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5 free things to do in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

  • This May 22, 2013 photo shows a  fisherman in a small boat near the River Walk in Conway, S.C. The River Walk, which connects with city's historic district, meanders along a bank of the Waccamaw River and is a quiet place to cool off on sultry South Carolina summer afternoons. Conway is about 15 miles from Myrtle Beach, S.C. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)

    This May 22, 2013 photo shows a fisherman in a small boat near the River Walk in Conway, S.C. The River Walk, which connects with city's historic district, meanders along a bank of the Waccamaw River and is a quiet place to cool off on sultry South Carolina summer afternoons. Conway is about 15 miles from Myrtle Beach, S.C. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)

  • This May 22, 2013 photo shows the Franklin Burroughs-Simeon Chapin Art Museum in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Part of the structure is an almost 90-year-old beach house moved to its present location at the south end of the city about three decades ago. The museum has 10 galleries and an art studio. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)

    This May 22, 2013 photo shows the Franklin Burroughs-Simeon Chapin Art Museum in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Part of the structure is an almost 90-year-old beach house moved to its present location at the south end of the city about three decades ago. The museum has 10 galleries and an art studio. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)

  • This May 22, 2013 photo shows Plyler Park, just off the boardwalk in Myrtle Beach, S.C. During the summer season, the park is the site of the Hot Summer Nights series of concerts and other events. In the background is the SkyWheel, the tallest Ferris wheel in the eastern United States. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)

    This May 22, 2013 photo shows Plyler Park, just off the boardwalk in Myrtle Beach, S.C. During the summer season, the park is the site of the Hot Summer Nights series of concerts and other events. In the background is the SkyWheel, the tallest Ferris wheel in the eastern United States. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)

  • This May 22, 2013 photo shows vacationers on the beach in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Each year about 14 million visitors are drawn by the 60 miles of beaches along the northeast coast of South Carolina. The beaches are public and there are frequent beach access points along the coast. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)

    This May 22, 2013 photo shows vacationers on the beach in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Each year about 14 million visitors are drawn by the 60 miles of beaches along the northeast coast of South Carolina. The beaches are public and there are frequent beach access points along the coast. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)

  • Vacationers walk along the boardwalk in Myrtle Beach, S.C., on Wednesday, May 22, 2013. It is just over a mile (1.6 kilometers) and was completed three years ago at a cost of more than $6 million. May John Rhodes has said he would like the city to eventually build the worlds longest boardwalk, one running 4.6 miles along the shore. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)

    Vacationers walk along the boardwalk in Myrtle Beach, S.C., on Wednesday, May 22, 2013. It is just over a mile (1.6 kilometers) and was completed three years ago at a cost of more than $6 million. May John Rhodes has said he would like the city to eventually build the worlds longest boardwalk, one running 4.6 miles along the shore. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)

  • This May 22, 2013 photo shows a  fisherman in a small boat near the River Walk in Conway, S.C. The River Walk, which connects with city's historic district, meanders along a bank of the Waccamaw River and is a quiet place to cool off on sultry South Carolina summer afternoons. Conway is about 15 miles from Myrtle Beach, S.C. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)
  • This May 22, 2013 photo shows the Franklin Burroughs-Simeon Chapin Art Museum in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Part of the structure is an almost 90-year-old beach house moved to its present location at the south end of the city about three decades ago. The museum has 10 galleries and an art studio. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)
  • This May 22, 2013 photo shows Plyler Park, just off the boardwalk in Myrtle Beach, S.C. During the summer season, the park is the site of the Hot Summer Nights series of concerts and other events. In the background is the SkyWheel, the tallest Ferris wheel in the eastern United States. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)
  • This May 22, 2013 photo shows vacationers on the beach in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Each year about 14 million visitors are drawn by the 60 miles of beaches along the northeast coast of South Carolina. The beaches are public and there are frequent beach access points along the coast. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)
  • Vacationers walk along the boardwalk in Myrtle Beach, S.C., on Wednesday, May 22, 2013. It is just over a mile (1.6 kilometers) and was completed three years ago at a cost of more than $6 million. May John Rhodes has said he would like the city to eventually build the worlds longest boardwalk, one running 4.6 miles along the shore. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)

Myrtle Beach, this year celebrating the 75th anniversary of its incorporation, is the heart of South Carolina’s $16.5 billion tourism industry. Myrtle Beach is in the center of a 60-mile reach of beaches that attracts more than 14 million visitors a year to dozens of golf courses, hundreds of restaurants and tens of thousands of hotel, motel and other rental units. There’s shopping at hundreds of stores and nine live entertainment theaters with almost 12,000 seats. But there’s a lot to do for free. Here are five suggestions:

The beach

This is the reason people come to Myrtle Beach. In South Carolina, the beaches are public and there are regular beach access points. Some areas have lifeguards and some have umbrellas and chairs for rent, but all you really need is a beach blanket and a cool drink. There’s a beach for most every taste. Pawleys Island, to the south, is considered one of the oldest beach resorts on the East Coast with homes dating to the 1700s. In Myrtle Beach, the shore is lined with high-rise hotels and condominiums and it’s just a short walk to grab a burger along busy Ocean Boulevard.

The boardwalk

The boardwalk runs along Myrtle Beach’s oceanfront business district. Just over a mile in length, it was completed three years ago at a cost of more than $6 million. It’s a great place to wander along the shore without getting your feet sandy or to just sit and watch people enjoy their summer escape. At sunset you can watch the oceanfront SkyWheel, the tallest Ferris wheel in the eastern United States, spin lazily, illuminated by a million LED lights.

Free concerts, kids stuff

Summer means a lot of free entertainment. In Plyler Park, just off the boardwalk, the Hot Summer Nights series of free concerts runs this year through Aug. 31. On Mondays there are free kids carnivals, with concerts from reggae to rock and country to Dixieland other nights of the week. Every Wednesday there are fireworks over the ocean. Across town, at the Broadway at the Beach entertainment complex, there are free fireworks every Tuesday and most Fridays.

Art museum

If you want to get out of the sun for a bit, stop by the Franklin Burroughs-Simeon Chapin Art Museum. Admission is free, but donations are always accepted. Located on the south end of Myrtle Beach, part of the structure is an almost 90-year-old beach house moved to its present location about 30 years ago.

Beginning June 6, the museum hosts “Animation B.C. (Before Computers),” an exhibit focusing on the development of animation in the 20th Century. It features original production art including Mickey Mouse and Dora the Explorer.

Conway and the River Walk

Conway, located 15 miles inland from Myrtle Beach, is the old tobacco town dating to the early 1700s that millions simply drive past rushing to the shore. But you may want to slow down and stop. The historic district includes almost three dozen National Register of Historic Places sites. The city’s scenic River Walk connects to the business district and runs along the Waccamaw River, a great place to cool off on a sultry South Carolina afternoon.

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