Everything you need to know to have a successful trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C.:
Best time to visit: While summer is peak season, autumn is Myrtle Beach's best-kept secret — temperatures are still summery, but crowds have dissipated and deals are everywhere, recommends Myrtle Beach's Visitors Bureau.
Worst time to visit: If you're not a fan of revving motorcycles and crowds, best to avoid Bike Week Spring Rally, May 13-22.
Beach rules: Beaches are free. No tents, cabanas or sports umbrellas permitted. If you dig a hole, it must be filled in before leaving. Dogs are permitted before 10 a.m. and after 5 p.m. May 1-Labor Day, but unrestricted the rest of the year.
A young family: Downtown's Broadway at the Beach is an outdoor entertainment complex that includes Ripley's Aquarium and Myrtle Waves water park, and amusement rides.
In need of personal space: Huntington Beach State Park is a coastal preserve with towering dunes, a secluded beach and a walkway over the salt marsh for viewing wildlife.
Into people watching: "We're the Times Square of Myrtle Beach," says Rick Sarver, owner of Boardwalk Coffee. "People sit outside, sipping a caramel frappe, watching everyone walk the boardwalk.
Into beach sports: "We've been here the longest, and have it all: parasailing, jet skiing, kayaking and a paddleboarding/surfing school," says Downwind Sails Watersports' Morgan Williams.
Into marine life: Along with Ripley's Aquarium, Myrtle Beach State Park is a haven for sea turtles, mollusks, and nesting sea birds.
Into fishing: Various public piers sell fishing passes that allow you to fish but don't require a license. Individual licenses are not required on licensed for-hire fishing charters. Saltwater fishing licenses are required to fish from the shore. "Cast a line at any pier," recommends Ann Marcum, of Visit Myrtle Beach. For deep-sea excursions, try Captain Ricky Long's.
Into surfing: 29th Avenue South at Myrtle Beach, between 38th and 44th, is where local surfers hang.
Looking for fresh, local seafood to cook where you're staying: "Our seafood comes in fresh every day," says Ted Hammerman of Mr. Fish Seafood Market.
GTS Theatre, 1220 Port Drive, gtstheatre.com. This 1920s Parisian cabaret-themed theater will present summer shows including "Motor City Musical: A Tribute to Motown," "Vaudeville the Show" and a hypnosis comedy show.
High Flyer Extreme Air Sports, 568 George Bishop Parkway, Suite B, 843-636-8075. A 20,000-square-foot sports center, featuring a trampoline dodge ball stadium, flying trapeze and Olympic-size foam pits.
The Chemist, 300 9th Ave. North, chemistbar.com. Molecular gastronomy drives the sophisticated cuisine and inventive libations, including liquid nitrogen cocktails at this dining spot.
Sun Fun Festival: Myrtle Beach's official kickoff to summer (June 3-5), this fest features games, a parade and beach concerts.
Held in conjunction with the Native Sons SALT surfing competitions, and lifeguard games. Various locations, Myrtle Beach. sunfunmb.com
Carolina Country Music Fest: Tim McGraw, Keith Urban and Jake Owen are just a few of the headliners rocking the stage here, plus performances by least 30 additional big-name artists. June 10-12. On Myrtle Beach by the boardwalk.
Conway Riverfest: Wholesome, family-friendly festival in a charming town, 25 minutes from Myrtle Beach. Events include a color guard opening ceremonies, a bass fishing tournament, a Jell-O jumping contest, bull rides, a Gulf Cart Parade and artisans' market. June 25. conwayriverfest.com
In the afternoon, join a fishing charter or rent a paddleboard.
Have sunset dinner at Captain Dave's dockside before the big fireworks show.
Beach, Boogie & BBQ Festival: Deemed the Official BBQ Competition of South Carolina, it offers food vendors, grill master competitions, live music, beer gardens, wakeboard demos and a fireworks finale. Sept 2-5.