If you’ve ever watched Jenelle “I seen you wiff Keifah” Evans from Teen Mom 2… or watched Trailer Park: Welcome to Myrtle Manor… or were a fan of the reality TV show Party Down South… you’ve seen and heard of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, which has been lovingly nicknamed The Dirty Myrtle. It more than lived up to its nickname.
Myrtle Beach is, by far, my least favorite American city I’ve visited, and my least favorite travel destination overall (including everywhere I’ve been in the US, Europe, and Mexico). If I’m ever forced to stay on the beach again, I will go somewhere like Beach Haven, NJ, or any of the handful of beaches in Florida or California. ✨In my opinion✨ Myrtle Beach is simply one large tourist toilet. The beach was gross, the water brown. Trash is everywhere. Literally everything is dirty or covered in sand. It’s extremely overpriced and an endless money pit. Oh, and our hotel sucked.
So, without further ado, I present to you, The Dirty Myrtle.
Due to Hurricane Barry forcing us to change plans last minute, we had very slim pickins regarding hotels, particularly because we wanted to stay on the beach. This was pre-Covid in July 2019, when it was still “normal”, peak travel times. Due to budget constraints, we couldn’t book the majority of what was left, so we settled on the Landmark Resort. Honestly, it should really be called the Landmark “Resort”, because this is no “resort”. Landmark claims to have a guest/souvenir shop. They don’t. They claim to have a waterpark. They don’t. They claim to have multiple nice restaurants. They don’t. They claim their rooms are like apartments or condos. They are definitely NOT.
The guest/souvenir shop simply did not exist, and 3 of the 4 days we were there, most of the “waterpark” and inside pools/spas were closed due to children pooping and vomiting in them (yep). The only “restaurant” we ever saw open was the bar. Also, our room was a joke.
As soon as you walk in, you’re in a small room with two beds that looks exactly like a Super 8 motel would. There is a narrow kitchen (the nicest part of the whole room) with a bathroom attached directly behind the stove, which seemed super hygienic. Past the kitchen/bathroom combo was a living room with a small, rickety table, an extremely hard couch, and extra Murphy bed. Next, the balcony, which was the only plus of the room, as it faced the ocean. The view certainly could’ve been worse.
There were far more issues than just our room. 1) The floors on the upper levels were all carpeted, even though soaking wet people are constantly traipsing through, coming from the ocean or the pools. 2) Rather rude people would dump their entire ice bucket outside their hotel doors, directly onto the carpet, causing more wetness and slipping hazards. 3) There was a thin, wet layer of sand on all the floors, including every single elevator, at all times. 4) Sand constantly got EVERYWHERE. Even on the days we didn’t go to the beach, we’d somehow find sand in our hair, in our mouths, and in our beds.
But wait, there’s more. On our last night there, as we laid in bed trying to fall asleep, Kristi suddenly turns on the light, insisting she just heard a mouse. I tell her she’s hearing things and to go to sleep. She eventually turns off the light and we lie in silence. Maybe 25 seconds later, “squeakkkkk“. We both shoot straight up, she turns on the light, but we don’t see anything. I search for the thing, and after picking up a bag, I see this huge, nasty bug under it. Neither of us know much about bugs, but it sort of looks like an Oriental Cockroach. Kristi told me she saw one earlier, but didn’t want to “alarm me”.
One of the only good parts – we did get to use the outdoor lazy river one single night, since it was only slightly overcrowded then. It’s nice, albeit shallow, and constantly moving, so you basically float and try to avoid playing bumper cars with people. We also got to experience the indoor lazy river on our very last night, after they finally excavated all the bodily fluids…
As aquariums go, Ripley’s in Myrtle Beach is pretty top notch. Located at 1110 Celebrity Cir, Myrtle Beach, SC 29577, it’s HUGE, with so many things to do that even adults will have a grand time. Open 7 days a week from 9am to 8pm, it’s two levels, with many massive fish tanks with various fish including sea horses, clown fish, angle fish, and sohal tang. There are glass tanks full of sting rays that swim right over the top of you as you walk through the hallways surrounded by brightly colored fish on either side.
There’s the classic touch pool where you can touch Horseshoe crabs. Apparently, even though they have these stingray-like tails, they are not poisonous or deadly. They simply use those long tails to flip themselves over if they happen to be pushed on their backs. You’re allowed to gentle stroke their backs with two fingers, but no picking them up.
Then there is the Dangerous Reef, which is billed as “a spectacular underwater view!” It’s basically a “ride” through a large tank filled with sharks. When you enter, you step onto a 340-foot long “gliding glidepath”, and stand in one spot as you’re gently glided through the tank. You’re surrounded on all sides by glass, water, and sharks. There are nurse, sand tiger, and sandbar sharks, as well as green moray eels, green sea turtles, and tarpon fish. They continuously and effortlessly swim around you from all angles. This is naturally a popular attraction, but due to the way it’s set up, you don’t have an impeded view. It takes approximately 10 minutes to complete.
Aside from the Dangerous Reef, there are many other exhibits, including Rio Amazon, Planet Jellies, Discovery Center, and Rainbow Rocks. There are also “encounters”, like Penguin Encounters, Stingray Experience, and Dive with Sharks. They do allow sleepovers, where families can stay the night in the aquarium, plus groups, like the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. This was put on hold due to Covid-19 and I’m unsure if it’s resumed yet.
Last but not least, we did Ripley’s Glass Bottom Boat Adventure. Located on the 2nd floor, the glass bottom boat floats on the top of the same tank as the sharks and turtles in the Dangerous Reef. You can see people gliding along on the glidepath as you look down at the sharks swimming beneath you. You can get tickets at guest services or at the glass bottom boat area itself. They send a maximum of 8 people per tour, so you may have to wait a go-around or two. We had to wait for the next boat, which was approximately 30 minutes.
I believe it’s a bit costly, priced at $29.99 per person, but you “pay for the experience”. I’m not sure it’s worth it, but if you have children, they will absolutely love it 🤷🏻♀️. Also, the boat only operates Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, from 10am to 4:30pm.
at the Beach
Broadway at the Beach is a massive shopping and entertainment center and is honestly kind of impressive. It has more than 150 stores, attractions, restaurants, and carnival rides. Some of the attractions include Ripley’s Aquarium, AMC Theatre, Legends in Concert, WonderWorks, and the Hollywood Wax Museum. There are 3 hotels; a Hampton Inn, Fairfield Inn, and Holiday Inn Express. However, Broadway at the Beach is not actually by the beach. It’s built around a large man-made lake and meant to resemble a beach pier.
As mentioned, there are a lot of stores, many of which are speciality ones. There are stores solely existing to sell things like wine, magic supplies, sunglasses, clothing, moonshine, hats, flip flops, candy, leggings, kites, candles, knives, and toys. There are also well-known chains like Victoria’s Secret, Harley Davidson, Earthbound Trading Company, Crocs, Build-a-Bear and Claire’s. There’s small booths throughout the pier, all selling different goods and services. It’s all meant to resemble the good-time beachy pier vibe.
We meandered through a handful of stores, before settling on Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen for dinner. It’s “down home” cooking, but if that’s not your thing, there are plenty of other restaurants, including the Hard Rock Café, Dave & Busters, Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, Joes Crab Shack, King Kong Sushi, Senor Frog’s, Wahlburgers, Yamato Steakhouse Japan, and more.
As we approached the hostess booth outside, we heard her tell a woman that it would be up to a 2-hour wait (!!!) to seat her entire party (she had a bigger party), or they could seat them at different tables and it’d still be a wait. It wasn’t a good sign; however, they are big benefits in only having 2 people in your party. Since many of these places are family vacation hotspots, it tends to leave the smaller tables and booths available. We were seated immediately.
Paula Deen’s is “family-style”, meaning you order shared sides and you get your own entrée. You can choose up to 4 sides, with us choosing baked mac n’ cheese, broccoli casserole, mashed potatoes, and creamed corn. Our main entrées were chicken & dumplings (mine) and Georgia fried catfish (Kristi). We also got “Grandmama Paul’s Fried Green Tomatoes” as an appetizer. The food was excellent 🤌🏼, but it was way too much. We couldn’t finish it all, and the biggest bummer – they don’t do to-go boxes. I’m unsure why, but they tell you on the menu and in person, so you are very aware. Also, you only have two options: 2 entrées and 4 sides or 3 entrées and 4 sides. Both come with a dessert per person.
Better come hungry!!!
We fully planned to have a jam-packed stay at Myrtle Beach, but 2 out of our 4 days were spent lounging by the pool and eating. Everything was way too overcrowded, way too overpriced, and it was way too hot. To be fair, there are many things to do in The Dirty Myrtle, many of which are family oriented, but they all require money, sometimes a decent amount. Some of these include parasailing, dolphin cruises, snorkeling, jet skis, Ferris wheel, planation tours, fishing (including deep sea), live shows, casinos, helicopter rides, water parks, zip lining, wineries, and a Medieval Times.
Overall, I’d easily rank Myrtle Beach, South Carolina as my least favorite travel destination – ever. I even rank it below Las Vegas (Las Vegas: Overpriced & Overrated.). I’m already not a beach person, much preferring the mountains or desert, so Myrtle Beach was automatically set up for failure. Nonetheless, I will be fine never revisiting this city, and if I’m ever in the mood for unrelenting tourist bombardment, I’ll just head to Gatlinburg or Disneyland. 🙃
One last important note: I’m not sure if it was because we went in mid-July, but people lit off fireworks on the beach every single night. It would usually begin around 9pm/10pm and continue for about an hour. It was no issue to us, as we were two childless adults who were up that late anyway and enjoyed watching the show. However, I am a mom, and I know if my daughter was kept up by it, it’d likely be a different story. Buuut, you are not going to stop the people from lighting them off, and apparently neither will the hotels or the police. 🤷🏻♀️ So, if this would be a major issue to those with small children, you may want to find lodging off of the beach.
Until never, Myrtle Beach. Stay dirty. ✌🏼