Myrtle Beach is considered the number one golf destination in the United States, but those who have visited the 'Grand Strand' know that is also a premier vacation destination. With its beautiful beaches and countless attractions, everyone can find something to keep them occupied.
Myrtle Beach's Grand Strand consists of a string of small communities that stretches from Little River on the North Carolina border to Georgetown. Its 60 miles of coastline have wide, sandy beaches for swimming, sunbathing and building sand castles; waters full of fish for pier or deep sea fishing and waves for surfing. For the fishing and boating enthusiast, the Intercoastal Waterway meanders through Myrtle Beach and offers even more opportunities for a day on the water. Little River
What better way to be introduced to Myrtle Beach than through Little River. As you enter South Carolina from North Carolina, this small village greets you with bright skies, beautiful flowers that bloom all year, sparkling ocean and majestic oak trees. Shops, restaurants, golf courses and retirement communities have sprung up in the last ten years, but Little River has managed to maintain a less hectic pace than the rest of Myrtle Beach.
Little River's biggest event is the annual Blue Crab Festival. Held in May on the weekend after Mother's Day, many visitors return for the fresh crab and other seafood, a juried art show, arts and crafts of all descriptions, face painting for the children, boat rides, and live entertainment. North Myrtle Beach
North Myrtle Beach consists of the four communities of Cherry Grove, Ocean Drive, Crescent Beach and Windy Hill where Barefoot Landing has become a popular shopping, eating, and entertainment spot.
Crossing the expansive bridge over the Intercoastal Waterway from Little River to North Myrtle Beach is an experience in itself. Steal a quick view of the houses, boats, marinas and bridges for miles in either direction — if you're not driving, that is.
In Cherry Grove, you'll find one of the most popular destinations of both residents and visitors alike, the Cherry Grove Fishing Pier . The pier extends 985 feet into the ocean and has a 2-tier viewing deck with a dynamic view of North Myrtle Beach. The pier attracts the casual and 'serious' angler, and residents and visitors alike.
The other three communities in North Myrtle Beach are not as large or as developed as Cherry Grove, but they also have beautiful beaches and plenty of accommodations. North Myrtle Beach's population has mushroomed since 1990; consequently, so have the development and the traffic. From late April through early September, allow plenty of time to get down Route 17, the main thoroughfare from Little River all the way to Charlestown.
Beach and Boogie Music is king at the Beach Clubs like Fat Harold's Beach Club in Ocean Drive. This thumping, rhythmic music will have you dancing in your seat, if you're not up doing the "Shag," the official dance of South Carolina. Notoriously described as "the jitterbug on Valium," the Shag is fun to watch and even more fun to try. Myrtle Beach, the City
Once you visit Myrtle Beach and see the overwhelming number of hotels, motels, condominiums, restaurants and attractions, you will find it hard to believe that most of the development took place since the late 1950s. Getting to Myrtle Beach is easy thanks to the modern and efficient Myrtle Beach Airport. Once you get there, though, finding your way around can be tricky until you get the hang of the system used to number the roads. The roads are very crowded, but the city managers are dealing with the congestion by adding new roads. Veteran's Highway (Route 22) helps you avoid a large part of Route 17. Route 501, the other main highway, swings off of Route 17 to the west and leads to many of the popular golf courses.
Myrtle Beach has its own baseball team, the Pelicans , a Class A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves. The games are held at BB&T Coastal Field, a relatively small stadium from which you can clearly see all the action on the field. Silly games and contests held in between innings and Splash, the mascot, make going to the games a fun time for all ages.
Myrtle Beach has just about any kind of entertainment you can think of, such as The Carolina Opry, Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede , Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament , IMAX Discovery Theatre , Planet Hollywood , Hard Rock Cafe , Ripley's Aquarium , water parks, nightclubs and shopping galore. There are also many annual festivals that bring visitors back year after year. As they say, "If you're bored in Myrtle Beach, it's your own fault."
The Southern Grand Strand
This southern part of the Grand Strand moves at a more leisurely pace than its northern counterpart, but is equally diverse.
Surfside Beach is directly below Myrtle Beach; consequently, some of the congestion is spilling over to this community. It is being forced to build new municipal buildings as its population swells. Like its neighbor to the south, Garden City, it is fighting to maintain its pristine beaches by not allowing high rise condominiums and hotels. Garden City is still more residential than commercial. It is a popular spot for surf fishing and family outings to the beach.
The residents of the small fishing village of Murrells Inlet preserve its heritage by continuing to fish in its many creeks and waterways. If you want fresh seafood, be sure to visit this self-proclaimed Seafood Capital of South Carolina. It is also the home of the lovely, serene Brookgreen Gardens . With over 6000 acres of sculpture and botanical gardens, it is a must see.
To get to Georgetown, continue traveling down Route 17 through Litchfield Beach and Pawley's Island. It has a relatively small population and is a well-kept secret, so it's a pleasure to leisurely walk the historic streets past the antebellum buildings.
When it comes to food, Myrtle Beach's tastes are fairly basic. You will find a variety of restaurants, but seafood and steak prevail.
Three things you'll come across repeatedly in South Carolina restaurants are grits, hush puppies and iced tea. Grits are made from corn ground to a thick, creamy consistency and are served with butter. You won't see grits very often at any meal other than breakfast. Hush puppies are small, deep-fried balls of cornmeal, reminiscent of plain donuts. They are served in a lot of the family-style, less expensive seafood restaurants as soon as you sit down at the table. Most restaurants serve 'bottomless glasses' of iced tea all year-round, but you need to specify sweet or unsweetened.
Fresh shrimp, oysters, flounder and catfish caught from local waters are always available. One style of seafood you'll often see advertised is Calabash Seafood. Named for the small fishing village on the North-South Carolina border, the four fish are usually fried and inexpensive. Capt. Bennett's Calabash Seafood in Myrtle Beach on Restaurant Row and in three other locations is popular with families. Children ages 3-5 eat for USD2.95, and children under age three eat free. Its seafood buffet offers a huge variety of fish as well as beef and poultry. Kids under age 5 eat free. The Sea Captain's House Restaurant is another award-winning restaurant worth visiting. Open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner, it offers a wonderful variety of unique fish dishes as well as poultry, steak and pork. Enjoy a wonderful meal and a beautiful ocean vista at the same time. Steak
South Carolinians love their steak. Almost every restaurant serves steak even though it is advertised as seafood or other type of restaurant.
When you order one of the delicious, large steaks at the very popular Carolina Roadhouse Restaurant & Bar on King's Highway in Myrtle Beach, be sure to order a salad as well. The honey mustard-hot bacon house dressing is outstanding as are the croissants, which come with it.
The Yamato Steak House of Japan cooks your food right in front of you at your Hibachi table. It offers steak, seafood and chicken and Sushi bars.
There are quite a few Italian restaurants scattered up and down the Grand Strand. Chianti South Italian Restaurant in North Myrtle Beach has some of the best homemade pasta and an extensive award-winning wine list. Near Restaurant Row in the Galleria is Rossi's , a large Italian restaurant. Even though prices are in the average range, the food is excellent and the service superb. After dinner, you can listen to piano music in the Eighty-Eights piano bar until 2a.
For a truly unique experience, be sure to try Medieval Times or Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede dinner and show combinations. Be transported back to the 11th century at Medieval Times . This spectacular show features Andalusian Stallions, incredible horsemanship and jousting tournaments. Oh yes, and dinner is included. Dixie Stampede includes a four-course meal and an impressive show with 32 horses, trick riding, comedy, and buckboard and ostrich racing. The finale is a stirring patriotic number.
If race cars are more your speed, then the NASCAR Cafe is probably right up your alley. Absolutely everything is race car themed. For example, booths are called 'pits;' appetizers are called 'Qualifying Lap;' and drinks are called 'Liquid Fuel.' You get the idea. There is a race car museum on the grounds, race car go-carts, and a gift shop where you can purchase NASCAR-certified race wear. Family and Children
The Spring House Family Restaurant in North Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach and Murrells Inlet serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is inexpensive and has a large children's menu.
Myrtle Beach is a very informal place. You very rarely need to dress up in more than shorts or slacks and a t-shirt or golf shirt. That doesn't mean, though, that there are not some nice upscale restaurants where you can experience very fine dining. Examples are The Brentwood Restaurant and The Parson's Table in North Myrtle Beach, Greg Norman's Australian Grille at Barefoot Landing , and Cagney's and Thoroughbred's in Restaurant Row. Each is expensive, but the unique menus and elegant decors are worthy of a special occasion.
Other For the sports enthusiast, try the Overtime Sports Cafe in North Myrtle Beach. They have a general menu and TV screens everywhere so that you can watch more than one sport at a time. It tends to be loud as whooping and hollering fans route for their favorite teams.
The Horst Gasthaus is one of two German restaurants in Myrtle Beach. Enjoy authentic German food and join the sing-along—when your mouth isn't full, that is.