For people with perpetual wanderlust, visiting parks and places during the off-season is something that is bound to happen. And if you don’t mind wildly unpredictable weather, visiting Myrtle Beach State Park in the winter can actually work out in your favor.
Myrtle Beach sits at an interesting and somewhat finicky latitude. We’re in the Southeast half of the Eastern sea coast of the country, but we’re not that far South. When you hear the words “Myrtle Beach” you may envision palm trees, white sandy beaches, and a warm tropical atmosphere. And Myrtle Beach does have that paradise vibe …most of the year.
But the winters in this area can vacillate from sub freezing temperatures to 85 degrees, sometimes even in the same week. In any given January we could see snow AND shorts weather. Needless to say, you may find many of us locals rocking a winter jacket and flip flops at the same time, because we simply can’t keep up with the forecast.
Usually, though, our winter temperatures hover in the 40-50 degree (F) range, so unless you are accustomed to subarctic climate, you’re likely not going to be wanting to spend time sunbathing or swimming at the beach – two things this area is well known for.
That said, there is still plenty to do during the winter at Myrtle Beach State Park.
5 Things to Do at Myrtle Beach State Park in the Winter
One of the biggest draw backs to Myrtle Beach State Park during the summer is the sheer number of people who visit. There can be incredibly long lines to get into the park. Finding a parking spot can become a chore. The off-season however? While it’s not a ghost town, it’s certainly much quieter. Here are five awesome things you can do at Myrtle Beach State Park in the winter – that you can’t necessarily do (or do the same!) during peak season months.
Walk the Beach
I know, I know, you can walk the beach year round. But walking the beach in the summer is equal parts chaos and crowds. You’re typically dipping and dodging beach chairs, sand toys, and little kids sprinting back and forth without looking where they are going.
(As a mom of two boys, I can tell you that something about the beach makes kids oblivious to their surroundings)
It’s still the beach, and it’s still awesome…but…in the winter, the crowds are almost non existent. You can walk for miles and miles with little to no interruption. It’s incredibly peaceful, and pretty great.
(I hope that doesn’t make me sound like an ungrateful local, we do love our tourists!)
Confession: I’ve never ridden a horse.
I find this even more peculiar because I grew up in Vermont, where I was seemingly the only kid in school without a pet horse (or multiple). But I think if I was ever to take a horseback ride, the beach would be an ideal – and gentle – place to start.
In Myrtle Beach, horses are only allowed on the beach November through February. Despite all of my years living here, it always still takes me by surprise – and puts a smile on my face – to see a horse casually strolling along the ocean’s edge.
The family run company “Horseback Riding of Myrtle Beach” has been in business for over 15 years, offering rides starting from Myrtle Beach State Park. Rides last about 90 minutes and as of time of publication, cost $65.
If you have your own horse, you can ride on the beach from Myrtle Beach State Park. There is a $25.00 permit for each horse that enters the park, and you must have current Negative Coggins papers for each horse brought into the park
Have a Picnic
In the summer, picnic shelters and tables are nearly impossible to come by at Myrtle Beach State Park. They are typically booked up well in advance for private parties, weddings, or family reunions.
We’re talking dozens upon dozens of people in matching T-shirts. It’s pretty awesome to see – I’m all for outdoor celebrations and seeing people enjoy the great outdoors.
In the winter though, these reservations are minimal. If shelters are not reserved, guests may use on a first-come, first-served basis at no charge. And what’s better than a picnic with an ocean view?
Kind of like the picnic shelters, campsite reservations are hard to come by during peak season. If you don’t make plans and reservations early in the year for peak season, you’re probably not going to get one. However, during the winter months, sites are more frequently available, even on a last minute basis.
If you’re a full or even part time RV’er, Myrtle Beach State Park often offers month long specials during the off season winter months. Check out their website or contact the park directly for more information.
During the winter, with far less people on the beach, you are more likely to discover some of the amazing treasures brought to shore from the depths of the ocean.
From seashells, to shark teeth, to starfish, and more…you never know what a walk down the beach will yield. Especially after high tide or a significant storm.
Best practice for beach combing is to take pictures – and leave the treasures you find behind on the beach. (ESPECIALLY if the creature inside the shell is still alive!) Shells play an important role in our ecosystems. A wide variety of plants and animals depend on dead shells for their survival . To learn more, check out this guide to ethical shell collecting.
Don’t Let the Winter Stop You!
In short, if you find yourself unable to book or visit Myrtle Beach State Park in the warmer months, don’t fret! There’s still plenty to do – and see – during the winter months.
Want to learn more? Check out my post, “A Local’s Guide to Myrtle Beach State Park” for more information and insider tips about this amazing park.