With a nickname like “the family beach,” it’s no surprise that the thriving coastal community of Surfside Beach gets a steady stream of vacationers looking for fun, relaxation, and wholesome thrills. Surfside is the first town in the world to create an autistic child-friendly destination, making travel even more stress-free for families with special-needs children. Vacation rentals in Surfside Beach put you at the center of the greater Myrtle Beach area, so pack your schedule with theme park trips, family-friendly tours, and aquatic excursions.

1. Parasailing

Get your heart pumping with a scenic flight over the ocean. Parasailing excursions give you the perfect vantage point to admire the beautiful coastline of Surfside Beach, and you can enjoy one, two, or three-person trips for an exciting group experience. Shoreline Watersports is located right at the beach, and kids are welcome as long as they meet height requirements.

2. Wild Water & Wheels

For all-age appropriate fun, spend a day speeding down winding water slides or floating along a 950-foot lazy river with cascading waterfalls and raindrop fountains to keep you cool. Wild Water & Wheels is packed with pools, slides, and bumper boats to accommodate the loungers and thrill-seekers in your group, including kiddie attractions for children under age six. When you’re done swimming, face off in a round of mini golf or go-kart racing. Surfside Beach vacation rentals frequently give out free or deeply discounted tickets, so look out for great deals before you book.

3. Mermaid Training

If you or your little ones have always felt like mermaids at heart, sign up for glamor shots with your own set of colorful fins. Mermaid guides dress you in sea-inspired accessories and take professional photos in front of fantasy backdrops. Although admission is separate, Myrtle Beach Mermaids is located inside Wild Water & Wheels, so kids who participate in mermaid training get access to swimming areas for exciting games and storytelling.

4. Bowling Match

When it’s too humid or rainy outside, a friendly family tournament at Surfside Bowling Center keeps everyone entertained indoors. Check out the all-you-can-bowl rates if your family showdowns get lively, and let the kids shoot air cannons and play skeeball in the arcade while you catch a sporting event and play foosball in the bar. Food is available on-site, so your family can fuel up between matches.

5. Surfside Pier

Save a day or two to fish and swim at Surfside Beach, where the star attraction is the pier. This breathtaking overlook provides a panoramic view of the town, making it an ideal spot for family photos. Not to mention 2 miles of sandy shores and sparkling ocean deliver the best of both worlds — a sun-soaked place for parents to relax while kids build sandcastles, fly kites, or wade in the water. When you’re ready for adventure, go boating or wakeboarding. The fishing section of the pier is sometimes closed for weather-related issues, so be sure to check before you visit.

6. Family Kingdom

Make everyone in the family happy with a trip to the Family Kingdom, located about 25 minutes from Surfside Beach. Roller coasters, go karts, and water slides are just a few of the attractions at this classic all-ages amusement park. From the tilt-a-whirl to the carousel, plenty of non-scary thrill rides are available to make sure the youngest members of your group have a good time.

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7. Zombie Outbreak

Imagine journeying through a post-apocalyptic world filled with ravenous zombies. The Outbreak: Dread the Undead attraction lures you through a maze of rooms haunted by hyper-realistic zombies and live actors playing mutated test subjects. Older kids with the courage to spare are sure to love the terrifying sound effects and special effects waiting around every corner. Try not to run through this haunted biotech lab too quickly if you don’t want to miss out on spooky surprises.

8. Zoo at Brookgreen Gardens

Get a glimpse of the majestic animals who call North America home at the Native Wildlife Zoo. As a conservation site, Brookgreen Gardens creates naturalistic habitats where you can spy butterflies flitting between blossoms, alligators slithering through the grass, and otters peeking out of the water. If you’re still looking for fun after the zoo, tour the nature trails and sculpture gardens.

9. Dolphin Watching

Take advantage of miles of oceanfront to spot dolphins playing in the sea. Blue Wave Adventures is only 15 minutes from Surfside Beach in Murrell’s Inlet and accommodates children three years old and up. Board the boat of a seasoned captain and enjoy interactive narration from the crew while you spot dolphins and other wildlife. Every tour is unique since you never know which ocean creatures and birds might show up.

10. Pier at Garden City

For a relaxing but active beach, drive about 10 minutes to Garden City to walk the pier and spot the occasional dolphin in the distance. Take a cue from the locals, and set up an umbrella to enjoy the shade while you eat a picnic lunch or ice cream cones from the nearby shop. The pier is a popular place to catch fish and baby sharks, so bring your gear along. If you have older kids in your party, visit the beach at night to listen to live music on the pier.

11. Ripley’s Aquarium

Sea life and zany science collide at Ripley’s Aquarium, a great destination for kids who crave exploration and hands-on learning. The aquarium cleverly captures the strange and beautiful elements of ocean life, whether it’s slimy creatures, sly predators, or exotically patterned fish. After touching rays in the interactive lagoon or admiring coral life in the living gallery, try one of the special tour experiences, such as glass-bottom boats or diving with the sharks.

12. WonderWorks

If you’re worn out from watersports, take a break to flex your mental muscles at WonderWorks, known as the “amusement park for the mind.” Hang on tight in the hurricane shack, watch your dance moves transform into animated music displays, and search for mysterious illusions in a roomful of mind-bending art. Kids (and adults) of all ages lose track of time playing with interactive exhibits and brain teasers. True to its wacky themes, WonderWorks lies in a tilted, upside-down building that looks ready to collapse, making it delightfully easy to find.

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