I visit beaches in cold months more often than in the summer.
Having traveled to Myrtle Beach at least twice in December, I know that the sun may be warm but the wind can be quite frigid both on the beach and between buildings.
This makes packing for your trip a little tricky, but with some preparation, you can be comfortable and enjoy the winter sea air.
Weather & Activities
Is Myrtle Beach worth visiting in winter?
Yes! There is plenty to do at Myrtle Beach in December, January and February.
Myrtle Beach is one of the most popular beach areas along the Virginia – Georgia coast and is valued for its affordability and family-friendly activities. Naturally, Myrtle Beach is filled with tourists and events during the summer, but it is also a popular destination for a winter beach vacation to avoid the crowds.
There are some tourist activities open during the winter. The Carolina Opry has daily shows and some tourist shops on the main strip are open. If you go a few miles inland, you’ll find indoor-outdoor malls and other things to do. On my last winter visit to Myrtle Beach, there was a Christmas light show on the boardwalk and a play area with giant inflatable slides and other kid-friendly activities.
Still, some attractions may be closed for the season. During my most recent trip in December 2022, about half the shops on the boardwalk were closed and the amusement parks were being repaired and updated.
If there’s something specific you want to do, be sure to research ahead of time.
When I visit the beach during winter, I usually take long walks outside, both on the sand and on the boardwalk, or around town. I get up to photograph the sunrise and, if my room has an ocean view with a balcony, walk outside in the wee hours to gawk at the moon over the ocean.
This Myrtle Beach packing list for winter reflects these activities.
Is it cold in Myrtle Beach in winter?
The average winter daytime temperature is 50 F (10 C) and the nights seldom reach freezing temperatures. This mild climate combined with a casual culture make Myrtle Beach an easy destination to pack for.
What to wear in Myrtle Beach in winter
Myrtle Beach is a casual place, but there are some special considerations when visiting in the winter months of December to February.
My biggest tip is to prepare for the cold wind if you plan to be outside for any length of time. The first time I went to Myrtle Beach in winter, I had packed for mild winter temperatures, but the wind was so cold and strong, it was nearly impossible to be warm while walking outside.
On my most recent trip, I brought my heavy Carhartt coat, a wool hat, wool gloves, and a wool pashmina. The wind was still strong, but not nearly as frigid as some of my other winter beach trips. The Carhartt is definitely not suitable for packing light, but it was the only winter coat I had and I wanted to be prepared for the wind.
The coat was great for keeping out the wind, but it was too warm when the wind wasn’t directly blowing on me. I ended up sweating and carrying it during more than one walk.
The wool accessories were enough to keep me warm on this trip, but on future trips I would still bring a warm, lightweight windbreaker or packable coat to prepare for possible icy winds.
I wore my black sweatshirt and/or red sweater every day, rotating which was the top layer. I changed my t-shirt daily, washing and hanging it on a towel rod to dry overnight.
On the other hand, if your plans don’t include walking outdoors beyond getting to and from your car, then a fleece should be enough.
What not to pack before going to Myrtle Beach
My second tip is to remember that anything you could need can be bought within a few miles of wherever you are staying. There’s no need to overpack with just-in-case items or duplicates of things you generally won’t need.
I lost an earring while walking and didn’t have a replacement. Later that day, I bought a new pair. Now, whenever I wear those earrings, I remember my trip. What a great, packable souvenir!
5-Day Myrtle Beach Winter Packing List
This packing list for a 5-day winter beach trip assumes that you’ll sink-wash your base layer t-shirt.
With the clothes in a compression packing cube, the packed items in this list fit into half of a large carry-on-sized bag, or a space roughly equivalent to a 27-liter bag.
- Wool socks
- Dark wash jeans
- Thin quick-dry long-sleeved t-shirt (Mine is an old silk one from a brand that doesn’t exist anymore. I find silk to be more comfortable than synthetic quick-dry fabrics.)
- Athletic fabric “sweatshirt” (The one I have is technically a base layer for arctic adventures.)
- Thin sweater (For warmth and for when you want to dress a little nicer.)
- Winter coat
In Your Bag
- 1 pair wool socks (Wool doesn’t smell quickly, so I wore the same pair for 3-4 days.)
- 4 pairs underwear
- 1 bra
- 1 pair quick-dry hiking pants
- 1 thin quick-dry long-sleeved t-shirt
- Wool beanie
- Wool gloves
- Pashmina shawl
- Phone charger
- Camera and charger
- Book or other entertainment
You could pack even lighter by bringing fewer pairs of underwear and handwashing them and by not bringing a swimsuit and towel unless you absolutely know that you will use them. Some accommodations offer pool towels and you can always buy a swimsuit and towel in a beach town!
Do I need to dress up at Myrtle Beach?
This packing list doesn’t include dress-up clothes because Myrtle Beach is a casual place.
Even at the Carolina Opry, sandals and shorts are acceptable, although if you want to dress up a little more, add some sparkly accessories to your packing list and you can still pack lightly.
Do I pack something for swimming at Myrtle Beach in winter?
I also didn’t include items for swimming in the ocean. What’s on this list should be fine for wading barefoot, but if you’re going for a cold-water dip you may want water shoes and additional warm clothes to wear when walking from the beach to your room.
Extended ocean activities, like surfing, are best with a wetsuit.
Skincare tips for winter at the beach
If you’ll be outside, I recommend bringing a heavy lip balm and strong lotions for your hands and face. The cold wind can really dry out your skin, so you’ll likely use more moisturizer than normal.
I suggest doubling the amount of moisturizer you typically use and plan on one additional application per day.
As always with any sun activity: Don’t forget the sunscreen.
Minimal shoe recommendations
You would be fine with one pair of sneakers, but for a little luxury while still packing light, you could pack 1-2 more pairs.
I find that walking on sand is a workout for my feet and I don’t like walking barefoot on sandy floors. I bring a pair of lightweight massaging sandals to wear inside (mine are Croc slides).
If I went wading, then I might add a pair of water sandals, like Chacos or Tevas, to this list.
I like to bring a book or some other entertainment for when I’m relaxing inside and enjoying being warm and out of the wind.
If you don’t want to pack entertainment, some accommodations have books, puzzles, and games you can borrow or you can easily buy something there.
Myrtle Beach can be a relaxing winter destination that combines natural beauty with evening concerts and classic tourist attractions.
Embrace the area’s casual vibe and enjoy low-stress, lightweight packing when visiting this quintessential beach city.