Cal Ripken Myrtle Beach – Tips for Baseball Families
Cal Ripken Myrtle Beach is a world-class baseball facility that hosts tournaments for youth baseball teams from all over the country. The complex is located in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and features nine state-of-the-art baseball fields, training facilities, and a host of other amenities.
If you’re planning on attending a tournament at the Cal Ripken Experience Myrtle Beach, there are a few things you should know in order to make the most of your trip. In this blog post, I’ll share my top tips for attending your son’s or daughter’s tournament at the Cal Ripken Experience Myrtle Beach, as well as some recommendations for where to stay, what to do, and where to eat in Myrtle Beach.
The Cal Ripken Myrtle Beach Facility
My 13u player’s team took part in the 2022 Wave Rider Tournament, held from July 24th through July 29th, 2022. To say that this trip was like nothing else we’ve experienced in baseball would be an understatement. To date, this was our favorite baseball trip, and it was a combination of several factors: the beautiful location, the experience that the facility provided, as well as the amount of fun things we were able to do outside of games. Our experience in Myrtle Beach was nothing short of memorable.
Tournaments at the Cal Ripken Experience Myrtle Beach are well-organized and run smoothly. Schedules were provided a couple days before we made the long drive to South Carolina, and it helped with how we planned the first few days of our trip. Here are a few things you can do to prepare in advance and make the most of your team’s experience.
The Cal Ripken Experience Myrtle Beach is a beautiful facility that caters not only to the needs of players, but to spectators as well. Concessions are available throughout the facility, including Hawaiian Shave Ice carts and a Chick Fil A stand (note that the hours on Chick Fil A are pretty limited – I believe they are only open from late morning to early afternoon).
The bathrooms were clean and well stocked. There is a large concession stand at the entrance to the facility with tables, stools, bathrooms and air conditioning. If you don’t bring enough Gatorade or water, they will have it.
What to Pack for the Tournament
The weather will play a huge role in your experience. For us, it was the hottest and most humid week of the summer, coming during a heat wave that affected the entire East Coast. Coming from central New Jersey, we were unprepared for how badly the heat and humidity were going to affect us. While it didn’t rain a single day we were in South Carolina, rain is a frequent occurrence.
My packing ‘must haves’ included lots of sunscreen, an umbrella (for sun and rain) as well as the following:
This TOURIT backpack cooler worked out great! We were able to bring many, many water bottles with us to the park everyday, along with cooling towels and ice packs. It was also ideal for bringing to the beach when we weren’t at Ripken. The straps were thick and comfortable enough, and the backpack was light enough, even fully loaded, so that our 11 year old could carry the backpack easily.
We bought multiple packs of these inexpensive Cooling Towels in a 6 pack so that every player could have one, if they wanted it. They were cheap enough (per towel) that I didn’t worry too much if one was accidentally left in the dugout. Most importantly, they worked. Just pour on some cold water, wring or shake out the towel, and put it on your player’s neck or head. It is surprisingly effective for helping the players keep cool when they’re in the dug out.
While the Cal Ripken Experience does provide bleachers with canopies, most of our team didn’t have room in their cars for their normal baseball chairs, so stadium seats were the more popular option with our parents. While I can’t find the exact model that I have, this OSPORTIS stadium seat with back support is very similar. You can purchase in either a two pack or as a single seat. Either way, the older you get, the more you probably need back support on metal bleachers. Buy these, you won’t regret it!
Coming from New Jersey, we have our share of hot summer weather. South Carolina, however, was a big shock to the system. The heat and humidity we experienced was uncomfortable, and had the potential to become dangerous (one of our umpires told us the temperature was 120 degrees on the turf!). Keeping our boys hydrated was a priority, and Liquid IV was helpful. According to Liquid IV, their drink additive hydrates three times better than water. Just add a packet to a 16 oz bottle of water and shake. Lemon Lime is our favorite flavor.
The first day of the tournament is for opening ceremonies and the Skills Competition. As evidence of how well the Ripken Experience manages these tournaments, they requested that no one drive into the parking lot before 2pm, with the ceremony starting at 2:30 pm sharp. We arrived at the facility shortly after 2pm, were directed to a parking spot, and proceeded to the ceremony location. The teams all filed onto the field, were introduced, then sat on the field for opening comments as well as a Guest Speaker (a former MLB player, unfortunately I can’t remember his name). The turf got a little uncomfortable so some of the kids ended up standing for that part. Then they directed us to the Skills Competition stations.
The Skills Competition includes a home run derby, a Turn Two competition, and a Team Relay. It was an extremely hot day and there was a lot of walking from one end of the complex to the other, including a lot of standing around and waiting, so you may want to plan accordingly if you have younger kids or older relatives attending with you – they may be better off staying back at the hotel with another adult.
Our team wore practice jerseys and shorts for the Skills Competition, which was a good idea given how hot it was that day.
We had two seeding games the first day, two the second day, and one the third day. The first day we had 6pm and 8:30pm games, and the weather was amazing! We were completely comfortable, the concessions and bathrooms remained open until we left the facility (close to 11pm), and there were strangely no bugs bothering us.
The second day we had games at 1pm and 3:30 pm, and it was sooooo hot, even in the shade. Ripken does a great job with providing seating – each team’s side has at least one large set of bleachers that are covered with large canopies. There are also large trees throughout the facility that provided shade if you brought your own chairs.
Hydration became really important that day, as a few of our kids felt unwell during the second game, no matter how much Gatorade and water they drank. The umpire for our second game told us that the turf was about 120 degrees at that time, which made perfect sense given that my son mentioned he could feel the heat through his turf shoes.
The Ripken Experience allows your team to have a bat boy (or girl). This helps limit the amount of times your team has to run on the field to retrieve a bat when your team is batting. The bat boy or girl has to wear their own batting helmet and can sit in the dugout with the team. My younger son was the bat boy and it was a huge thrill to sit in the dugout with the older boys and run out on the field after each batter.
The facility allows you to bring in tents, chairs, and coolers.
To enhance the ‘big league feel’, they provide announcers as well as walk up music for each batter. Throughout the game they will do baseball trivia and hand out prizes, which was a fun addition to the regular walk up music.
While our team made it to the play offs, we were unfortunately eliminated during quarter finals. All teams are awarded Cal Ripken Experience Myrtle Beach Rings, which were handed out in a ceremony after our team’s elimination.
Hotels near Cal Ripken Myrtle Beach
There are a number of great hotels located near the Cal Ripken Experience Myrtle Beach. If you’re looking for a family-friendly hotel that offers convenient access to the complex, we recommend the Dunes Village Resort. Dunes Village is located just a short 12 minute drive from the Cal Ripken Experience Myrtle Beach, and it was where the majority of our team stayed. Located on the beach, this huge resort caters to families with ocean front access, 2 pools, 2 lazy rivers, water slides, a game room, onsite restaurants, a pool side bar, and convenient parking. Popular with baseball families, the Dunes Village resort kept both kids and adults entertained for our entire stay.
There are numerous room options at Dunes Village, several which include full kitchens as well as washers and dryers. Our suite included a full kitchen, a washer and dryer, a separate bedroom from the main living area, and a balcony overlooking the ocean. The washer and dryer was a very much used, and very much appreciated, amenity considering we had to wash uniforms several times to get out sweat, sunscreen, and turf stains.
We enjoyed our stay at Dunes Village, however we do feel that the pricing was high considering the fact the room was pretty basic on the interior. Fortunately we were able to book in the winter, and take advantage of a sale that saved us a couple hundred dollars over the week long stay. The lesson? Try to book as early as possible!
If you’re looking for a less expensive option, or if Dunes Village is sold out (it was during our stay) other families on our team stayed at the nearby La Quinta. It was located close enough that their sons could walk to our resort and join their team mates at the public beach access located at Dunes Village.
Things to Do in Myrtle Beach
There’s no shortage of things to do in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. When you’re not at the ball fields, we recommend checking out some of the area’s top attractions, such as Broadway at the Beach, Ripley’s Aquarium, or Myrtle Waves Water Park.
Our players each received one complimentary ticket to the Myrtle Waves Water Park, as well as Miniature Golf.
Myrtle Beach is also home to a number of great restaurants, shopping centers, and entertainment venues. Be sure to check out Broadway at the Beach, an upscale retail, dining and entertainment destination located just a short drive from the Cal Ripken Experience Myrtle Beach.
For your team’s ‘down time’, there is no shortage of fun things to do. Besides the beach, here are a few of our favorite ‘things to do’ that were a big hit with our baseball players during our week in Myrtle Beach:
Shark Wake Water Obstacle Park – Our team booked a two hour ‘party’ that gave them unlimited time on the water obstacle course.
Myrtle Waves Water Park – Located right next to the Cal Ripken Experience. Each member of our team received free tickets from the Cal Ripken Experience. The largest water park in South Carolina, our players spent over 5 hours here!
Dave and Buster’s at Broadway on the Beach – The perfect indoor fun for teen boys when the weather is brutally hot!
Broadway Grand Prix – Go Kart, mini golf, kids amusement rides
Ripley’s Aquarium at Broadway on the Beach – Perfect for younger siblings and teens alike. Small enough to get through in about an hour, but has a lot to see!
The Myrtle Beach Pelicans Minor League Team – Affordable family fan within walking distance from Broadway at the Beach. The Pelicans are a single-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.
Where to Eat near Cal Ripken Myrtle Beach
We’ve tried several restaurants over two trips to the Myrtle Beach area. In general, we try to seek out places that are family friendly, as well as allergy friendly (we have a tree nut allergy in our family). We also try to pick places that have healthier options, like salads, fresh seafood, and vegetarian options.
Within driving distance of the Cal Ripken Experience Myrtle Beach, you can find just about any type of food you desire, from seafood to Brazilian Steakhouse to Asian to McDonald’s. Based on our experience, here are the restaurants we recommend:
Captain George’s Seafood Buffet – If you love seafood, come early (they open at 3pm) but still be prepared to stand in line to get in, especially on a weekend. Over 100 items in the buffet, but the star of the show is the all-you-can-eat steamed Snow Crab legs. Offers everything from salads to baked and fried seafood options, and everything in between.
Beach Hippie Coffee – This breakfast spot has excellent freshly ground coffee, healthy customizable smoothies and huge breakfast sandwiches.
Johnny D’s Waffles – Featured on the Food Network, this very popular breakfast and lunch joint is only open from 7am to 2pm. Famous for their Benedicts as well as their Red Velvet Waffles, they have a large breakfast menu with tons of different waffles, pancakes and omelet options. Be prepared to wait, as they don’t take phone reservations. Our family’s favorite items from the menu include the Red Velvet Waffles, the Spicy Avocado Omelette, and the Irish Benedict.
Brother’s Grill – Excellent Greek and Mediterranean food. Everything we had from the stuffed grape leaves to the hummus to chicken wings was fresh and delicious.
Sea Captain’s House – Slightly upscale restaurant overlooking the ocean. Famous for their She Crab Soup and a large seafood menu.
Zaxby’s Chicken – Not being from the South, we were unfamiliar with Zaxby’s until we came to Myrtle Beach. It’s a very popular fast food chicken restaurant where the line can be long, the service is slow, but the food is really good for ‘fast food’. The chicken tenders are, according to my kids, the ‘best they’ve ever had.’ Their salads were also the best fast food salads I’ve ever had – everything was freshly made to order, and you could tell.
The Cal Ripken Experience Myrtle Beach offers that rare combination of a great baseball experience for your player, combined with the possibility of a fun filled family vacation that not every baseball location can guarantee. With countless options for fun and entertainment, your team is guaranteed to have a great week of baseball (and team bonding time!) when they have a tournament at Cal Ripken Myrtle Beach.