The end of the summer season is in sight, and the clock is ticking down on the time left to visit some of the top attractions in Myrtle Beach.
Although some attractions are open year-round, others are seasonal and shut down shortly after the summer crowds start to leave town. So as the dog days of summer melt away into the mild days of autumn, here are some of the Grand Strand's summertime activities you need to go, see and do before it’s too late:
* Amusement Parks: Nothing completes a beach vacation like a trip to the amusement park, and Family Kingdom in downtown Myrtle Beach has the look and feel of an old boardwalk-style carnival but with all the modern rides and attractions. Open daily through Sept. 14, Family Kingdom switches to a weekend-only schedule through Sept. 27. For visitors who love thrill rides but hat standing in lines, this is your chance to scratch several scary roller coasters and other thrilling rides off your bucket list.
* Waterparks: Only penguins and polar bears would want to play at a waterpark during the offseason, and local aquatic playgrounds pull the plug on the summer fun sometime in September. Myrtle Waves Water Park in Myrtle Beach, Wildwater and Wheels in Surfside Beach and the Family Kingdom Waterpark in the downtown district see a significant drop-off in crowds in early- to mid-August when many children around the country return to school, so it's a good time to avoid the lines and test ride all the water slides.
* Minor League Baseball: The Myrtle Beach Pelicans, the Class A affiliate of the Texas Rangers, wrap up the regular season on Labor Day weekend but they have secured a couple of guaranteed additional games in the Carolina League playoffs in early September. The Pelicans won the first half championship thanks to the help of a lot of hot prospects. Even if you're not a baseball fan, the team knows how to put on a show with between-inning entertainment, wacky promotions, $1 draft beer nights on Thursdays and post-game fireworks shows. Remaining homestands are Aug. 1-3, 12-14, 19-21, 26-Sept. 1. The playoffs start at home on Sept. 4.
* Watersports: Any way you slice it, parasailing, jet-ski riding and boogie boarding are summer activities, so time is ticking for you to build up the courage to step outside your comfort zone. Several watersports outfitters, such as Capt. Dick's, Wind & Sail and the Little River Fleet offer adventures into the fall months, but August and September are the ideal time to fly thanks to water and wind conditions and a drop off in tourist traffic. Other ocean-related activities are also excellent in the fall, such as kayak rental, paddleboarding and dolphin-watching cruises.
* Fishing: Timing is everything in fishing, and the late summer/early fall is prime time for fishing the Carolina coast. Large schools begin to migrate (or “run” as locals say) just off the coast of the Grand Strand, many making their way close enough to shore to catch from a pier or surf rod. Of course, a boat is ideal, and you can charter a fishing voyage through several local fishing guides and outfits to go deep-sea fishing off the coast, or fishing in the shallows and inland rivers and tidal creeks. One of the Grand Strand’s eight public piers are also great spots for catching some keepers and gather information about what’s biting where.
(photo courtesy: MyrtleBeachBay.com)