Travel

Travel idea: 7 reasons to visit Myrtle Beach

Author: Canadian Living

Travel

Travel idea: 7 reasons to visit Myrtle Beach

What brings the majority of winter-weary tourists to Myrtle Beach every spring? The promise of surf and sunshine along the Grand Strand, a 60-mile-long strip of sandy beachfront that stretches from Little River in the north to Georgetown in the south. But when you tire of the soothing crash of the waves, there are plenty of other diversions. Here are seven to get you started.

1. A Taste of Kitsch
If you'e craving old-fashioned boardwalk attractions, Myrtle Beach is the town for you.  Haunted houses, pancake houses and tacky T-shirt shops dot the downtown. Over 100 golf courses make this the "seaside golf capital of the world," but its 50 mini-golf venues make it the mini-golf capital, too. And if these don't satisfy your taste for the outlandish, try a well-worn Vegas-style show like the Carolina Opry, where you can indulge your passion for golden oldies hits and Bob Mackie–style glitter.

2. Shopping Galore
After golf, shopping may be most popular sport in Myrtle Beach. Hit the outlet malls for deals or take a leisurely poke through the so-cute-it-hurts cluster of cottage boutiques called the Hammock Shops along Hwy. 17 in Pawleys Island. If you're a quilter, stop off at Island Threads on your way back to town. Bring a friend (and a wheelbarrow) to help you cart home your buys, from flour-sack reproduction prints to batiks to sweet ginghams with a Southern sensibility.

3. Southern Comfort Food
If you go home hungry from Myrtle Beach, it's your own fault. Not surprisingly, the Grand Strand is known for its seafood. She-crab soup, a rich, sherry-laced bisque made with blue crab meat and roe, is the local specialty. Plates heaped with shrimp and creamy grits are never hard to find. If sweets are your thing, drop into Landolfi's Bakery on Hwy. 17 just before the turn-off to Pawleys Island. There's an intimate café in the front and a small diner in the back that specializes in wood-oven pizza. An exhaustive selection of Italian confections crowd the display case, and none disappoint. Save room for a slice of Key lime pie – encased in a shell of dark chocolate, it’s a quasi-religious experience you don't want to miss.

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4. Live Oak Trees and Spanish Moss
Walking beneath these behemoths makes you feel like you've wandered onto the cover of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Hundreds of years old in some cases, live oak trees are the host for parasitic Spanish moss, which gives the trees their diaphanous, ghostly character. Check out gorgeous examples at Brookgreen Gardens and Litchfield Plantation, both in the town of Murrells Inlet.

5. Brookgreen Gardens
Located about 20 minutes southwest of Myrtle Beach in Murrells Inlet, this oasis of flora and fine art sprawls across more than 9,000 acres. The complex encompases sculpture gardens, a wildlife preserve and the local history museum. Established in 1931 on the site  of four former rice plantations, Brookgreen Gardens now boasts a collection of 1,200 pieces of sculpture dating back to the 19th century. More than 500 art works are nestled along walkways through gardens of breathtaking native vegetation.

6. Pawleys Island
Take the 35-minute drive down Hwy. 17 to Pawleys Island to see where the locals hang out. Weathered clapboard cottages and inns crowd the narrow road that runs along the perimeter. Watch for waterfowl perched in rusty gold reeds among tin-roofed docks and soothe your nerves with a stroll along the beautiful rolling dunes.

7. History at Every Turn
Drive 20 minutes northwest of Myrtle Beach to the quaint city of Conway for a taste of history along the Waccamaw River. The main street offers an old-fashioned strip of pretty little shops and cafés (drop into The Trestle for a plate of perfectly crunchy fried green tomatoes). During Canadian-American days in March, the Conway Historical Society offers a number of informative lectures. Historical walking tours start at the visitor centre and feature a walk through the political and social history of Conway with juicy tidbits of local dramas and family feuds, some that persist to this day. 

Resources
Hotel
Anderson Ocean Club
2600 Ocean Blvd., Myrtle Beach, SC
(843) 448-1535
www.andersonoceanclubonline.com

Attractions
Hard Rock Park
211 George Bishop Parkway
Myrtle Beach, SC
www.hardrockpark.com

Ripley's Aquarium
1110 Celebrity Circle
Myrtle Beach, SC
www.ripleysaquarium.com

Brookgreen Gardens
1931 Brookgreen Dr.
Murrells Inlet, SC
www.brookgreen.org

Litchfield Plantation
Kings River Rd.
Pawleys Island, SC
www.litchfieldplantation.com

Restaurants
Captain Dave’s Dockside Restaurant
4037 Hwy. 17 Business
Murrells Inlet, SC
www.captdavesdockside.com

Landolfi's Bakery
9305 Ocean Hwy.
Pawleys Island, SC
(843) 237-7900

The Trestle
308 Main Street
Conway, SC
(843) 248-9896

Sea Captain's House
3002 N. Ocean Blvd.
Myrtle Beach, SC
www.seacaptains.com

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