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Archive for July, 2014

Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall–anytime is a good time to visit Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

My company has a bus tour out of Chicago to Myrtle Beach in the spring and fall.  Did you know that Myrtle Beach is referred to as the “Branson of the East Coast”?    Although the population is low at under 30,000, because of the way it is situated on the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean, the area known as “The Grand Strand” tends to not get direct hits from hurricanes.  It also helps that the Gulf Stream is about 40 miles offshore which contributes to the temperate climate.

The Grand Strand runs along the ocean in a crescent shape for over 60 miles.  To say it is a major tourist area is an understatement.  The German word for Strand means beach and that is why the area is called that.  Myrtle Beach is the biggest city along the Grand Strand area.    The city began as a year round golfing resort in 1927 and by the 1970’s it had become a premier golfing destination.  And they are also known to have more minature golf courses than anywhere else.

There are many resort hotels and high rise condos along the beach with a Boardwalk and Promenade that runs a little over a mile.  This has truly become a family destination (or you may want to take the grandkids) with many restaurants serving a smorgasbord of buffets with lots of fish, including crab legs and shrimp and everything in between.  For breakfast or lunch you can try the food at one of the many pancake houses in the area.

Also right downtown is the Family Kingdom Amusement Park which is reminiscent of old time amusement parks with a wooden roller coaster, ferris wheel and carousel.

And, the shopping…. There are 2 Tanger outlets very close to each other as well as my favorite place, Broadway at the Beach.  This is a fun place to stroll around with over 100 shops and 30 restaurants.  You can follow the Boardwalk through several different themed villages and
there are 3 bridges you can use to walk across the man made lake.   Besides shopping for the adults, there is plenty for the kids to do, too, including the Ripley’s Aquarium.  We took our travelers there and you walk through a tube with sharks swimming all around you.  Truly awesome.  And if you get tired out from all the walking, there is an IMAX theater so you can sit and recharge while watching a movie.

And, did I mention theaters?   There is a variety theater called, The Carolina Opry, Legends in Concert, featuring Elvis, of course, Medevial Theater, Good Vibrations, Big Laughs Theater, Alabama Theater, The House of Blues, Pirates Voyage Dinner Attraction, and The Palace Theater where you can see anything from magicians to Irish dancers.  I heard a couple of years ago that Pat Boone was looking at building a theater in the area, but then I guess that is still on the back burner   However there is certainly no scarcity of shows and music for you to choose from.

If you want to take in some other attractions outside the city, to the north is another shopping area called Barefoot Landing.  To the south is Brookgreen Gardens, a National Historic Landmark with a large outside collection of fugurative sculptures by American artists.  Not far from Brookgreen Gardens is Pawley’s Island, one of the oldest summer resorts on the East Coast.  The rice plantation owners brought their familes here to escape inland heat in the summer. You can still buy the rope hammocks hand made by the locals.  The island has been termed “arrogantly shabby” with its shoeless laid back lifestyle.

On our tour we also took a day trip up to Wilmington, North Carolina.  This town along the Cape Fear River was the last Atlantic port opened to blockade runners during the Civil War.  It has one of the largest historic districts listed in the National Register of Historic Places and was founded more than 250 years ago.  Great pine plantations lined the river and produced rice, indigo and cotton which contributed to its wealth.  The battleship North Carolina resides here and the city has been refered to as Hollywood East for the many movies made as well as the television shows, “Dawson Creek” and “Matlock”.

If you do nothing more than take advantage of the beaches it is worth the trip.  And if you come from the Midwest, you get to travel through the Smoky Mountains–one of my favorite drives in the U.S.   Meanwhile back in Myrtle Beach, I hear “Crabby Mike’s” calling me for dinner and after that a little rock n roll at the Legends Theater!!!!!!!

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