Myrtle Beach has its fair share of head-turning, eye-popping attractions. There's a life-sized King Kong climbing a replica of the Empire State Building at Hollywood Wax Museum. There's an upside down science lab at WonderWorks, and there are dinosaurs, volcanoes, shipwrecks and plane crashes at putt-putt golf courses on the Grand Strand.
But the most recognizable sight that illuminates the night and splashes a sea of colors to the seaside is the Myrtle Beach SkyWheel, a 187-foot high-tech ferris wheel that attracts large crowds to the downtown district. The neon-lit attraction serves as the centerpiece of the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk and is visible for miles away on the skyline.
But if you think the Myrtle Beach SkyWheel is beautiful to look at from ground level, you have to see the view from the top. At the apex of the spinning sphere you can get a bird's-eye view, or more accurately a seagull's-eye view, of the Atlantic Ocean and the entire Grand Strand – the 60-mile stretch of Carolina coastline that surrounds Myrtle Beach. You can also see the downtown and inland areas like you've never seen it before.
Opened in 2011, the Myrtle Beach SkyWheel has quickly taken its place alongside past iconic attractions. Like the former Ocean Forest Hotel and Myrtle Beach Pavilion, which were once the most recognizable destinations in Myrtle Beach, the SkyWheel immediately established itself as an instant classic by offering passengers the ride of a lifetime while lighting up the night with dazzling light displays of brightly colored patterns.
Towering above the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk, a 1.3-mile wooden walkway that parallels the downtown coastline, the SkyWheel looks like something from the future for folks used to the old-school ferris wheels. Consisting of 42 glass-enclosed and climate-controlled gondolas, the SkyWheel provides a comfortable environment for sightseeing from afar for a romantic night out, a fun time with friends and family, or a larger group function.
Each gondola can accommodate parties of up to six people, although smaller groups are allowed to ride together without merging with a party of complete strangers. The special non-reflective glass provides better views and permits riders to take clear photos without fear of flashback. Day or night, you can see for miles on a clear day while also people-watching the ant-sized figures below on the Boulevard, Boardwalk and the beach.
One ride includes three revolutions around the SkyWheel, a trip that typically takes 10 minutes. Guests can upgrade to the VIP gondolas, which feature roomier, leather-seated interiors and rides that last about twice as long as the general admission option. Tickets are $13 for ages 12 and up, $9 for ages 3-11 and free for younger passengers as long as they sit in a parent's lap. Special rates are available for groups of 15 or more.
VIP tours are $50 for adults and $35 for children. The VIP package includes a keepsake lanyard, a souvenir bag, a cold bottle of water with a souvenir SkyWheel koozie for adults. The children’s package includes a lanyard, souvenir bag, a water bottle, a coloring page with Crayons and a SkyWheel Sticker. Special VIP packages are available for events like Valentine’s Day and Date Nights (A hint for the fellas; this is a great way to pop the question.).
Compass Cove Resort guests are about 3 miles south of the SkyWheel so it is easily visible at night from the beachfront, but be prepared for a long hike if you decide to walk to the flashing neon ride. However, the route includes the southern stretch of the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk and a number of attractions, shops and restaurants along the way. Guests can catch a trolley to the base of the SkyWheel, and parking is available nearby at Boardwalk Parking and other surrounding lots and metered spaces.