Gulf Shores vs Myrtle Beach: Which beach town is better for spring break?

1 year ago Triangle 0

Written by: Samantha Burgess, editor in chief

With spring break right around the corner, the beach is practically calling your name. If you close your eyes you might even be able to feel the sand between your toes and hear the lull of ocean waves. 

But, which beach is best to vacation at? The beaches of Gulf Shores, Ala. or Myrtle Beach, S.C.? Having vacationed in both areas (Gulf Shores in 2015 and Myrtle Beach in 2017), I can give an inside look at which beach is best for you.

The drive to Gulf Shores, Ala. is shorter than Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Gulf Shores starts out in the lead with the shortest driving distance. If you’re traveling from the Chattanooga or Dayton area, the drive is about six hours, with the timezone being an hour behind. 

In contrast, Myrtle Beach is about eight hours away, not to mention an additional one to two hours driving through Atlanta traffic. Gulf Shores is the better option if you are looking for a short, convenient drive time.

However, Myrtle Beach has much nicer resorts in comparison to Gulf Shores.

While Gulf Shores does have condos and a few resorts. My family and I stayed at the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriot

Fairfield Inn & Suites, Gulf Shores, Ala.

One room for four adults at this hotel in Gulf Shores goes for $98 a night in March ($351 in June) with breakfast included. The hotel has nice rooms, free wifi, great service, a small gym and an average pool and hot tub, but it is overpriced and lacks a beachfront location.

However, if you’re looking for a more luxe experience, Myrtle Beach has a wide range of resorts and beach homes to choose from.

Coral Beach Resort and Suites, Myrtle Beach, S.C.

During our trip to Myrtle Beach, my family decided to stay at Coral Beach Resort & Suites. The resort in Myrtle Beach is more affordable than the hotel in Gulf Shores, with a rate of $79 a night in March ($220 in June) with a breakfast buffet included.

The resort, located on the beach, has large indoor and outdoor pools, three hot tubs, a lazy river, a kid-friendly zone and a beachfront bar and grill. It also has a small bowling alley and gym. Some rooms have a balcony with a view, and all rooms have exceptional service and free wifi. You can have that five-star resort experience without breaking the bank.

Speaking of prices, while Myrtle Beach’s resorts may have better rates, the restaurants have much higher prices. In Gulf Shores, my family spent under $100 on meals, whereas our meals in Myrtle Beach added up to over $100 each time. 

The two restaurants I’d recommend in Gulf Shores are Cosmo’s Restaurant and Bar and Bubba’s Seafood House. In Myrtle Beach, I’d recommend Friendly’s and Captain George’s Seafood Restaurant.

The next thing you’re probably asking is “Is there anything fun to do in the area?”

Gulf Shores has a wharf with plenty of fun shops and a ferris wheel, as well as a small zoo a little farther away from the beach. But since this was a shorter trip for my family, the only thing we did other than going to the beach was visit the shops.

If you get bored of sitting on the beach all day or simply feel the need to stretch your legs, Myrtle Beach has a wide range of attractions. It has an amusement park, Ripley’s Aquarium, helicopter rides and plenty of places to play mini-golf.

In addition, Myrtle Beach has a long pier with shops and restaurants, as well as “Broadway on the Beach,” an area with restaurants like Hard Rock Cafe, attractions like Ripley’s Mirror Maze and over 50 shops.

My family and I had fun riding the skywheel on the pier and visiting the shops at Broadway on the Beach where we saw a free firebending show.

Gulf Shores, Ala.

The last thing to discuss are the beaches themselves. If you hate sharing the beach with a lot of people, Gulf Shores is the place for you. Even in peak tourist season, the beach isn’t too overcrowded. Myrtle Beach, in contrast, is very crowded and busy during the tourist season.

Both beaches offer a variety of watersports such as jet skiing, paragliding and banana boat rides.

Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Overall, Myrtle Beach is my favorite of the two locations. While I enjoyed my vacations to both beaches, I had a lot more fun in South Carolina than I did in Alabama. However, those looking for a quiet, laid-back beach vacation would likely prefer Gulf Shores.

No matter what your preferences are, both Gulf Shores and Myrtle Beach are great places to vacation.

*Note: this article expresses the ideas and opinions of the author and are not a reflection of the views of the Triangle or Bryan College as a whole.

Samantha Burgess is a senior communication major with an emphasis in digital media and is editor in chief for the Triangle. Her interests in writing include profiles and feature articles. Burgess can often be found curled up with a good book, writing, listening to music or watching Netflix.