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How to Plan a Budget Myrtle Beach Vacation for Your Family

Updated on January 20, 2011

Myrtle Beach is one of the more popular vacation destinations for families, and for good reason. Myrtle Beach offers activities to entertain everyone from small children to adults. Not only is it a fun place to visit, but Myrtle Beach is a great place to spend your vacation when you are on a tight budget. There are many things to do in Myrtle Beach for free or that cost very little.

Ways to Save Money on Your Myrtle Beach Vacation

Planning ahead is the key to visiting Myrtle Beach on a budget. The easiest way to save money on your Myrtle Beach vacation is to go during the off-season. The prices for hotels and attractions drop dramatically after September and stay low through about April. If you can plan your vacation at a time other than the peak of summer, you can save up to half off your Myrtle Beach vacation.

Even if you want to visit Myrtle Beach during the summer, there are several ways you can save money. Your vacation expenses will fall into five categories: travel, lodging, meals, activities, and supplies. Let’s look at how you can cut costs in each area in order to keep your Myrtle Beach vacation within your budget.


Cutting Travel Costs

Unless you live close to the Myrtle Beach area, you need to include your travel costs in your vacation budget. If at all possible, drive to Myrtle Beach instead of fly. Even with the cost of gas, driving will usually be less expensive. You will also not have to worry about renting a car once you get there.

If you must fly, you can get the best airfare rates if you buy your tickets as far in advance as possible. Airlines will release tickets at discount prices several months in advance, and once those tickets are gone, they are gone. Also, be flexible about the time and day you are flying. You can often get the lowest price by choosing a flight that leaves during the middle of the week or at night. You may also be able to find a better deal on your airfare to Myrtle Beach by looking for flights that have several connections or long layovers.

Cheap Lodging in Myrtle Beach

Book a Hotel Further From the Beach

Your accommodations while you are in Myrtle Beach can easily be your biggest expense. Hotels close to the beach are notoriously expensive. If you don’t mind driving for 10-15 minutes, you can find a hotel in the Conway area for much less money.

If you want to be closer to the beach, look for hotels or rentals in the North Myrtle Beach area, Surfside or Murrell’s Inlet. These areas are 15-20 minutes away from downtown Myrtle Beach, so you can often find a better deal on a hotel.

You don’t have to worry about being too far from the action either; You are just as close to the beach as you would be in the main Myrtle Beach area and several of the local attractions are located in Surfside or North Myrtle Beach.

Compare Hotel Prices with Online Travel Sites

If you want to be closer to the downtown Myrtle Beach area, use sites like Travelocity or Priceline to compare hotel prices and find the least expensive one that has the amenities you are looking for.

If you are not particular about which hotel you stay at, the name your own price feature on Priceline is a good way to get a much lower price for your hotel room. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to choose the location, amenities or even the room size if you use this feature.

Speaking of amenities, don’t pay for ones that you don’t need. If all you really need is a bed and shower, you don’t need to pay extra for that expensive all inclusive resort.

Rent a House or Condo in Myrtle Beach

You can also try looking for a condo, apartment or house to rent. These accommodations usually rent by the week and have one or more separate bedrooms and a full kitchen. Contrary to what you may think, renting a condo or house in Myrtle Beach is usually not much more expensive than staying in a beachfront hotel.

You can save even more money by sharing the condo with another family and splitting the cost. You may even get lucky and find a condo or house owned by an individual person who is willing to accept a lower price just to get it rented for the week. Look on websites like to find vacation rentals owned by individuals.


Camping at Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach also has several campgrounds for nature enthusiasts, so bring your tent or RV and camp out. Some campsites even offer trailers to rent on-site if you don’t have your own RV. 

Just because you are camping, doesn’t mean you can’t live it up. You can find campgrounds that offer everything from just the basic camping essentials to resort campgrounds that offer their own on-site water park, daily activities and entertainment. Many of these campgrounds are located along the beach, so you can have the same easy access to the beach that you would in a beachfront hotel at a fraction of the price.


Free or Low-Cost Activities in Myrtle Beach

Paying for expensive attractions can really make a dent in your wallet, especially if you have a large family. Fortunately, Myrtle Beach offer many free and low-cost activities for families traveling on a budget.

Myrtle Beach Area Map

Broadway at the Beach, Myrtle Beach:
Broadway At the Beach, 1325 Celebrity Cir, Myrtle Beach, SC 29577-7445, USA

get directions

Market Commons and Grand Park:
Farrow Pkwy, Myrtle Beach, SC, USA

get directions

Murrell's Inlet, Myrtle Beach, SC:
Murrells Inlet, SC, USA

get directions

North Myrtle Beach:
North Myrtle Beach, SC, USA

get directions

Conway, SC:
Conway, SC, USA

get directions

Play on the Beach

Not only is the beach the biggest attraction Myrtle Beach has to offer, it is also free. Your family can easily spend all day playing in the sand, riding the waves on a body board, hunting for shells or flying kites.

Although the beach is free, you may have to pay for parking. There are several places along Ocean Boulevard that offer free parking to the public, but these tend to fill up quickly, so get there early if you want to grab one. Look for the posted free parking signs and make sure you don’t accidentally park in a private lot or you could be towed. If you can’t find any free parking, you can either park at a meter for short trips, or pay a daily rate at one of the pay-to-park lots.

Visit Broadway at the Beach

When you want a break from the sun and sand, you can spend some time walking around Broadway at the Beach. Although Broadway at the Beach does offer many shops and paid attractions, there is enough to see and do that you can have fun without spending much money.

You can spend some time playing in the water at the spray ground while watching a 30-foot dragon breathe fire from the top of the Dragon’s Lair Fantasy Golf castle. You can also visit the playground, watch one of the street performers or, for a few coins, get some food to feed the ducks and fish.

MagiQuest has a garden quest that you can enjoy free of charge. Even if you don’t have a wand, you can follow the clues and find the figures hidden around Broadway at the Beach. Every Tuesday night, you can also watch a free fireworks show with a special appearance by the fire breathing dragon.

Murell's Inlet Marsh Walk

Visit Murell’s Inlet to see a different side of the ocean. The Marsh Walk is a free boardwalk trail that takes you out over the marshland so you can get a closer look at all of the plants and animals that make the marsh their home.

Myrtle Beach Festivals

Myrtle Beach hosts several festivals throughout the year with free admission. You can enjoy open air concerts, street performers, demonstrations and exhibits followed by fireworks in the evening. Some festivals also offer a play area with inflatables for the kids.


Market Commons Grand Park

If you just want to take a break from the crowds and excitement, head over to Grand Park across from Market Commons. This park offers a playground, a lake, picnic shelters and a walking trail with several free digital game consoles big enough for your whole family to play in at once. After playing at the park, you can head down the road to Warbird Park and see some fighter planes up close.

Saving Money on Myrtle Beach Attractions

Although many of the most popular tourist attractions in Myrtle Beach are expensive, you can still fit them into your vacation budget. Have your family pick one or two of the more expensive attractions and fill in the rest of the time with free or very low cost activities.

You can save money on some of the attractions that charge for a day pass by going in the afternoon. For example, the regular daily rate for Myrtle Waves is $32.99, but if you go after 3:00, the price drops to $24.99.

Many of these attractions also offer coupons or discounts if you buy tickets to more than one attraction at the same time or buy the tickets online. Check the website of each attraction for combo deals or pick up one of the many free coupon and guide books available around Myrtle Beach. You can also look through some of the online coupon books listed in this article to find great deals on Myrtle Beach attractions.

Supplies and Souvenirs

You need to have some basic supplies with when you go to Myrtle Beach, both for fun and for safety. In general, coolers, sunscreen, beach shoes, cover-ups, swim goggles and bathing suits will be less expensive if you buy them at home and bring them with you.

However, you can often find basic beach umbrellas, towels and other beach supplies for just a few dollars by buying them from one of the many beach supply stores in Myrtle Beach. The stores use these items as loss leaders to get you into the store hoping that you will either upgrade or buy other things at regular price. If you can resist the urge to buy anything extra, you can save a ton of money.

Look through some of the online coupon books listed on this page to see what the current deals are so you know what you should buy before you leave and what you should buy at Myrtle Beach.

Also, only buy what you need. This may sound obvious, but once you see all of the many unique and just plain wacky things available in the beach supply stores, it can be hard to resist spending some extra money. Before you buy anything, however, ask yourself if you will actually use it once you get back home or if it will just be another piece of junk you throw in a drawer and forget about.


Reducing the Cost of Meals

Eating out is a fun part of any vacation, but you can save money by going to a restaurant for only one or two special meals and making the rest yourself. Stay at a hotel or condo that has a kitchen, and stock up on some basic foods like cereal, pancake mix, eggs, milk, bread, lunchmeat, cheese, jelly and peanut butter to use for breakfast and lunch. You can make dinner special, even if you are cooking it yourself, by trying new foods or cooking some of those favorite family meals that you don’t have very often.

Plan out the meals for your Myrtle Beach vacation ahead of time, and make sure you have all the ingredients on hand and ready to use. After a long day of fun, both you and your kids will be tired and hungry. The last thing you will want to do is worry about what you are going to eat. If you have some simple meals already planned and ready to put together, you are less likely to eat out on the days that you just don't feel like cooking.

Prepare your lunches ahead of time when you plan on being out all day so you don't need to worry about returning to the hotel. Pack everything in a cooler and eat out of your car or have a picnic at the park or on the beach. This goes for snacks and drinks as well. Bring everything you will need to eat for the day with you so you don't have spend money on expensive food and drinks at the concession stands.


Stick to Your Budget and Have Fun

Remember, a vacation is all about spending time relaxing and having fun with your family, not about how much money you spend. Decide what your budget is before you leave and stick with it. Plan out your activities ahead of time and do some research to find the best deals for your family. With many low cost things to do in Myrtle Beach, you should be able to plan a fantastic and memorable vacation for your family that does not break the bank.


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    • leahlefler profile image

      Leah Lefler 

      7 years ago from Western New York

      We're in Western NY and are planning a trip to Myrtle Beach next year. This is a great guide! We're still researching hotels, etc. and want to go in April - I know the weather will be cool down there, but it will be warmer than the snow we still get in NY at that time of year! The digital game equipment along the trails would make my almost-6 year old VERY happy - we'll have to check those things out!

    • CondoLux Rentals profile image

      CondoLux Rentals 

      7 years ago from North Myrtle Beach,South Carolina

      Excellent Hub Analana! Very informative. You must be a Myrtle Beach local like us. :)

    • wsupaul88 profile image


      7 years ago from Seattle, WA

      I have hear wonderful things about Myrtle Beach! Thanks for the Info!


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