Eating Gluten Free & Staying Active in Myrtle Beach
From my experience, Myrtle Beach is one of those places that’s forgotten about by us midwest and west coast people. Probably because it was a little challenging to get to before. There weren’t many or any direct flights which means a more stressful day of travel, especially for people with children. Well that has changed because Frontier now offers seasonal direct flights from Denver to Myrtle Beach twice a day to make the travel super easy!
After this trip was booked, I was a little nervous for Myrtle Beach after hearing many of the mixed opinions out there. People asked where the hell I was going to eat healthy and what I was even going to do out there. It’s definitely a family oriented place so I think my friends thought I would be forced to go to miniature golf courses and corny wax museums like I had done in the past with my own family in other areas across the US. So when we touched down in Myrtle Beach, I kept my expectations low.
Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised by all the amazing food we had while we were there!
I’ve found that usually really great trips are kicked off with a delicious cocktail. And we found some amazing ones at The Chemist! After we checked into our ocean view room at the Hilton Myrtle Beach Resort at Kingston Plantation, we went straight to The Chemist for some creative cocktails that you won’t find anywhere else while in Myrtle Beach. The Chemist emphasizes molecular gastronomy in it’s beverages to create craft cocktails made from house-made syrups and mixes. My cocktail had basil & jalapeño infused tequila, orange juice and grand mariner in it and it was absolutely delicious! I’m a firm believer that if I cocktail menu doesn’t include some sort of drink with jalapeño in it, that bar doesn’t know what they’re doing.
And I know everything.
After settling into our hotel and waking up to a stunning sunrise (every morning!) we ventured off looking for breakfast at Bay Naturals. This little market includes a restaurant in the back that serves all kinds of dietary needs and restrictions that each customer may have. Whether you’re vegan, gluten free, dairy free, paleo or you just want a delicious meal, Bay Naturals is there to make you feel good about what you’re eating. We ordered eggs and bacon wrapped in a coconut paleo wrap along with a blueberry almond smoothie! We were also about to pounce on a gluten free donut before a woman snatched it out from underneath us. I hate her. We should have gone back the next day because Bay Naturals also had gluten free cake and brownies and all kinds of other goodies. The donut snatcher was probably a blessing in disguise because we ended up having PLENTY of dessert throughout this trip!
After a light breakfast, we headed to Spa33 at the Kingston Plantation. One of the perks of staying at the Hilton hotel is that you have access to Spa33 and 78Fitness, both part of the Kingston Plantation. That means you can enjoy a spa appointment and also get an amazing workout in at their large gym. I ended up doing both! I only had time for a 20 minute workout so I got a quick one in (you can see it here) then headed to the spa for an amazing massage! Both the gym and spa look brand new and give you the perfect space to stay in shape and enjoy a relaxing day of body and facial treatments!
After a little sweating and primping, we moved on to lunch at Kindbelly Café. This restaurant is absolutely adorable and the staff makes it even more enjoyable to be there! Kindbelly’s whole goal and mission is to nourish the community and offer clean food to the people in Myrtle Beach. You’ll find menu items like paleo wraps, salads that can be made into wraps or vise versa, and delicious smoothies and açaí bowls made with wholesome ingredients such as coconut water, broccoli, avocado, bee pollen and hemp hearts. But something I love the most on their menu is that you can create your own bowl choosing your own veggies, what oil they are cooked in (I chose butter!) and the protein you want on top! After enjoying a peanut butter smoothie, I grabbed poke tuna veggie bowl and ate every last bite! It was the perfect lunch to have on a busy day that wouldn’t weigh me down. I seriously loved this place and love their outside patio!
After lunch, we headed off to La Belle Amie Vineyard for a wine tasting and relaxing afternoon. With all the travel I’ve done to places like Walla Walla, Santa Ynez Valley and Leavenworth, WA, I’ve been to quite a few vineyards…but La Belle Amie Vineyard may be my favorite! When you think about Myrtle Beach, I’m guessing vineyards don’t pop into your head. It definitely didn’t even cross my mind. But this vineyard not only has delicious wine, but it has a beautiful farm for you, your friends, and your family to hang out on throughout the day. Grab a glass of wine, meet the incredibly friendly owner Vicki, snack on a meat & cheese plate, and enjoy live music outside underneath the billowing trees and beautiful landscape. This farm is welcoming and has weekly events to keep you and your family entertained whenever you’re in town! Plus the owner Vicki has an adorable dog who follows her around everywhere and is friendly to every single person she meets. I love dogs so damn much!
For dinner that night, we headed to Hook & Barrel! This restaurant is so well done and absolutely beautiful inside. It just recently opened and the restaurant itself uses eco-friendly products and ingredients throughout. The founder Heidi wanted to create a place that made a difference in our world so she uses unbreakable dinnerware and eco-friendly “paper” products to cut down on waste. And they source only the most sustainable products available. And to top all of that, they have FANTASTIC food. I was so impressed with this new restaurant and what they offer on their menu. The founder Heidi eats gluten free so she made sure to create a menu where almost anyone can find something to enjoy. I rarely have crab cakes (being in a landlocked state and all) because almost every restaurant I’ve ever been to loads their crab cakes up with fillers like breadcrumbs. But not at Hook & Barrel. They load their crab cakes up with…CRAB!! And you can even get crab cakes as a topper on any of the fish that you order! While we were there, I ordered the tuna steak, some crazy delicious oysters, and duh, the gluten free chocolate cheesecake three layer cake. So rich, so over-the-top, so decadent, and so perfect. Dessert is LIFE!!
When you’re at the Hook & Barrel restaurant, you’ll probably notice that the bathrooms are connected to another restaurant. And once you eat at Hook & Barrel, you’ll definitely want to find out more about the restaurant next door. Croissants Bistro & Bakery serves breakfast and lunch and also has an amazing coffee bar to get on the go! We loved this spot so much, we ended up going two days in row! It’s a southern style restaurant so you’re greeted with a friendship muffin when you sit down (not gluten free but they smelled like pure joy!) and a menu filled with indulgent items like shrimp & grits, chicken & waffles, and Dutch style pancakes. But not to worry, they still offer healthy choices like omelets, smoothies or just the simple eggs-to-order breakfast, which I had! Their cheesy hash browns will have you begging for more. They’re unbelievable. Heidi really knows what she’s doing and even has a cookbook that you can pick up while you’re in the coffee shop! I loved this spot. Even the bathrooms are beautiful. So weird, but so true. You can always tell when a woman owns a business because she notices all the details, all the way down to the toilets. No offense to the dudes out there.
After an amazing breakfast, we drove 30-40 minutes out to Murrells Inlet to enjoy a kayaking tour with Blackriver Outdoors. If you’ve seen many pictures of Myrtle Beach, you’ll usually find busy beaches or the packed downtown boardwalk, but just a simple drive slightly out of town will bring you into a relaxed area with beautiful and colorful homes and great restaurants along the Marshwalk. We met the kayak tour in an area called “Oyster Shell Recycling Landing” and kayaked around for about 2 hours. This tour is great if you’re a lover of the outdoors and want to see turtles and crabs and a ton of birds. You may even see dolphins but we weren’t quite so lucky. For me, I like kayaking as a sport to get a workout in so I found myself racing ahead of everyone to get in an arm workout then waiting until they caught up. I don’t care much for birds, I just want to workout.
Story of my life.
After our suuuuper sweaty kayak tour, we headed down the road just a bit to eat at Wicked Tuna. Murrells Inlet is the Seafood Capitol of South Carolina and has several great restaurants along boardwalk area called the Marshwalk, and Wicked Tuna was outstanding. When we got to the restaurant, we were lucky enough to head downstairs with the head chef to see their fishing boats pull in and the fisherman bring the fish off the boat and into the prepping station. Wicked Tuna is known for their hook-to-plate offerings. You’ll find local, fresh fish that has sometimes been caught that same day, clean and prepped on site, then brought straight to the kitchen for cooking. The chef showed us the hogfish that we would be eating, it was then prepped and we headed upstairs to have it cooked right then and there. I had never heard of a hogfish before and I definitely wouldn’t be interested in it if I saw it at the store, but since hogfish eats lobster, the hogfish itself TASTES like lobster. The chef pan cooked the hogfish and paired it with light Mediterranean flavors like olive oil and lemon juice. And THEN he topped it with crab and lobster. This meal was unbelievable. I couldn’t believe how flavorful and absolutely perfect each bite was. It’s amazing what fresh seafood tastes like in comparison to everything I get back here at home in Colorado. If I ever head back to Myrtle Beach, I’m going straight to Wicked Tuna and requesting this meal. I loved it so damn much!
After lunch, we did a little exploring at Brookgreen Gardens. This beautiful space was created in the early 1930s by Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington on the site of four former rice plantations. Throughout the grounds, you’ll find more than 900 sculptures, acres of native plantains and a wildlife preserve. And when you buy a ticket, it’s good for quite a few days which is incredibly helpful since the area is so large, you may need to take their boat to get to some of the historical sites. If you love or just appreciate art, this area is stunning. The sculptures are breathtaking and the gardens are so well kept with incredibly views and architecture. These are all things I don’t care much about and I was still in awe of the beauty throughout this property!
Last on our agenda, we had the perfect final meal in town at Aspen Grille. This restaurant is a great date night spot for a romantic meal. The menu changes seasonally and offers simple yet flavorful dishes with ingredients sourced from the best local suppliers. And of course, you can always pair any dish from their hand-selected wine list. We started with an appetizer of prosciutto-wrapped goat cheese-filled figs then I ordered the mushroom risotto with pan-seared scallops and crispy spinach on top. It was phenomenal. It’s hard to beat the perfect risotto and Aspen Grille does it right! And since it was our last night there, we finished our meal with a flourless chocolate cake that was gluten free and completely over the top delicious! It was so easy to eat gluten free at Aspen Grille and we loved every bite of our meals. It was so amazing!
I was so pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to eat gluten free and stay active while I was in Myrtle Beach. Many see this area as a spot for seafood buffets and quick fast food, but if you do a little digging, you’ll find restaurants like these that prove the area is changing into a spot for healthy and fresh meals for anyone with dietary restrictions or for people just looking for a meal they can feel good about eating. I had so much fun checking out these spots and I hope this post gives you ideas for the next time you head to South Carolina!
This trip was hosted by Visit Myrtle Beach, but all opinions and experiences are my own!
Oh, Hi! I’m Juli.
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