Every year in mid-May and early October, Myrtle Beach gears up to welcome and receive thousands of bikers from across the U.S. and all over the world during the biannual Myrtle Beach Bike Week, a celebration of motorcycles and the people who love to ride them. During these ten-day spring rallies, the Grand Strand comes alive with events, entertainment, coastal tour rides, racing and more, all geared toward making it a memorable week for bikers who gather to celebrate their love for motorcycles, and for Harley-Davidsons in particular.
The Myrtle Beach bike rallies are steeped in tradition and are two of the oldest in the nation, starting back in 1940. Over 300,000 biker enthusiasts attended last year’s events! The mid-May rally kicks off the area’s busy summer beach season, while the early October rally lets bikers still enjoy a warm-weather seaside escape (average October temps range in the mid-70s), but without the summer crowds.
Myrtle Beach Welcomes Bikers–Again
Several years back, the Horry County Council that governs Myrtle Beach attempted to discourage rally attendance in response to complaints about noise and traffic. They voted to outlaw loud mufflers, engine revving, straight pipes, riding without a helmet and goggles, and parking more than two bikes in one space. However, area businesses and many locals banded together to voice their support for the bikers and the long-standing annual rallies, which also bring in an estimated $400 million to the local economy.
The Council has since softened its stance and relaxed regulations (including the helmet law) in an attempt to win back a diverse group of bikers, who are returning to Myrtle Beach in large numbers again to enjoy the many Grand Strand locales and attractions that have been a part of biker rally history for over 75 years.
Cruising the Loops
Bike Week is first and foremost a riding event, and in Myrtle Beach, riders “cruise the loop” along two coastal tour rides (or loops) that span from Georgetown in the south to Shallotte, North Carolina over the state line. These north and south loops feature stops along the way at all the traditional biker hotspots, but have also grown to include a lot of outstanding new rally sites and venues for eating, drinking, entertaining and having a really good time.
The north loop features 90 miles of mostly open road up Highway 17. It starts at North Myrtle Beach, continues through Little River and up past the North Carolina state line through Calabash, Brunswick, and up to Shallotte. North Myrtle Beach rally stops include MMI @ 2001, a well-known club scene where local artists and musicians showcase their talents; the Harley Shop at the Beach; and Dick’s Last Resort and The House of Blues’ ThrottleFest at Barefoot Landing, where popular national and regional bands are always rocking the house.
Head north to Little River on Route 9 and catch the local flavor at Harley’s Roadhouse, Captain Poo’s Bar & Grill and Swing Bridge Saloon, popular watering holes where the barbecue is always sizzling hot and the beer is ice cold! Next stops are at Star Tavern for some amazing down-home cooking, and the Redneck Yacht Club to catch some rockin’ blues. From there, it’s a 16-mile stretch up Highway 17 until you reach the northernmost rally point at Beach House Harley-Davidson in Shallotte, North Carolina, where a 13,000-square-foot showroom houses hundreds of shiny new and used Harleys that may have you considering a trade-in. It’s a gearhead’s paradise.
The 100-mile south loop winds it’s way down from Myrtle Beach to the Murrell’s Inlet rallying points of Coastal Victory Indian Motorcycles and K’Rae’s Waterfront Bar & Grill. From there, the loop continues south to historic Georgetown and Big Tuna Raw Bar on the town’s scenic HarborWalk.
Looping back north, the next rally stop winds along the Waccamaw River up to Bucksport and Captain Seaweeds, a rally favorite and great place to dine riverside. From there, the rally moves north to the town of Conway–home of the Myrtle Beach Speedway, where riders with the need for speed can take their bikes out onto the track behind the pace car and get in some high-speed laps.
From the speedway, the loop returns to Murrel’s Inlet for renowned rally stops including Crooked Floor Tavern, Rockin’ Hard Saloon, and Suck Bang Blow–an 8,000 square-foot iconic biker hangout where riders can roll up to the bar and grab a cold one–it doesn’t get more “biker-friendly” than that.