Getting a fish-eye view of Myrtle Beach

• Hard Rock Park

• Ripley’s Aquarium

• Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Never a big fan of the Ripley’s Believe It or Not museums, I was not anxious to check out Ripley’s Aquarium, so we left less than an hour for a quick peek before heading home from a weekend at Myrtle Beach, S.C. Big mistake. I had to drag my daughter out of the aquarium to make the plane.

Ripley’s Aquarium makes watching fish fun. There’s a clear glass tunnel with a moving walkway that takes you through the 750,000-gallon tank as sharks swim over, looking at you as though you’re the one on display. Or maybe they’re just hungry.

You can touch a stingray, or press your nose to the acrylic window for an up-close look at the piranhas and other exotic species. The aquarium walls sport signs with a photo of a fish and just enough text to tell you its name and one or two facts about it. It’s easy to read the signs, share the knowledge and move on before your kids get bored or manage to slip away in the darkened interior.

Ripley’s Aquarium at Myrtle Beach is nestled in the Broadway at the Beach entertainment complex, a re-creation of the old beachfront area of Myrtle Beach’s past. It includes a few carnival rides, plenty of places to eat (including the always-fun Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville), free entertainment and plenty of piers for running off excess energy.

The entire Myrtle Beach area is going upscale, although it remains fairly affordable, as resort destinations go. It’s still known for its beach and golf courses, but there are plenty of other things to do. Its newest attraction is the Hard Rock Park, the first rock‘n’ roll amusement park, created by the Hard Rock Café people. There are some great roller coasters, a live concert stage and lots of stuff geared to the whole family, including those too short for the coasters.

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