If you have ever been anywhere near the downtown district at night, you have seen the Myrtle Beach SkyWheel. In fact, even during the daylight hours it’s hard to miss the towering structure that hovers over the heart of the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk. But the 190-foot, high-tech Ferris wheel really shines after the sun goes down and the flashing neon colors light up the downtown skyline.
But as pretty as the Myrtle Beach SkyWheel is at ground level, it’s nothing like the view from the top of the largest observation attraction on the East Coast. Unlike the scenic but one-sided sightline from your private oceanfront balcony at the Caribbean, the SkyWheel offers a 360-degree, panoramic view of land and sea. On a clear day or night, passengers can see as far north as the Carolina border and as far south as Pawleys Island. You can also get a unique perspective of the downtown district and beyond the Intracoastal Waterway.
The SkyWheel is the tallest of its kind east of the Mississippi River and serves as the centerpiece of the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk, a 1.2-mile oceanfront walkway that is lined with beach bars, cafes and shops. The Promenade, a plaza where free concerts and festivals are held throughout the summer months, is just steps away from the entrance to the SkyWheel, which provides a scenic backdrop for group photos and selfies.
Spectacular photos are also a must-do from the top of the SkyWheel, which features 42 gondolas enclosed with a special non-reflective glass material that won’t ruin your shot with a flash spot. You can snap pictures from an angle and view you can’t get from anywhere else without boarding an airplane. The gondolas are climate controlled and comfortable, seating up to six in a single carriage. Private VIP gondolas are available for larger parties or couples sharing a romantic moment. In fact, many young men have chosen the SkyWheel as the place to pop the question.
The ride doesn’t end when your feet hit the ground. Passengers can purchase photos of themselves snapped during the ride and other souvenirs to help you remember your ride. The gondolas let out at LandShark Landing, the Jimmy Buffett-inspired beach bar and grill named for the Caribbean crooner’s own brand of beer. There’s lots of LandShark and other brews on tap, as well as frozen drinks and good food. Sit inside in the air conditioning or soak up some sunlight or moonlight on the open-air deck, where guests can relax and take in all the activity around them.
For visitors who prefer a little more of an adrenaline rush, the SkyWheel offers two sister attractions that are sure to get your heart beating like a big bass drum. Located just across Ocean Boulevard from the SkyWheel is the SlingShot, a bungee-chord based thrill ride that hurls brave passengers 300 feet into the air before they come bouncing back to terra firma. Twin towers anchor the chord, which allow riders to experience alternating feelings of freefall and propulsion with every flex. A bit farther south, the Skyscraper is an elongated beam with carriages on each side that spin, turn and twist passengers at increasing speeds and screams. Discounted passes are available for all three attractions.
The Myrtle Beach SkyWheel is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to midnight, and sometimes later during the busier months. Ticket prices are $13 for adults and $9 for children, and private VIP gondolas require an additional fee. For more information, call 843-839-9200 or visit the website at www.myrtlebeachskywheel.com.