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New things to do in Myrtle Beach area

For locals and folks who visit regularly, it can be easy to take for granted all of the great things our area has to offer. But with a bevy of new activities available this summer, there's a good chance you'll want to rush out to try some of these recent additions to the beach landscape:

Enjoy the Boardwalk

A walk along the 1.2-mile boardwalk, which opened in April, is a great chance to take in some scenery in the heart of Myrtle Beach, catch some rays and even grab some great eats.

Food options include surf and turf cuisine at Pier 14 Restaurant & Lounge, wings and burgers at Marvin's and oysters at the recently opened Dirty Don's Oyster Bar & Grill. In addition, you can stop for a drink at Sharkey's, which features an outdoor sand volleyball court or catch some live music at Oceanfront Bar & Grill or the Bowery.

Through Aug. 16 the area will also host Oceanfront Merchants Association's Hot Summer Nights, which features live entertainment nightly with street performers, fireworks and bands performing on the stage in Plyler Park.

Where | Downtown Myrtle Beach between 14th Avenue North and Second Avenue South.

Pricing | Free.

More info | Visit myrtlebeachdowntown.com

Fun factor | It's hard to overestimate the effect the addition of the boardwalk has had on downtown. For the first time since The Pavilion closed, folks have a real reason to hang out there and things will only get better once the new Second Avenue Pier opens to anchor the south end.

See some rock icons

With show staples like Legends In Concert and Dino's Variety Show, catching a tribute act isn't anything new for people around here. But Rock-N-Roll Cafe & Theater owner Dennis Green assures us Myrtle Beach hasn't seen anything quite like his "Icons of Rock: The Ultimate Tribute Show."

"It's the real deal. It's just like your coming out and seeing these guys live and in their prime," he says.

The two-hour show touts an impressive lineup of tribute artists portraying classic rock and metal icons such as Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, AC/DC, Aerosmith and Gun' N' Roses. In addition to "Icons," the theater also hosts the beach's only one-hour Elvis Tribute show, "The King In Concert" six nights a week.

Where | 1138 Celebrity Circle, Broadway at the Beach (next to Margaritaville)

Pricing | Icons: $25 adults, $15 kids: Elvis: $20 adults, $10 kids

Hours | Icons: 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., Mon-Sat. ; Elvis: 8:30 p.m. Tues.-Sun.

Contact info | Call 448-ROCK (7625) or visit metallegends.com

Fun factor | Though it features some over-the-top acts like Ozzy Osbourne, KISS and Alice Cooper, this show is not just for hardcore metal fans. "It's more of a classic rock thing that's good for the whole family," Green says. "You wouldn't believe how many kids we're getting. They love it because they hear the stuff on Guitar Hero and Rock Band and the parents love it because they can relive the music from their youth. "

Soar and explore

WonderWorks, a children's science attraction known for its upside-down building, won't open its new 29,000-square-foot museum until March, but it has already made an impact on the Broadway at the Beach landscape with its Soar + Explore Zipline and Ropes Course.

While Wonderworks' goal is to work the mind, this recently opened attraction is intended to promote physical activity.

"Here we are now challenging the body as well," said Jackie Vazquez, a spokeswoman for WonderWorks.

The pirate-themed rope course is 40-feet-tall and has 33 "elements" that adventure seekers will maneuver over, under and through, including a tremor bridge, vertical angle stairs, swinging steps and a tightrope walk. It takes the average person about 20 to 25 minutes to go through the ropes course.

The zipline will take participants soaring 50 feet above water on a course that travels between towers. Featuring a constant tension system, the dual-line course ensures participants a smooth "zip" with intense fun.

"It's definitely an adrenaline rush," Vasquez said. "Having the water element just seemed like a perfect fit."

Where | 1313 Celebrity Circle, Broadway at the Beach (near Tripp's)

Pricing | Ropes challenge costs $11.99, the Zipline adventure costs $19.99 or experience both activities for $26.99.

Hours | Noon to 11 p.m. everyday

Contact info | Call 448-SOAR (7627) or visit soarandexplore.com

Fun factor | If the prospect of soaring 1,000 feet through the air isn't enough to get your heart racing, the fearful thought of being dropped into Broadway lake and nibbled by the unnaturally large fish in it should be.

See some insects

The most recent addition to Brookgreen Gardens' growing collection of beautiful things is the Whispering Wings Butterfly Experience. Part of the Lowcountry Zoo, this exhibit features 18 species and more than 1,000 butterflies native to the Southeast in a greenhouse-like environment.

The area is coated in a woven aluminum mesh and adorned with various plants for the insects to feed from. This not only keeps the butterflies in, but also lowers the temperature inside by 5-10 degrees -- an added bonus in the heat of summer.

"You get to see a lot of great species, and get up close with the butterflies," says Andrea DeMuth, Brookgreen's Curator of Animals. "It's a pleasant place to come sit and watch them flit around from place to place."

The exhibit, which began in April, will remain open through October with a changing array of seasonal butterflies.

Where | Inside Brookgreen Gardens 1931 Brookgreen Drive, Murrells Inlet

Pricing | Tickets are $3 for adults and $2 for children for a 30 minute timed visit in addition to garden admission.

Hours | Open daily from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. During Cool Summer Evenings, which runs through Aug. 13, the butterfly house is open until 6:30 p.m.

Contact info | Call 235-6000 or visit www.brookgreen.org.

Fun factor | Being among these beautiful insects can be fascinating, but let's face it, it's not the most exciting item on this list. However, when you add in a trip to the zoo and walk through the gardens' breathtaking collection of sculptures, there's lots of low-key fun to be had at Brookgreen.

Go for a ride

Freestyle Music Park may be a thing of the past, but don't think the area's amusement options have completely fallen off this summer.

In addition to tried and true places such as Family Kingdom, Pavilion Nostalgia Park and OD Pavilion, Myrtle Beach Mall has now added its own amusement option called Family Fun Park.

The park features 12 carnival-type rides such as the Fireball and Paratrooper and even more exotic thrills such as the six-man bungee jump.

"It's been going pretty well so far," says Ashlei White, who helps operate and book the rides for park owners J&J amusements. "With the diversity of rides we have here for kids and adults, there's not really anything like it in the area - you either have to go north or south."

Where | Myrtle Beach Mall parking lot (near Bass Pro Shops)

Pricing | $25 for a day pass (coupons for $5 off available at myrtlebeachmall.com); single ride tickets can also be purchased in a book of 36 for $30 or $1 per ticket. Children's' rides cost 2-3 tickets, adult rides cost 4-5 tickets.

Hours | Open 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Friday, 5 p.m.-11p.m. on the weekend.

Contact info | 333-6982

Fun factor | The selection of rides would make for a fun way to kill a few hours while shopping at the mall or Tanger Outlets and with free parking and free entry, there's no reason not to check it out.

But, if you're looking to spend a full day riding, you may still want to consider Family Kingdom.

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