Family Friendly or Spring Break Worthy?

Each year, thousands of college students travel to various cities for spring break. While some destinations are more popular than others, students love any chance to travel somewhere new. Unfortunately, some destinations have bad reputations that makes vacationers wish they had just stayed home instead. Coed is a blog that posts a yearly list called “America’s Top 20 Trashiest Spring Break Destinations”. This year Myrtle Beach, South Carolina was ranked number 3 on the list. That’s appealing to college students, but the city of Myrtle Beach doesn’t think it’s too impressive for it’s branding.


The city of Myrtle Beach is a popular vacation spot and has many attractions that are family-friendly and appropriate for all ages. The list posted by Coed harms their brand image overall because Myrtle Beach doesn’t want to only be known as a spring break spot, but as a family destination. This negative publicity goes against the brand image of being a fun and friendly place to vacation. On their website, the city of Myrtle Beach boasts about tons of restaurants, attractions, events, and festivals–none of which include typical spring break activities.

Myrtle Beach is experiencing a brand crisis. They want to to have a broad target audience so that they appeal to all types of people. However, within the city, various restaurants and venues are advertising themselves to specific target audiences, such as college students or young adults. In order to improve their overall brand image, the city needs to work with the businesses’ in city in order to create one overall brand cohesiveness.

How else can Myrtle Beach combat their title as number three on the “America’s Top 20 Trashiest Spring Break Destination”?

-Anna Joy Zima, Hannah Rodgers, Kaitlyn Russell

32 thoughts on “Family Friendly or Spring Break Worthy?

  1. It is hard for a big city such as Myrtle Beach to change their brand image after being known for something for so long. However, with that said, I feel as if they are changing a little bit towards the “family” aspect of things rather than just a Spring Break destination. They have museums, the aquarium, and many restaurants that appeal to many families that are not necessarily on Spring Break. Once those families start spreading the word about the fun they had or enjoy living in Myrtle Beach, then the brand can start to change a little bit by public word. Nowadays, this is simpler with the help of social media sites. Although I think of Myrtle Beach as a “tourist” destination, I also can see how it is enjoyable to live in a place that is such a big destination.

    -Kelsey Devroy

  2. I’ve been to Myrtle Beach plenty of times and I do think it can be family friendly, however I also think it can be extremely trashy. The city needs to make a decision on what it values the most and who they are making the most money off of. Are the young party animals spending more money or are the families? What facilities, activities, etc do they offer? Are there more bars than Family restaurants? They need to do some research and see which brand is the most profitable for the city and decide if they are ok with having that particular brand.

  3. Myrtle Beach’s brand has been crippling for years and does not look like its slowing down anytime soon. I know when I was a senior in high school and everybody was setting up to go to beach week, the nick-name “dirty myrtle” was heard everywhere. For our generation Myrtle Beach is a place to go on vacation to get trashed and party. I am not positive what they could do with so many businesses targeting us younger generations. The best way I’ve personally seen a place go from party to family oriented was for law to crack down. People who want to have a good time, don’t want to go somewhere their going to get in trouble.

  4. Myrtle beach has been known to have “trashy” parts that young adults can go to and party without worrying about feeling out of place. This is very much unlike Wrightsville beach that holds a pretty high standard of cleanliness and expectations on how to act. I think Myrtle beach will have a long way to go if they want to change their brand but will have to start by enforcing stricter laws and rules. There are far less stories about students getting in trouble in Myrtle beach for being too rowdy vs the stories you hear about students having a great time because they could do practically anything they want. If the city itself is serious about changing their brand then they need to start by cracking down on the bars and restaurants that seem to feed off of the “dirty myrtle” experience.

  5. Personally I am not surprised that Myrtle Beach was number 3 on the list. Myrtle Beach is cheaper than a trip to Florida and it still has a lot of atttractions. Myrtle Beach use to be family oriented but it has changed it’s target audience to college age/ young adults. Broadway at the beach is a great family place to hangout, eat, do some shopping, But what they advertise is the Bars that they have to offer. For example Margaritaville is a huge place advertised that can be both family oriented or a place to have some drinks. But when a place is named after a drink how many families is that going to attract? Myrtle Beach is very commercialized turning people away that just want the “quality family time.” Myrtle Beach has a lot of campgrounds that are family oriented as well but I do not see them advertised as much. I agree that myrtle beach is in a brand crisis, because families don’t want to have to stress about what their little ones will see and hear.

  6. Myrtle beach gets a bad reputation around here as the “Dirty Myrtle” for multiple reasons, but overall, Myrtle Beach is a great vacation spot. How lucky are we to have it in our back yard. Speaking as someone who has a residence in Myrtle Beach, I must say that the “trashiness” may not be fair to the town. The term should probably be placed on the people it attracts. Although Myrtle Beach does not exactly need Spring Break revenue, it does help the city in many ways. Maybe the money brought in from Spring Break season should be used to brand the city better and attract the crowd they would like the attract. Some parts of the city could also use a facelift. This would also help change this “trashy” appearance. Hopefully one day the city will lose the “trashy” reputation.

  7. This post made me laugh because Myrtle Beach, SC was the Spring Break destination spot for me and my friends in high school. Every high school in our county knew that “Dirty Myrtle” was the place to be for Spring Break. The strip which is a huge/long street full of attractions and shops for all ages became a spot where students would be drunk and walk around to meet up with people. I remember people would just drive up and down the strip over and over blaring loud music for no apparent reason. I find Myrtle Beach to be so trashy that I would never go there even as a college student, let alone bring my family there when I am older. They do have a lot of fun attractions such as Ripley’s Believe It Or Not and Barefoot Landing where you can walk around and even pet baby tigers but the brand, for me, has forever been ruined by my high school spring breaks when we would all go to “Dirty Myrtle”.

  8. While I’ve only been to Myrtle Beach a hand full of times, I’ve always experienced it to be geared more towards the young adult lifestyle. They even have the unfortunate nickname of “Dirty Myrtle.” For them to really combat this poor branding, I feel as though they should take a look at more things that they offer and promote them more. I never hear about family friendly activities taking place there. Promoting more family friendly activities may not cause a drastic change in one season, but if they maintain the promotion of more child-friendly stuff they could rid themselves of this image over a couple years.

  9. It is hard for me to imagine that Myrtle Beach will be too affected by this negative title. Though it is obvious that brands always want to gain new customers, I feel that a majority of people who travel to Myrtle Beach are repeat customers. People who have been traveling to this town for years know that it is not the “trashy” Spring Break destination that Coed says it is. I think what makes this destination unique is that it appeals to a wide range of audiences. I feel that Myrtle Beach should continue to do what it has been doing for years and embrace the wave of college kids that flock to the area for Spring Break. Chances are, those college-aged individuals will not be partying in the same areas that families are taking their children.

  10. I honestly think that there’s really nothing they can do except try to focus on promoting themselves as they have been before the article came out. Unfortunately, it’s freedom of speech and whether or not the article about them being #3 on the trashiest Spring Break places is accurate or not, it’s simply one person’s opinion. The only way this can ruin Myrtle Beach is if they fight back and try to prove that they aren’t what is being said about them. Most people who have vacationed in Myrtle Beach know what they are getting into and odds are a lot of the people who vacation there have vacationed there numerous times before. They might lose some new potential “customers” but I would bet that the ones that have already been there will keep coming back regardless.

  11. I think this post is interesting because when you think of Myrtle Beach, everyone can have their own opinion. A lot of people like it because it is a beach that’s filled with so many other things to do besides actually sitting on the beach–lots of entertainment options, shopping, and dining, etc. I also know a lot of people that don’t like it because they think it is trashy and tacky with all of the extra amenities. I guess it just depends on the kind of vacationer you are and what you’re looking to do. I would say that it would be a “trashy spring break destination” because of all of the things you can do at Myrtle Beach. I don’t think this should be all that Myrtle Beach is known for, though, because I think it is a family oriented place as well as a wild spring break place

  12. I have worked for 3 summers in Myrtle Beach. With this being said, I have seen the good and bad of this city. “Graduation Week” is a specific week when new high school graduates come to Myrtle Beach to celebrate. The whole attitude of the town decreases drastically. No families want to go to restaurants and people stay away from accesses where rented beach houses are. Other than Spring Break and Graduation Week, I love Myrtle Beach. I love the atmosphere, the food and being so close to the beach. Personally, I prefer North Myrtle Beach because it is more laid back, there are more local restaurants and more families chose to visit here.

  13. I think it will be difficult for Myrtle Beach to change the way it is viewed. I went there for spring break this year and it was all college students and only a few families. There were people partying all over the place and I personally would never take my family there. If they want to change the way they are viewed they will have to increase advertising for family friendly activities.

  14. One way Myrtle could better its brand is by introducing more high-end resorts and expensive attractions that attract a different class of people than rowdy spring breakers. I think it interesting to consider how one aspect of branding attracts a certain demographic while it completely turns off others. It’s sort of like the phrase, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. There are cities like Las Vegas that have the wild, party vibe but also offer a professional atmosphere by hosting conventions and conferences. I would suggest that Myrtle take examples from bigger cities that are successfully branded and multifaceted.

  15. I honestly have not been to Myrtle beach, but I have heard it mentioned a lot by college students to go to for spring break. I feel like if they want to stop getting the spring break crowd or try to change its target audience, it should advertise a lot more of ‘family fun’ attractions or places. I think they should do more advertising through social media, and conduct some research on their local businesses and attractions. I also think that they should compare which target audience gives them the most benefits of what they want or need before they try to change their target audience.

  16. Growing up my grandparents lived in Myrtle Beach while I lived in a different state. We would take vacations there when I was young and always saw it either as a kids paradise or a home for older people. The problem with Myrtle Beach is that you only see the side of it you want to see. If you want to go to the family-friendly Myrtle Beach that offers lots of mini golf and toy stores, then you can do that, Or if you’re a college age student looking to get trashed during Spring break, you can hit the strip with all the great bars, and never see a single toy store. Myrtle Beach should advertise both of those angles. It should boast to parents that if you don’t want to see drunken 20 somethings, you don’t have to, just stay away from that part of the beach. Not catering to college age students would drive a lot of revenue away from Myrtle Beach. They should target those people, but also emphasize that Myrtle has much more to offer, and it’s very easy to avoid.

  17. I have noticed the same problems with Myrtle beach that are listed in this post. Every time I visit, I see attractions that are family friendly, but the people around me are teenagers and college students. The problem is that they have a reputation as a spring break location, not a family friendly location. If they want to relate more to families, they need to enforce strict rules on drinking and loud music. They will also have to enforce rules about drinking on the beach. If they want to relate more as a party city they need to take out more family attractions and advertise to a younger audience. They can’t have both. They need to choose what population they want to reach and then enforce rules/ use advertisements to reach that audience.

  18. This makes me so sad! My family has been going to Myrtle Beach for vacations, weekend getaways, and day trips since before I was even born. I have immediate family living in the area, my hometown is in close proximity and I have worked there for the past few summers.
    Admittedly, I went to MB for spring break every year in high school so I’m very aware that the strip and south Myrtle are sketchy and geared towards the younger crowd. Despite this awareness, I didn’t know about the term “Dirty Myrtle” or the severity of the reputation until I came to UNCW where I encountered many students who expressed such a strong distaste for it.
    As a whole, Myrtle Beach is extremely family friendly. The city is home to a vast assortment of dining locations, shopping, water parks and even hosts a minor league baseball team. In recent years, the city has implemented more strict regulations and laws that are meant to cut back on the aspects that create this negative brand image as a whole. However, it is my understanding that some of these new laws and regulations have had a negative effect on the families that come to MB for vacations. Perhaps the lawmakers are hesitant because they walk a fine line of cutting back the “trashiness” and cutting out everyone all together.

  19. This is a concept that is dear to me due the fact that my family has had a beach house in Myrtle Beach for over two decades. This has allowed for my family to watch the town that once had much promise to slowly turn into the raunchy beach community that it has become. However, there are parts of Myrtle Beach that I have personally witnessed as being more than exceptional. The golfing community is one that is almost globally known, and the dining available is just as incredible. Unfortunately, the parts of Myrtle that have resulted in this ranking have destroyed the town. It is poorly run, and constantly exemplified as how a town can be destroyed by the inability to contain the poor characteristics that have led to a bad reputation. I think it is extremely unfortunate that Myrtle Beach is buying into the fact that college students and Spring Break vacationers are their main profit possibilities. This will never lead to a town that can thrive. The brand crisis must be solved by the businesses I mentioned coming together to create a positive family friendly atmosphere.

  20. Like everyone else has said, I agree that Myrtle Beach has definitely become more trashy compared to how it used to be. Our family used to go there when I was really young and it was always so fun visiting the Boardwalk and going to the beach as a family. Now everyone refers to Myrtle Beach as “Dirty Myrtle”, and it definitely has the party vibe when you go. I recently went down for the day with some friends, which none of us drink or anything like that, and we found that there was not much to do if you don’t do that (for our age group at least). Every commercial or advertisement I saw when researching what we could do for the day targeted a college aged/young adult crowd, with bars and clubs as the main attraction, when in reality, there is plenty to do as a family. The aquarium, a small amusement park, movie theater, themed restaurants, the zip line… the list goes on and on. But all I see Myrtle Beach advertising is the party scene. Many tourist destinations have both the party scene and the fun family-friendly activities, but know how to advertise both in an effective way. Myrtle Beach should do the same, creating more commercials or brochures appealing the family.

  21. I actually went to Myrtle Beach with my family last year during Spring Break (they came to celebrate my birthday.) Unfortunately, the weather was extremely rainy so we pretty much stayed indoors the whole time. The rain pretty much ruined our entire trip because there was nothing else to do in Myrtle Beach for us besides go to the beach. As you stated, most venues advertise themselves to the college crowd there, making families feel unwelcome. If Myrtle Beach wants to rebrand into a more family friendly city, they need to come up with more events and activities that families can do together besides beaching. However I personally don’t think that Myrtle Beach should try to rebrand towards family friendly. They are already well known for being a college destination and that’s how they make the majority of their money. Why try to fix something that isn’t broken?

  22. Although I am not sure what the logistics of this would be, one way that Myrtle could begin to change their brand is by making it harder for spring breakers to flock to Myrtle every March. Through a quick Google search, I was able to find a list of hotels in Myrtle Beach that rent hotel rooms to people under 21. One thing the city could do is offer an incentive to hotels that only rent rooms to people over 25, or require a large security deposit from those under 25. This would make it more difficult, and more expensive, for spring breakers to stay in Myrtle. One other, possibly more practical thing the city could do is crack down on underage drinking. Once a city or destination has a reputation for being strict in issuing underage drinking tickets, spring breaks will be wary of visiting that destination and will instead find another place to take their drunkenness and debauchery.

  23. Myrtle Beach has been considered a trashy, cheap place to vacation for a long time now, and this view has been greatly perpetuated over time. In reality, Myrtle Beach has much more to it than what is typically seen and what is widely known, but when a place has a reputation for being as trashy as “Dirty Myrtle” is, it is very hard to change it. The longer a negative reputation stands, the more effort it takes to change it. Myrtle Beach has much more to it than what is known by the mass public, but when all many people know are shows such as “Myrtle Manor,” it makes the negative reputation increasingly concrete. This brand crisis they are facing is understandable, even though not necessarily true. The city does have a lot to it that makes it a desirable spot, but this is tarnished by the reputation, no matter how different your experience is from the stereotype – you are still in Dirty Myrtle. They are in better shape to change their brand than many other places because they do have some of the needed amenities to support the needed changes, but when TV channels consistently decide to use the city as their example of a dirty, kind of raunchy place, it makes change that much harder. To change their brand they will need to come up with some campaign that is able to counter the arguments made by CMT as well as promote the lesser-known, more positive aspects they are hoping to convey.

  24. Myrtle Beach has created a name for itself which is hard to break, just as Panama City Beach has. I remember going to Myrtle as a child for family vacations, but as I have grown it has become a place to party. I agree that businesses, restaurants, etc. are advertising to the wrong target audience. However, there is more to it. I believe that it is a known fact that is easy to underage drink in Myrtle Beach. I think the law enforcement needs to be more strict regarding public intoxication, drinking on the beach, etc., to diffuse the situation that is creating a negative connotation for the city.

  25. I feel its pretty clear that Myrtle Beach can’t just declare themselves a family friendly city. They have to, to some extent, embrace the title hey have given, but also control the situation from getting out of hand. I think it’s possible or them to appeal to a broad audience, but it’s also important to keep the family friendly side an the rowdy college side FAR away from each other. It’s even okay to focus on the family friendly side, you just can’t ignore the college kids, or then it will become a problem. Pretending like the problem doesn’t exist doesn’t make it go away. embrace and control it.

  26. I feel like sometimes this could be there biggest comeback if anything and start getting prepared for next year. See where and what everyone is saying negative about it and make the most popular answers positive and start winning from there. The image could also be from someone who just did not have a good time because their lonely and just had a horrible time due to internal issues. You never know, but they can definitely turn that around with the way media is set up now and just post videos and blogs of many people having fun. Renovate many of the attractions and simply add on to the list and make it work!

  27. I haven’t been to Myrtle Beach in so long and I’d say the main cause for that is how it has been branded. It is known as ‘Dirty Myrtle’. Doesn’t really sound like a very family friendly place. It does have a great amount of family attractions spread out throughout town though. Anything from bungee jumping to go-kart racing can be found. That being said, i still wouldn’t consider it a family beach destination like it used to be.

  28. I’ve been to Myrtle beach both in the mindset of a college student looking for fun and a member of a family on a vacation. In the latter experience, I found that there were many families that had been vacationing in Myrtle in the same place for years. I think playing on the brand loyalty they have established with these families would be a productive way to combat their new “trashy” title. However, I don’t think the nightlife aspect of the city is a negative one and there’s definitely a way to shine a positive light on it. Who doesn’t want a night away from the kids while on vacation? How many families bring teenagers that would be bored out of their minds and driving everyone else crazy if they didn’t have an escape? I think there’s a family-friendly aspect about the nightlife that isn’t being addressed.

  29. Interesting article! Well, growing up I have never called Myrtle Beach by its proper name, but by its nickname “dirty Myrtle”. This is not a recent category that they have slumped themselves in, they have actually had this reputation for a while. I think it is the pricing and the cleanliness of the actual beach and the surrounding areas that make people feel this way. Also, the crowd who attends spring break in this area. I know it is out of the city’s control, but their marketing techniques immediately direct towards college kids having a less expensive spring break. Maybe if they attracted certain artists, or hosted different events like a music festival or something interesting to attract all kinds of people it could help shed light to people about how fun and not trashy the city could be. Overall, I would visit Myrtle regardless of its reputation because I always have a good time when I have gone and I’m sure majority of people feel the same!

  30. I have visited Myrtle Beach more times than I can count throughout my childhood. I completely agree with Coed’s yearly list because the city has built a brand for itself. It may not be the image that Myrtle Beach wants, but as long as I can remember it has been seen this way. This would take the city a lot of work attempting to ruin an image that has been projected for over 10 years. However, it is possible as long as they change their overall target audience and maybe change some attractions within the city.

  31. I feel really bad, as a college student, to have contributed to the reputation of how “trashy” Myrtle Beach has become for college spring-breakers. I went there for my senior beach week in high school, and it was honestly embarrassing to see how some students behaved in front of families. I know of plenty family-friendly attractions, but I think families need to be really informed about places before they take their kids. For example, I would not take children to places such as Dick’s or Senior Frog’s. Both are fun places to go, but not necessarily appropriate for young children. By doing their research, I think families can plan a safe, child-friendly vacation. However, I think it is also the college students’ responsibilities to act their best in public. Yes, it’s vacation, but it’s no excuse to become belligerently drunk and walk around Myrtle Beach. Act responsibly.

  32. As someone who has never been, I have a pretty strong opinion on it solely based off of what my friends from North Carolina have told me. Often I heard it refereed to as Dirty Myrtle, or different varitiations of that. I think the beach itself has a lot of potential, but more work needs to be done.

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