Myrtle Beach Driving Directions

Driving directions for Myrtle Beach roadways might seem kind of crazy at first, but once you know how it all works, it starts to make sense.

First off, take a long look at a map. That sweeping coastline from Georgetown to Little River is

known as the Grand Strand. Beyond Little River the coast takes a decided easterly swing, almost doubling back on itself at Bald Head Island. This area of the Atlantic Ocean from Frying Pan Shoals to Pawleys Island was called Long Bay by the explorers and those who settled here, and you’ll still see it listed that way on some maps.

This curve of the coastline makes driving directions rather confusing. Although you are traveling north from Georgetown to Little River, you are also traveling east and heading out into the Atlantic. In fact, if you stand on any of the Brunswick Island beaches and look out over the ocean, you are facing south. If you could see that far, you’d see the Bahamas directly across from you. On these beaches you can see both sunrise and sunset over the Atlantic.

Zoom in and out and move the map around to find driving directions in Myrtle Beach.

Driving to Myrtle Beach

Traditionally, Myrtle Beach has always been a “drive-to” destination. That is, more people come here by car than by airplane, although we do have an excellent, modern airport. More on that later.

So, where do people come from? All over! One the right is a chart of where most people who move here or come here as visitors are coming from. By the way, if you are moving to Myrtle Beach from another state, you have 45 days to register your car and get your auto tags at the DMV.

The major routes into Myrtle Beach are U. S. Highway 17 and U. S. Highway 501. The closest interstates are I-95 and I-74, parts of which are still under interstate conversion north of Whiteville, North Carolina. However, the road does go all the way to highway 701 which you can take through Tabor City and Loris to Conway or pick up Veterans Highway to go to North Myrtle Beach.

I-40 also comes into the area at Wilmington. Sections of the I-140 bypass are under construction over the Cape Fear River which soon will speed travelers around the Port City, but you will want to keep this lovely historical town in mind for a future stopover or a daytrip.

Mileage to Myrtle Beach

  • Atlanta                   362   
  • Baltimore               477   
  • Boston                   879   
  • Charleston               95   
  • Charlotte                177   
  • Chicago                  950   
  • Cincinnati               627   
  • Columbia                152   
  • Florence                   68     
  • New York                666   
  • Philadelphia            579   
  • Pittsburgh               613   
  • Raleigh                   181   
  • Richmond               325   
  • Syracuse                797   
  • Washington D.C.     432   
  • Wilmington             75     

By the way, if you’re in the mood for a really long road trip, start driving I-40 at Wilmington and head west for about 2550 miles. You’ll end up in Barstow, California, having traveled parts of the legendary Route 66 along the way.

But right now you’re here at the beach, so how do you find your way around? First off, understand that north and south take on completely different meanings here, and east and west aren’t necessarily what you think they are.

Driving Directions - Getting Around

U. S. Highway 17, or highway 17, is the main route through the Grand Strand and is considered to run north and south. Actually, it runs northeast and southwest, so if you find yourself driving south into the setting sun, that’s why. If you’re coming here from either Wilmington or Charleston, you’ll be traveling on highway 17.

Between the Georgetown/Horry County line and Grand Dunes Resort just north of 82nd Avenue North, highway 17 splits and becomes 17 Bypass and Business 17. Business 17 is also called Kings Highway for the ancient Kings Road that once connected the Carolinas to the colonies in the north. Kings Highway travels through downtown Myrtle Beach before reconnecting with the Bypass just north of Grand Strand Medical Center and remains Kings Highway until it reaches North Myrtle Beach.  

Traveling parallel to Kings Highway and hugging the coast is the storied Myrtle Beach drive, Ocean Boulevard, or just “the Boulevard” for short. The mid-20th Century saw Ocean Boulevard as the place to cruise on a Friday and Saturday night, and you’ll find it still is today.

Cars Cruising Ocean Boulevard, Myrtle BeachCruisin' Ocean Boulevard, downtown Myrtle Beach

17 Bypass is the major commercial and retail hub where you’ll find tons of restaurants and retail shopping like Coastal Grand Mall, Broadway at the Beach, and lots of shopping plazas. It is also one of the busiest roads on the Grand Strand, it and highway 501, so expect traffic congestion when you drive these roads.

North Myrtle Beach and North, Myrtle Beach

North Myrtle Beach (NMB) is a separate city that has the same street numbering as Myrtle Beach. If you are looking for 1st Avenue North Myrtle Beach, make sure you know if it’s 1st Avenue North in Myrtle Beach, or 1st Avenue in North Myrtle Beach.

U. S. Highway 501 is also considered to run north and south, but it actually runs northwest and southeast. It crosses 17 Bypass and ends at Kings Highway in downtown Myrtle Beach. Recently a third lane was added to highway 501 in the area of Carolina Forest near the Tanger Outlet. This has helped the traffic flow somewhat, but 501 is generally congested most times of the day, particularly at Carolina Forest Boulevard. Finding alternate routes like highway 544 to Conway, or taking Veterans Highway (Highway 22) around Conway if you’re headed north is usually a good idea.

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South Carolina Highway 31, also known as Carolina Bays Parkway, is a six-lane limited access highway that began construction around the year 2000. It is currently completing Phase III from highway 544 to highway 707 that includes a major bridge across the Intracoastal Waterway. It is considered a north south highway, but actually travels northeast and southwest from Little River to where it makes a southerly turn at highway 544. Both highway 17 and highway 31 travel pretty much parallel to the coast.

Bridge construction over the waterwayCarolina Bays Parkway bridge construction over the waterway is in progress.

South Carolina Highway 22, also called Veterans Highway, starts at the Tanger Outlet on highway 17 and travels nearly parallel to and northeast of highway 501 before curving west to end at highway 501 north of Conway. If you are traveling out of the area you can use this route to get you past all the 501 congestion closer in to the beach.

Other Drive Routes

U. S. Highway 378 goes due west from Conway to I-95. It is a designated hurricane evacuation route that has been undergoing widening to four lanes for for-ever, but when it’s finished, it will be wonderful.

South Carolina Highway 544 starts at the beach running parallel to highway 501 before making a sharp curve north just after Carolina Bays Parkway. It continues north until it ends at highway 501 north of Coastal Carolina University.

South Carolina 90 runs east/west from Conway to Little River and is a two-lane country road that is experiencing the same growth as the rest of the region. For now, it’s an alternative to congestion on some of the other highways if you’re traveling north and coming from the west.

South Carolina Highway 707 runs parallel to highway 17 and serves as an alternate route for that busy roadway. Highway 707 will be the southern connector for Carolina Bays Parkway traffic when it is completed. Construction of that intersection is running about six months behind as of this writing, but the projected completion date from the state DOT is Fall 2017. Construction south of the interchange will continue with the widening of highway 707 that has had delays because of the October 2015 flooding, but completion is projected for 2018.

Although there are more roadways, with what seems constant road construction, reconstruction and road closures, Myrtle Beach driving directions are much easier today because of GPS. In the old days we had to have a map in the car to find our way around, now just open your phone. If you feel like you’re going the wrong way because you’re supposed to be going north and the rising sun is in your eyes, you may not be wrong, but the GPS can help with driving directions and possible delays.

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