or meet new friends. But the city is also just as ideal for families traveling with the little ones. Or sunseekers who prefer to spend their time mostly at the beach. Considering its 60-mile (96.5 km) stretch of sand and sea.

Outer Banks

Outer Banks is a solemn beach getaway perfect for families and laid-back vacationers. Put simply, it’s the kind of vacation where you can relax to the fullest.

Unspoiled beaches, landscapes of natural beauty, lesser touristy vibes, and more beachfront rentals. These are the highlights of staying in the Outer Banks.

What’s more, OBX offers just enough activities to keep tourists from feeling bored throughout their stay. A few examples? Think parasailing, jet skiing, and windsurfing. For the family, Duck Town Park is perhaps the best place to go.

Here, you’ll find just about everything. From activities to do and relaxation to casual nightlife spots and spectacular accommodations. Plus, Soundside Boardwalk, which is located just right next to Duck Town Park is worth the visit.

Especially for those who’ve been craving a place where they can slow down, this boardwalk is it. Imagine having a romantic dinner without the noise and bustle of crowds. Or a slow, peaceful afternoon paired with a delicious espresso in hand or alfresco dining with clean, cool ocean air.

Eager to shop? That’s in Duck Park too. But if you prefer a more adventurous trail of things to do, Outer Banks has plenty in store as well.

Altogether, the Outer Banks has plenty to offer. Safe to say, a vacation in Outer Banks is one where you’ll feel at ease and most of all, recharged.

Curious as to what else you can do in the Outer Banks? Head to the next sections below.

What Makes Outer Banks Unique?

The Best Place to Get Away From It All

No flashy neon lights, no loud or flashy vibes, and most of all, no tourist traps. The Outer Banks prides itself as a preserved, unspoiled island that extends from its beaches to its state parks.

Even its popular Soundside Boardwalk is just a few steps away from 4.5 hectares (11 acres) of natural landscapes. Popularly regarded as Duck Town Park, the area is a haven for nature lovers. But at the same time, it calls to families, kids, and serenity seekers.

Here, you’ll find a dozen walking trails lined with maple oak trees and natural beauty all around. Explore Duck Town Park in your own time and leisure. That’s the beauty of the experience. Aside from its walking trails, there are also willow swamps, maritime forests, and open green spaces. Perfect for a quiet and peaceful day, wouldn’t you agree?

From here, make your way to Jockey’s Ridge State Park. At a glance, this state park feels too massive to even comprehend. And that’s because it’s the largest dune system in the Eastern US.

But size isn’t the only thing worth talking about. At Jockey’s Ridge, you can enjoy an afternoon picnic watching the sunset. Be it with family or your romantic partner. For a little adventure, you can go hiking here as well. What’s more, doing a hang gliding session is a bucket-list experience be it for families, couples, or solo travelers.

Still looking for more places to get away from it all?

Don’t forget that Outer Banks’ beaches all boast unspoiled and pristine beauty. Even better, you won’t find massive beach crowds either.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Coquina Beach sit at the top of the list if it’s the seclusion you’re after. Although Coquina Beach offers a more remote beach experience. That said, Cape Hatteras National Seashore is one of the most attractive beaches you’ll ever see. This beach is beautiful and truly worth a visit more than once.

Overall, any vacationer looking for some serious downtime will find it in Outer Banks. Craving for a rest & relaxation experience? There’s no doubt Outer Banks (OBX) has everything you could ask for.

Charming and Welcoming Beaches for All

Surfing, kayaking, dolphin cruises, jet skiing, fishing, and more. It’s no surprise that the Outer Banks’ beaches are perfect for water sports activities and adventure. Did you know? OBX is one of the best windsurfing and kiteboarding capitals in the world.

But underneath all that adrenaline is a charm and relaxing vibe travelers can’t get enough of. Plus, unspoiled beauty that would appeal to any beach lover. Ocracoke Island is one such beach. Perfect for families and any traveler looking to get away, Ocracoke Island features 16 miles (25.7 km) of beaches.

Here, it’s a laid-back lifestyle all around. But it’s not the only one. Roanoke Island is beyond appealing. It’s not enough to say just how picturesque the views here are. Not to mention, a peaceful island away from any crowds and noise.

There’s also Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, and Nags Head. All of these are breathtaking beaches that will draw you in and make you wish you could stay forever. It’s also worth mentioning that Nags Head is considered OBX’s center or hub. Around the area, you’ll find resorts, hotels, major attractions, restaurants, shops, and more.

If you prefer a spot that offers beaches and a wide array of activities, Nags Head is the best place to be. In fact, Jockey’s Ridge, one of OBX’s most popular attractions is near Nags Head. Other beaches and islands worth visiting include Duck, Hatteras Island, and Corolla.

Culinary Delights for Every Traveler

Didn’t expect Outer Banks to have a gastronomic scene? You’d be surprised to find a wide variety of delectable culinary dishes. From its seafood and sandwiches down to its freshly roasted coffee.

For first-time visitors, The Blue Point is a must. Being a 32-year-old establishment, The Blue Point is a legend in the culinary scene. What’s on the menu? Mostly seafood. Their tuna carpaccio and seared sea scallops are dish highlights worth trying.

That’s not all, though. Apart from its amazing seafood cuisine, there’s an outdoor bar perfect for chilling during a sunset. Or even after dinner.

Looking for a casual seafood shack? Cravings sits at the top as one of the most delicious restaurants in the city. But if you prefer a more surf & turf cuisine paired with steak, NC Coast & Grill is a fantastic option.

Don’t miss out on John’s Drive-In either, known for their BBQ sandwiches and battered fish baskets. It’s not common to see a waiting line at John’s Drive-In. After all, the crunchy fried Mahi sandwiches and extra thick milkshakes are a savory-sweet treat for all.

Lastly, there’s no better place to have coffee elsewhere than in Front Porch Café. With 20+ coffee bean varieties to choose from, you can try a different variety every day during your trip. Or, if you enjoy reading a book while sipping lattes in peace, Duck’s Cottage is a great option too.

Wide Variety of Beach Vacation Rental Houses

A beach vacation wouldn’t be complete without beachfront accommodations to pair, right? Well, it’s a good thing that Outer Banks has a wealth of options to offer. From cozy cedar cottages to opulent beach homes that can fit up to 20 people.

Of course, you’re also welcome to choose from a wide variety of boutique inns and resorts. Not to mention, most have close-by beach access. Some are just one block away, while others are just a few steps from the sand.

Oceanfront favorites include the following:

  • Oasis Suites
  • The Sanderling
  • Sea Ranch Resort
  • Townplace Suites
  • Corolla Village Inn
  • Mom’s Sweet Shop
  • Burrus House Inn Waterfront Suites

If you’re traveling with a large group, you’ll find several palatial homes and beachfront rentals that will surely make you fall in love with the Outer Banks even more.

Which Is Better – Outer Banks or Myrtle Beach?

Craving a recharge? Or just want to get away from it all? Then there’s no questioning that the Outer Banks is the better choice. But if it’s staying active and having access to a wealth of activities that you prefer, Myrtle Beach suits you more.

The Outer Banks is for vacationers that prioritize unspoiled natural beauty and tranquility above all. OBX is the place to be if your definition of a beach vacation lies between a quiet retreat and pristine beach experiences.

Myrtle Beach is the exact opposite. There are a number of places great for unwinding, but it’s not the main attraction. As a beach destination, Myrtle Beach is high-spirited. Not to mention, energetic. From its theater entertainment and nightlife to its shopping and culinary scenes. So, if you prefer to have more things to do while on vacation, choose Myrtle Beach.


Is Outer Banks Cheaper Than Myrtle Beach?

The Outer Banks is slightly cheaper than Myrtle Beach – about a $100 price difference for a week-long stay.

However, Myrtle Beach comes out to be more expensive because there are more things to do. For instance, Myrtle Beach has more entertainment options and excursions. Not to mention, the sheer number of restaurants all over the city ranges from budget-friendly to upscale dining.

Compared to Outer Banks, you won’t find as many lavish dining options as in Myrtle Beach. As for accommodations, Outer Banks offers more private lodging options. This includes mostly beachfront and vacation home rentals.

Whereas in Myrtle Beach, you have a wide variety of accommodations to choose from. This includes resorts, hotels, inns, vacation homes, and beachfront properties.

While Myrtle Beach may come out as the slightly more expensive destination, it also offers more value overall. Because Myrtle Beach offers tourists more options, you’re getting more bang for your buck.

Which Beach Is Better – Outer Banks or Myrtle Beach?

The beaches in Myrtle Beach and the Outer Banks are without a doubt, breathtaking. But when choosing between the two, it comes down to personal preference.

If you see yourself as a nature lover or prefer unspoiled beaches, Outer Banks is a better option. Plus, it’s the better beach option if you want a less commercialized atmosphere. OBX features a more preserved and pristine state. A good example? Imagine being able to see wild horses running along the beach.

In other words, the beaches in OBX maintain their natural, preserved state. And most of all, its beaches feature a more laid-back style.

Myrtle Beach’s beaches, on the other hand, are for travelers who crave nonstop entertainment. It’s not rare to find a beach in Myrtle Beach that’s close to several attractions. For example, some beaches are just close to theaters, shops, and even bars & clubs.

This also means Myrtle Beach’s beaches are livelier than those you’ll find in Outer Banks. And if you prefer beaches with close access to various entertainment options, Myrtle Beach is the better option.

Is Outer Banks and Myrtle Beach the Same?

Myrtle Beach and the Outer Banks are not the same. Think of Myrtle Beach as an entertainment wonderland. Paired with an upbeat nightlife and extensive shopping experience. While in Outer Banks, it appeals to nature lovers and those seeking a more relaxed stay overall.

In fact, Outer Banks’ vibes might even be more suited to romantic getaways. With regard to similarities, there are a few where both Myrtle Beach and Outer Banks are the same. Both have great beaches, family-oriented activities, and numerous attractions & beachfront accommodations.

But apart from that, the Outer Banks features a different atmosphere compared to Myrtle Beach. In addition, you could say that Myrtle Beach has an even more urban-like setting. One of the biggest highlights of Myrtle Beach is its nightlife. Beach bars, nightclubs, live music bars, pubs, breweries, you name it.

This isn’t to say though that Outer Banks is absent of any nightlife experiences. Most of OBX’s nightlife experiences are pretty chill. Think sipping cocktails or beer with a seafront view watching the sunset. It’s not exactly the party-thumping dance floor experience compared to Myrtle Beach, which offers plenty of that.

How Far Away Is Myrtle Beach and Outer Banks?

The distance between Myrtle Beach and Outer Banks is 235 miles or 378.2 kilometers. However, if you travel via road, the travel distance is much longer – about 350.7 miles or 564.4 kilometers.

Myrtle Beach to Outer Banks

From Myrtle Beach to Outer Banks, the best way to get there is via car. The route suggested by all who’ve tried it is through Highway 17. This is the best option if you want to include some sightseeing during your trip.

Some will take the Highway 17 route and head East on 64 before reaching Williamson, NC. This is a preferable route if you want to include visiting a wildlife sanctuary as part of your trip. According to several on Tripadvisor, it’s a beautiful drive if you take this route.

But if not, you can take the US-64 W route based on Google Maps. The road distance via this route is 301 miles (484.4 km), and takes about 5 hours & 26 minutes total.

Ferry From Outer Banks to Myrtle Beach

Taking the ferry from the Outer Banks to Myrtle Beach might be possible. However, this requires stopping over several places or islands along the way.

From Outer Banks, you’d take the Hatteras ferry to Ocracoke Island. You can take the Hatteras ferry from Cape Hatteras as it’s the most common place for tourists to take the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry route.

Once you’ve arrived in Ocracoke, take the ferry to Cedar Island. Finally, from Cedar Island, you can drive through Morehead City along Highway 17 until you reach Myrtle Beach.

It’s also worth mentioning the travel times for each stopover. From Hatteras to Ocracoke, the travel time is around 45 to 60 minutes. From Ocracoke to Cedar Island, the average travel time is about 2 hours & 15 minutes. Then finally, the drive from Cedar Island through Morehead City and to Myrtle Beach can take about 20 to 30 minutes.

Overall, the estimated travel time is about four hours. But as many recommend, it’s a good idea to spend the night on Ocracoke Island. Additionally, it’s a good idea to explore Cedar Island.