MYRTLE BEACH, SC
Those coming to the Myrtle Beach area will find 60 miles of beautiful, sandy beaches, a wealth of fun water activities like parasailing and a 1.2-mile boardwalk with magnificent skywheel. Trip Advisor recently recognized global travel destinations with the most Certificates of Excellence, and Myrtle Beach was named as one of the world’s “Most Excellent” cities for experiences (one of only six U.S. cities recognized in all categories.)
Resonance Consultancy named Myrtle Beach to its 2018 America’s Best Cities list, ranking it no. 9. They earned the distinction for their entertainment options, numerous family attractions and activities, as well as their airport connections, beautiful weather and growing business community. It’s all true, but there are also insider attractions that are off the beaten path once you want a little break from the sun.
PLACES TO STAY
First, let’s consider accommodations. The Mansfield Plantation in historic Georgetown is one of South Carolina’s most architecturally intact rice plantations and on the National Register of Historic Places. It is now a bed and breakfast that also offers guided tours and educational programs.
Serendipity Inn is an older inn about four blocks from the ocean in downtown Myrtle Beach. Quiet and peaceful, the breakfasts are good and it offers a bit of nostalgia with your coffee.
If you’re looking for more of a resort atmosphere (this is the Grand Strand!) there are a lot of oceanfront and near-ocean resorts that offer commanding views of the beaches. Or, perhaps the beach house that your parents once rented is still available, if you’d like to recapture that long-ago, fill-the-house-with-all-your-family atmosphere. You can find more than enough choices at www.VisitMyrtleBeach.com.
Once your decision’s made, it’s time to play.
ENTERTAINMENT AND ATTRACTIONS
Although we promised to take you outside the normal radar, we’ve got to include Ripley’s Aquarium at Broadway at the Beach. Sure, it’s well known, but there’s an important reason for that – it’s a fabulous afternoon or morning destination. During the summer, Kids Night Out offers youngsters ages 6-14 a night in the aquarium -- with music, dancing, karaoke, scavenger hunts, pizza and more, until these happy campers go to sleep "with" the sharks in the shark tunnel!
OK, anyone who has ever visited the Grand Strand knows there are a myriad of attractions, including rides, miniature golf, including Family Kingdom Amusement Park , where you’ll experience the thrill of the rides and ocean breeze in one place. We recommend it all. But, did you know there’s the Carolina Improv Company, presenting interactive improv comedy, appropriate for all ages?
Ripley’s Aquarium introduced its Pearl Harbor Exhibit in February 2018. Visitors can go through the timeline of world events leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor and experience the environmental impact that continues to this day. The exhibit features models of ships and planes, an interactive map, a life-sized figure of President Roosevelt, a crawl-through replica of the USS Arizona, a theater with memorabilia from the 1940s as well as various aquatic animals native to Hawaii and invasive species now living in Hawaii that were brought in from the Japanese ships during the attack. The exhibit is open for most of the year.
For a bit of highbrow entertainment, we suggest attending a performance by the Long Bay Symphony (yes, a professional symphony orchestra along the Grand Strand). Or, check out Atlantic Stage, the first and only professional theatre company in the Myrtle Beach area.
The Asher Theatre is Myrtle Beach’s newest live performance, conference and event center. They are bringing Vegas and New York City acts to the area in a family-oriented, hip and cultural, theater setting. Their feature act is the widely-acclaimed impressionist, comedian, and musician – James Stephens III performing his title show, “Man of a Thousand Voices,” which includes spot-on impressions of stars like Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Randy Travis, Sammy Davis, Jr., Elvis, Stevie Wonder, Lil’ Wayne, and even Kermit the Frog.
The City of Myrtle Beach is planning to open a new park and building complex in the Market Common district. Features of Thunderbolt Park will include three miles of new paths, picnic tables and a lawn. The paths can be used by bicyclists, walkers and runners and will have an outdoor reading room, bike racks, bike repair stands and an outdoor classroom. It will also include the renovation of a building originally used for support for the Thunderbolt jets when the area was an Air Force base for use as a classroom and recreation facility. Expected completion is within a month.
RESTAURANTS AND MORE
Eventually, after all that fun is done, you and yours will be hungry. And while there’s nothing wrong with a burger or pizza, we are at the beach, after all, where seafood reigns supreme. And nowhere is it more supreme than the Murrells Inlet Marshwalk, otherwise known as the “seafood capital of South Carolina.” There are eateries serving whatever your stomach craves, from burgers and fries to fresh seafood, wood-fired pizzas and delicious steaks.
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster named Heidi Vukov, local restaurateur and pastry chef, as a South Carolina Chef Ambassador for 2018. Each year, chefs from the across the state are nominated to serve as a culinary ambassador and the governor chooses four to participate. Heidi will participate in a number of culinary and tourism events throughout the Southeast. We’ve got a recipe from her cookbook. Check it out.
Visitors to Myrtle Beach might also catch her at any one of her three establishments with two locations of Croissants Bistro and Bakery, where brunch on Saturdays and Sundays is a feast. Hint: If you need a cake for a celebration while you’re there, they’ve got great options. Her new sustainable seafood restaurant, Hook & Barrel, offers delicious seafood, wine and good times.
Tin Roof, “A Live Music Joint” out of Nashville opened in June and features tasty food and a full bar in a fun, eclectic environment. A venue for talented musicians, discovered and otherwise, Tin Roof occupies the entire third floor of a new expansive oceanfront complex, parts of which are still under construction along the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk at 14th Avenue North.
Water Tree Café is a new restaurant in the Market Common district of Myrtle Beach inside the Farrow Commons complex. Chef Philomena Mazzochetti comes from the Philadelphia area and offers eclectic modern cuisine. The menu includes pan-seared salmon, shrimp ceviche tacos, chicken satay and even fried tofu. They also serve creative desserts and cocktails.
Another possibility is The Cypress Room at Island Vista. This four-star restaurant has floor-to-ceiling views of the ocean and a menu that offers European-inspired Lowcountry cuisine. Grouper with herb butter sauce, perhaps, or maybe a New York Strip steak with Horseradish cream sauce?
And then there’s Thoroughbred’s Chop and Steak House, a local favorite since 1988.
Aspen Grille has garnered great reviews for fresh Carolina seafood. The menu changes seasonally and the scallops are divine! For some, there’s nothing better than a leisurely morning in search of the perfect vacation breakfast.
If your food improves with an ocean view, consider the Sea Captain’s House where locals and visitors have dined for years, from dawn til night.
Johnny D’s Waffles & Bakery is another fine option. For pure decadence, consider the Red Velvet Waffles, covered with Cream cheese icing. Those with a modicum of restraint may consider Johnny D’s Skillet – everything delicious, together. Hint: Check out their Coney Island Chili Sauce, available online or on site.
Barefoot Landing New Restaurant District is going into the Barefoot Landing shopping and entertainment complex at Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach. The district will be known as the Dockside Village and will feature waterfront dining along the Intracoastal Waterway, as well as new outdoor attractions and live music. It’s anchored by Lulu’s restaurant, owned by musician Jimmy Buffet’s sister, Lucy, which opened in June, 2018. The restaurant offers live nightly music, a large sandy beach area, and a ropes climbing course, arcade and other activities in the 20,000 square-foot-space. A new Mexican concept restaurant is also planned.
WATER ACTIVITIES & RENTALS
Day two (or three or ten): Explore new territory by renting a boat or jet ski and touring parts of the Intracoastal Waterway.
Located on the south end of the Myrtle Beach area, Crazy Sister Marina
offers a wide variety of activities, from sport fishing, to boat and
jet-ski rentals, as well as dolphin watching and kayak rentals.
With 3 locations in the Myrtle Beach area, Myrtle Beach Watersports features jet-ski dolphin watch tours, jet-ski and pontoon boat rentals, and much more along the Grand Strand.
For deep sea fishing, Little River offers charters and tickets to ride aboard fishing boats heading out as far as the Gulf Stream.
And, if you simply like being near the water, consider the Garden City Pier. A few miles south of Myrtle Beach, it’s still part of the Grand Strand, but located in a quiet family-oriented beach community. The Pier, however, is anything but silent, with live music on either end, and an arcade for the little ones (plus fishing whenever the impulse strikes.)
GOLF COURSES & SHOPPING
Are you a golfer? If so, you already know that it would take months to play the more than 100 courses in the area.
For those into sports and sports history, Pine Lakes Country Club in Myrtle Beach hosted Sports Illustrated’s first sales conference in June 1954, just weeks before the release of the premiere issue. Today, visitors will find a room with press clippings and other mementos from that conference.
Caledonia Golf & Fish Club is currently rated No. 3 by Golf Magazine on their “Best Public Golf Courses in South Carolina” roster and No. 3 by Golfweek on their “Best Courses You Can Play in South Carolina” roster.
There are so many worth playing, you’ll have to pick and choose. One resource is on the VisitMyrtleBeach.com site and more reviews can be found at MB Golf Holiday.
We haven’t even mentioned the shopping, which is legendary along the Grand Strand. You’ll find excellent malls, starting with Coastal Grand Mall, South Carolina’s largest and one of its newest shopping attractions. There’s also Tanger Outlet malls, The Market Common, Broadway at the Beach and Barefoot Landing, plus lots of Mom and Pop one-of-a-kind stores that feature resort and beach attire and accessories.
BACK TO THE BEACH
And so we end where we began. The beach is wide, sandy and oh-so-inviting. Beachfront near the resorts can be at a premium in high season, but if you want a peaceful walk along the sand, consider visiting Huntington Beach State Park.The locals love it and you’re sure to appreciate it’s natural beauty. And while you’re there, carve out a few hours to head across Highway 17 and visit Brookgreen Gardens, a favorite haunt for so many children who grew up here, and just as endearing today as it was 50 years ago.
Clearly, you’ll need more than a few days to do this favorite destination justice. But what a grand way to enjoy a vacation, or second home getaway.