Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

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Travel Articles

We travel all over the Southeast because we love it. During our travels we record where we went, what we did, where we ate, had fun, etc. Below is the article on our Myrtle Beach, South Carolina trip in March 2004.

Near the end of March 2004 we spent a week in the “Grand Strand”, as the Myrtle Beach area is commonly called. One local businessman said its name is attributed to being the longest continuous stretch of beach in the US and another said it was a marketing concept to include all the smaller communities along the entire strand area. No one else seemed to have a clue, yet the locals are all pretty proud of this title. This area stretches for 60 miles along the South Carolina coast and encompasses many communities—each with its own identity and unique qualities. 

The Grand Strand, Myrtle beach, SC Myrtle Beach became a town in 1938 and a city in 1957. It is the largest most developed community of the Grand Strand, with hundreds of hotels, restaurants, attractions, retail stores, and other businesses. North Myrtle Beach was founded more than 30 years ago from four smaller communities. North Myrtle Beach accommodations include everything from rustic beach cottages and mom-and-pop motels to luxury resorts. Of course, you can’t describe this town without mentioning the Shag, a beach dance that originated here and continues to thrive in local clubs and reunions. They are also very proud of hometown girl, Vana White.

As we drove north on route 17 we passed the other communities that make up the Grand Strand—Georgetown, Pawleys Island, and Litchfield. We vowed to return to visit these beautiful ocean areas. The Pavillion, Myrtle Beach, SC As we entered Myrtle Beach it was hard to miss the huge amusement park called “The Pavilion”. This incredible 10-acre playground by the sea offers more than 35 exciting rides, including the Hurricane, “the biggest baddest roller coaster in South Carolina”. The Myrtle Beach Pavilion is a great place for tots, teens, and families. The Attic, Myrtle Beaches only under 21 nightclub is also located at the Pavilion. New in 2003 Ham on Rye Virtual Reality Theatre has “everyone screaming for more”.


As we turned toward the Atlantic Ocean we found ourselves on Ocean Blvd and back in Ripley's Museum, Myrtle Beach, SC time at the beach boardwalks and boulevards reminiscent of Atlantic City, Westerly, RI , Hampton Beach, NH and Daytona Beach, FL. Funky beach shops, restaurants, and attractions line both sides of the boulevard. Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum, Ripley’s Haunted Adventure and Ripley’s Moving Theater are hard to miss. Ripley’s Moving Theater is an all 4-D movie ride. Ripley’s Haunted Adventure explores your worst nightmares. “With hi-tech animation special effects and live ghouls you will definitely face all your fears”. Another new Ripley attraction on Ocean Blvd is the Super Fun Zone Arcade. This state of the art arcade is not just any arcade—it’s a Super Arcade!
Broadway at The Beach, Myrtle Beach, SC As we continued down Ocean Blvd the view changed to high-rise hotels and condos along the oceanfront. At the end of Ocean Blvd we crossed Route 17 and headed to “Broadway at the Beach” located at Celebrity Circle. Here we found a mini-version of Universal Islands of Adventure. I had a great time shopping the unique stores around the lagoon. I found neat presents for the men in my life at a Sports Heroes shop, a ring and tote bag that change from plain to color when you go outside at Del Sol. When my husband joined me we had a hilarious conversation with the salesman at the cigar shop. He was from RI and we shared stories and laughed till our faces hurt.
Broadway at the Beach, Myrtle Beach, SCAt one corner of Broadway at the Beach there is a NASCAR Speedway with eleven types of Nascar experiences for all ages and the Nascar Café. Broadway at the Beach is a 350 acre self -contained and exciting circle of shops, restaurants and attractions. As the billboards say, “Where Myrtle Beach Comes to Life.” Several different villages surround a huge lagoon. There is New England Fishing Villages, East and West, the Caribbean Village, Charleston Boardwalk, and Broadway Commons with the Coastal Federal Baseball Field home to the minor league Atlanta Braves. 
Editor at the Hard Rock Cafe, Myrtle Beach, SC Other attractions include Ripley’s Aquarium, I-MAX Theater, Pirates of the Carolinas, Carousel Kiddie Park, Dragon’s Lair Fantasy Golf, Harbor Watch, Myrtle Waves Water Park, and the Palace Theater. After all that fun and shopping we stopped at some of the restaurants for refreshments. We never miss a Hard Rock Café in any city. This Hard Rock is shaped like a pyramid with a Harley parked outside for a great photo op. We are also particularly fond of Brewery Pubs. Hitting the Liberty Steakhouse Brewery at Happy Hour got us a great deal on beverages and appetizers. What a great time we had listening to two locals tell tales of growing up in the area. We also could not resist the Mexican restaurant nearby called Burro-Loco, which is said to be the Mexican cousin of one of our favorite restaurants in Charleston, California Dreaming. 
Liberty Grill, Myrtle Beach, SCSince there is only so much eating a person can do we glanced at the menu at the Murray Bros Caddy shack, which is one of my husband’s favorite movies. Also located within Broadway at the Beach you’ll find Planet Hollywood, Key West Grill, Tony Roma’s, Shucker’s Raw Bar, Tripp’s and Yamato Japanese Steakhouse. There were just too many to list and I’m sure you will find something for the whole family. There are three hotels: Hampton Inn, Fairfield Inn, and Holiday Inn and a shuttle service runs back and forth all day. If you have ANY energy left ditch the kids and enjoy the nightspots here: Blarney Stones Pub and Cigar Bar, Broadway Louie’s, Crocodile Rocks, Fat Tuesdays, and many more. See what I mean by self-contained. They are already planning to add a new area called Margarita Ville. They do it BIG in Myrtle Beach!!
Our truly excellent find was an oceanfront restaurant on Ocean Blvd where we shared a quiet romantic dinner. The Sea Captains House was under construction which somewhat blocked the ocean view but once the experience began nothing else The Sea Captain Restaurant, Myrtle Beach, SC mattered. The waiting area is furnished with big stuffed chairs and couches with a fireplace at each end. There was a wait of around 15 minutes the host said and it wasn’t a minute more. We started our dinner with a bottle of Hanwood Chardonnay from Australia and a shrimp, asparagus, walnut and garlic puff pastry turnover. It was excellent. The salads were fresh and unassuming; however, the ginger soy and herb vinaigrettes were delicious and refreshing. There were so many great sounding entrees on the menu we had trouble deciding but kept returning to what had to be the best deal in the whole place. A five-ounce bacon wrapped tenderloin with seared shrimp and scallops on top and just to guild the lily a lovely béarnaise sauce. Absolutely to die for. It was incredibly excellent and Marie our proficient pleasant waitress made it all the lovelier. She has worked there for 24 years—the true sign of an excellent restaurant. When you go to Myrtle Beach do not miss this one and ask for Marie.
After spending all morning the next day familiarizing ourselves with North Myrtle Beach we headed for my all time favorite vacation activity--the local winery. I love talking with the owners and tasting new regional wines. La Belle Amie Vineyard was a delightful way to spend the afternoon. The vineyard is part of a former tobacco plantation that has been owned by the Bellamy family since the late 1800’s. La Belle Amie, meaning “the beautiful friend”, is the French origin of the family name. Inside a rustic red farmhouse was a fun “spirited” gift shop and the tasting bar. For $2 we got to taste five La Belle Amie Winery, Myrtle Beach, Little River, SC wines and also received a wine 101 class. It was a little elementary for us—see, swirl, smell, sip and savor, but we did learn five new things to do with a corkscrew. Along with the La Belle Amie labels there were two other labels—Twisted Sister and Bent Brothers. I asked about these and Al said he and the owner were blending wines-----lots of wines one night and they came up with these labels and wine names like Old Goat. He ended our tasting with a glass of hot mulled cider, which was delicious. I had to buy two packs of that. Al suggested serving it cold like iced tea in the summer. I’m definitely going to try that. We shopped and then at the tasting bar purchased a full glass of wine with the winery name engraved on it for $5. We took it outside to grapevine benches by a small pond and relaxed together. It is a wonderful experience that no one should miss. They hold festivals each month and we had just missed the “Swing Festival”. Next month is the jazz and arts. Check their website for the festival schedule. 
North Myrtle Beach also has a self-contained park called Barefoot Landing. It is located right on the Intracoastal Waterway and most restaurants offer great views. Like Broadway the restaurants and shops are situated around a lake in villages. In Carousel Courtyard you’ll find Yokosa Japanese restaurant, the Stool Pigeon Pub, Ultimate California Pizza and Umberto’s. In Boardwalk Shops there is Joes Crab Shack and Damon’s. We had dinner at Damon’s overlooking the lake and both the food and service were excellent. There are four bridges to cross the lake and inAlabama Theatre, Myrtle beach, SC Dockside Village you will find the Mad Boar Brewery and the House of Blues. Located along the Intracoastal is Greg Norman’s Australian Grill, T-Bones, and the Crab House. Attractions include the Grand Prix, Alligator Adventure, Barefoot Cruises, the carousel, Coca-Cola Cool Zone, Ghosts and Legends, a Simulator, Teddy Bear Circus, an arcade and more. When choosing your restaurant consider Dick’s Last Resort “the joint your mama warned you about—irreverent service, garage-sale décor, sloppy buckets of BBQ ribs, shrimp, chicken and even salads for the wimpy. No cover, definitely no class, but live music and 74 kinds of beer. The shame of Barefoot Landing—or any neighborhood”. That’s their advertisement in the Dining Section of the On the Beach Magazine. You will also find Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede and Carolina Opry nearby. It is definitely a full day for all ages.
On our last night we had a craving for authentic Italian food. I found an ad for Umberto’s in Little River overlooking a marina. The ad looked attractive but the actual place was gorgeous. Myrtle Beach Yacht Club was located right next to Umberto’s. We were early for our reservation so we walked the docks around the marina. On each end of the marina were beautiful condo complexes. We have stopped collecting Umbertos Italian Restaurant, North Myrtle Beach, SC vacation souvenirs a few years ago and now collect sunset pictures from the area. I have a wall of sunset pictures in our bedroom. It was too early for the sunset, but we knew it was going to make a gorgeous picture with all the beautiful boats and landscaping. We returned to Umberto’s where most of the seating is by the windows. We had a coupon for a free appetizer and ordered that and a glass of Chianti. The appetizer, fried cheese topped with marinara sauce was excellent. I ordered Osso Buco and my husband ordered Veal Marsala one of his favorites. The waiter brought warm bread with olive oil followed by a bowl of bean soup. A Caesar salad followed that and a bowl of cappellini with marinara sauce came next. I tasted everything but kept room for my Osso Buco. When it arrived I almost fainted. It was two huge braised Veal Shanks. I expected two small circular shanks like I’ve seen on the cooking shows. It was gigantic, but delicious. As in every restaurant we ate it we brought home almost half our meal and had it for lunch the next day that cuts the expense in half. The Veal Marsala was disappointing but nothing was going to dampen that lovely evening and sunset. I highly recommend Umberto’s out in Little River. 
There are so many other attractions that we did not have time to check out. You will not be bored for a minute and I haven’t even mentioned the pools and beach yet. There are miniature golf courses with jungles, volcanoes, pirates, waterfalls and so much more. There are water parks, museums, horseback riding, hot air balloons, and one of the Grand Strands largest tourist attraction---golf. That’s where my husband is right now. The weather was very cold for a few days so the two parks were the perfect solution. Today is warmer and I am grabbing my towel and magazines and heading for the beach. The Grand Strand can be as relaxing or exciting as you like your vacations to be. No wonder so many people return here.
On Friday we packed up early and headed out to check out the south strand communities of Surfside, Garden City, and Murrell’s Inlet. Again these small communities followed the Ocean. Each offered a fishing pier and local restaurantsRiver Room, Georgetown, SC and shops. Surfside offered many new homes from a property renewal project. Most are available for rent. Farther down route 17 we investigated Pawley’s Island and Georgetown. Pawley’s Island is a rustic historic island surrounded by marshes and some beach area. Georgetown is an historic town with lovely homes and a welcoming downtown area. We had lunch at the famous River Room overlooking a tall ship and waterfront park. Our lunch was very reasonable and very good. As we headed on to Charleston to pick up our son we felt a wonderful feeling of relaxation and happiness. This was a very nice little side trip you all should check out sometime.
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