Many people would concur that a day spent leisurely strolling white sand beaches picking up shells, digging moats around a sand castle and running into and away from ocean waves would be a day well spent. Throw in a bit of Southern charm and you have a fun and friendly beach vacation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, located on America’s eastern seaboard.
Vacationers have been visiting Myrtle Beach for over a century. Myrtle Beach is part of a 60-mile stretch of sand labeled The Grand Strand, one of the longest uninterrupted beaches in the country. Myrtle Beach even has a unique story about its name. In the early 1900s, the local paper sponsored a contest to officially name the area where many hotels and vacation homes began to popping up. Mrs. F. E. Burroughs, wife of the town’s founder Franklin Burroughs, won with the moniker Myrtle Beach because of the many wax myrtle trees growing along the shore. Today the area is more popular than ever, not only as a beach vacation, but a golfing and fishing destination as well.
What to Do in Myrtle Beach
The beach in Myrtle Beach is what people come for, and the central area features a mile-long boardwalk that runs from Second Avenue Pier to the south to Pier 14 on the northern end. In the middle are seaside resorts, high-rise hotels, restaurants, shops and water sports. If you can’t find something to do here, you’re not trying.
One of the things you can see from almost anywhere on the beach are the brightly colored parasails of Ocean Watersports floating over the Atlantic. A full-service water sports office located right on the beach, Ocean Watersports has been operating since 1981. They offer parasailing, banana boat rides and jet ski rentals for all abilities, with some age and weight restrictions depending on the activity. While you can just show up on the beach and request an activity, they do recommend buying tickets online in advance to ensure you get the ride you want when you want. To encourage this they have a non-restrictive cancellation policy and won’t charge you if your plans change, however, they do appreciate a phone call.
If floating above the shore taking in the panoramic views of Myrtle Beach appeals to you, but parasailing is a bit out of your comfort zone, ride the SkyWheel. Secure inside six-person sit-down gondola, you and your crew will enjoy 360 degree views of The Grand Strand. A “flight” on the wheel consists of three revolutions (about 8-10 minutes). Best of all, no matter the weather outside, hot and steamy or breezy and chilly, the climate-controlled gondolas will have you flying in comfort. Purchase a VIP ticket that allows you to skip the line and receive a goody bag to take home.
Something distinctive about the quaint wooden piers of Myrtle Beach is that they are privately owned and just to walk on them requires a fee. At Second Avenue Pier, that fee is only $2 per person and it is used for the upkeep of the pier. Built in 1936, Second Avenue Pier has been rebuilt three times due to Hurricanes Hazel (1954), David (1981) and Hugo (1989). Fishing from the pier is open from March to Thanksgiving and the bait shop offers equipment rental, fishing license included. Even if you don’t fish, visitors can still spot sting rays, jellyfish and even sharks patrolling the waters around the pier. During the summer, the pier hosts a weekly fireworks show on Wednesday nights at 10 p.m.
For a full sensory experience, bring the family to Broadway at the Beach where there is something for everyone – shopping, rides, entertainment and restaurants. Located a mile and a half inland on the Robert M. Grissom Parkway at 29th Avenue, Broadway at the Beach will thrill the adventurer with jet boats and zip lines and even a mini-midway amusement park for the youngest thrill seekers. There is also Ripley’s Aquarium and WonderWorks, an “amusement park for the mind.” On the western end is a nightlife area for those 21 and up that is home to a comedy club, sports bars, a dance club and a dueling pianos bar. With 75 shops and over 20 eateries, everyone gets what they want.
If your idea of summer is watching the Boys of Summer, then head to TicketReturn.com Ball Field to see the Single A Minor League Myrtle Beach Pelicans. The Pelicans debuted in 1999 in the Carolina League and are the defending Carolina League Mill Cup Champions. Affiliated with World Series Champion Chicago Cubs (Pitcher Kyle Hendricks played here in 2012), the team currently sits on top of the Southern Division and if you purchase tickets on the website instead at the box office, you save two dollars per ticket.
Where to Eat in Myrtle Beach
Captain’s Seafood House on the northern end of Myrtle Beach has been a relaxing spot on the water for half a century. What began as a single family’s vacation home in 1930 was turned into a restaurant in 1954. With a dark mahogany bar and lots of windows overlooking a small courtyard and the beach beyond, it is a vacationer’s surf and turf paradise and a favorite weekend brunch spot of the locals.
On the Boardwalk next to the SkyWheel Landshark Bar and Grill provides a cool respite from the hot beach. With a seafood heavy menu and a blender working overtime the restaurant doesn’t really have an inside. It’s basically one large patio deck with full views of the beach and ocean. Although famous for its Margaritaville singing owner, Landshark has plenty of dishes and drinks for all ages. The Fish Sandwich is the catch of the day grilled or blackened and goes perfectly with a Southern Sweet Tea.
American Tap House at Broadway on the Beach provides a refined pub experience. Living up to its name with over 40 beers on tap the ATH uses fresh high quality ingredients sourced locally when possible and all dishes have a southern flare. This is one of the few non-chain restaurants at Broadway at the Beach and it doesn’t disappoint with Dry Rubbed Wings and Grilled South Carolina Grouper. While Tap House is in the name, the bar has a variety of house-made cocktails such as the Strawberry Jam featuring locally distilled Firefly White Lighting Moonshine. The restaurant also has a large patio outside and some 20 HD TVs inside.
On the third floor of the Second Avenue Pier is the Pier View Open Air Bar providing casual seaside dining. There is a wraparound deck with comfy couches and soft chairs for taking the view while the inside has ceiling fans to cool you off. With a small, but tasty menu of snacks, sandwiches and burgers, guests can dine while watching the tide come in.
Fishing in Myrtle Beach
Most fishing charters are located in the town of Little River on the border with North Carolina, about 25 minutes north of Myrtle Beach proper. That is because here is where the Little River enters the Atlantic Ocean and the marinas of the Intracoastal Waterway are plentiful. There is also the most variety of fishing in this area from the river, including inlets and bays to open ocean.
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