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Myrtle Beach: Fun for All

A Rand McNally Destination of the Month

It’s a great family resort, spring break, and all-around-beach-vacation destination–with 60 miles of shore along the beloved Grand Strand. It has fabulous seafood eateries, great golf courses, ocean-view hotels and RV parks, and rollicking nightlife. It deserved a finalist place in the Most Fun Town category of our 2011 Best of the Road Rally. Myrtle Beach and its environs have lots of other experiences, too–some universally thrilling, others quiet and authentic, all of them unique.

A World of Amusements

The Myrtle Beach Oceanfront Boardwalk and Promenade is loaded with amusements–whether you want a hand-in-hand stroll above sandy stretches or amid landscaped seaside grounds or a carnival atmosphere with shops, arcades, and cafes. The SkyWheel here offers a gull’s-eye view of all that sea and sand. Also check out the 1912 Herschell-Spillman Carousel, one of several at the Pavilion Nostalgia and Carousel Park near Broadway at the Beach. Are you an adrenaline junkie? Among the newest amusements are the Myrtle Beach Adrenaline Adventures zip-line (actually, there are six and you can race other zip-liners) and Freefall Express (from a 60-foot tower), on the site of the old Pavilion amusement park.

Happy Trails

The East Coast Greenway is a paved or hard-packed dirt trail whose main route runs roughly 3,000 miles from Maine to Florida. In Myrtle Beach and environs, you can bike or hike along several segments ranging in length from 1.5 miles (Grissom Parkway Trail) to 6.9 miles (Waccamaw Neck Bikeway). Check out the stables at Inlet Point Plantation, which offer horseback rides along the beach. If you’re the speedier sort, head to the Myrtle Beach Speedway for a NASCAR Experience. You’ll get some pointers, and then set your own pace out on the track.

The Life of Leisure

What could be better at the beach than just relaxing–whether beachcombing, sunbathing, people-watching, or a bit of all three. When you’ve had enough sand though, head to Brookgreen Gardens, a former rice plantation in Murrells Inlet just off U.S. 17 south of Myrtle Beach. Here, ages-old live oaks shade walkways, a terrace garden blooms with perennials, and more than 1,400 sculptures capture your imagination. Just a bit farther south, you can pick up an authentic souvenir of your leisurely vacation at the Original Hammock Shop on Pawleys Island.

Cut a Rug

The shag, a form of swing dancing, is South Carolina’s official dance, and many say it originated in Myrtle Beach back in the 1920s. Today the area is home to a number of shag-dancing clubs, including the Society of Stranders, which hosts several annual events. You can watch seasoned hoofers or take lessons (some of them free) at Fat Harold’s Beach Club or Harold’s on the Ocean. Both are in the realm of the King of Shag himself, Harold Bessent.

Carolina Coastal Heritage

No trip to the South would be complete without a plantation tour. Cap ‘n Rods Plantation Tours takes you along waterways past several in a shaded boat. Foodies might enjoy the tasty trips and classes offered by Grand Strand Culinary Tours. In Lowcountry, many African-Americans are part of the Gullah-Geechee community. You can learn more about their culture and traditions on a visit to Atlantic Beach, a small seaside community set amid North Myrtle Beach; on a tour of Freewood Farms, a living-history museum southwest of Myrtle Beach; or on outings offered by Carolina Safari Jeep Tours, which also take in plantations as well as area wildlife and ecosystems.

Check out our Grand Along the Strand road trip—running from North Myrtle Beach to Georgetown—for additional information and suggestions on area sights, restaurants, and tours.