80 countries, 7 continents. While I’ve travelled extensively overseas, some people find it odd that I haven’t explored that much of the US. I often get weird looks when I tell people I’ve been to Rwanda but not Rochester, Chernobyl but not South Carolina. This all changed a few weeks ago, when I was invited by Visit Myrtle Beach to spend a few days experiencing the destination and all it had to offer the family traveler. They set me up, rented me a car and hosted me for a three-day to discover the best things to do in Myrtle Beach when travelling with kids.

I quickly learned that Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is known for its golf resorts, laid-back beach vibe and its many family-friendly activities: from the Boardwalk, where you can hop aboard a 187-foot Ferris wheel to WonderWorks, an interactive science museum set in a bizarre building that looks like it’s been turned upside down. From waterparks, to laser tag, mini-golf to gardens, here are a few more of the best things to do in the kid-friendly coastal city of Myrtle Beach:

Enjoy The Outdoors at Brookgreen Gardens:

My #1 favorite family-friendly activity was a visit to Brookgreen Gardens, an outdoor sculpture garden and wildlife preserve showcasing the largest collection of American sculpture. This 9100 acre property of manicured green space boasts a zoo, a variety of children’s play areas, boat rides, a butterfly house, enchanted storybook forest and discovery zones for the kids.

One of my favorites spots to explore was the interactive installation by famed artist Patrick Dougherty. This sculpture is titled In The Mix and features a cocoon-like maze made of saplings, sticks, vines and twigs – perfect for the kids to let their imaginations go wild. This sculpture alone could provide hours of entertainment for kids who want to just run through its woodsy corridors.

Build Sandcastles along The Grand Strand:

One of Myrtle Beach’s big draws is of course her warm weather and the beach. The white beach coastline, known as The Grand Stand, stretches some 60-miles. Media outlets like Travel Channel have dubbed it one of the best beaches along the East Coast. This is the perfect place to pack up the sand toys, slap some sunscreen on the kiddos and hit the sand for an afternoon of oceanside fun.

Play Mini Golf:

Myrtle Beach is also the self-proclaimed ‘Miniature Golf Capital of the World’. With over 50 courses complete with dynamic obstacles and creative themes – from tropical to prehistoric, to Peter Pan. Unleash your inner PGA super star at one of these many kitschy mini golf locations.

Get Weird on the Boardwalk:

Located in downtown Myrtle Beach, the Boardwalk is 1.2 miles of scrollable boardwalk, lined with restaurants, shops and wacky activities like Ripley’s Believe it or Not Odditorium.  If shrunken heads and giant men aren’t your thing, thrill seekers may prefer a ride on the zipline, a go at the SlingShot or maybe the giant Ferris Wheel. Be sure to stop at the famous Gay Dolphin Gift Cove dubbed the world’s largest gift shop with the weirdest collectibles.

Spot Sharks at Ripley’s Aquarium:

When in Myrtle Beach, a trip to Ripley’s Aquarium one of the best things to do in Myrtle Beach when travelling with kids. One of the highlights for me was the moving sidewalk through a shark-filled tunnel. Ominous Tiger Sharks with sharp teeth swim above you, while Saw Sharks emerge from the underwater depths. Kids will enjoy spotting and identifying marine animals. For an even more intimate experience that brings you up close and personal, families can sign up (for an additional fee) to dive with sharks, swim with sting rays or take a glass bottom boat tour of the aquarium. For coupons and discounts on family friendly activities like Ripley’s Aquarium, be sure to visit this site to save money everything from attractions to restaurants.

Dine with the Kids in Myrtle Beach:

Myrtle Beach has a few hidden culinary gems for foodie families looking for something beyond  Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville and the Pirate-themed dinner-theatre owned by Dolly Parton.

Hook & Barrel is my top choice for a trendy dinner out (with or without the kids). The décor is cool contemporary coastal, with giant jellyfish inspired lamps that dominate the space. An interesting fact about those jellyfish lamps – the owner built each one to represent a member of her family. She built the restaurant around the lamps as a reminder that family comes first and should always be at the center of everything. Beyond the cool family-friendly philosophy, the food is amazing. The seafood is fresh, the preparation impeccable and the scallops I ordered there were some of the best I’ve ever had. If your kids are like mine and won’t consider eating lobster bisque and raw oysters, fear not, there is also a kids menu with classic fare (from mac & cheese to grilled chicken and fries.)

Another one of the top foodie spots among locals is Fire and Smoke. What it lacks in fancy décor, it makes up for in delicious dishes. After one bite at this popular restaurant, I quickly realized why it’s such a beloved local eatery. I ordered the fish of the day – a blacked grouper on a bed of buttery risotto – and it was heaven.  With an extensive wine menu, Fire and Smoke serves up seafood and steak that will leave a lasting impression.

For a complete list of things to do in Myrtle beach when traveling with kids check out – www.visitmyrtlebeach.com