7 reasons you should visit Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island during the worst part of the offseason
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — More than 150 million Americans were under “snow emergency warnings” as I sat alone in an inviting South Carolina hot tub.
It was 45 degrees outside (cold for Myrtle Beach) as Texas was snowed-in with temperatures in the 20s.
South Carolina is balmy in comparison. The rain was pounding, and I reminded myself I was in one of the warmest places in America — with a beautiful resort (largely) to ourselves.
We’d booked this trip last spring (not knowing record-shattering winter storms would coincide with this February trip). The top seven reasons to come to the Carolinas in February became obvious:
7. An ocean to yourself (and you’ll still get tan).
February 2021 was one of the most brutal winters on record (only Florida was truly hot). Still, South Carolina (even in record lows) was quite a bit nicer than most of the continental United States.
We saw South Carolina temperatures get as low as 38 degrees and rain-soaked. But the sun came out, and the weather got as wonderful as 64 degrees, which gave us enough time to sit by the pool one afternoon and establish our annual base suntans (or sunburn if you stay long enough).
When the world is freezing, even one day of sunny tanning weather is a blessing. Of course, the locals consider February to be winter, so you can often walk on a gigantic beach and have the beach and ocean to yourself.
6. The lowest room prices of the year.
The “snowbirds” who come here each winter (like the real migratory birds) are looking for two things: to escape the brutal cold back home and get the best possible deals of the year on condos, hotels, and other lodgings.
The locals can’t understand why “snowbirds” come here at the coldest, gloomiest time of the year (when the locals wear winter gear), but as we near snowbird age, gobbling up cheap rooms, we see the attraction:
We took great joy comparing the Carolinas weather to the weather at home in Michigan: one day, Michigan had below zero temperatures and 9 inches of snow while Hilton Head hit the mid-60s with bright sun.
5. Check out those “harder to get into” places.
The main reason we traveled to South Carolina (besides to celebrate Valentine’s Day) was to get into a normally hard-to-get-into Ocean Oak Resort on Hilton Head Island.
Not only did we get into an often hard-to-book resort, but we also got a great two-bedroom-suite on the fourth floor with perfect views of both sunrise and sunset.
4. Traffic? Waiting in line? What’s that?
Try arriving in most beach towns on a “busy” day (like Friday or Sunday), and you can get stuck behind lines of cars (particularly if just one person gets into a wreck).
That is not the case in February during the low season. We just had dinner at one of the best restaurants in Myrtle Beach, the Sea Captain’s House on Ocean Boulevard, and intentionally went during the busiest time: 6 p.m. on a Friday.
Result? No line, no wait. Immediate seating.
When I lived in the Carolinas in the 1980s, we treasured the offseason, when Ocean Boulevard went from packed to a place where you could lay down before a car got close.
Travelers get to experience that same joy of having a place to themselves in the offseason.
3. Restaurants, retailers battling for your business (with deals).
Businesses treasure you as customers in February. Some examples of happy hour deals include:
- $3 margaritas at Mexico Lindo in Myrtle Beach.
- $2 happy hour beers at the Ultimate California Pizza Kitchen.
- $9.95 for six wings, a beer, and curly fries at Fat Jacks in Surfside Beach.
- $5 sweatshirts (but that was at one of the super cheap beachwear places).
2. Privacy — and ultra social distancing
If you really want privacy and ultra social distancing (like having a restaurant to yourself), travel during the offseason and go to dinner/lunch/breakfast early (before the crowds arrive).
Want to avoid crowds and disease? Getting to a restaurant before anyone else arrives is a huge help. It’s also kind of cool to have a fully-staffed restaurant totally focused on just two people (you and your date).
We are now at the same Myrtle Beach resort we visited last March 13–19 (the eve of the first pandemic lockdowns, just as restaurants were going to carryout-only). But this same resort was more crowded last March (near the end of winter when many were fleeing to get home) than it is this February.
Key difference: The average Myrtle Beach high temperature is 59 in February (about 10 degrees lower this week), while the average high temperature climbs to 65 in March and 73 in April.
Rain and cold seem to keep more people away than anything else. Our place is fully booked for Saturday when the weather forecast calls for sun all day.
1. No Bad Days — There’s no such thing (really) as a bad day (or a good day).
This afternoon, I took a long walk along the beach in the rain and saw just a handful of people and about 100 pigeons (who happened to be huddled in a pack waiting for the rain to pass).
Want to clear your head? Enjoy nature? Enjoy the architecture and features of a magnificent city? Go for a long walk on the beach and boardwalk in the rain.
Everything was open. Everything was available, including a T-shirt shop with a shirt explaining there are “No Bad Days” at the beach.
And in truth, there are no bad days or good days because every single day of your life has both good moments and bad moments. If you fixate on one bad moment, the day it happened becomes a “bad day,” and if you keep remembering a good moment, a day is recalled as a “good day.”
But picture yourself sitting in a beach condo looking out at and listening to the waves coming back in and out and listen. Just watch. Such a moment (regardless of the weather) is a wonderful moment, a taste of Heaven.